KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (July 25, 2013) – Racecar drivers collect numerous mementos during the course of their respective careers, from helmets and firesuits to chunks of asphalt and steering wheels, and when they reach the end of their careers – rocking chairs. But of all the knickknacks drivers pick up as they rise from upstart rookie to cagey veteran, ones from the hallowed grounds of Indianapolis Motor Speedway are perhaps the most coveted.
That the speedway recently celebrated its centennial era has much to do with drivers’ reverence for the 2.5-mile oval. It’s been hosting automobile races since 1909, and not just any race, but the Indianapolis 500. And because of its archaic – at least in racing terms – lineage, parts of Indy’s surface, namely the frontstretch, remained clad in bricks until 1961 when asphalt was spread across all but a three-foot strip at the track’s start/finish line. Hence, it’s nickname – the Brickyard – and why so many drivers’ bric-a-brac collections contain an old brick from the Wabash Clay Company, the Veedersburg, Ind.-based company that supplied nearly all those “Culver Blocks” on which legends tread.