News & Multimedia

Plenty Of History, Tradition At Turn One Gate At IMS

Friday, March 23 marked what is becoming another Indianapolis Motor Speedway tradition and a sure sign that the Indianapolis 500 will soon be upon us. The placing of the racing flags atop what is now called the Turn One Gate (it used to be called Gate 1) began in the late 1990s as a way to celebrate and announce the beginning of a new IndyCar season. But it is the history of the gate, and what it has meant to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that intrigues me.

From 1909 until 1973, this Turn One Gate served as the main gate to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In 1973, the current four-lane tunnel under the south end of the track was constructed and, Gate 2 as it was called, became the center of activity and has served since that time much more like a main gate than Turn One Gate.

The reason the main gate was located at the corner of what is now 16th and Georgetown Road is because it was right across from where the railroad ran. There was either a small station, or at least a pick-up and drop-off point, that served the farming community but made for easy access to and from IMS. The approximate location of the stop is immediately south of the current administration building, about where the gas station is located on 16th Street.

The rail lines were placed around 1870. The tracks’ angle was in line from Union Station in Indianapolis on to Crawfordsville, Ind., and points beyond. When Lem Trotter brought Carl Fisher out to look at the farm property for sale, one of Trotter's selling points was that the large portion of the general public which did not own an automobile could get to events at the proposed speedway by train, be dropped off on the corner, and then walk across the street to the track.

For many of the early years, the majority of the Speedway’s grandstands were concentrated down around turn one because of the number of people entering the facility at this point. There would also be a huge congregation of people picnicking inside turn one in the area that eventually developed into the Snake Pit. When the race was over, fans could walk back across the street and catch the train back downtown.

The Race Day rail service ended in the early 1960s (either ’62 or ’63), although trains still ran until the early 1970s. The tracks were eventually taken up, and those areas are now used for parking during IMS events. The path of the train can still be easily followed on the south side of Crawfordsville Road when leaving the Speedway and heading west toward Interstate 465. On event weekends, the area that was once a railroad looks like a large, linear parking lot.

It may not be the official main gate of the Speedway now, but many a traveler today evidently still believe it is the main gate as throughout the year people park their cars to take pictures of the gate, its sign, the wing and wheel, and the seven flags that fly from the first day of the IZOD IndyCar Series season until the checkered flag falls on the last race of the season.
 

Show More Show Less
Now Viewing
Plenty Of History, Tradition At Turn One Gate At IMS
 
Plenty Of History, Tradition At Turn One Gate At IMS
Friday, March 23 marked what is becoming another Indianapolis Motor Speedway tradition and a sure sign that the Indianapolis 500 will soon be upon us. The placing of the racing flags atop what is now called the Turn One Gate (it used to be called Gate 1) began in the late 1990s as a way to celebrate and announce the beginning of a new IndyCar season. But it is the history of the gate, and what it has meant to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that intrigues me.
Read More
Related Media
Brad Keselowski
 
Monday Racing Roundup: Keselowski’s Clutch Win at Talladega Seals Eliminator Berth
Brad Keselowski pulled off the improbable win in his No. 2 Ford, overcoming an early incident to climb back into the perilous Talladega drafts and then surviving the final furious laps to win by .141 of a second over Matt Kenseth. The 2012 champion advanced to the “Eliminator” round, which begins this weekend at Martinsville.
Read More
Kevin Harvick
 
Harvick Wins in Charlotte
With the dominant car in Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kevin Harvick led 162 laps and survived a wild two-lap dash to the finish after the final caution en route to his third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win of the season and a free pass into the Eliminator Round of the Chase.
Read More
Marc Marquez
 
Monday Racing Roundup: Marquez Clinches MotoGP Title at Motegi
On Sunday, the Repsol Honda rider became the youngest two-time world champion in the premier class by finishing second to Jorge Lorenzo at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan at Honda-owned Twin Ring Motegi.
Read More
Borg-Warner Trophy
 
New IMS Website Debuts
Fans of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will find a new online experience at the redesigned IMS.com.
Read More
Monday Racing Roundup: Logano Wins in Kansas
 
Monday Racing Roundup: Logano Wins in Kansas
The Contender round of the new four-round format includes three races and ends at Talladega, where a driver’s fate isn’t always in his own hands. The more secure path to the penultimate Eliminator round is to win before then – like Joey Logano did on Sunday at Kansas.
Read More
Items 1 - 5 of 576
Reserve one of our hospitality suites for your next event!
To start planning your event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway please fill out our Information Request Form or contact Phil Sparks at (317) 492-6463 or email at psparks@brickyard.com.
Latest Tweets
On Sunday @keselowski pulled off an improbable win at @TalladegaSuperS. More in the Monday Racing RoundUp: http://t.co/oD9Qvswezk
about 7 hours ago