News & Multimedia

The Pagoda never looks the same

I hear a lot of powerful words associated with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway: Sacred, hallowed and revered are used often. I completely agree. There is something incredibly special about these grounds.

It only makes sense that on these hallowed grounds, there’s been a pagoda for almost 100 years. Pagodas were built in Asia as places of worship or a place to safely store sacred items. Of course, the home of the Indy 500 would have one, too.


Before I jump into my relationship with this Indianapolis Pagoda, let’s get the facts out of the way. Carl Fisher had a wooden Pagoda first erected in 1913. That one burned down in 1925, and a similar one replaced it. After 10 years of modifications, Tony Hulman had a new version constructed – in 1957. The one you see today took its place in 2000. By the way, I’m no historian – these facts were all taken from the IMS site - I just rearranged them to create my own paragraph. But on to the real story.

Early morning in front of the Pagoda

During event time, I often find myself holding a camera. When I hold a camera, I look at things differently. I think everyone does – you’re just expecting to capture a glimpse of something unique. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway never disappoints.
One of my best friends at IMS works in Pagoda Command during all our events – the Indianapolis 500 (IndyCar), Super Weekend (NASCAR, Nationwide and GRAND-AM) and the Red Bull Indianapolis GP (MotoGP). Along with a variety of internal and external departments, he sits high up overseeing the day-to-day activities. His view is spectacular.
As a photographer, I quickly found myself drawn to the Pagoda. It’s near impossible to take a bad photo of it. The more the photos I took, the more I challenged myself to capture a different side of this incredible structure. I wanted to capture its complexity, its imposing stature, its role in the history of 100 years of racing.

The sun rises over the Pagoda

I started a tradition and challenge for myself. I wanted to give my friend in the Pagoda a gift each race day. There was an easy solution: I’d give him a photo of the Pagoda that he was sitting in (probably looking down at me and laughing). In return, I would capture a different side to the Pagoda.
These are some of the images I’ve taken the past couple of years. And like I said, it’s near impossible to take a bad photo, especially when witnessing a sunrise. It’s a profound experience.
In September, I was in Japan for the IZOD IndyCar Series race at Twin Ring Motegi. On a free day, I made the short trip from Utsunomiya to Nikko, to visit the Toshugo Shrine, including a five-story pagoda. It all clicked for me there (photographically and metaphorically) - the experience of standing on hallowed grounds, surrounded by people with a real passion and gazing at a pagoda that itself has witnessed centuries of history. It all seemed so familiar.

The Pagoda in Nikko, Japan

The grounds of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway are hallowed. And if you find yourself standing in front of the Pagoda, don’t be shy in taking a photo. For one, it will be a great shot. And secondly, it never looks the same, no matter how many pics you take.
I should know, because I’ve tried.
You can also view this story with image gallery on
More images below.

Show More Show Less
Now Viewing
The Pagoda never looks the same
The Pagoda never looks the same
It only makes sense that on these hallowed grounds, there's been a pagoda for almost 100 years. Pagodas were built in Asia as places of worship or a place to safely store sacred items. Of course, the home of the Indy 500 would have one, too.
Read More
Related Media
Justin Wilson
Online Auction Benefits Wilson Children's Fund
Through eBay's direct involvement, all transaction fees will be waived and all proceeds will be deposited straight into the Wilson Children's Fund, which benefits Wilson’s wife Julia and daughters Jane and Jessica. Fans who sell their own Wilson-related items on eBay can designate the Graham Rahal Foundation as their chosen charity and proceeds will be donated to the fund as well.
Read More
Red Bull Indianapolis GP
MotoGP Will Not Return to IMS in 2016
Following eight years of delivering world class motorcycle racing, the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix will not be on the 2016 event schedule for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The award winning MotoGP event was first hosted at IMS in partnership with Dorna Sports in September of 2008. The cancellation of the race was a mutual decision by both parties.
Read More
Scott Dixon wins the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship
Monday Racing Roundup: What A Finish! Dixon Wins Race, Title On Tiebreak
Juan Pablo Montoya entered the 85-lap GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma with a 34-point cushion on second-place Graham Rahal and 47-point lead on Scott Dixon. But it was Dixon, who started ninth in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, who departed Wine Country with the title. Dixon won for the second consecutive year at Sonoma Raceway, and claimed the title on a tiebreaker with three race wins to Montoya's two wins.
Read More
Matt Kenseth
Monday Racing Roundup: Kenseth Maintains JGR Hot Streak at Michigan
The Coors Light polesitter for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, Kenseth quickly exhibited his mastery of the high-drag aerodynamic package, leading 146 of 200 laps in winning for the third time this season, the third time at Michigan and the 34th time in his career.
Read More
Ben Spies
Ben Spies Q&A: It's One of the Most Important Weekends
Ben Spies is a three time AMA Superbike Champion, former WorldSBK Champion (2009) and a MotoGP™ race winner (Assen 2011) whose career was ended by injury in 2013. Spies chatted to ahead of the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix to give us his unique insights into his ‘home’ Grand Prix:
Read More
Items 1 - 5 of 534
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 Laura Wyamn at (317) 492-8557 or email at
Latest Tweets
RT @NASCAR: Retweet if you're ready for the first elimination race of #TheChase! ?? We're live on NBCSN, friends.
about 1 hour ago