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 SPEEDTV.com
 
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
Stefan Wilson
 
Rookie Wilson Racing for Much More Than Just himself at 100th Running
When Stefan Wilson’s No. 25 Driven2SaveLives KV Racing Technology Chevrolet starts Sunday’s 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, he will shift his attention to the challenge ahead.
Read More
Herff Jones
 
5 Days until the 100th Indy 500: Champion of Champions Fan Rings
An Indianapolis tradition unlike any other. And no, we’re not talking about eating at St. Elmo’s Steakhouse. Tickets for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil are selling fast, and Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials are projecting the first sellout of the event in two decades. Attending the Indy 500 is a rite of passage, and whether you experience it from the stands or the Snake Pit, you’ll want to remember this race. Luckily, your reminder can be right on your finger. For the first time ever, Indy 500 fans can purchase their very own Champion of Champions replica ring in honor of the 100th Running.
Read More
James Hinchcliffe
 
A Day Later, Hinchcliffe and Family Continue to Savor 'Spectacular' Pole Win
As the pictures were taken of Hinchcliffe, Ed Carpenter Racing’s Josef Newgarden and Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay, reality came more into focus.
Read More
Front Row Shot
 
'Fun Front Row' Emerges from Pole Day, Led by First-Time Pole Sitter Hinchcliffe
Three cars from different teams, separated by a scant .0758 of a second, two Honda engines and one Chevrolet, a Canadian and two Americans, a driver who has never been on a Verizon IndyCar Series pole, a runner-up who has never started second at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and a 2014 Indy 500 champion who is a former teammate and good buddies with the fastest qualifier.
Read More
Florence Henderson
 
Florence Henderson to Serve as Grand Marshal for 100th Running
Florence Henderson, a beloved part of Indianapolis 500 Race Day for a quarter-century, will serve as the Grand Marshal of the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.
Read More
Items 1 - 5 of 2,217
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 lwyman@brickyard.com.
Latest Tweets
.@GrahamRahal of @RLLracing speaks to the progression of safety and speed at the #Indy500. https://t.co/2g4cBa7CSN
about 1 hour ago