News & Multimedia

Lights at the Brickyard Puts IMS in a New Light for Fans

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway isn’t an unfamiliar place to my children. Daddy’s job means they come out to visit a couple times a year, and images of the Speedway are on the walls at home and often on the television. And then there’s the ubiquitous Wing & Wheel logo, on enough of my clothes and other tchotchkes that the kids can draw it by heart.

My two daughters know IMS. But they had never seen it like they did Thursday night during a preview of for Lights at the Brickyard, the Speedway’s new winter holiday event.

The name puts it plainly enough. There are lights – 2 million over 400 displays – and as holiday light shows go, it’s massive and impressive. There’s not just a gingerbread man, there’s one that does a cartwheel. The 12 Days of Christmas are depicted with each scene as a separate light display, from the partridge in the pear tree to the 12 drummers drumming. My 4-year-old has taken to telling me the story of the old lady who lived in a shoe, and Lights at the Brickyard has exactly that – the lady, the shoe and children all around (the lady is off to the side because, as the story goes, she doesn’t know what to do).

Of course there’s also a couple race cars, as my acute 11-year-old correctly identified: “there’s a NASCAR and an Indy car.”

The sheer volume and variety of lights is unmatched in the state, and a similar display would attract fans to a farm or a mall or an amusement park.

But that’s where the rest of the title comes in. Lights at the Brickyard.

From the start of the 1.7-mile course, my youngest child may not have immediately identified the Panasonic Pagoda as a landmark and wayfinding point, but the oldest did. The youngest began to appreciate the setting as much as the scenery when we slowly drove down the front straightaway and the snowflake-filled scoring pylon caught her eye. “Whoa,” was all she could muster for a few moments.

As for me, I’ve been on the racing surface a few times. But at night? Never. I wondered if A.J. Foyt, Tony Hulman, Jeff Gordon or Alexander Rossi ever drove here in the dark. Through the infield, sure. But over the Yard of Bricks?

The lights were an attraction, but the once-unfathomable concept of being at The Brickyard on a (near) winter night made for an unforgettable spectacle.

I imagine that’s how it might be for thousands of other families that visit this holiday season. The displays are for the children, the drive is for the adults. The opportunity to see a familiar place in a completely new light is for everyone. 

John Schwarb is Senior Manager of Communications at IMS.

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