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Bronze Bricks To Immortalize Four-Time ‘500’ Winners Forever at IMS

A new tradition was molded this week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway by the newest member of the four-time Indianapolis 500 winner’s club, Helio Castroneves.

With the assistance of IMS welder Bud Tucker, Castroneves dressed up in a different kind of fire suit and poured boiling hot bronze into a mold to create a bronze replica of the bricks that once made up the Racing Capital of the World. He will get to take home one of the bronze bricks, while the other will be placed in the famed Yard of Bricks.

It’s a new way for the Racing Capital of the World to honor its most historic drivers: those who have won the race for a fourth time: A.J. Foyt, Al Unser, Rick Mears and Castroneves. Foyt already has his brick in the start/finish line, and the other three will be added this fall when the racing season ends.

“I knew when I saw the bricks from A.J. Foyt, and I remember another one that was there, from 2011, so when I saw that I thought, ‘OK, cool,’ Castroneves said. “As soon as I won the race, I said to Doug (Boles, IMS president): ‘Are you going to put my brick there? Now I got four!’

“It was super nice to be a part of this incredible history. Wow. I can’t believe I got to pour the mold of my brick, so it’s even more special.”

While these four drivers’ legacies will live forever at IMS, now their names will quite literally be a part of this historic racetrack. For that, Castroneves is forever grateful and trying to soak in every moment of his year-long winner’s tour and career-long legacy.

“What happened for (the IMS facilities team), it’s probably just another day, right? But for me, it’s just the beginning,” Castroneves said. “Yes, I understand what I did. As of right now, it doesn’t sink in, because it’s still very recent. Probably when I come back next year, I’ll still pretty much be on cloud nine until I strap my helmet on and it’s time to move on.”

The idea to give each four-time Indy 500 winner a bronze brick in the Yard of Bricks was imagined well before Castroneves won the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on May 30. Unser was presented with his bronze brick on Race Day, and the plan was for Mears to get his this August during Brickyard Weekend.

At the time, the thought was that there would be one empty spot on the Yard of Bricks waiting for this race’s next four-time winner, if it ever would happen. And then Castroneves beat Alex Palou to the line in a thrilling finish, and IMS President J. Douglas Boles put in a call to Tucker the night after the race.

The bricks feature the name of each driver and the four years they won “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Tucker, also a bronze artist, creates a new mold for every single brick based on one of original Culver bricks that were used to pave the 2.5-mile oval in 1909. That means each bronze brick is unique and features blemishes or bumps that are on the actual brick.

Boles said the idea for the bronze brick is a tribute to the racetrack’s opening 112 years ago. After originally being paved with crushed stone and tar in summer 1909, the track was resurfaced with 3.2 million paving bricks that fall and winter.

As legend has it, to christen the repaved facility in December 1909, IMS founder Carl Fisher allegedly placed a gold brick somewhere in the Speedway’s surface. Tony Hulman also installed a special brick in the surface in 1961 when the main straightaway was paved with asphalt, leaving the famed start/finish line.


That gold brick Fisher allegedly used has never been found, but Boles said its lore initiated the first bronze brick to be placed in the center of the Yard of Bricks in 2011 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500, as well as this new way to honor the winningest drivers in Indy 500 history.

“They’ll be there permanently with their name and the four years they won the Indianapolis 500 on display so when people come out and see the bricks on tours and when cars go over them that these guys are immortalized in the Yard of Bricks,” Boles said.

Finding a spot in the Yard of Bricks for Castroneves was easy, as there was an open space after deciding where Foyt, Unser and Mears’ bricks would be placed. But, if another driver is ever to win the “500” for a fourth time, a new spot will have to be selected.

Castroneves pointed out that it took 30 years for another driver, himself, to claim a fourth Indy 500 after Mears did so in 1991. So, he believes if the four-time winner’s club is ever to welcome a new member, it will be far in the future, and he’ll be in the position his fellow clubmates are in now.

“You’re thinking about if it’s going to happen again in 30 years, I’ll be 76,” Castroneves said. “I’ll be nearly A.J.’s age, older than Rick. So, my point is, it will be incredible, but we got to live this moment. I am not capable of thinking 30 years from now, but I’m certainly looking forward to my next chapter in this legacy.”

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