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A Century of Speed: Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum

BY: Zach Bosteel | Jul 6, 2015
A Century of Speed: Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum

Of all the Indianapolis museums, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame stands alone as a truly one-of-a-kind experience. Set on the ground of one of the most iconic racetracks in the world, the museum tells the long, storied history of the track and its most famous race—the Indianapolis 500. Racers have become kings on its pavement, and lost their crowns. 

As one might expect, the Hall of Fame displays racing paraphernalia, historic photographs, and winners’ plaques. It also details the feats of the drivers, mechanics, engineers, and designers, as well as historians, journalists, and owners whose contributions have shaped the world of racing. Besides track and grounds tours, the real draw for most visitors is the enormous show floor and the nearly 400-piece collections of racecars and fine passenger automobiles. Only 75 cars can be displayed at a time, so the museum swaps out certain vehicles every month. The website keeps track of what’s on display at any given time, but here’s a few of the most iconic items to keep an eye out for.

Car Collection Highlights

  • Marmon Wasp: The first Indianapolis 500 took place in 1911, and the first car to win it was the Marmon Wasp. Its likeness can be seen on the US Postal Service’s transportation series of stamps, but the real thing resides on the museum’s show floor.
  • 1928 Bugatti 35-B: This European powerhouse packs an 8-cylinder engine, giving it monstrous horsepower as compared to rivals. It competed in multiple European Grand Prix races, winning 2nd and 4th place on multiple occasions.
  • 1970 Harley-Davidson Streamliner: It may only have two wheels, but this motorcycle set the two-way average land speed record on October 16, 1970, when it rocketed across the Bonneville Salt Flats at a mind-boggling 265.482 miles per hour. That record has since been topped, but only by motorcycles ridden by Speedy Gonzales.
  • Richard Petty’s 1992 STP/Pontiac Grand Prix: Known simply as The King, Richard Petty was inducted into multiple racing Halls of Fame after winning the NASCAR championship a record seven times. This is one of the iconic blue and orange Pontiacs he raced during his retirement season in 1992.