A lot of sprint racing enthusiasts may take for granted that what is now known as Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg, Indiana actually started as a dirt track and remained such even into the very first sprint event that was ever held there in 1961. However this small factoid about the epic track is still of great significance, as the track would not be thoroughly renovated until 1988 for the purpose of increasing track speed.
But the very history of the former Indianapolis Raceway Park can actually be traced back to 1958, when 15 Indy area-based businessmen and several race professionals led by the likes of Tom Binford, Frank Dickie, Rodger Ward and Howard Fieber pledged to contribute $5,000 each toward the construction of a motor racing complex on what before was a 267-acre farming tract.
The original plan for the Indianapolis Raceway Park was to build it as a 15-turn, 2.5 mile road course, but insurance measures forced the tight-knit group of sponsors to include a quarter-mile dragstrip within the initial IRP design. With the NHRA’s help, IRP’s dragstrip was the first part of the facility to be completed and held its first event in the fall of 1960.
Our featured video is from the very first USAC Sprint event held at Indianapolis Raceway Park on May 28th of 1961. It’s a fascinating piece of both IRP and USAC history, as it serves as evidence of the Indianapolis Raceway Park’s developmental stages before it would ever be covered with concrete.
A.J. Foyt and other USAC legends were among the first to adorn the IRP track, and it became a milestone in the sprint car sport as a whole.