On this Day in F1 – 1909 The Brickyard is born
When the Indianapolis Motor speedway first opened, the terrible track surface meant the first race was a disaster – there were multiple accidents and five people were killed.
The owners decided to lay bricks round the track and on this day the work was finally finished. The famous Indy Brickyard was born. The grand opening took place three days later, when it was ceremoniously completed by Governor Thomas R. Marshall of Indiana, who cemented the last “golden” brick. Only three feet of the original brick surface still remains at the start finish line.
The F1 circus has raced on the brickyard up until 2007, declining attendance and interest sparked by the big controversy in 2005.
Out of the 20 cars that entered for the race, only the six cars from the teams using Bridgestone tyres (Ferrari, Jordan and Minardi) competed. The remaining fourteen entrants, all using Michelin tyres, completed the parade lap (thus having technically taken part in the race, avoiding punishment), but retired to the pits before the race started.
Following several tyre failures before the race, most spectacularly on Ralf Schumacher’s Toyota during Friday practice, Michelin advised its seven customer teams that without a reduction in speed in Turn 13, the tyres provided for the race would only be safe for 10 laps. Michelin had been providing working tyres for the race since 2001. The situation was worsened by the 2005 Formula One rules, which forbade tyre changes during the race.
Of the six competitors, Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher was the eventual winner, with his teammate Rubens Barrichello finishing second. The result significantly boosted Schumacher’s championship standing, placing him third overall—no driver above him in driver championship points took part in the race. This race also marked the Toyota team’s first Formula One pole position, which did not lead to a win due to the team’s withdrawal from the race start.
The final race result was the lowest number of finishing entries ever seen in a major open-wheel motorsports event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since the institution of the 500-Mile Race (surpassing the previous record low of seven finishers in 1966, a race marred by a major first lap accident that eliminated a full third of the starting field). The situation created enormous negative publicity for the sport of Formula One, especially in the United States, a market in which Formula One had struggled to establish itself over the preceding twenty years; some even called the race “Indygate”.
Credit: ESPN & Wikipedia