Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Motor Speedway & Children's Museum

The day after the concert, we had half a day to explore some of the more famous Indianapolis sights now that we had John with us. A trip to Indianapolis, The Racing Capital of the World, wouldn't be complete without a visit to the Motor Speedway, home of the indy 500

We got to take a slow spin all the way around the track, as we learned all about racing culture.

We made one stop at the Yard of Bricks, right in front of the Panasonic Pagoda.

The Panasonic Pagoda tower, in its magnificence, is centered on the start-finish line. It has nine tiers or viewing levels and reaches a height of 153 feet, equal to a 13-story building. The flagpole on top extends to 199 feet. The glass panels facing the main straightaway were built in England.

Housed in the new Panasonic Pagoda are state-of-the-art facilities for race control, safety, timing and scoring and radio broadcast booths. Behind the new Panasonic Pagoda tower is the Pagoda Plaza area, a focal point for spectators who wish to take a break from viewing the on-track action.

The Yard of Bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is some of the most hallowed ground in worldwide motorsports. In a span of 63 days in fall 1909, 3.2 million paving bricks, each weighing 9.5 pounds, were laid on top of the original surface of crushed rock and tar to upgrade the Speedway.

Asphalt gradually was added to various section of the brick surface, with patches added to rougher sections of the turns in 1936 and all turns being completely paved with asphalt in 1937. In 1938, the entire track was paved with asphalt except for the middle portion of the front straightaway.

In October 1961, the remaining bricks on the front straightaway were covered with asphalt. A 36-inch strip of the original bricks was kept intact at the start/finish line, where it remains today as the fabled Yard of Bricks.

The tradition of "kissing the bricks" was started by NASCAR champion Dale Jarrett. After his Brickyard 400 victory in 1996, Jarrett and crew chief Todd Parrott decided to walk out to the start-finish line, kneel and kiss the Yard of Bricks to pay tribute to the fabled history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The team joined them for a group kiss on the bricks, and an Indianapolis tradition was born that Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400 winners have followed since.

After our tour of the track, we took a quick spin through the Speedway Museum. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum is an automotive museum on the grounds of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, which houses the Auto Racing Hall of Fame. It is intrinsically linked to the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400, but it also includes exhibits reflecting other forms of motorsports, passenger cars, and general automotive history. In 2006, it celebrated its 50th anniversary. 

My dad was like a kid in a candy store. It was fun to see him get so excited about all the different cars that were used for racing throughout history.

After our time at the Speedway, we headed to the second most well known attraction in this city, The Children's Museum of Indianapolis. Even though we didn't have any children with us, it was still so fun to walk through this museum, it is a fascinating place!

With five floors of exhibit halls and more than one million visitors annually, The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is the world's largest children museum. Its collection of over 120,000 artifacts and exhibit items is divided into three domains: the American Collection, the Cultural World Collection, and the Natural World Collection. Among the exhibits are a simulated Cretaceous dinosaur habitat, a carousel, and a steam locomotive. The museum's focus is family learning; most exhibits are designed to be interactive, allowing children and families to actively participate.

These statues of an adult and juvenile brachiosaur are a main focal point of the museum as they peek through the roof into the main lobby of the museum, these sculptures are physiologically accurate to current paleontological knowledge.

We began our whirl wind tour of this museum in Disnosphere. Dinosphere features a sound and light experience that simulates a day in the late Cretaceous period 65 million years ago. The center of the exhibit space includes three themed fossil scenes. Visitors can perform fossil excavations in the Dig Site, touch a real Tyrannosaurus rex femur fossil in the Paleo Prep Lab, talk to real paleontologists, enjoy family-friendly games and touch-screen learning activities, and view numerous real dinosaur fossils from the Cretaceous period on display. Dinosphere is one of the largest displays of juvenile and family dinosaur fossils in the U.S. 

There is a temporary exhibit hall which was filled with a Circus Starring You while we were there. This exhibit was beyond magical and immersive. There were three parts to this circus experience, in ring one, cruise through the history of the circus in a "clown car" and see real artifacts from famous circuses. Practice makes perfect in ring two. Try your hand at the lyra ring, rolla bolla, virtual-reality tightrope, and more! Put on a show in ring three, add the finishing touches to your performance with a costume, performance pose, or even a bit of juggling. We didn't have much time to explore all the parts of this exhibit, but we wanted make sure we at least saw a little bit.

A focal point of the ground level of the museum is North America's largest water clock, created by French physicist and artist Bernard Gitton. We got to see see the clock right as it was changing hours, it's quite an amazing contraption.

The main stairwell of the museum is a giant spiral ramp which allows visitors to access all five levels of the museum. In 2006, glass artist Dale Chihuly installed a four-story glass sculpture inside the central atrium of the giant spiral ramp. The sculpture is called Fireworks of Glass and is accompanied by an exhibit of Chihuly's glass blowing methods.

Visitors can stand under the sculpture and look up through all the colorful glass. The part I loved most about this exhibit was where we could create our own Chihuly sculptures out of plastic pieces.

The National Geographic: Treasures of the Earth exhibit, which includes three areas, is located on the Lower Level of the museum and was first opened on June 11, 2011. One area has a simulated archeological dig where artifacts about Ying Zheng, the first Emperor of China, were discovered. Another area contains ancient Egyptian artifacts presented in a replica of the tomb of Seti I. The third area features artifacts retrieved from a pirate shipwreck.

Apparently, the terra-cotta soldiers were originally painted! I had no idea!

We ended our day of fun at the Willy Wonka inspired chocolate slide and chocolate cafe to get some treats before heading to the airport to fly to Arizona to spend spring break with Karin and her boys!


  1. I loved the day! Such variety and interesting things to see! I had no clue about the Speedway and ended up fascinated by the old cars...and the children's museum was just plain fun! You caught the magic of it in your fabulous pictures!

  2. An interesting day! The Motor Speedway turned out to be fascinating and I loved all the beautiful old cars they had on display. We still need to have our dinner with the flags and cars...
    The Children's Museum really was a learning experience too. The Chinese warriors were painted?! And Chihuly was amazing, I loved their hands on experience. Traveling is so unexpected. Who knew Indianapolis was so fun? You captured all the best moments forever.