From the excitement of the Indy 500 to the best tacos in the city, nearby attractions add to your visit during the Pumper & Cleaner Expo
Few Indianapolis 500 races have been as exciting as this year’s, when Dan Wheldon took the checkered flag after rookie JR Hildebrand crashed on the last turn.
You can relive the entire history of what is called “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum.
The museum, five miles northwest of downtown Indianapolis on the speedway grounds, houses one of the world’s largest collection of racecars, including more than 30 Indy 500 winners. They include:
The Marmon Wasp, which won the first Indy 500 in 1911 with Ray Harroun at the wheel
The four cars driven to victory by A.J. Foyt Jr.
The Duesenberg #12 Murphy Special, the only car ever to win both the Indianapolis 500 (1922) and the French Grand Prix at Le Mans (1921)
The Borg-Warner Trophy, which honors the winner of each Indianapolis 500, is also on display. Visitors also can see the equipment and methods used to time and score the race. A computer presentation explains the progress through the years. To feel the excite-ment of the race, you can visit the 48-seat Tony Hulman Theater, which offers 20 minutes of rare historic footage and Indianapolis 500 highlights.
Built as a test track for local automakers, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway opened in 1909. Two years later, the 2.5-mile oval hosted its first 500-mile race. The original Hall of Fame Museum was built in 1956. In 1987, the museum and speedway grounds were honored with the designation of National Historic Landmark.
The museum will be open daily during the Pumper & Cleaner Expo. Bus tours around the racetrack are available except when the track is in use for testing or racing. Visit www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com/about/35204-Museum.
A favorite winter delight for Hoosiers is hot chocolate from South Bend Chocolate Company’s Chocolate Café, six blocks from the Convention Center at 20 N. Meridian St. At Christmastime, locals like to take their hot chocolate and walk around Monument Circle, enjoying the Circle of Lights and toy soldiers. Visit www.sbchocolate.com.
For downtown shopping in Indianapolis, nothing tops Circle Centre, connected to the Convention Center via skywalk. Anchored by Carson Pirie Scott, the mall offers more than 100 specialty stores, plus a wide array of restaurants. Stores include the Colts Pro Shop, Pacers Home Court II, Lane Bryant, Coach and Godiva Chocolatier. Favorite dining spots include PF Chang’s China Bistro, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and the Weber Grill.
La Revolucion, a new Mexican cantina on Fountain Square, serves some of the city’s best tacos with a variety of drinks (insiders recommend the red chili pepper margarita). The atmosphere inside is relaxing. In nice weather, customers can take a drink to the outdoor tiki bar in back. The restaurant is at 1132 Prospect St., a two-minute cab ride from the Convention Center.
Two blocks from the Convention Center, the Eiteljorg Museum contains one of the world’s top collections of Native American and Western Art and is one of only two such museums east of the Mississippi. The Mihtohseenionki (The People’s Place) gallery explores Indiana’s indigenous peoples – the Delaware, Miami and Potawatomi Indians – through rare objects, historical photos, and interactive displays. Other galleries show Native American art and artifacts including pottery, basketry, woodcarvings, beadwork and apparel. The Nina Mason Pulliam Education Center offers demonstrations, workshops and other hands-on activities. Visit www.eiteljorg.org.