RELIVE HISTORIC MOMENTS AT THE INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY MUSEUM
“ROCKET” RICK MEARS
(May 2021 – March 2022)
Mears’ adventures in racing began during his childhood. He would watch his father, Bill, race on Kansas short tracks until the family moved to the hot Southern California oil and agricultural town of Bakersfield. It was there that Mears and his older brother, Roger, started racing dune buggies for fun, but soon became off-road racing champions.
Rocket Rick Mears presented by Racemaker Press takes Museum guests on a personal journey, giving context to four-time Indianapolis 500 winner’s formative years and what molded the man, the driver and humble champion.
Rocket Rick Mears presented by Racemaker Press was brought to life through historic videos, photographs, and artifacts from the Museum collection. Mears, The Penske collection and other collectors also contributed items to the exhibition.
GRANATELLI: LARGER THAN LIFE
(August 2020- January 2022)
Granatelli: Larger Than Life presented by Motoring Wealth Advisors of Raymond James chronicled the life and legacy of Andy Granatelli, a marketing wizard who turned STP Oil Treatment into a globally-recognized brand. As a car owner in the 1960s, Granatelli brought some of the most technologically-daring and breathtaking race cards to the Indianapolis 500. After years of heartbreak, he eventually won the “500” in 1969 with Mario Andretti.
The life of Andy Granatelli and his siblings, Joe and Vince, is a true rags-to-riches, “American dream” story. Despite Andy and his brothers growing up in a tough Chicago neighborhood, the trio were automotive entrepreneurs before their teenage years. They would eventually develop a corporate empire through their love of performance vehicles. Andy, always the promoter, rubbed elbows with A-list celebrities and personally elevated the status of the Indianapolis 500 while promoting his own brands.
FROM THE VAULT
(November 2019 – April 2021)
From the Vault presented by Bank of America provided a glimpse into the incredible automotive and motorsports treasures in the Museum’s diverse collection. Guests were able to view rare or one-of-a-kind race cars, automobiles, trophies, artwork, and artifacts. Each item featured in the exhibition has a truly unique story about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway or our worldwide passion for racing and automobiles.
A few exciting From the Vault features included the 1964 Ferrari 250 LM – the last Ferrari to score overall victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in 1965, and the 1966 Ford GT40 No. 4, driven by Mark Donohue and Paul Hawkins at Le Mans in 1966. The car was part of Ford Motor Company’s successful challenge to Ferrari, chronicled in the blockbuster film Ford v Ferrari.
Visitors also enjoyed a host of historically significant open-wheel race cars: a 1906 FIAT, the 1957 winner of “Race of Two Worlds” at Monza, Janet Guthrie’s 1978 Wildcat Indy car, and the fastest car in Indianapolis 500 history: Arie Luyendyk’s 1996 track record-setting Reynard.
MARIO ANDRETTI: ICON
(April 2019 – November 2019)
Mario Andretti: ICON presented by Shell V-Power NiTRO+ Premium Gasoline, featured a full retrospective of Andretti’s incredible career. The exhibition covered everything from Sprint Car racing in the early 1960s, to four career IndyCar championships and Formula 1 World Championship glory, and his busy life today as an ambassador for the NTT IndyCar Series. The exhibition was part of a comprehensive celebration at IMS recognizing the 50th anniversary of Andretti’s popular victory at the 1969 Indianapolis 500-Mile Race.
Mario Andretti: ICON presented by Shell V-Power NiTRO+ Premium Gasoline was composed of 23 cars that represented significant milestones in both the history of auto racing, as well as Andretti’s career. One of the standouts was the Mercury Cyclone Andretti drove to a major upset victory in the 1967 Daytona 500. Another was the John Player Special Lotus Type 79 Andretti drove to clinch the 1978 Formula 1 World Championship.
The exhibition also contained fire suits, helmets, photography and an audio tour. Museum visitors used their smartphones to hear behind-the-scenes narration by Andretti, as well as entertaining insight from longtime rivals A.J. Foyt, Al and Bobby Unser, and team owner Roger Penske.
ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT WINNERS
(April 2019 – November 2019)
Andretti Autosport teamed up with the Museum to produce a companion show that accompanied the featured exhibition, Mario Andretti: ICON presented by Shell V-Power NiTRO+ Premium Gasoline.
The cars of Dan Wheldon (2005 winner), Dario Franchitti (2007), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2014) and the 100th Indianapolis 500 winner, Alexander Rossi (2016) were on display. The car driven by 2017 winner, Takuma Sato, was at Honda headquarters in Japan.
TEAM PENSKE’S FIRST 500
(March 2019 – November 2019)
In May 1969, while the now-iconic Mario Andretti took the checkered flag at the Indianapolis 500, Roger Penske entered a car in the Indianapolis 500 for the first time under the Team Penske banner. This marked the beginning of a campaign that altered North American motorsports history.
Team Penske’s First 500 honored 50 years of winning for team owner Roger Penske’s namesake racing organization. The exhibition utilized five cars and historic memorabilia to celebrate a trio of milestones: the team’s 50th anniversary at the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, Team Penske’s 500th win in major racing competition and a “Penske sweep” of major NASCAR Cup Series and NTT IndyCar Series events at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2018.
The Team Penske Indy cars and NASCAR Cup Series stock cars in the display included: The 1969 No. 66 Sunoco-Simoniz four-wheel-drive Lola T152, The 1972 No. 66 Sunoco McLaren M16B, No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevy-powered Dallara, No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Fusion and the No. 2 Autotrader Ford Fusion.
HOOSIER THUNDER: INDIANA’S SHORT TRACK HERITAGE
(November 2018 – April 2019)
Hoosier Thunder: Indiana’s Short Track Heritage told the story of the many drivers and families who made Indiana short-track racing a way of life. Notable surnames included Carter, Darland, Elliott, Kenyon, and Kinser among others.
It also honored the drivers, such as three- and four-time NASCAR Cup Series champions Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon, respectively, who made a name for themselves on Indiana bullrings on their journey to superstardom.
Hoosier Thunder: Indiana’s Short Track Heritage, the largest in the Museum’s 60-year history, contained 41 Sprint, Midget and Silver Crown series cars along with many trophies, drivers’ suits, helmets, and artifacts. A floor-to-ceiling wall map listed the name and location of every known oval short track used for motorized competition in the state of Indiana.
Nine decades of USAC (United States Auto Club) race car development were on display, from a 1937 Dreyer Special midget, to the car that carried a young Jeff Gordon to his first USAC midget victory, to Kody Swanson’s 2018 Silver Crown Series championship-winning car.
Hoosier Thunder: Indiana’s Short Track Heritage was made possible by sponsors Driven2SaveLives, Toyota, and Hoosier Racing Tire.
AMAZING UNSERS: FROM ALBUQUERQUE TO INDIANAPOLIS
(April 2018 – November 2018)
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway deemed the Unsers as the most successful family in the history of the IMS, with a total of nine victories in the Indianapolis 500. Amazing Unsers: From Albuquerque to Indianapolis showcased 25 cars that the Unser family drove in competition. This included eight of the nine that led them to victory in the Indianapolis 500.
In addition to several of the IndyCars made famous by the Unsers, many incredible machines representing their career in USAC, road racing and NASCAR were displayed, some for the first time. Visitors also saw rare memorabilia from the drivers, and took an audio tour voiced by Al Unser, Al Unser Jr., Bobby Unser, Parnelli Jones and Roger Penske.
“As you go through the exhibit you are going to see my dad’s career, my uncle Bobby’s career, my whole family’s career on display here, it’s just a huge honor and we’re very excited and we truly hope everyone enjoys what we’ve put our heart and soul into,” said Al Unser Jr., two-time Indianapolis 500 winner. To showcase all the Unsers at a track where so many great names have raced is very special for us,” said Bobby Unser, three-time Indianapolis 500 winner.
INCREDIBLE ENGINES OF THE INDY 500
(November 2017 – April 2018)
The engines that power the cars of the Indy 500 and the names behind them are almost as legendary as the drivers. Incredible Engines of the Indy 500 was a tribute to the heroes of horsepower that propelled drivers to victory in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
The exhibition provided the opportunity to see some of these famous engines up close and learn about the masterminds that designed them. Visitors heard the roar of the powerful Novi, the “whoosh” of Andy Granatelli’s turbine engine, and a “parts petting zoo” offered a chance to learn more about what made an Offenhauser go.
CAMARO: 50 YEARS OF SETTING THE PACE
(November 2017 – March 2018)
The Camaro is one of the most famous names in speed and style, and has served as the official pace car several times at both the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400 races.
Camaro: 50 Years of Setting the Pace presented by Bill Estes Chevrolet, displaced 12 cars. Ten of which led the racing fields to the green flag and were driven by racing legends and Hollywood celebrities.
JOHN ORFE AUTO RACING ART EXHIBIT
(October 2017 – March 2018)
John Orfe was a Pennsylvania-born artist known for his auto racing artwork. The John Orfe Auto Racing Art Exhibit showcased his work.
Orfe began a life-long love affair with motor racing after seeing his first auto race at the famous circular Langhorne Speedway in 1932. Orfeo established himself as a commercial artist specializing in automotive and aircraft design for Ford, Chrysler, Volkswagen and Boeing. His historic auto racing paintings were published in several publications, including Speed Age, Circle Track, and Open Wheel.
The paintings displayed in the Museum’s gallery depicted auto racing legends including Mario Andretti, Mark Donohue, Parnelli Jones and Joe Leonard. Several items from Mr. Orfe’s personal collection were also on display in the Museum’s gallery.
A.J. FOYT: A LEGENDARY EXHIBITION
(April 2017 – October 2017)
In celebration of the 40th anniversary of his record-setting fourth Indianapolis 500 win, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum presented a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition honoring auto racing icon A.J. Foyt. The exhibition chronicled the superstar’s rise from the dirt tracks of Texas to the pinnacle of auto racing history.
Nearly three dozen cars that Foyt drove in competition were on display, including all four of his Indianapolis 500 winning machines: the 1961 Bowes Seal Fast Special, 1964 & 1967 Sheraton-Thompson Specials, and the 1977 Gilmore Coyote.
In addition to several of Foyt’s Indy cars, many incredible machines from his career in NASCAR, USAC and road racing, as well as rare memorabilia from his personal collection, were displayed.
(December 2016 – March 2017)
In honor of Indiana’s Bicentennial Celebration, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum presented Indiana Automobiles: Precision Over Production celebrating legendary Hoosier manufacturers like Stutz, Dusenberg, Studebaker and Marmon. The collection contained more than 35 historic, Indiana-built passenger cars.
The vehicles on exhibit were some of the finest examples of each manufacturer, thanks to the Museum’s partnership with private owners and other automotive museums around the state. Several classic cars made their first appearance at the Museum (and in some cases, their first public appearance ever), making this a truly historic collection. In addition to the Hoosier passenger cars, a number of Indiana-built race cars were displayed, including Indianapolis Motor Speedway founder Carl Fisher’s 1905 Premier.
ROADSTERS 2 RECORDS
Back in the 1960s, few race cars captured the imagination quite like the “roadster.” In fact, this front-engine vehicle dominated the Indianapolis 500 for years, as the fastest car on the track!
Roadsters 2 Records showcases popular American drivers such as A.J. Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Rodger Ward, and their iconic roadsters. These high-speed racers broke record after record in dramatic, nail-biting races, and in 1964, Foyt even secured his second Indy 500 win.
But Foyt’s victory was the last time a front-engine roadster would win the Indianapolis 500—marking the end of the Roadster Era.
During this time, Europe brought a new wave of talent, technology, and ideas that spurred the rear-engine revolution in America. By 1966, only one front-engine car qualified for the Indianapolis 500, setting the stage for a new era of racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
SLEEK: THE ART OF THE HELMET
Racing helmets are one of the most remarkable innovations in racing—at the intersection of art and engineering. Each design must balance safety and durability with comfort, aerodynamics, and—of course—aesthetics.
Sleek: The Art of the Helmet explores the stories and designs behind these racing helmets. Led by guest curator and Indianapolis creative Amiah Mims, this exhibition features historic helmets, helmets worn by current IndyCar drivers, and new designs created by local artists. Some of the helmets on display include: Mario Andretti’s 1993 Helmet, Jimmie Johnson’s 2012 Brickyard 400 Helmet, and Alexander Rossi’s 2018 Indianapolis 500 Helmet.
Nine of these featured helmets were designed by Hoosier artists, selected by a panel representing the Museum Exhibition Team and the Indy Arts Council. These artists were free to work in the style of their choosing, using any materials and methods.
The winning artists were Faith Blackwell, Justin Brown, Grant M. Brownlow, Jessica Bowman, April Knauber, Nancy Lee, Shaunt’e Lewis, Austin Polen, and Greg Potter. You can see their work on display and bid on their helmets here. The auction will close on December 11, 2022.