Tuesday 14th December 1909
The last brick, made of gold was laid at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, giving the track its popular nickname “The Brickyard”. In a span of 63 days, 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.” The ‘gold brick’, which was actually made from gold plated brass, was the idea was the brain child of Ernest ‘Ernie’ Moross, the first publicity man for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, who formerly promoted for barnstorming racer Berna ‘Barney’ Oldfield. Unfortunately, legend has it that the “gold” brick only spent a couple days in its intended location before it was stolen and never recovered. In October 1961, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway completed a massive asphalt paving project, which paved over the last of the paving bricks on the main straightaway, except for a 3-foot section at the start-finish line, still giving meaning to the ‘brick yard’. The completion of the 1961 project was marked by the ceremonial placement of a ‘gold’ brick in the “yard of bricks,” with a group of witnesses that included 1911 winner Ray Harroun, Speedway President Anton “Tony” Hulman Jr, and Louis Schwitzer, the long-time chairman of the Technical Committee, and winner of the first race held on the Speedway, a five-mile preliminary event held on August 19 1909. Through the years, to avoid a repeat of the theft of the original “gold” brick, the second 39-pound gold brick was kept in a safe in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway office at the corner of Georgetown Road and 16th Street and was only placed in the track for special occasions. The truth is that the 1961 version of the gold brick was really not gold but Dirilyte, a “gold-hued” bronze metal alloy manufactured in Kokomo Indiana. Kissing those bricks after a successful race remains a tradition among Indy drivers.