The Brickyard 200 began as the Brickyard 400, a 400-mile stock car race at the. The race was sanctioned by the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) and was the first professional racing event other than the to be held at the iconic auto racing venue. The race has also traditionally had one of the highest payouts or purses within stock car racing.
The term “Brickyard” refers to a nickname for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Upon the track’s opening in the fall of 1909, its surface was made of “crushed stone and tar.” That specific composition caused many accidents, some of which were fatal. To make it safer, the track was repaved with over 3 million bricks. The bricks were gradually paved over with layers of asphalt until only a yard-long strip of those bricks remain exposed at the start-finish line.
In its first year, 1994, the Brickyard 400 became NASCAR’s most-attended event, boasting a crowd of more than 250,000. That race was won by Jeff Gordon, who had spent the latter part of his childhood in Indiana and would go on to win a record five Brickyard 400’s (1994, 1998, 2001, 2004, and 2014). Other individuals who have won the 400 multiple times include Jimmie Johnson (2006, 2008, 2009, and 2012), Kevin Harvick (2013, 2019, and 2020), Tony Stewart (2005 and 2007), Kyle Busch (2015 and 2016), and Dale Jarrett (1996 and 1999).
Starting in 2008, attendance began to decline, with fewer than 50,000 spectators in 2016. Since then, NASCAR has made efforts to boost attendance, such as shifting the race to the end of the series schedule in 2018 to highlight its importance. Starting in 2020, NASCAR shifted the time of the race again to Independence Day weekend, which took place despite the pandemic although with no spectators.
In August 2021, the race shifted from the Speedway’s oval to its road course as the inaugural event in a new NASCAR Cup Series featuring road racing, with the Brickyard 200 its new name to reflect its shortened mileage.