History of Lucas Oil Raceway
In 1958, led by Tom Binford, Frank Dickie, Roger Ward and Howard Fieger, 15 Indianapolis area businessmen and racing professionals invested $5,000.00 each to fund the development of what would become Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. The group purchased a 267-acre farm about seven miles from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and developed a multipurpose auto racing facility.
The original intention in creating Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis was to design a 15-turn, 2.5 mile road course. Nearly as an afterthought, and as an insurance measure against economic problems, the investment group decided to incorporate a quarter-mile drag strip into the long straightaway of the 2.5-mile long road course design.
Constructed with assistance from the NHRA, the drag strip was the first of the three courses to be completed, with the facility’s first event held on the strip in the fall of 1960. During the 1960 U.S. Nationals in Detroit, a handshake agreement between Binford and NHRA founder Wally Parks promised that the event would move to Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis in 1961. The historic three-year pact was signed and sealed under a tree in Detroit Dragway’s pits and Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis eventually became the home of the NHRA’s biggest annual event.
The NHRA purchased the entire facility in 1979. The first major improvement came in 1983 with the construction and dedication of Parks Tower, the four-story drag strip tower. In 1998, new grandstands, suites and a tower complex on the front straightway were completed at the oval track at a cost of nearly $2.5 million, which included the repaving of the entire oval surface as part of a three-phase facility improvement project.
In 2001, NHRA and Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis constructed a new drag strip racing surface, replacing the strip with a 660-foot concrete pad and laying new asphalt on the remainder of the track and shutdown area. Prior to the 2003 Chevrolet Performance U. S. Nationals, eight new luxury suites were added along the top of the west-side grandstands of the drag strip, giving fans a unique perspective of the action on the famed quarter-mile track. In 2005, new soft barrier walls were added to the oval.
In 2006 the track announced its first track entitlement with O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis. The track – which had been long known as Indianapolis Raceway Park was named O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis.
In 2009 a new front office complex was built for the use of the full time staff, ticketing office, meeting space and race souvenirs on display.
In January 2011, the track announced a new entitlement sponsorship with Lucas Oil Products and is now named Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. Lucas Oil Raceway reached another milestone, celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the U.S. Nationals in 2014.