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Street Savvy: Speedway
Auto racing’s movers and shakers mingle on newly enlivened Main Street.
Yes, the Speedway Centre for the Arts has racecar paintings—but also tasteful gift-worthy pieces by local artists, such as Ann Tudor’s charms made from old car keys and Tom Finley’s strikingly intricate woodcut prints. Check out the antique player piano—it works! 1550 Main St., no phone, speedwayarts.com
With its distressed hardwood floors and chalkboard menu, Johnny Bueno’s Pizzeria wouldn’t feel out of place in Fountain Square or Mass Ave. The thick, zesty pies come loaded with fresh toppings, and the buttery handmade breadsticks are a full foot in length (and not an inch too long, if you ask us). 1502 Main St., 317-755-3486, johnnybuenos.com
Dawson’s on Main has only been open for a few years, but it feels like an old town favorite. Crowds flock to the cozy dining room and handsome bar for surf-and-turf (aged steaks, grilled Alaskan salmon, and pan-seared tilapia)—and half-priced wine and martinis on Tuesdays and Thursdays, respectively.
1464 Main St., 317-247-7000, dawsonsonmain.com
Housed in the old Speedway movie theater, The Main Attraction Antique Mall crams more than 60 vendor booths into 9,000 square feet. Past the precious Hummel-variety knickknackery, you’ll find vintage pillbox hats, funky retro lamps, and circa-1930s kitchenware. 1450 Main St., 317-248-1450, mainattractionantiques.com
Main Street might start to feel like Carmel’s City Center when mixed-use buildings and a planned roundabout are completed. Yet another new business is set to open this month: Barbecue and Bourbon, serving Memphis-style meat, 20-plus whiskey labels, and a signature sweet-tea bourbon lemonade.1414 Main St., 317-679-9222
Tour the state-of-the-art Dallara IndyCar Factory to see how racecar chassis are made and climb into a simulator. Better yet, ride around Speedway in a modified street-legal two-seater for only $30. Museum exhibits show the physics of vehicle components and original IndyCar design drawings. 1201 Main St., 317-243-7171, indycarfactory.com
Inside Dallara, Lino’s Coffee is the first U.S. location of a popular Italian chain. The stylish spot tends to draw an international clientele, especially around races. Part upscale deli and part bar, Lino’s serves decadent drinks like the Coffee Crack, a shot of espresso spiked with liqueur and topped with shaken heavy whipping cream and chocolate shavings, and panini stacked with fresh-shaved prosciutto and Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese. 1201 Main St., 317-222-5238, facebook.com/linosspeedwayindiana.
Starting this summer, the brand-new headquarters of Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing offers public tours, displays show cars, and sells team merchandise.
1255 Main St., 317-481-0195, sfhracing.com
Charlie Brown’s Pancake & Steak House is a favorite gathering place for past Indy 500 drivers. Fluffy pancakes, perfect fried eggs, fat half-pound sirloin cheeseburgers, hand-dipped shakes, and homemade pie account for the diner’s longevity. 1038 Main St., 317-243-2502, charliebrowns.comcastbiz.net
Super Tortas Estilo Barrio gives the workingman’s lunch counter a south-of-the-border twist. The modest little eatery (popular with the crowd from nearby Allison Transmission) makes big, hot, Mexican-style sandwiches on toasty, airy buns. 1002 Main St., 317-243-0244
To bring crowds to its spruced-up sidewalks, Speedway hosts several summer and fall festivals. At the NASCAR Hauler parade on July 25, get an up-close look at the massive, decked-out trailers that transport racecars to the 400 when they park on Main Street. 317-695-0868, speedwaychamber.com for more events
Take It Home
One-piece Bell racing suit, certified for professional open-wheel racing and used in the high-speed two-seater rides at the IMS. $200. Dallara IndyCar Factory gift shop.
Antique Art Deco seltzer bottles. $75 each. The Main Attraction Antique Mall.
"Past on the Front Stretch" oil painting by local artist Eric Rowles. $650, framed. Speedway Centre for the Arts.
Word on the Street
“I used to be one of those who just drove through on the way to the race. There wasn’t really a reason to stop. Now there is. It’s turning into a cute little town. My go-to item at Dawson’s is the fajita wrap.”
—Sarah Fisher, IndyCar team owner and Speedway newcomer
Photos by Tony Valainis
This article appeared in the July 2013 issue.