Fact Check

Size of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

An image shows how eight famous landmarks could all comfortably fit inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Published May 26, 2016

Image courtesy of Instagram
Vatican City, the Taj Mahal, Yankee Stadium and five other landmarks could all fit inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), site of the annual Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400 auto racing events (among others), is one of the largest sports venues in the world. According to the image shown above, the famous race track is so large that it could comfortably house eight famous landmarks from around the world (including the White House, Vatican City, the Taj Mahal, the Roman Colosseum, Yankee Stadium, Rose Bowl Stadium, Liberty Island, and Churchill Downs) with room to spare.

This tidbit of trivia has been circulating online since at least 2010, when it was published on a "fun fact" page of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's web site. That version, however, referenced only five landmarks:

Churchill Downs, Yankee Stadium, the Rose Bowl, the Roman Colosseum and Vatican City all can fit inside the IMS oval, which covers 253 acres.

Although this image seemingly originated with a credible source, some viewers who encountered it on social media, where it was presented without citations, were skeptical of its primary claim. An examination of the sizes of these landmarks, however, shows the image to be largely accurate.

Adding up the footprints of Churchill Downs (80 acres), Yankee Stadium (15 acres), the Rose Bowl (10 acres), the Roman Colosseum (6 acres), Vatican City (110 acres), the White House (18 acres), Taj Mahal (less than 1 acre), and Liberty Island (12 acres), produces an overall area (252 acres) that is smaller than the size of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (253 acres). (We're ignoring the issue of whether the shapes of these landmarks would allow them to be placed within the IMS without any overlap or stacking.)

It should be noted that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway uses the acreage of only the interior race track oval as the basis for its size, not the overall acreage of the IMS (which is over 1000 acres). As such, we represented the size of the landmarks based on their central features and not their surrounding areas. (For instance, the Taj Mahal complex covers over 40 acres, but the main building sits on less than one acre of land. Similarly, the Churchill Downs grounds cover nearly 150 acres, but the main racetrack is much smaller.)

While the combined area of these landmarks may change depending upon the criteria used, the gist of this image remains true: The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is one of the largest sport venues in the world, and it's a whole lot bigger than many well-known landmarks.

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.

Article Tags