In the month of May in Indianapolis attention is focused at The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, or less formally, “The Brickyard,” or as we simply call it here at home, “the track.” It is time for the Indy 500!

If you sit outside in Indianapolis on a spring day in May and the wind is just right in relation to where you are, you can hear the distant high-pitched hum of cars practicing, careening around the track. On race day you can see other signs that something big is happening. If you look up you can see the Goodyear blimp floating above the city giving the world a birds-eye view, or at start time, watch the fighter jets fly in formation over the city, both traditions leading up to “Drivers, start your engines!”

While you wait for this year’s race, have fun learning about the history, physics and amazing records of the greatest spectacle in racing – the Indianapolis 500! The Spectacle is a complete history of the Indianapolis 500. It includes a hundred year’s worth of memories from legendary drivers and details about memorable races. It’s like you were in the pits yourself watching the drama unfold. Listed below are online activities and books about the Indy 500 you can check out with your IndyPL library card. You can even learn how to draw or build a race car of your own!

Websites, Printables & Activities

e-Books & Audiobooks

Use your indyPL Library Card to check out books about car racing at any of our locations, or check out car racing e-books and audiobooks from OverDrive Kids right to your device! If you have never used OverDrive before, you can learn how to use it for both e-books and audiobooks.

Need help? Ask a Library staff member at any of our locations or call, text, or email Ask-a-Librarian. The Tinker Station helpline at (317) 275-4500 is also available. It is staffed by device experts who can answer questions about how to read, watch and listen on a PC, tablet or phone.

Indianapolis has a rich cycling history as the birthplace of Marshall “Major” Taylor, an American professional cyclist. Taylor won the sprint event at the 1889 World Track Championships. He became the first African American to win a cycling world championship. Get to know Major Taylor’s story and then learn more about bicycling in Indianapolis. Get reading recommendations as well as tips for new riding routes!

The Center for Black Literature & Culture hosted an online presentation about Marshall “Major” Taylor by Michael Kranish. Watch Kranish, author of, The World’s Fastest Man: the extraordinary life of cyclist Major Taylor, America’s First Black Sports Heroshare Taylor’s journey.

Indianapolis Velodrome

The velodrome in Indianapolis is named in honor of Major Taylor. It was the first building in the city built with public funds to be named for an African American. Indianapolis won a bid to host the 1982 National Sports Festival. Since the city was short a natatorium, a track stadium and a velodrome, all three venues were built! This was possible thanks to a partnership between the Indianapolis Parks and Recreation Department and the Lilly Endowment.

In 1987, Indianapolis hosted the tenth Pan American Games. The Velodrome played host to all the track cycling events. Afterwards, the Velodrome hosted many other events including: US Olympic Festival, Junior Track Nationals; Elite Track Nationals; Masters Track Nationals; and Collegiate Track Nationals.

In recent years the venue has suffered a slow and steady decline in condition and usage. Neighboring Marian University (whose nationally ranked cycling team practices and competes at the Indy Cycloplex) has joined with Indy Parks and Recreation Department to resurrect the Velodrome as a part of the comprehensive Indy Cycloplex facility. The project is creating a new, brighter history for the property as well as a brighter future for bicycling in Indianapolis.

Learn more about Major Taylor in Kaelynn Hayes’ Racing in the Velodrome from Discover Indiana, a statewide project that makes cultural and historical information available to the public. Finally, check out all the cycling options here in Indy in How to Explore America’s Most Underrated Biking City.

A sampling from the Major Taylor photo gallery:

Featured Book List: Cycling Books

I am a lifelong cyclist and enjoy sharing my love for the sport with others.

Title - Bicycling for LadiesTitle - Cycling on FormTitle - Outpedaling "the Big C"Title - RevolutionsTitle - Epic Bike Rides of EuropeTitle - Ride InsideTitle - The Cycling ChefTitle - Epic Bike Rides of the WorldTitle - Epic Bike Rides of the AmericasTitle - Cuba by BikeTitle - The Beautiful RaceTitle - Women on the Move

National Bike Month

Cycling fans – celebrate National Bike Month and take these books and movies for a spin! #IndyPLAdults

Title - The Cycling BibleTitle - On Freedom RoadTitle - You Are My SunshineTitle - Breaking AwayTitle - Best Bike Rides in New EnglandTitle - Two Wheels GoodTitle - The Fastest Bicycle Rider in the WorldTitle - One Day in AprilTitle - The Total Bicycling ManualTitle - Cycling Atlas North AmericaTitle - Changing GearsTitle - Breathtaking

“Running! If there’s any activity happier, more exhilarating, more nourishing to the imagination, I can’t think of what it might be.”

—Joyce Carol Oates

Check out these ideas for inspirational books, music, movies and local opportunities to jump start your training season running in Indianapolis.

Local Races and Great Places to Run

If you’re interested in training for a 5K or half marathon, there are lots of local resources to help you get ready. The Indy YMCAs offer training programs – check their website for more information. The National Institute for Fitness and Sport, right here in Indianapolis, also offers half marathon training.

There are a number of groups in the city devoted to fitness and running that are free and welcoming! Check out Black Girls RunNovember ProjectBlack Men Run, and Indy Runners.

Many local running stores also offer training as well as free group runs. Ask them about what they might offer.

Once you’re ready to race, look for events on these online calendars:

Running Paths Near Libraries

Pair a good run with a Library visit! Many of our locations are within a short distance of excellent places to run, making running in Indianapolis even more fun!

There are races practically every weekend too, from 5Ks to full marathons and triathlons. So what are you waiting for? Lace up your shoes and start running! Browse the running books below to inspire you or queue up an audiobook or some new music – free with your IndyPL library card!

Running Books

I am always on the lookout for the latest books about running to keep me inspired and lacing up my shoes. If you’re a runner, or even a wannabe runner, check out these titles!

Title - Breakthrough WomenTitle - How She Did ItTitle - Run Like A Pro (even If YouTitle - Mental Training for UltrarunningTitle - Running Throughout TimeTitle - Running With PurposeTitle - The Running-shaped HoleTitle - Running SidewaysTitle - Becoming ForrestTitle - 40 Best Running & Workout Songs 2022Title - Trail Running Illustrated