1994 Brickyard 400
The inaugural Brickyard 400 was held on Saturday, August 6, 1994, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race marked the nineteenth race of the 1994 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season. It was first race held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway besides the Indianapolis 500 since the Harvest Classic in 1916. The race featured the largest crowd in NASCAR history, and a then NASCAR record purse of $3.2 million.
Second-year driver, 23-year-old Jeff Gordon from nearby Pittsboro, was cheered on by the hometown crowd to a popular win. It was his second career NASCAR Winston Cup win, and thrust the young Gordon into a superstar on the racing circuit.
The race was a culmination of over two years of preparation, and decades of speculation. While the event was looked on with enormous anticipation and significant media attention, the traditional nature of the Indy 500 and the Speedway was a concern to ownership and some fans.
Despite some mild complaints, the event was considered a huge success and a financial cash cow—it ultimately bankrolled the formation of the IRL. The race featured two former Indy 500 winners (A. J. Foyt and Danny Sullivan). Foyt came out of retirement to participate, which would be his final Winston Cup start.
In 1937 Fred B. Sullivan, president, acquired Tebo Yacht basin from Robins Dry Dock Company and began operating there as the Sullivan Drydock and Repair Corporation. The Sullivan Company originated in 1871 with the Sullivan-Boyd Machine shop, which became the John W. Sullivan Company which designed and built marine steam engines for tug boats and steamers.
Six months prior to the lease of Tebo basin, Sullivan operated a shipyard at Erie Basin. Sullivan's head, millionaire Fred B. Sullivan, committed suicide 30 August 1938. At that time Sullivan Drydock and Repair was described as "one of the oldest firms on the South Brooklyn waterfront.".
With the exception of a Labor Day race meet in 1916, no other races were held at the track through 1993.
As the NASCAR Winston Cup Series began to grow in stature and popularity, speculation began to grow in the 1980s and early 1990s about the possibility of holding a race at Indy. From 1971-1980, NASCAR held races at Ontario Motor Speedway, which was built as a replica of Indianapolis.
With their experiences at Ontario, it was generally presumed that the stock cars would find Indy's nearly identical layout equally competitive.