Bill Vukovich in garage after winning his 2nd Indianapolis 500, 1954. Photo courtesy Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Racing Capital of the World
The world's oldest and most famous auto racing
track opened in 1909, due to the vision of Indianapolis
businessman Carl Fisher and his partners.
Fisher, a former bicycle racer, then car racer, saw
the need for a huge "speed facility" where car manufacturers could
test and race their vehicles. It also could indirectly benefit his
business, the Fisher Automobile Company, which sold cars, as well
as make a profit for the track's owners. At that time, 36 firms
built cars in Indiana, of which ten were located in
Four 80-acre tracts of farmland were purchased for
the track in 1908, and Indianapolis Motor Speedway was incorporated
the following year. The first speedway event was a balloon race on
June 5. After being postponed because the track was not ready, the
auto races were held from August 19 to 21, and attracted 75,000
fans. Sixteen types of cars, including 19 Stoddard-Daytons and 15
Chalmer-Detroits, were entered. The first automobile race consisted
of two laps or five miles. It was open to stripped chassis machines
with a 161-220 cubic inch engine piston displacement. The first
winner was Louis Schwitzer. In 1910, Fisher agreed with his
partners that 500 miles would make the perfect race. Formula One
racing was introduced at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in
Documentation includes a text report, photographs, an
audio tape of Indy 500 highlights, and a videotape titled Roaring through the Century.
Originally submitted by: Dan Burton, Representative (6th District).
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.