by Donald Davidson of Indianapolis, IN
The Indiana Motor Parkway was built in 1909 as a testing ground for the state’s growing automobile industry. Because of the dreams and efforts of a group of local businessmen, led by Carl Fisher, the testing ground began hosting racing events. That facility has become known as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
In 1911, Ray Harroun won the inaugural “International Sweepstakes,” racing around the 2 1/2 mile oval, paved with 3.2 million bricks, at an average speed of 74.602 mph. The 25th anniversary saw Louis Meyer become the first three-time winner. The 50th became the first of four victories for A.J. Foyt. At one hundred years, Dan Wheldon came home first at an average of 170.265 mph. Every renewal has seen determined drivers and crews pushing to the limit, and sometimes past it, trying to join the select group who have won the Indy 500.
Tonight Donald Davidson, official historian of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, will highlight the 100 year celebration of “the greatest spectacle in racing.