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Bill Vukovich in garage after winning his 2nd Indianapolis 500, 1954
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 Indianapolis.

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 2000.

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).



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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.

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