Posting vignettes based on great postcards found in my mail box and elsewhere.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Indianapolis Motor Speedway's Main Gate


I bought this Curteichcolor postcard on one of my visits to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I might have picked it up when I was eleven years old when my family attended the 1964 Indianapolis 500 but more likely it is from later years. It is a picture of the main gate to the speedway. Our family could not afford to attend each year so every two or three years we would make the racing pilgrimage to the famed oval. As an adult I've attended the race twice - once in 1978 and again in 1982. I may have picked up the card either of those year because the trees are tall enough to obscure the grandstands. Other postcard views of the gate, like this one -- scroll down to number 77, show younger trees.

This year is the Centennial year of the Indianapolis (Indy) 500. The speed was established in August 1909 when Carl G. Fisher, James A. Allison, Arthur C. Newby and Frank H. Wheeler pooled their ideas and financial resources to create the track. The first 500 mile race was held in 1911. It was called the International Sweepstakes and was won by Ray Harroun at an average speed of 74.602 mph.

Ray Harroun retired from driving race cars after his first and famous victory. He became a builder of successful race cars. In early 1917 Harroun leased a small plant in my childhood home town of Wayne, Michigan. In 1917 he built 500 roadsters at this plant. Like Ray, I left racing shortly after my first and only race car victory two years ago. I have since sold my race car but have yet to open a high speed performance shop.


  1. I like your sign. I never heard the term "OPEN WHEEL RACING"...What kind of racing is it?

  2. Open wheel racing is a phrase used in the racing world. It refers to cars without protective fenders, bumpers or doors. Sometimes they are called open cockpit cars, such as Indianapolis, Formula One, American sprint, midget cars and go-karts. Unlike NASCAR stock cars and despite high-tech safety devices, the lack of protective metal affords the open cockpit driver less protection. These open cars are considered extremely dangerous machines, since the contact of an opposing driver's tire means one or both cars could easily become airborne.
    A Michigan friend of mine drove go-carts professionally for years. To this day he says, “If it has doors, it’s not a real race car.”

  3. One of Carl Fisher's projects was the King Cole Hotel, which was sold after his downfall and became the Miami Heart Institute.

    I understand that Carl's downfall was not only caused by the Depression, but was due to heavy drinking following the death of his son, Carl Jr., at the age of three weeks.

  4. I don’t know If I said it already but …I’m so glad I found this site…Keep up the good work I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say great blog. Thanks!