Later this month, NUVO will present 500 facts about the Indy 500. Between now and then, we'll be sharing five facts per day from our upcoming story.
Today, we'll dig into a few bits of trivia from the early days of IMS — before the 500 was even run.
8. The first race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway occurred in the air.
The track was the launching point for a balloon race on June 5, 1909 that saw a helium-lifted craft called the Universal City winning by landing nearly 400 miles away in Alabama after a day in the sky.
9. 40,000 people showed up for the balloon race.
No word on who DJ’d the Snakepit.
10. The track originally had zero bricks on its surface.
Compacted soil, limestone, gravel and a lovely-sounding goop called “taroid” covered the 2.5-mile track, which was, by all accounts, awful.
11. The first engine-powered vehicles racing on the track at IMS: motorcyles.
Two days of racing were planned for Aug. 14-15, 1909, but track conditions deteriorated so quickly that the event was called after seven races on day one.
12. The earliest gate admission tickets cost 50 cents each.
25 cents for the kids!