Brick Paving Begins

The article in attachment IMSpave091609 originally appeared in the September 16, 1909, Indianapolis Star. It is a significant artifact as it notes the exact day that work began to pave the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with bricks. After considering other paving material options Speedway management selected bricks.
According to the article, track officials purchased 3.5 million bricks along with thousands of barrels of cement at a cost of $30,000. The estimated total cost of the improvements to the track was more than $180,000 making the approximate investment in the track, including upgrades to the garages, grandstands, and aerodrome something just under $700,000.
The article reports that 25 train car loads of brick arrived at the Speedway the previous day. The Wabash Clay Factory (see second attachment below) of Veedersburg, Indiana won the supply contract. Subsequent daily shipments of 20 car loads were scheduled to arrive over the following two weeks. The brick manufacturer hired some 200 additional workers to produce the bricks at the necessary volume to complete the order. Although not reported in the article the company also subcontracted a portion of the order to other suppliers to meet delivery deadlines.
Park Taliaferro "P.T." Andrews, the engineer who designed the original configuration of the Speedway, was again hired to supervise the brick laying project. The original crushed stone surface served as the foundation of the new brick pavement. The crushed stone was rolled flat and covered with sand. Once covered with bricks, the running surface was reportedly ten inches higher than before. Interestingly, not only did experts predict significantly faster speeds because of the surface but also that running races on rainy days would be no problem. Note that the article reports that the Speedway officials still had aspirations to build a road course in the infield but no intention of paving it. The reason given was that because it was a road course officials felt it should replicate conditions found on country roads.
Not only did motor racing people keep a close eye on the developments at the Speedway but also municipal leaders as well. These city managers were studying best practices for high-quality thoroughfares within municipal limits. The United Brick Association was scheduled to have a convention in Indianapolis the following week and they were expected to send a delegation of six experts to the track to assist Engineer Andrews.
Beyond the race track other facility improvements including a large aerodrome that was complete at that point with the exception of hanging the giant access structure. Located in the southeast area of the infield it was large enough to house two giant dirigibles and up to five airplanes. The "50 cent" grandstands were doubled outside the southwest corner of the track (turn one). An additional tier of box seats was constructed in front of the original front stretch grandstands. Another new grandstand was built on the west side of the track to accommodate several thousand people. The idea, the article said, was to provide enough seats for everyone to eliminate people pressing against the fences lining the track. This was done with the hope of keeping fans at a safe distance from out-of-control cars.
Attachment IMSbrickNews091709 contains an Indianapolis News article that corroborates much of what was reported in the Indianapolis Star coverage. This article underscores the message that auto manufacturers were expressing great interest in renting the track for $50 a day - once it was paved with brick. The article notes that this would concentrate on endurance and not be racing. The idea was to push the cars, not a record pace but still a stout speed, over great distances.
The article also discusses how the original running surface was graded prior to laying brick. The Wabash Clay Company of Veedersburg, Indiana is noted for being the contracted supplier. This article reports that the project - which also involved expanded grandstand seating and the aerodrome - would cost $180,000 and that the entire plant's cost would reach $680,000. I think these figures are misleading. I believe the incremental expense beyond the cost of the original construction was closer to $700K.
Another Indianapolis News article (IMSNews093009) published September 30 at least implies that progress on the paving project had been significant enough to announce plans for a race meet on November 1. Ernie Moross, director of Speedway contests, made the announcement. The article notes that the American Automobile Association (AAA) had not agreed to sanction the event at that time, but track management was confident that would happen.
Typical of Speedway announcements the article offers hyperbole. Unnamed experts are cited in pronouncing that the track would be "the fastest in the world" once the paving was complete. This simply is not plausible given the existence of Brooklands, the concrete paved track in England. That track's high banked, sweeping, wide turns simply allowed for much more speed than the relatively flat track in the Hoosier capital.
Barney Oldfield is mentioned for having won the Remy Brassard race at the Speedway in August as well as setting new American track records. His record for the mile time trial put him in line for a previously announced prize - the Overland gold-plated car. The article posits that new brick running surface would allow for new records and with the planned November meet the winner of the impressive award would be determined.
As with most projections by track Founder Carl Fisher, the idea of preparing the track, organizing the race and promoting it was way too ambitious. It would not be until December time trials that the Speedway could host any kind of speed competition. This proved to be a modest event but did produce speed records.
Another point made is that the new brick surface would allow for the use of lighter, higher-powered cars such at the Buick "Earthquake" and the Fiat "Cyclone." These fan favorite machines were judged to be unsuitable to the rough running surface of the Speedway in its original crushed stone configuration.

IMSpave091609.pdf652.95 KB
Wabash_Clay_Co.pdf1.43 MB
IMSbrickNews091709.pdf1023.56 KB
IMSNews093009.pdf841.62 KB