1909 Balloon Race

The first competition at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was a national championship gas filled balloon race organized by Speedway President Carl Fisher. Fisher and his co-founders James Allison, Frank Wheeler and Arthur C. Newby were anxious to recover their investments in the Speedway. Since construction of the track did not begin in earnest until April 1909 it took months to prepare the track for motorized competition. Fisher, fascinated with aviation, sought to host the national championship balloon racing competition - and generate revenue for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Company. He formed the Aero Club of Indiana, became the 21st person to earn a balloon pilot's license in the United States and worked with mentor George Bumbaugh to develop balloon vehicles. Their craft was called the Indiana and together they survived a harrowing ride through turbulent wind currents. Check out a photo gallery of this great event elsewhere on First Super Speedway.

Almost unfathomable in today's information age but six days after the 1909 national championship balloon race was hosted by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on June 5 the results were still something short of officially certified.

Attached are a pair of articles reporting on the ballooning adventures of Carl Fisher's balloonist mentor, George Bumbaugh, In the wake of the June 1909 National Championship Balloon Race at the

The article the attachment FisherBalloonNews092809 below is from the September 28, 1909, Indianapolis News and reports on plans for the October 4 championship balloon races at the St.