James Whitcomb Riley Balloon Poem

James Whitcomb Riley was a national figure in an era where authors and poets were in demand for public readings. Extremely popular and quite wealthy Riley nonetheless struggled with alchohlism and poor health. By the time of the construction of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the June 5, 1909 national championship balloon races Riley's health was rapidly deteriorating - largely the result of alcholism.  A confidant and almost certainly a drinking buddy of Indianapolis Motor Speedway Founder and President Carl Fisher, Riley was well known for his affinity for children as well as his ability to touch the child in adults through his entertaining, folksy style of writing.
Well past his prime as a writer and poet Riley was inspired enough by the balloon competition to pen a poem about the Speedway event. Although there is no hard evidence the poem in this attachment could easily lead a reader to believe he had taken a ride with Fisher - or someone - in a balloon.

RileyBalloonPoem060609.pdf182.46 KB