Speedway's Venue Vision

The article in attachment IMSaero101109 was originally published in the Indianapolis Star on October 11, 1909. It concerns the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's quest to host the 1910 international air show featuring the James Gordon Bennett Cup for airplanes which was won by American Glenn Curtiss in August 1909. This news came at a time when the Speedway was scrambling to finish repaving the race track and organize a November 1 auto race meet. A previously announced fall aviation show had been canceled on October 1.
The significance here is the insight it provides to the vision of the Speedway founders for the track - a multi-purpose venue of international appeal. As noted elsewhere the Speedway held ambitions to host an Olympic games - something that never came to pass. They not only envisioned record-breaking auto racing and a giant test lab of the automobile industry but also the aviation capital of America as well as a facility capable of supporting international events such as the Olympics.
The international air show was held in Rheims, France in August 1909 and like the other Bennett Cups, it carried the theme of competition between countries. Because of Curtiss' victory in the Bennett Cup America won the right to host the 1910 games. Director of Speedway Contests Ernie Moross was on the job actively courting Curtiss to sway the decision. Despite a previous report that Curtiss was expected in town the previous day he had not appeared and was expected to arrive "any hour."
The top cities competing for the honor were New York, Washington, D.C., and St. Louis. While the article touts the Speedway as giving Indianapolis the competitive edge plans for additional modifications are reported. These included tearing down telephone poles and wires and replacing them with an extensive underground cable belting the track. Additionally, the track was reportedly planning to level the infield to the oval to accommodate planes using wheels (many used skids at the time) so their ascensions would be smooth.
Moross dismissed the viability of St. Louis saying they did not have a suitable venue, instead relying on a park. He also believed New York was unsuitable based on recent aviation efforts. He is quoted in the article:
"Wilbur Wright and others in Gotham have practically admitted that New York is not a suitable place. These events require an interior city, such as Indianapolis, with many railroads leading to it from all directions and ample accommodations near the site of the performances. I think this city the logical place for such flights that are bound to be record-breakers because of its geographical situation."
The references to geography were later explained in the article as commentary about ocean air currents buffeting the light, fragile aircraft of the day. These currents were exacerbated as they surged between the city skyscrapers to create "wind tunnels." As evidence, Moross cites issues encountered at the Hudson-Fulton Celebration which was completed only two days prior to the publication of this article. On this Moross is quoted:
"In many ways the aviation events at the Hudson-Fulton celebration were disappointing. For ten days Curtiss and Wright held themselves ready to give exhibitions soaring over New York but weather conditions did not favor them. When Wright encircled the Statue of Liberty on Bedloe's Island he was compelled to fly against a breeze so strong that Curtiss remained in flight but a short time The velocity of the wind was more than twelve miles an hour, and the currents, due to the enormous skyscrapers, drove Wright to the Jersey side of the river where he sought protection."
In a clear sign of wishful thinking, Moross added, "I am sure that proximity to the ocean is a factor that will be seriously considered in awarding this meet."
Moross wasn't just using the media to lobby the decision makers of the international aviation show. In a thinly veiled plea, he called upon the Indianapolis city government and prominent citizens to pitch in. To this point he is quoted:
"It will require the expenditure of a great deal of money for such events, and while the Speedway promoters have not as yet asked the city to help and will never beg, it would be a good opportunity for Indianapolis to offer prizes, as St. Louis and other cities have done and are promising to do. I believe the city has awakened to the great value of such a site as the Speedway. St. Louis expects to offer about $75,000 to bid for this meet."
Moross was doing his best to convince civic leadership that the Speedway was the catalyst for economic growth for Indianapolis. On the Olympic front, he reportedly had written J.K. Sullivan, secretary of the National Amateur Athletic Union.
The article also discusses the growing interest in aviation in Indianapolis and especially the Speedway as a supporting facility. Speedway President and Founder Carl Fisher is identified as a part owner of the biggest dirigible in the United States. This was almost certainly the dirigible earlier identified with his ballooning mentor George Bumbaugh. Fisher was reported to be constructing an airplane at the Speedway.
Curtiss was reportedly working with Joseph "J.W." Curzon to develop a plane based on the designs of the first man to fly across the English Channel, Louis Bleriot. Speculation had it that the plane would be powered by an experimental 12 cylinder Wheeler-Schebler engine developed by the company headed by Speedway co-founder Frank Wheeler. Famed industrialist Arthur Pratt Warner is said to have purchased an airplane from Curtiss and was coming from his Wisconsin home to take flying lessons. It is suggested he intended to store his plane at the Speedway.
The push for the Speedway to host the international air show was not news. Weeks earlier the Indianapolis News (attachment IMSaeroNews090809) reported that Indianapolis was pushing to host the proposed air show and the Speedway was the ace in their hand. Representatives of Hoosier interests were reaching out to officials at the sanctioning organization, the Aero Club of America. The club wanted competing cities to put a guarantee fund of $100,000.
Ernie Moross is again cited as a point man on attracting the event. As stated above, Glenn Curtiss was a much sought-after entry. A confident Moross is quoted saying, "The Indianapolis Motor Speedway can offer greater inducements than any other organization in the country, and the carnival will probably be held in this city, regardless of what others offer." 
Attachment IMSaeroNews101809 contains a brief Indianapolis News article, published October 18, 1909, that appears important. That's because it may document the arrival of the first airplane in Indiana. This was J.W. Curzon's biplane, designed by famed French aviator Henri Farman. The plane had recently appeared in the aviation feature of the St. Louis Centennial fair. The plane was housed at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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