Re-Thinking History


I had a conversation with Donald Davidson of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today that made me stop and think. It concerns information I have elsewhere on this site that discusses the conception of the Speedway. In fact, I have a brochure and an article that posits the view that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway may have been conceived on a chilly November night at the Indiana State Fairgrounds during a 24 hour record run involving two of Newby's Nationals. While I like the story and there is no reason to think the four founders - Carl Fisher, James Allsion, Art Newby and Frank Wheeler - did not have a brainstorming session around a bonfire that night, it probably wasn't the first time that Fisher had considered the development of such a facility. In fact, there is absolute proof that Fisher was considering a large speedway years before the property for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was even identified. In an editorial Fisher wrote in the November 16, 1906 issue of Motor Age Fisher explains the significant difference between a one mile and three or five mile track. He also stressed the need for long stretches of excellent running surface to run engines at sustained speed for testing durability. In his letter, Fisher indicates that he had been considering such a facility for three years, but we only have his word for that. Bottom line, I don't mean to assert that the Speedway was conceived that November night at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. But it may well have been the first time all four men discussed the concept together.