First Aerial Shot of IMS

This is a historic photo in that it was the first aerial photograph taken of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Published in the May 23, 1909, Indianapolis Star the photo was taken the previous day from a gas balloon occupied by Indianapolis Motor Speedway President and Founder Carl Fisher and his ballooning mentor Captain George L. Bumbaugh. Fisher was practicing ascensions and landings under the supervision of Bumbaugh in order to obtain his balloon pilot's license. The balloon is reported to be the Kathleen owned by balloonist and race driver Charles A. Coey. This event was also historic because it was the first balloon ascension from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Coey's wife later became the first woman to ascend from IMS in a balloon.
Given the information in the caption that accompanied this photo (it specifically mentions passing over the southwest) I believe this was a shot looking north from a perspective over the south end short chute and turn one - both under construction at the time. I believe the white streak beyond the buildings to be Crawfordsville Pike (there was no 16th Street in those days). The building more or less in the middle (my best guess) was referenced in the photo of Lewis Strang studying a model of the track as a "poor farm." Feel free to disagree but that is what I surmise from reading articles and reviewing the images. On the other hand, it could be a look at the infield along the backstretch in which case two of the structures are probably the aero club house and the aerodrome hanger for balloons and airplanes. Please the important update from Alan Saters that better helps locate the buildings on the IMS grounds.
There was a lot going on at the Speedway at the moment this photo was taken on May 22, 1909. The track was under construction as management prepared for its first motorized event - a Federation of American Motorcyclists (FAM) motorcycle race as well as its first automobile races. A team of laborers using mules and steam shovels was grading the racing surface and banking turns. At the same time, the reason Fisher was in the balloon is because he was preparing to compete in the national balloon racing championship coming up on June 5, 1909.

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