Grandstands & Farm Bell

The Indianapolis newspapers eagerly followed the progress of workers in constructing the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the spring and early summer of 1909. According to a June 29, 1909 Indianapolis Star article ran in association with this image Speedway President Carl Fisher believed there was no way police whistles could be distinguished above the din of racing engines, cheers and the general buzz of voices at the track. The article reports that he decided that farm dinner bells (see inset) were to be positioned at three points around the track and would be used to alert officials of an emergency.
Beyond the bells the article this image complements provides a tidy update on progress at the track - which sounds impressive given that ground was not broken until March which means crews had been working something short of four months. The track surface had been covered with gravel and sand and was awaiting a coating of asphaltum oil. Once that was soaked into the materials steam rollers were in place to pack it all down. In the meantime carpenters were at work erecting a roof above the grandstand seats already in place. Two tiers of box seats had been built and stretched along a 200 yard promenade. Another six boxes extended closer to the track at the "tape," which is what the paper called start-finish. Interestingly the article suggests in a casual tone that such seats place spectators in danger of death or injury. The second inset in this photo depicts one of the box seats that were closer to the track. Check out this excerpt from the article:
"While they are placed at points of great vantage for witnessing the races they are not condusive of extreme safety in case one of the fast machines is so unfortunate as to carom over the high bank at that point, as small kindling wil be all that will remain of them. However, at that point of the bank there is small chance of danger or mishap unless a wheel should collapse or some unforeseen accident dash the machine beyond the control of the driver."

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