IMS August 20, 1909 Ad

This advertisement appeared in the August 20, 1909, Indianapolis News. It was part of the promotion of the tragic first auto racing event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. These races were controversial due to the devastating fatal accidents on the first and third days of the meet. In all, five men were killed:

In the wake of the carnage, some in the sport including the Knox Automobile Company and the National Motor Vehicle Company threatened to withdraw from the sport entirely. Indiana Lieutenant Governor Frank Hall called for legislation to outlaw auto racing in the Hoosier state.
The ad is instructive in that it gives us good information about the Speedway's facilities and ticket prices. There were 16,000 seats in the grandstands and it was all general admission. If you came through a gate that took you to the infield, the price was 50 cents. For a dollar, you could sit at the outer edge of the track. There was parking for 10,000 automobiles and hitching posts for 2,000 horses. The only reserved seating was apparently for "box seats," which were positioned closest to the running surface, and priced at $1.50. A significant number, if not most, race fans arrived by rail, so it is instructive to point out the Big Four railroad ran trains on an every 20-minute schedule and the "Ben Hurinterurban lines were hopping as well.

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