The Last Brick

This image originally appeared in the Saturday, December 18, 1909, Indianapolis Star. It shows Indiana Governor Thomas Marshall performing the ceremonial placement of the final one of 3.2 million bricks to complete the massive paving project of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This was the initial event of a day that saw the track first used for time trials after becoming "the Brickyard." The story goes that locals began using that nickname for the track before the work was completed as daily deliveries of train car loads of Wabash Clay Factory bricks were delivered. As for the "gold plated silver brick" the accepted story is that this was an exaggeration and the block in question was actually made of the same bronze or brass material used in Wheeler-Schebler Carburators, a product of a company owned and managed by Speedway Co-Founder Frank Wheeler.
Speedway management felt the need to stage the high-speed event in order to establish the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the preeminent venue for speed in America if not the world. A rival speedway in Atlanta had provided the stage for new American speed records the previous month when that new track staged its inaugural racing event. This image complemented other articles that covered the events of the previous day's first time trials. I believe the man directly to the right of the brick-laying governor is Speedway President and Co-Founder Carl Fisher. Most of the others in the picture were officials of car manufacturers, the Speedway or civic leaders. There were few fans in attendance due to the frigid cold.

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