INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY DURING HULMAN-GEORGE ERA
INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2005 -- A timeline of significant events at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Hulman-George ownership of the facility:
Nov. 14, 1945: Tony Hulman of Terre Haute, Ind., obtained control of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, purchasing it from World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker for $750,000. Hulman would help elevate the Indianapolis 500 and the month of May to a new level. Wilbur Shaw was named president and general manager. Shaw would later popularize the tradition of announcing, "Gentlemen, Start Your Engines" in the early 1950s.
Mid-to-late 1940s: The facilities were in deplorable condition after four years of deterioration during World War II, so a long-range program of improvements was launched immediately. The old wooden grandstands were replaced with steel and concrete structures as rapidly as possible in following years.
1949: Television cameras made their first appearance at the track on the morning of the 1949 race. WFBM Channel 6 went on the air with a documentary about the race entitled "The Crucible of Speed" and then televised the entire Indianapolis 500 live. This marked the first-ever television broadcast in the city of Indianapolis. One of the cameras was positioned on top of the first double-decker grandstand in Turn 1.
1954: Tony Hulman became the president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after the tragic death of Wilbur Shaw in a plane crash on Oct. 30, 1954.
1956: The first Hall of Fame Museum/office building at the main entrance to the grounds was completed.
1957: The new Master Race Control Tower (replacing the 1926 Pagoda), Tower Terrace and Pit Area were completed before the 1957 Indianapolis 500 -- along with a new tunnel under the backstretch. Other improvements followed quickly.
1961: A.J. Foyt earned the first of his four Indianapolis 500 victories after he took the lead from Eddie Sachs on Lap 197. In October, the remaining bricks on the front straightaway were covered with asphalt. A 36-inch strip of the original bricks ("Yard of Bricks") was kept intact at the start/finish line, where it remains today.
1965: The Indianapolis 500 was televised nationally on a tape-delayed basis for the first time on ABC.
April 5, 1976: The new, multi-million dollar Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum was opened to the public, featuring approximately 75 classic automobiles, motorcycles and racing cars. The museum is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
Summer 1976: The entire track was resurfaced with asphalt, marking the first complete repaving since paving bricks were laid in late 1909.
May 14, 1977: Pole-sitter Tom Sneva turned the first official 200-mph laps at the Speedway.
May 22, 1977: On the final day of qualifying in 1977, Janet Guthrie became the first female to qualify for the Indianapolis 500.
1977: A.J. Foyt became the first driver to win the Indianapolis 500 four times (1961, 1964, 1967 and 1977). Two other drivers would accomplish this feat in the years to come: Al Unser in 1987 (also won in 1970, 1971 and 1978) and Rick Mears in 1991 (also won in 1979, 1984 and 1988).
Oct. 27, 1977: Tony Hulman passed away after 32 years of presiding over the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His family took on the responsibility of preserving his vision and the heritage of the Speedway. Hulman's wife, Mary Fendrich Hulman, became chairman of the board while longtime family friend Joseph R. Cloutier was named president.
May 27, 1979: The "pack up" rule was employed as a safety measure during caution periods, and for the first time in history the Pace Car appeared on the track during the Indianapolis 500.
October 1979: The board of directors elected John R. Cooper to a director's position, and named him president and chief executive officer of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation.
Spring 1982: Cooper resigned as president and CEO and was subsequently elected chairman of ACCUS-FIA, Inc. Cloutier was again named IMS president.
Spring 1986: A new garage area complex was built, which includes 96 individual garages for race teams and new accessory rooms accommodating up to 25 participating companies.
1986: Bobby Rahal became the first driver to complete the Indianapolis 500 in less than three hours. The Indianapolis 500 was broadcast live on ABC for the first time.
May 1988: Mary Fendrich Hulman was named chairman of the board emeritus and her daughter, Mari Hulman George, was named chairman of the board.
1988: Following the Indianapolis 500, won by Rick Mears, the entire track and pit area were resurfaced.
1989: The winner's share of the Indianapolis 500 exceeded $1 million for the first time, which was won by Emerson Fittipaldi. Grandstand A was remodeled.
Dec. 11, 1989: IMS President Joseph Cloutier passed away.
Jan. 8, 1990: Anton H. "Tony" George, grandson of Tony Hulman, was named president of the Speedway.
Spring 1992: A newly designed, energy-absorbing crash pad was installed at the pit entrance on the north end of the inside pit wall.
May 24, 1992: Al Unser Jr. beat Scott Goodyear in the closest race in Indianapolis 500 history. The margin of victory was .043 of a second.
June 22-23, 1992: Nine NASCAR drivers conducted a tire test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the first official NASCAR test in the track's history. The following drivers participated: Rusty Wallace, Dale Earnhardt, Ricky Rudd, Mark Martin, Bill Elliott, Darrell Waltrip, Ernie Irvan, Davey Allison and Kyle Petty. The top speed of the test was 168.767 mph by Elliott on June 23.
1993: Brickyard Crossing, an 18-hole championship-caliber golf course, opened to the public. Four of the holes are located within the infield at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The course replaced the layout that first opened in 1929.
April 14, 1993: IMS President Tony George and NASCAR President Bill France Jr. announced in a press conference at the Hall of Fame Museum that the inaugural Allstate 400 at the Brickyard will take place on Aug. 6, 1994.
1994: Victory Lane was transformed into a circular, rotating lift in the Tower Terrace horseshoe, and a new, 97-foot-tall scoring pylon with modern electronics replaced the pylon that marked the main straightaway since 1959. In addition to track renovations, the new Indianapolis Motor Speedway Administrative Office was completed at the corner of 16th Street and Georgetown Road (outside Turn 1) and now houses most Indianapolis Motor Speedway offices.
March 11, 1994: Tony George, president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, announced plans for a new racing series, the Indy Racing League, to begin competition in 1996. The Indianapolis 500 is its cornerstone event.
Aug. 6, 1994: The inaugural NASCAR Allstate 400 at the Brickyard race was won by Jeff Gordon.
September 1994: The first Comfort Classic at the Brickyard, featuring the Senior PGA Tour (now the Champions Tour), took place.
Fall 1995: The entire track, except the new pit lane and warm-up lanes, was repaved with a specially designed racetrack asphalt mix featuring very small rocks. The top 5 inches of the track were milled and replaced with the new asphalt. Concrete walls and catch fencing were installed along the inside of the back straightaway.
1996: Arie Luyendyk established the one-lap qualifying record of 237.498 mph and the four-lap record of 236.986. Buddy Lazier won the race and became the first driver to win the Indianapolis 500 under the Indy Racing League flag.
Sept. 7, 1997: Plans were announced to build a new Control Tower that resembles the historic Pagoda structures that stood at the track from 1913-1956. The Bombardier Pagoda was completed in time for the 2000 Indianapolis 500.
May 1998: The Polyethylene Energy Dissipating System (PEDS) Barrier was installed on the inside wall in Turn 4 and on the inside wall of the pit entrance.
May 24, 1998: The 82nd running of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race was dedicated to the memory of Mary Fendrich Hulman, chairman emeritus of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, who passed away on April 10, 1998 at age 93. Race fans everywhere will remember Hulman as the gentle woman who, in a strong voice, gave the command for drivers to start their engines to begin the world's most famous automobile race from 1978-80 and 1982-96. Eddie Cheever Jr. earned his first Indianapolis 500 victory.
July 31, 1998: Mark Martin won the inaugural 40-lap "IROC at Indy" International Race of Champions event. Jeff Gordon won his second Allstate 400 at the Brickyard the next day.
Dec. 2, 1998: The Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced plans to play host to the United States Grand Prix Formula One race at the Speedway starting in 2000. Work began to prepare the track for the race, including the development of a 2.606-mile road course and 36 pit-side garages for the Formula One teams.
May 30, 1999: Kenny Brack won the 83rd running of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, which marked the 90th Anniversary of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Brack drove for four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt. During the Indianapolis 500 weekend, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway played host to the largest gathering of Congressional Medal of Honor recipients in history.
Spring 2000: Construction continued on the new Bombardier Pagoda control tower, pit-side garages and 2.606-mile road course in preparation for the inaugural United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis on Sept. 24, 2000. It is the most ambitious construction project in Speedway history.
Sept 24, 2000: Michael Schumacher won the inaugural United States Grand Prix Formula One race at Indianapolis before a crowd estimated at 225,000. Schumacher's Ferrari teammate, Rubens Barrichello, finished second and Heinz-Harald Frentzen was third in the Jordan Grand Prix entry.
Jan. 8, 2002: The Olympic Torch Relay came to the Speedway on the way to the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Indy Racing League drivers Sam Hornish Jr. and Helio Castroneves each drove one lap with the flame in the back of a Chevy Avalanche, while Speedway president Tony George and IRL driver/team owner Eddie Cheever Jr. each ran with the flame. Indy 500 veterans and NASCAR drivers John Andretti and Tony Stewart each ran with the flame on 16th Street and Georgetown Road.
March 2002: The Speedway's asphalt oval surface was made smoother in a process called "diamond-grinding." This was the first time that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's surface was ground to smooth the surface.
May 1, 2002: The Speedway announced that the groundbreaking SAFER (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) Barrier was in place in all four of the Speedway oval's corners for the beginning of practice for the 86th Indianapolis 500. Under development by the Indy Racing League and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Midwest Roadside Safety Facility since 1998, the SAFER Barrier is designed for multiple impacts by Indy Racing League cars and stock cars during an event. NASCAR joined in the development of the project in September 2000. The barrier was also used during the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard and USGP.
Aug. 8, 2002: The new Indiana quarter, which features a modern Indy-style race car, was released to the public during a ceremony at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
March 12, 2003: Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials announced that the Freedom 100 Menards Infiniti Pro Series race would take place on Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 17 at the Speedway. The 40-lap race marked the first time in history another automobile race shared the famed 2.5-mile oval with the Indianapolis 500 during the month of May.
May 18, 2003: Ed Carpenter won the inaugural Freedom 100, leading 39 of 40 laps. The finish of the race, scheduled for May 17, was delayed one day after rain halted activity on Lap 13.
May 30, 2004: Buddy Rice won a rain-shortened 88th Indianapolis 500-Mile Race for team owners Bobby Rahal, the 1986 "500" winner, and late-night talk show host Dave Letterman, an Indianapolis native. The race marked the 40th anniversary of ABC television network's coverage of the Indianapolis 500.
Late Summer-Fall 2004: The 2.5-mile oval surface, pit lane and warm-up lanes were repaved. Crews removed the famous "Yard of Bricks" beginning Aug. 9, milling of the old asphalt surface began Aug. 16, and the final layer of new asphalt was laid in early November.
December 2004: Joie Chitwood was named president and chief operating officer of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
March 2005: The new "Version 2" SAFER Barrier was installed in each of the four corners of the Speedway oval.
April 28, 2005: The Allstate Corporation, the nation's largest publicly held personal lines insurer, became the title sponsor of the prestigious Brickyard 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at IMS. The race was renamed the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard due to the historic partnership.
May 29, 2005: Dan Wheldon became the first Englishman since Graham Hill in 1966 to win the Indianapolis 500, while Danica Patrick stole the headlines by becoming the highest-finishing woman in the history of the Indianapolis 500 by finishing fourth and also the first woman to lead a lap in the prestigious race. She earned JPMorgan Chase Rookie of the Year honors for her performance.
Aug. 7, 2005: Tony Stewart, who was born in and resides in nearby Columbus, Ind., won the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, becoming the first Indiana native to win the "400" and the first Indiana-born driver to win any race at IMS since Wilbur Shaw won the 1940 Indianapolis 500.