Indianapolis 500-mile Race: Topics in Chronicling America
On Memorial Day weekend of 1911, crowds flocked to the Indianapolis Speedway for the first ever 500-mile race. This guide provides access to material related to "Indianapolis 500" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.
Chronicling America is a searchable digital collection of historic newspaper pages from 1777-1963 sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress.
Included in the website is the Directory of US Newspapers in American Libraries, a searchable index to newspapers published in the United States since 1690, which helps researchers identify what titles exist for a specific place and time, and how to access them.
With increasing speeds and prize money, the Indianapolis 500-mile Race quickly became a hugely popular event. Crowds of over 100,000 came to see these speed machines race around the track and were almost guaranteed to witness some major accident. It was at Indianapolis that these racers were able to prove their own greatness as well as that of their car and country. Read more about it!
The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.
The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.
May 30, 1911
The Indianapolis Speedway hosts its first annual 500-mile race on Memorial weekend. Ray Harroun takes the prize.
May 28, 1912
Joe Dawson wins in Indianapolis with the added benefit of increased prize money. There were no deaths at the race this year, a rare occurrence in motor sports at this time.
May 27, 1913
Jules Goux, a Frenchman, takes the win with cash prize and champagne shower.
May 29, 1915
Official rules change the number of participants to 33 and the minimum speed is increased.
May 31, 1919
Two racers are killed when their car catches fire during race.
May 30, 1922
Record-breaking crowds attend Indianapolis 500 and prize money is up to $85,000.