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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.


Image of an Indianapolis 500 race car and five popular participants of the 1915 race. May 25, 1915. The Richmond Palladium and Sun-Telegram (Richmond, IN), Image 6. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

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.