Author Archive
Stories written by Linda_Mansfield

INDY TRADITIONS: Tom Carnegie

Tom Carnegie (right) called 61 Indianapolis 500s during his lengthy career. (IMS Photo)

Phrases such as “He’s on It” and “It’s a New Track Record” were made famous by Tom Carnegie, the chief announcer for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s public-address system for an incredible 61 years.

INDY TRADITIONS: Pace Car

The pace car made its debut during the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911. (IMS Photo)

The concept of a pace car is one of many things first developed at the Indy 500 and it was created for the inaugural running of the race in 1911.

INDY TRADITIONS: 500 Miles

The Indianapolis 500 has always been a 500-mile race. (IMS Photo)

Carl Fisher and his partners decided to do away with several races on the program as was the norm in favor of one large race that they hoped would be too big to be ignored. They wanted their race to last about seven hours, from about mid-morning to late afternoon. They decided the cars of the day could run about 500 miles in that time frame, so that’s how they chose to stage a 500-mile race.

INDY TRADITIONS: Scoring Pylon

The original scoring pylon was built in 1959 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The current one has been in place since 2014. (IMS Photo)

The original IMS scoring pylon was erected in the spring of 1959 and was replaced by the second-generation version in 1994.

INDY TRADITIONS: Gasoline Alley

Gasoline Alley is one of the best known Indianapolis 500 traditions. (IMS Photo)

Originally “Gasoline Alley” only referred to the one corner of the garage area where the fuel depot was located, but eventually it became the nickname for the entire garage area where the race cars are housed from the day they arrive for the month’s activities.

INDY TRADITIONS: Drink The Milk

The tradition of the winner drinking milk began in 1936. (IMS Photo)

The tradition of the winner drinking milk in victory lane began because Louis Meyer liked buttermilk.

INDY TRADITIONS: Festival Parade

The first Indianapolis 500 Festival Parade took place in 1957. (IMS Photo)

Reports say the popular 500 Festival Parade started as a copy-cat idea to Louisville’s weeklong celebration in advance of the Kentucky Derby horse race, which is staged on the first Saturday in May approximately 110 miles south of Indianapolis at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

INDY TRADITIONS: Field Of 33

It hasn't always been a field of 33 during the Indianapolis 500. (IMS Photo)

This is a tradition that has changed as circumstances warranted.

INDY TRADITIONS: Balloons

The pre-race balloon release has been a tradition at Indianapolis Motor Speedway since 1947. (IMS Photo)

Records show 1947 was the first year that multi-colored balloons were released before the start of the Indianapolis 500. This tradition began in response to a request made by Tony Hulman’s wife, Mary Fendrich Hulman.

INDY TRADITIONS: ‘The Greatest Spectacle’

The phrase 'The Greatest Spectacle In Racing' was first heard on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio broadcast of the 1955 Indianapolis 500. (IMS Photo)

Sid Collins made it famous, but a female copywriter in her early 20s named Alice Greene coined the phrase. It was first heard on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network’s broadcast of the 1955 Indy 500.

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