Hoosier Hundred Is Rich In Racing History
INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana State Fairgrounds stirs many memories among race fans who have visited its historic one-mile dirt track since the Championship Cars started competing here right after World War II.
This year’s Hoosier Hundred is scheduled for Thursday night May 23 at the historic Indianapolis Fairgrounds oval. UMP modifieds will also be on the card.
The first 100-mile Championship Car race was held here in 1946 under sanction of the Indianapolis Racing Ass’n and although the memories are not all pleasant ones, Rex Mays’ victory was significant as it began a great tradition of dirt-track racing in the speed capital.
The list of race winners alone is impressive, to say the least. The list of also-rans would also read like a who’s-who of the sport and a testament to the reverence this track holds among the racing fraternity.
Race fans can look back at this track as the pinnacle of dirt-track prominence for a driver. The “Hoosier Hundred,” inaugurated in 1953, incorporated many of the Indianapolis 500 veterans annually and that race, combined for several years with the “Hulman Hundred,” has become a truly American racing classic, originally a September staple but now as much a part of the frantic “month of May” as the Indianapolis 500.
Here’s a look at the race through the years.
1946:Rex Mays leads all 100 miles to win after Al Putnam was killed during qualifying when he hit a concrete abutment between turns three and four.
1953: Bob Sweikert leads Manuel Ayulo, Johnnie Parsons and Don Freeland to the checkered flag in a four-car blanket finish after rain forced a one-week postponement of the inaugural “Hoosier Hundred.”
1954: Jimmy Bryan catches Bob Sweikert on the 43rd lap and races to a convincing win.
1955: Jimmy Bryan takes lead on lap 55 and wins. Bob Sweikert relinquished a half-lap lead when a U-joint breaks at the 31st lap. Edgar Elder posts fast time, then takes out 50 feet of guardrail on second qualifying lap! USAC formed day before the race, to begin sanctioning in 1956.