Introduction: The Look of the 500

Photo: IMS 1911

Photo: IMS 1911

I’ve spent the last few weeks going back in time, literally, through old photos from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. And it’s really quite awe-inspiring.

Who would have thought that the Indianapolis 500 was going on as far back as 1911? Who would have thought that any event was happening back in 1911, for that matter. But yes, before people drove cars, they showed up by horse and train to watch The Greatest Spectacle in Racing. And there are pictures to prove it.

Photo: IMS 1914

Photo: IMS 1914

It kind of feels like I’m sitting on the couch in my grandma’s living room, pouring through a box of old photos. Only, rather than the faces of my family’s past, I’m gazing into the eyes of the founding fathers of the sport I have come to love.

Photo: IMS 1910

Photo: IMS 1910

One of my contacts at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Cassie Conklin, reached out to me in August. She had an idea for a blog series on the IMS website and wanted to know if I’d be interested.

“The Look of the 500 idea came to me in 2013 as a way to show off the history of IMS and the Indy 500 in a unique way. Usually we center around the drivers, the cars, and the winners. I thought it would be fun to highlight the people and culture surrounding the history of the 500. The Look of the 500 series is also a great way to reach out to those that don’t normally connect with the competitive, automotive side of our history. It’s fun and light-hearted.”

– Cassie Conklin, IMS Social Media Strategist

I’ve been fascinated obsessed with the Indianapolis 500 since the first time I saw an IndyCar go around the track. So for me, the answer was easy.

“Yes, please!”

So, IMS opened their photo vault to me. And I’ve been captivated ever since. Every time I sit down and start sorting through pictures, I find something that amazes me. For example, who knew the Goodyear Blimp was around in 1923?

Photo: IMS 1923

Photo: IMS 1923

I just wish someone, like…maybe, Donald Davidson (IMS historian) was sitting next to me so I could ask him, “Who’s this?” I wouldn’t ask to sit on his lap though. Because that would just be…awkward.

I love sports. And I love to tell the story of sports. And to tell the story of The Greatest Spectacle in Racing from the pictures of the past is a truly unique opportunity.

A history in pictures of a sport I have such great respect for. And one that started right in my own backyard. Or, maybe my front yard.

Either way, I feel both grateful and humbled to bring you The Look of the 500.

I have added a link to The Look of the 500 on the IMS blog at the top of my page. Check back every week to get a peek at The Look of the 500 through the decades.

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