Date of Award
The Indianapolis 500 did not occur from 1942 to 1945 because of World War II. And due to war efforts to conserve fuel and a suspension of all auto racing activities, Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner of the time, Eddie Rickenbacker, let the track deteriorate. The racetrack began to crumble, the infield became overgrown, stands began to fall apart, and many people thought that was the end for the legendary race course, and so to the Indianapolis 500. This thesis explores how the future of the track and race were secured through the efforts of two men, Wilbur Shaw and Tony Hulman. Shaw was a three-time Indianapolis 500 winner, who was able to get wealthy businessman, Hulman, involved in buying the course. Through the efforts of these two men, the race course was saved and repaired, improved even, and the Indianapolis 500 was given the green light to continue in 1946. These men were not only able to build the track back up to its former glory, but make it something much more, and by so doing, they also created their own culture around racing. Not only does the reopening of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway depict the rise in entertainment following World War II, but it also shows the rise in the popularity of race culture, especially in the Indianapolis community. Since 1946, the Indianapolis 500 has brought hundreds of thousands of fans from around the world to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway annually.
Slentz, Samantha Louise, "The 1945 Purchase of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway: How World War II Changed Racing History and Culture" (2023). Undergraduate Honors Thesis Collection. 710.