Today’s race tracks are nothing short of amazing especially when you consider what was used back in the early 1900’s. But as beautiful as they appear today they can not hold up by comparison when we take a look what used to be as we look back thru the history books.
Anyone who has been to Indianapolis will most certainly recognize the above photo which is none other than the famous Pagoda that sits on the start/finish line at Indianapolis Raceway. While many consider this to be the Mecca of all racetracks in this writers oppinnion by comparison it’s an eyesore when compared to what once was.
In this next photo we see the original four-tier tower of the Japanese pagoda design which was erected in 1913. You can see just how close the the track sat in location to the spectators in this photo of Studebaker race cars taken in 1933.
I can’t help but laugh but if this photo was taken today just think how the environmentalist agencies would react. The original Pagoda, which was intentionally burnt to the ground after the 1925 Indianapolis 500, was replaced with a similar yet slightly larger version in time for the 1926 race. As speeds increased, officials felt the original Pagoda was built too close to the track, and thus the new Pagoda was built considerably further back from the main straightaway. This is possibly one of the only fires that was ever welcome at a race track but even then I am sure this amazing old building had some amazing stories to share.
Now call me a romantic but how can anyone begin to compare the beauty of this photo taken in 1954 to the behemoth that sits track-side today? It’s interesting to point out how the spectators are dressed in 1954 when compared to the earlier days of the early 1900’s events where suits, ties, top hats and women dressed to the nines. In this photo you will see sunglasses, white shirts with ties but without the heavy burden of a black suit coat and yet there still seems to be the feeling of, “Hey, everyone knows you are supposed to get dressed up for church, weddings and a car race.” If there was such a thing as a time machine I couldn’t think of a better place to spend a day… Can you?