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May 1, 2023

As we varoom toward racing festivities, Hoosier History Live will shift into reverse gear for an exploration of the rapid construction of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1909. We also will spotlight early auto races at the Speedway that year, including some tragedies that preceded the successful inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911.

It took Speedway founder Carl Fisher and his partners about three years to acquire the property for the racetrack, according to our guest. Then, several factors resulted in a rush to get the Speedway built quickly. Beginning in March 1909, construction involved a total of 500 laborers and 300 mules.

Nelson's guest will be Mark Dill, an acclaimed historian of early auto racing and the creator of, an extensive online archive about pre-1920 auto racing. An Indy native and former vice president for marketing and public relations at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Mark is based in Cary, N.C., and is the author of books about the early era of auto racing, including The Legend of the First Super Speedway: The Battle for the Soul of American Auto Racing.