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Hoosier History Live

Jun 3, 2022

Doctors, nurses and ambulances have been part of the scene at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since the first auto race in 1909, a disastrous, five-mile competition that resulted in the deaths of drivers, mechanics and spectators. (The inaugural Indianapolis 500 was not held until two years later, in 1911.) Medical, sports and social history began unfolding lickety-split at the world-famous racetrack. Hoosier History Live will explore the eras involving the Speedway’s first three chief medical officers, a 50-year span ending in 1959. 

Helmets for Indy 500 drivers did not become mandatory until the mid-1930s. The first chief medical officer was overruled in 1914 when he disqualified a driver who had visual challenges. And the second chief medical officer resigned in 1951 when a beer tent was erected at the racetrack, saying he did not want to have to treat “drunks”.