INDIANAPOLIS — The first Indianapolis 500 hit the track in 1911. Now 111 years later the race is still a staple in Indy and across the country. But in the 1940's the roar of the engines almost stopped. According to one historian we spoke with, one family played a key role in making the track what it is today.
"During World War II, obviously there were some prejudices towards Germans,” said Matty Bennett with the Boyle Racing Headquarters Foundation. “So Eddie felt kind of unloved and threatened to demolish the track; it was already in pretty good disarray."
Anton Hulman bought the track from then owner Eddie Rickenbacker who had let it fall into severe disrepair due to the war. Wilbur Shaw advised Hulman to make the purchase. Shaw was a three-time Indianapolis 500 winner who raced for the Boyle family.
"I don't think if Wilbur would have been such a successful driver he wouldn't have been able to harness the attention of Anton Hulman to broker that deal with Eddie Rickenbacker,” said Bennett.
In the 30's and 40's, Bennett says the Boyle family was what the Penske family is to racing today. The building in which the Boyle family built their legacy fell into disrepair over the years. It was scheduled to be demolished just a few short years ago due to back taxes being owed. That’s where the Guggman Haus Brewing Company came in. They took the shell of a building and turned it into a restaurant and brewery. Along with that, the facility has a small museum inside dedicated to its original use as the Boyle Racing headquarters.
"For us, I guess it was just a way to be able to do more than just, you know, brew beer and do all the things we want to do with our brewery,” said Courtney Guggenberger, one of the co-owners of Guggman Haus Brewing Company. “We were also excited to help preserve the legacy of the Boyle Racing team. It has been an honor among other things."
Legacy and tradition are two words that many people think of when it comes to the Indianapolis 500. Guggman Haus Brewing Company hopes they can become a tradition during race week, a place where people can brew up some history of their own.
"The whole month of May there are different celebrations such as porch parties and just different events that bring people together,” said Guggenberger . “So, in our mind that's what our tap room does and kind of one of the reason we built our business anyway. Being able to plug in to that part of it and really the racing aspect of community — that's what we love about it."
With the Boyle Racing car and memorabilia on display, racing historians like Bennett hope the families influence in racing will live on.
"Continuing that education ... [we are] enlightening people of the ground that they are standing on — what it meant to Indianapolis, what it meant to the world and what it meant to the auto industry," said Bennett.
Guggman Haus Brewing also has racing themed beers. They have anywhere from 15-20 beers on tap regularly. For more details about the business click here.