INDIANAPOLIS -- In 1915, the sports landscape in Indianapolis was changing: The Federal League Champion Indianapolis Hoosiers, a baseball team from the Circle City, relocated to New Jersey.
While the city still had the Indianapolis ABCs, one of the top teams in black baseball, their hearts grew ever fonder of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Sweepstakes Race, where changes were also taking place to meet the ever-growing popularity: Thirty new garages and a grandstand were added to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The Ford Motor Company didn't have any cars in the race, but in 1915 the company celebrated the grand opening of an assembly plant at Washington and Oriental streets in Indianapolis.
The facility produced 60 cars per day.
Only 24 cars qualified for the Indy 500 that year - World War I took away many of the men-of-age who might otherwise have entered.
The fifth running of the race was delayed by rain from a Saturday to a Monday, but once it finally began, Italian Ralph DePalma, who had famously gotten out and pushed his car with two laps to go after it broke down in the 1913 race, was ready, starting second with a qualifying speed of 98.5 miles per hour.
DePalma dominated most of the race, just as he did in 1913, leading the majority, but with just two laps to go, his Mercedes engine threw a rod and he was running on only three cylinders.
But Depalma, who the Associated Press called a "pioneer auto racer who probably won more races than any other driver in history," held on in cunning fashion, setting a new race record of 89.840 miles per hour average speed. He won a race first prize of $22,000.
It's something that acclaimed Indianapolis author Booth Tarkington, who made 1915's bestseller list with "THe Turmoil", couldn't have written better himself.
Something else notable from the 1915 race - it was the first time Louis Chevrolet appeared as a driver in the Indy 500. He would never finish better than 7th, but his name remains a part of Brickyard lore as the co-founder of the Chevrolet Motor Company. The company continues to build cars for the Indy 500 to this day as part of General Motors.
MORE ON THE ROAD TO 100
Road to 100: 1914 | Road to 100: 1913 | Road to 100: 1912 | Road to 100: 1911 | Special Section: Road to 100 | Enter to win tickets to the Indy 500 | Start your engines: 100 stories in 100 days
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