Indianapolis News and Headlines


Indy 500 1916 was only 300 miles long

Road to 100: 1916
Road to 100: 1916
Posted at 5:49 PM, Feb 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-25 09:55:18-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- In 1916 Indianapolis, the headlines spoke glowingly of the record breaking demand for housing and economic prosperity for area residents of all incomes.

In direct contrast, World War I raged overseas, and many of Europe's best race car drivers who competed in the Indianapolis 500 in previous years were now dressed in combat uniforms.

Only 21 drivers lined up on the starting grid, the smallest in the race's long history. 

In deference to the war effort, 1916 was also the only time in Indy 500 history when the race was actually shortened to 300 miles. This was driven by IMS' president Carl Fisher, who actually believed spectators preferred a shorter race, but he instead pushed the politically popular opinion of conserving on fuel, rubber and raw materials to support the troops.

It was a race marred by two spectacular crashes, and orld War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker led early on, but Italian Dario Resta, participating in just his second race, took the lead at 50-miles to go and never looked back. 

Resta and his Peugeot only made one pit stop for ties and gas, winning the race with an average speed of 84 miles per hour.

The Indy 500 would go on a hiatus for 1917-18 when the Great War caught up with America. For the next two years, the speedway became a landing strip and maintenance station for the military and a testing ground for experimental aircraft.

Road to 100: 1915  | 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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