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1935: Safety becomes a priority at the Indy 500

Posted at 5:55 PM, Mar 12, 2016

The year was 1935.

Residents of Indianapolis paid around 10 cents a gallon for gas, and 24 cents to see a movie, but race fans knew come May their money would be well spent at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 

$3.50 bought a reserve ticket for the 23rd International 500-Mile Sweepstakes Race. Amelia Earhart had the glory of being honorary referee. It was the first time a women had held this position. 

Safety was a big concern in 1935. Participants had to wear crash helmets for the first time, and green and yellow caution lights were installed around the track. 

But even with these safety measures, it was one of the deadliest years at the Speedway. Two drivers and a riding mechanic lost their lives during qualifications and practice. And on race day, rookie Carl Weatherly died plowing right through the turn four wall. 

Rex Mays was the driver to beat, leading much of the first half of the race, but mechanical issues  eventually forced him out, opening the door for Kelly Petillo, who started 22nd. Petillo and his riding mechanic took the checkered flag, setting a new average speed record of 106.240 miles per hour, despite being slowed by rain at the end of the race.




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