- Indianapolis Motor Speedway Tickets -
The Early Years * 1909-1916
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Pre-'500' Tickets from *1909 through May of 1910 depict an early version of the
now famous "Wing & Wheel" logo and have *one color for the background with black
the standard color used for the writing with other colors used when needed.
The backs do vary, but *all have legal liability statements regarding the rights
of spectators. In later years, tickets for different stands would be different
colors. It is uncertain if this was done during the 1909-1916 era.
Some pre-'500' tickets are dated - obviously, those that are not make it
difficult to tell exactly which race or races they may have been for.
Both Grandstand and General Admission or "Field or Main Gate"* tickets were sold
during this period but they are very similar in appearance unlike '500' tickets.
There is no printer listed for tickets from 1909 through 1916.
As mentioned on the Tickets page, one needed an admission to grounds ticket to accompany
a grandstand seat ticket. Those tickets seen here which have no date or designation ie.
"Aviation Meet", are more than likely admission to grounds tickets.
As mentioned on the Tickets page, one needed an admission to grounds ticket to accompany a grandstand seat ticket. Those tickets seen here which have no date or designation ie. "Aviation Meet", are more than likely admission to grounds tickets.
The first "race" at the Speedway was a balloon race held June 5th of 1909 and admission was charged for the event. Only about 3500 spectators actually paid to get in which would make it an extremely rare ticket to find. (Approx. 40,000 watched from outside the track for free).
The first motorized races held at the Speedway were the motorcycle races of August 13th & 14th 1909. Tickets are extremely rare as it was not very well attended and the second days races were called off due to accidents caused by poor track conditions. The "Complimentary" ticket stub below was part of the late Fred Hooks collection.**
The August 19th-21st auto races were far better attended than the motorcycle races of the week before, but the tickets are still very rare to find. The crushed stone and tar surface was so torn up during the Aug. 21st 300 mile final race that it was called at the 235 mile mark due to accidents which claimed several lives. The ticket stub below is for the first day of the auto races, August 19, 1909***. It is assumed that there would've been a ticket for the August 20th and 21st races as well and possibly a multi-day ticket too.
The ticket above is a one day ticket (August 19th) while the two tickets below indicate this type of ticket was sold as a one day and as a multiple day ticket.
Note the hand written dates on the two tickets above.
After the tragic August auto races, the track was paved with 3.2 million
bricks. There were Record Trials, sometimes referred to as the "brick test", on December 17th-18th of 1909 consisting
of speed record runs and a 20 mile race. Admission was free so tickets for the "brick test"/Record Trials
are complimentary which is printed at the top "Compliments Of" (the Speedway). "Record Trials" and
"Dec. 17th & 18th 1909" have been stamped on the ticket. As it was very cold with only about 500 people
attending the event, Record Trials tickets are extremely rare.
In 1910 there were several events scheduled: Memorial Day weekend, July 4th weekend and Labor Day weekend auto races, a June Aviation Meet and September balloon races.
Below are ticket stubs for the May 1910 races: May 27th, May 28th, May 30th and May 27-28-30th. The ticket stub on the bottom is an advanced sale three day ticket while the others are a one day.
June 1910 Aviation Meet.
Note the back of the above ticket has five legal statements where others known from 1910 have six and those known from 1909 have only four so what event it is for is unclear.
The July 4th weekend auto race ticket stubs below are dated and do change in design from the previous tickets. The early version "Wing and Wheel" logo is gone replaced by "Indianapolis Motor Speedway Auto Races" at the top. The back still carries a legal liability statement although the wording is a little different. Note that this is good for admission and for Stands B and C only.
Grandstand tickets for the September 1910 auto & balloon races are more than likely marked as such and had accompanying admission tickets.
Attendance began to wane in the latter part of 1910 as the novelty of the Speedway
wore off therefore these pre-'500' tickets are very rare to come by.
(We do not have pictures for all the 1909-1910 events. If you have any of these, please let us know so we can post it here on the site.)
Carl Fisher and the other three owners of the Speedway agreed that they needed one special race for the Speedway and the '500' Mile Race was born on Memorial Day 1911. The 1911 and 1912 grandstand tickets have no year date on them however, 1911 is Tuesday, May 30 and 1912 Thursday, May 30. General admission tickets from 1911 and 1912 do have the year date. There is a horizontal perforation to grandstand tickets where an admission and/or gatemans stub probably were. A picture of the first turn is seen vertically at left on the 1912 grandstand ticket and horizontally on the general admission ticket. A picture would not appear again on a ticket until 1947. Note that at least as far back as 1912, color was used to denote different stands, in this case a blue/gray for stand "C" and red for stand "B"**.
The Grandstand 1911 ticket has perforations at the bottom and is identified as a 1911 by the date of Tuesday, May 30 at the top. Also note the June 3rd postponement date on the general admission below which is not seen on the grandstand ticket. The June 3rd postponement date is the only time we're aware of that a June date appears on an Indianapolis 500 ticket. The general admission ticket is made of a thin paper stock which may account for this possible unique example surviving.
Note that there appear to be no perforations to the 1911 General Admission ticket.
The 1912 general admission ticket stub below has a vertical perforation and measures 3 1/4" x 1 3/5". Unlike the grandstand ticket stub above, the general admission ticket stub does have the date with the year. 1912 is the first known year* a signature appears on either a grandstand or general admission stub. The signature of "J.A. Allison Treas." appears at lower right as seen on the on the general admission stub below. The backs are blank on all tickets from 1911 through 1916.
The 1913 and 1914 grandstand ticket stubs have a vertical perforation where the
admissions and/or gatemans stub would've been and a horizontal perforation separates
the rain check and the ticket stub. The first turn picture is dropped but the
date with the year appears for the first time in the rain check portion at the
top. Both measure a little over 3" x 2 1/3". 1913 marks the first year for
a signature to appear on grandstand tickets. The
signature "J.A. Allison Treas." would appear through 1915 at the lower right of
the rain check for grandstand and lower right corner on general admission. The
1914 general admission ticket stub looks better than the grandstand ticket stub
from that year as it depicts a wire racing wheel at the center. There is a
vertical perforation at left and it measures 3 1/4" x 3 1/4".
(We do not have pictures of a 1913 general admission ticket at this time. If you have any of these, please let us know (NI500CC.COM or email@example.com) so we can post it here on the site.)
It is not certain if the 1914 ticket stub below was the big portion of a grandstand or general admission ticket which would've been taken by an attendant at the race or a third type of ticket. The signature of "C.G. Fisher Prest." is seen at lower right.
(From the cover of the 1987 Indy 500 program.)
The 1915 grandstand ticket stub is the same height as the 1913 and '14, but is just a little wider. The date with year appears at the bottom of the ticket and also in the rain check portion. The general admission ticket stub is the same size as the 1914. Again, the grandstand ticket stub is pretty much bland and the general admission is only a little better. Note on both the unused grandstand and general admission that the design of the portion at left is basically the same. Both retain the same perforations.
Both the grandstand and general admission ticket stubs for 1916 shrink measuring 2 2/5" x 2 3/4" and 2 1/4" x 2 3/4" respectively. There are at least two different colors for general admission ticket stubs as seen below. The same perforations as 1913-15 are present. The signature of "T.E.Meyers Gen. Mgr." takes the place of "J.A.Allison" on both tickets.
Due to the threat of the United States entering World War I and the possibility of the Speedway having to shut down, the Speedway decided to hold the "Harvest Auto Racing Classic" on Sept. 9th of 1916 which consisted of 3 races of varying lengths. No more than 10,000 spectators attended the event, therefore this is an extremely rare ticket to acquire.
Despite much better attendance for the '500' races than for previous events, (the 1916 race was a 300 mile race due to several reasons) all tickets from 1911 through 1916 are very tough and rare to find.
* This information is
to the best of our knowledge. If anyone has more information, please contact:
# All measurements are taken from the stub or used ticket.
To learn more about the early days of the Speedway, it is suggested
you read "500 Miles to Go" by Al Bloemker. Much of the information about
dates, attendance etc. for these early events were obtained from this
** From Auto Racing Memories and Memorabilia Vol. 3 #5 page 22.
*** From Dick Wallens book "Board Track - Guts, Gold & Glory" page 22.
# All measurements are taken from the stub or used ticket.
To learn more about the early days of the Speedway, it is suggested you read "500 Miles to Go" by Al Bloemker. Much of the information about dates, attendance etc. for these early events were obtained from this book.