Six years before the Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosted its first 500-mile race in 1911, Carl G. Fisher, a local businessman, envisioned a flat track ideal for testing horseless carriages made around the city. The 2.5-mile oval was also ideal for racing, of course.
The automobile industry migrated from Indianapolis, but the Indianapolis 500 became a Memorial Day weekend tradition. With the 100th anniversary race set for May 29, speedway officials have revived a competition that likely would please Mr. Fisher, who died in 1939.
The Hulman Indy Challenge, held from 1989 to 1996, will be renewed to promote the development of automotive technology through motor sports. The competition is named after Anton Hulman, who, with his purchase of the speedway in 1945, rescued the Brickyard from four years of neglect brought about by World War II.
“We recognize the landscape is changing for the development of the automobile, and we are eager to provide the ultimate showcase for those wanting to prove their products in on-track competition,” Jeff Belskus, president and chief executive of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said in a news release.
The Hulman Indy Challenge is not a freestanding event like the Indy 500, Brickyard 400 or the MotoGP races held at the speedway. When manufacturers want to test various parameters of their vehicles under sanction, the speedway will work with them to set a date for their attempts.
Paul Kelly, a speedway spokesman, said that the track planned to also court manufacturers of alternative-energy vehicles. The tests will not be confined to 24-hour endurance runs, as they have in the past. The parameters will be decided this summer.
In the meantime, electric and solar-power cars from colleges will compete in an Emerging Tech Day at the speedway on Saturday afternoon, a day before the Indianapolis 500. Major manufacturers will present a giant ride-and-drive event with a variety of electric vehicles. Admission is free.
Early adopters of electric vehicles are also in luck, as they are eligible to take a lap around the track’s oval on Saturday. Mandatory preregistration can be completed on the speedway's website.
Should be a great race!
Be sure to check out the Official Indianapolis Motor Speedway Website.