Racing Through the Coronavirus Crisis

FILE - In this May 30, 1946, file photo, George Robson gets a hug from his wife as he waves to the crowd from his Thorne Special car, after winning the Indianapolis 500 auto race in Indianapolis, Ind. George Robson won at the first Indy 500 held since 1941 following World War II. Robson, who died in a racing accident less than four months later, beat rookie Jimmy Jackson by 44.04 seconds. (AP Photo/File)(The Associated Press)

A Look Back on the History of Motorsports Can Provide Comfort for the Future

May 30th, 1911 was the very first Indy 500. NASCAR ran its first race in 1948. The SCCA began sanctioning road racing in 1948 as well, with the inaugural Watkins Glen Grand Prix. The first Pikes Peak Hill Climb took place in August 1916. America has been racing for well over 100-years. Racing has survived the Great Depression, World War II, Vietnam, President Kennedy Assassination, the Cuban Missle Crisis, Iran Hostage, the 9/11 Attacks, the Great Recession of 2008 and more. We will make it through the Coronavirus.

In any crisis things usually get worse before they get better. In November 1941, tickets for the 30th running of the Indianapolis 500 went on sale. Less than a month later, the attack on Pearl Harbor launched the United States into World War II. Within days, public and political pressure began to mount on Speedway management to suspend the race. On December 29, 1941, Speedway President Eddie Rickenbacker announced the 1942 race would be canceled. In July 1942, the federal government moved to ban all automobile racing.

Mechanics, racers and just about everyone else focused on the war efforts. The speedway gates were closed and the track began to fall into a state of despair. After World War II was over Eddie Rickenbacker was uninterested in reviving the speedway. It appeared the Indianapolis 500 may never see it’s 30th running. Tony Hulman purchased the track in November of 1945, and it reopened in 1946 after Hulman worked tirelessly over several months to restore the dilapidated facility. The 30th Indianapolis 500 was run and there have been seventy-three events since.