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100 Years of Indy History

U.S. Census Bureau Facts for Features: Indianapolis Motor Speedway 100th Anniversary

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Needing a test facility for Indianapolis’ burgeoning automobile industry, Carl Fisher and three other investors purchased 325 acres in 1909. They built a 2.5-mile racetrack and dubbed it Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "The Brickyard" — a nickname coming about later that year when 3.2 million bricks were used to pave the track — is the world’s largest sports venue, with the ability to seat about 400,000 spectators.

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One hundred years after the first of more than 300 races at the speedway, it remains home of the world-famous Indianapolis 500, as well as NASCAR’s Brickyard 400, and some motorcycle and Formula One events. The 93rd Indy 500 on May 24, 2009, is being billed as the first race in the track’s "Centennial Era" of 2009-2011.

To commemorate this automotive milestone, the U.S. Census Bureau has compiled a collection of facts and figures relating to our nation, Indiana and Indianapolis during the past 100 years.

How Times Have Changed…

National Population
1909: 90 million
2009: 306 million

Price of a New Car
1909: $1,280
2009: $28,715

Price of a Gallon of Gas
1909: 6 cents (regular leaded)
2009: $1.93 (regular unleaded as of March 2)

Most Popular Baby Names
1909: John and Mary
2009: Jacob and Emily (as of 2007)

Automobiles
743: Number of U.S. companies involved in automobile manufacturing in 1909, employing more than 85,000 people. These employees earned an average of $680 per year.

In 2007, motor vehicle manufacturing employed about 223,000 and these employees earned an average of $29.23 an hour.

11,260,000: Number of motor vehicles produced in the United States in 2006, with 4,367,000 of them being passenger cars (39 percent).

In 1909, Ford produced 17,771 vehicles (all of them Model T’s), followed by Buick at 14,606. Also in 1909, there were nearly a dozen automobile manufacturers based in Indianapolis and another 30 in the rest of Indiana.

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244,166,000: Number of registered motor vehicles across the country in 2006. A little more than 135 million, or about 55%, of them were cars.

In 1909, there were 312,000 registered motor vehicles — 98% of them cars.

SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau

Photo courtesy of Buick Heritage Alliance http://www.buickheritagealliance.org/buickhistory.php  

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