New historic marker toasts Speedway’s role in WWI aviation

Indianapolis Motor Speedway_112951

A new state historical marker pays homage to the role the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and adjacent areas played in keeping the nation’s pilots flying during World War I.

About 50 people attended Tuesday’s dedication of the marker by the Indiana Historical Bureau after rain drove most of the ceremony indoors. The new marker commemorates the town of Speedway’s wartime aviation repair depot.

The U.S. Army opened the depot in early 1918 to capitalize on the area’s strategic position near military airfields, railroads, and industry. The famed auto race was canceled during the war and its sprawling site provided hangars and a flight test field for pilots.

Ground crews worked at sites across Speedway to repair, modify and test aircraft and their engines in what became an innovative wartime aviation hub.

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