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GENTLEMEN, START YOUR ...LIBERTY MOTORS?


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In 1916, the last Indianapolis 500 was ran until after the end of WWI. In 1917,the infield was converted to Aviation Repair Depot, Speedway, Indiana and the 821st Aero Repair Squadron was assigned there. As the name states, it was a repair facility, but also aircraft were tested there.

 

Aviation isn't anything new to the speedway. the first race conducted there was a balloon race and the Indianapolis municipal air field was located on the infield before the war.

 

So as your watching the race this weekend, just image biplanes taking off and landing in middle of the oval.

 

Below is a yard long photo of the 821st taken in December 1918. The photo shown below is from the Indiana State Library digital archives. This photo is one of my great white whales that I am hunting for. I have seen a few of them, but have not been able to "harpoon" one yet.

 

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Tough not to find a WW1 connection to Indy since Eddie Rickenbacker raced in 4 500s before WW1 and then owned the speedway for 10 years after the war.

 

Fascinating stuff

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Tough not to find a WW1 connection to Indy since Eddie Rickenbacker raced in 4 500s before WW1 and then owned the speedway for 10 years after the war.

 

Fascinating stuff

 

Very true about Rickenbacker. However the 500 has been an international race. In 1914 the winning driver was French with Belgium in second. Many of these racers were also aviators and many were called to duty during the war. Here are the results of the top 10 for the 1914 500.

 

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Somewhat related, here is a piston I have that is believed to be from a Liberty motor.

 

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