1930: Program Has a Familiar Format

Note: The Pit Window offers condolences to James Hinchcliffe and his family on the loss of James’ father. Please keep the hinchcliffe’s in your thoughts.

Looking for a bargain at a memorabilia show is fun. Finding one is even better. The show at the Dallara factory last month. turned up a couple of beauties. I purchased programs from the 1930 and 1932 Indianapolis 500 Mile Races for $5 each. These programs are the first ones in my collection outside the Hulman era of Speedway history. Eddie Rickenbacker had bought the track in 1927 from the Carl Fisher and his group. I expected the contents to be completely different from the programs in my lifetime. To my surprise, the format was very similar to what we see today and throughout the Hulman ownership. While there were some tweaks to the content, it seemed like a very familiar program.

Still, there were a few things missing which I found odd. There is no recap of the 1929 race, nor does Ray Keech, the 1929 winner, appear anywhere except in an advertisement. He is even omitted from one of three pages of cameos of previous winners. Keech was killed in a racing accident June 15, just two weeks after the 500.

There is an interesting essay by C. F. Kettering talking about a coming fossil fuel shortage. It warns that fossil fuel supplies will be exhausted in 15 years at the current rat of consumption. I didn’t realize energy consumption was such a concern at that time. It is a very prescient and still relevant article.

The memorial page, which thankfully we don’t see very often any more, only has a tribute to Gaston Chevrolet, who died 10 years earlier in a racing accident. The page seems to have come from the 1921 program.

The rest of the usual pages are there- Order of the Day, a timing chart, a page with the Speedway principals, and a race day scoring chart.

1930 Speedway administration. Notice the banner. The wing and wheel was still a few years away.

The track had a different look in 1930. The first and second turns look more like one curve than they do today. The photo reminded me a bit of Gateway’s track, although the curve is not as severe.

The race began at 10 am. The prerace ceremonies consisted largely of bands, three marches and the national anthem, and bombs-lots of bombs. Between 9:45 and the start of the race at 10, nine bombs went off, one every few minutes. The winning driver would receive the princely sum of $20,000. Thqat was actually not too bad for a depression era race.

Two ads that won’t be in the 2021 program, or any program in the near future were for Goodyear tires and bricks.

What i like about this ad is the photo of the grid beginning the pace lap.

What would a 500 program be without an order form for the following year’s race?

No prices are listed.

Driver cameo pages appear at random places throughout.

Thirty eight cars started the race. Billy Arnold took the lead on lap 3 and kept it for the rest of the day. The 198 laps led is a record unlikely to be broken. Harry Butcher started 38th and finished 14th, although he was 72 laps behind.

The 1930 program seems as if it was slapped together in a hurry. It was still fun to get a glimpse of how the speedway operated before the Hulman era began.