See events listed below to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Indy 500 in Hagerstown Indiana
By Carolyn Lafever
The Indianapolis Speedway ran its first 500-mile race in 1911. Folks from Hagerstown, including the Teetor family, attended the inaugural race and brought their Light Inspection Car Co. band to perform. In 1926, the company name was changed to the Perfect Circle Corporation. PC was to become the largest manufacturers of piston rings in the world with a long association with the Indy 500.
From 1922 to 1941, PC made rings for racecars, sponsored three cars, sent their band each year and gave prizes to race drivers. Support for the race continued to grow with Hagerstown and Perfect Circle.
The race stopped from 1941-45 because of WW II. In 1946 Ralph Teetor, a brilliant engineer who lost his sight at five years of age, became President of PC and encouraged the track owners to start the race again. Perfect Circle contracted with Mutual Broadcasting to sponsor the first coast-to-coast radio broadcast of the race from 1946 to 1951.
Perfect Circle grew and many Hagerstown people worked for them. PC established an office at the Speedway and engineers spent the month of May assisting race drivers. Piston rings and other products were made especially for the race cars. It benefited both the company and the racers to observe the stress on the mechanical parts.
Perfect Circle purchased a block of race tickets each year as well as sponsoring race parties for their jobbers. They made movies of the races to be shown at the “Doctor of Motors” clinics. Hagerstown was enthusiastic about supporting the race and sending fans.
In 1963, Perfect Circle was sold to Dana Corporation. Gradually participation in the race declined, but Hagerstown’s enthusiasm did not. In 2011, Hagerstown will celebrate the 100th anniversary with events commemorating their long history with the Indy 500.
Saturday, May 7
Saturday, May 14
Saturday, May 21
Sunday, May 29
Go to: GoWayneCounty.com for more information about race activities and lodging if you are coming to this area.
This story was excerpted from our April/May GoWayneCounty print edition which can be picked up at several locations in Wayne County.
Karole Passmore is a freelance writer who enjoys writing articles and short stories, interviewing local people, and researching non-fiction subject matter– preferably historical. Graduate of RHS, Ivy Tech Richmond, and Earlham College– with a major in History, Karole has spent most of her life in Wayne County and enjoys the quaint atmosphere of a small town.
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