Friday, May 27, 2016

25 Fun, Fascinating and Serious Facts about the Indianapolis 500

Logo for the 2016 race
Since its inception in 1911 The Indianapolis 500 has become an integral part of the Memorial Day weekend. While it may seem odd at first glance to honor America’s fallen with an auto race, holding races to honor the fallen have ancient origins. In Homer’s epic poem, The Iliad, about the siege and sack of Troy, one of the heroes, Patroclus, dies in battle. Achilles holds games after Patroclus’ funeral, and the first event is a chariot race—the ancient equivalent to an auto race.

In anticipation of the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500…“Wait! Whoa,” you say? “If the race started in 1911, shouldn’t 2011 have been the 100th race?” Well, yes, if the race was held every year since its beginning. In fact, the race was not held in 1917-18 due to WWI, or in 1942-1945 due to WWII. As we were saying, in anticipation of this year’s race, here’s a list of fun, fascinating, serious, and some sad facts about the storied history of this cultural icon.

1.  French Lick, Indiana, was the first location considered by the founders, Carl G. Fisher, Jim Allison, Art Newby, and Frank Wheeler. How does the “French Lick 500” grab you?

2.  They end up purchasing a 328 acre farm five miles northwest of downtown Indianapolis for $72,000.00 in December, 1908. They incorporate it as the “Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

3.  The inaugural race—a balloon race—took place in 1909. The winner finished 382 miles away near Ft. Payne, Alabama.
1909 balloon race
4.  The 1909 season was catastrophic. The gravel and tar construction could not safely handle the motorcycle and auto races. After only the third auto race, racing was suspended at the track.

5.  The track was repaved…with bricks—3.2 million bricks weighing 10 pounds each. By the time construction workers finished the track, locals were calling it “The Brickyard.” The Brickyard has been an affectionate nickname for the track ever since. One yard of the original bricks mark the start/finish line of the track.
    6.  The first 500-mile race was held on May 30, 1911 and was called “International 500-Mile Sweepstakes Race.” 40 cars competed, 39 of them with 2-man crews—a driver and what was called a “riding mechanic.” One car, a Marmon Wasp, had only a driver, Ray Harroun, and he won the race averaging a little over 74 miles per hour.  To compensate for the lack of a mechanic who could look behind while the driver kept his eyes on the track, Harroun had a mirror mounted on struts above the coaming making the birth of the rear-view mirror.
    1911 Marmon Wasp
    7.  The 1911 500 also marks the first use of a “pace car,” conceived as a way to reduce first-lap mayhem. Since then, 27 carmakers—all of them American—have furnished pace cars. Chevrolet has paced the most 500s with 32 times.
    Chevy's 1st Pace Car: 1948 Fleetmaster Six (this example is a replica)
    8.  23 difference car manufacturers were represented in the 1911 Indy 500. Of those makes only three are still in business today: Buick, Fiat, and Mercedes.
      9.  In 1913, Frenchman Jules Goux drank champagne at each of six pit stops. He dominated the race, driving a Peugeot and averaged nearly 76 miles per hour. He’s the first European winner and the first to go 500 miles without a relief driver.
        10.  In 1914 a new rule goes into effect: no alcoholic consumption while racing. Coincidence? I think not.
          11.  Eddie Rickenbacker competes in four races before he enlists in WWI. Fortunately, he flew and shot a lot better than he raced. He became America’s “Ace of Aces” with 26 aerial victories. After WWI, Rickenbacker maintained his ties to racing, becoming the Speedway’s manager in 1927, a post he held until 1945.
            12. In 1936 the Borg-Warner Trophy was first presented. It cost $10,000.00 to commission and today is worth $3.5 million dollars. It is 5 feet-four inches tall, made of sterling silver, and has the names and faces of each Indy 500 winner inscribed upon it.
            Borg-Warner Trophy
            13. Also in 1936: Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Louis Meyer regularly drank buttermilk to refresh himself on a hot day and happened to drink some in Victory Lane as a matter of habit after winning. An executive with what was then the Milk Foundation was so elated when he saw the moment captured in a photograph in the sports section of his newspaper the following morning that he vowed to make sure it would be repeated in coming years. "There was a period between 1947-55 when milk was apparently not offered, but the practice was revived in 1956 and it has been a tradition ever since."-

              14. By 1945 the Speedway was in a bad state of repair. Rickenbacker seriously considered selling the complex to real-estate developers, but in November 1945, three-time 500 winner Wilbur Shaw brokered a $750,000 deal that transferred ownership to Tony Hulman. Shaw became Speedway president.
                15. 1950 marks the first documented use of the phrase, “Gentlemen, start your…” Originally, the complete phrase was “Gentlemen, start your motors!” In 1952, or maybe 1953, the phrase was changed to the now iconic, “Gentlemen, start your engines!”

                16. In 1952 Ferrari makes its first and only 500 appearance.
                  17. In 1977 Janet Guthrie became the first female driver to qualify for the Indy 500. The Speedway management insisted that the starting command would not be changed. After a lot of “hoo-ha,” when the time came, Tony Hulman said, “In company with the first lady ever to qualify at Indianapolis, gentlemen, start your engines!” She qualified again in 1978, and the phrase used was simply, “Lady and gentlemen, start your engines!” This has been the form whenever female drivers have qualified (“Ladies” being used if there are multiple female drivers.)
                    18. Going back to the 1950s, in 1955 Alice Greene, then a young copywriter, coins the phrase “greatest spectacle in racing.” Race announcer, Sid Collins, makes it a cultural phenomenon by using it at every commercial break by saying, “Stay tuned for the greatest spectacle in racing.”
                      19. Nine women have raced in the Indianapolis 500: Janet Guthrie (1977-79); Lyn St. James (1992-97, 2000); Sarah Fisher (2000-04, 2007-10); Danica Patrick (2005-11); Milka Duno (2007-09); Ana Beatriz (2010-12); Simona de Silvestro (2010-12); Pippa Mann (2011); and Katherine Legge (2012).
                        20. Three drivers have won the Indianapolis 500 four times each: A.J. Foyt (1961, 1964, 1967, 1977); Al Unser (1970, 1971, 1978, 1987); and Rick Mears (1979, 1984, 1988, 1991)
                          21. Eight drivers have won as Indianapolis 500 rookies: Ray Harroun (1911, inaugural race); Jules Goux (1913); Rene Thomas (1914); Frank Lockhart (1926); George Souders (1927); Graham Hill (1966); Juan Pablo Montoya (2000); and Helio Castroneves (2001)
                            22. In the must go faster department: The fastest official lap ever of 237.498 mph was made by Arie Luyendyk during qualifying May 12, 1996. Luyendyk made a faster lap of 239.260 mph during practice two days earlier. It was the fastest lap ever at the Speedway, but practice laps are not official.
                              23. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the world’s largest spectator sports venue. The entire complex covers over 1,000 acres and the infield, at 253 acres, is big enough to fit the Roman Colosseum, Yankee Stadium, the Rose Bowl, Churchill Downs, the Wimbledon tennis complex, and Vatican City with room to spare.
                              Wow, that's big!
                              24. There are 250,000 permanent seats at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. If they were set up in a single line they would stretch 99.5 miles, a distance from the Speedway to just shy of the junction of I-74 and I-275 outside of Cincinnati, Ohio.
                              99.5 miles
                              25. By the numbers: 1.3 gallons of fuel (methanol) burned per lap, per car; 124,000 gallons of beer, 24,000 gallons of Coca-Cola, and 475 gallons of ketchup to accompany 8,000 pounds of pork tenderloin sandwiches, 10 tons of “Track Fries”, 10,000 pounds of hamburgers, and enough hot dogs and brats that, if they were laid end-to-end, would reach around the oval 3 times; 45th—the Speedway on race day becomes the nation’s 45th largest “city”; $996,400.00: cost for a team to race at Indy, 4,900: average number of tires used by a team during practicing, qualifying, and racing; 44: the average number of tires used per car during the race itself ; 33 drivers from 11 countries; and, sadly, there have been a number of deaths: 38 drivers (14 in the race, 5 in qualifying, 17 in practice, 1 in testing, and 1 during his driver’s test), 12 riding mechanics, 5 spectators, 2 firemen, 2 pit crew, and the perhaps the most tragic and bizarre of all—1 young boy who wasn’t even at the race track. Wilbur Brink, age 12, was in his front yard on Georgetown Street during the 1932 race when Billy Arnold crashed on lap 162. A wheel that broke loose bounced out of the track and across Georgetown St., where it struck young Brink, killing him instantly.
                              Current Logo

                              Sources: Too many to list. If you're interested contact one of the librarians at  You can also find many of the sources used by Googling "Indianapolis 500 facts".

                              Tuesday, May 24, 2016

                              Take a Moment to Remember

                              This coming Monday will be Memorial Day. Do you know what it is for? Did you know that it wasn’t always called Memorial Day or that it wasn’t always observed on the last Monday in May?

                              No one really knows when—or where—Memorial Day first began, but observances were first held as a way of honoring those of both the North and South who died in battle in the Civil War. These events took place as early as 1866; although the village of Boalsburg, Pennsylvania claims to have held the first observance in 1864. Some 25 communities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. On April 26, 1866, the women of Columbus, Mississippi gathered to lay flowers on the graves of Confederate soldiers who had died in the Battle of Shiloh. In a moment of compassion, seeing the neglected state of the graves of the Union soldiers, and perhaps realizing that these soldiers also had grieving mothers, laid flowers on their graves as well. Macon and Columbus, Georgia, and Richmond, Virginia, also claim being the first to decorate the graves of Confederate casualties.

                              There is a marker stone in a Carbondale, Illinois, cemetery that states a ceremony to decorate the graves of Union soldiers took place there on April 29, 1866—just three days after the event in Columbus, Mississippi. In Waterloo, New York, a ceremony on May 5, 1866, honored its soldiers who died in the Civil War as well as local veterans who had fought in the conflict. Businesses closed and residents flew flags at half-staff.
                              One common element among these observances is that that they were all local events, and many of them were one-time occasions. Another is that they were virtually all called “Decoration Day.” These events also all occurred in the spring—in April or May.

                              In early May of 1868, General James Logan, who was the leader of the Grand Army of the Republic (the GAR, an organization of Union veterans of the Civil War, akin to today’s VFW—Veterans of Foreign Wars), declared that May 30th of each year, “Decoration Day,” should be “designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land.”  While this directive applied only to members of the GAR, many locales picked up the practice. In 1871 Michigan became the first state to make May 30th a state holiday. By 1890, every Northern state had also made it a state holiday, though the observance of the day was nation-wide.

                               After World War I the day’s focus on Civil War dead shifted to remembering the fallen from all American conflicts. The phrase “Memorial Day” was used as early as 1882, but did not have much popularity until after WWII. In 1971 an Act of Congress established the phrase Memorial Day as the official name of the Federal holiday and also moved the observance to the last Monday in May.

                              Memorial Day has its own traditions:
                              • Federal facilities are mandated to raise the US flag briskly to the top of the mast, then slowly lower it to half-mast. The flag is to remain at half-mast until noon whereupon it is once again raise to full height. Many scout troops throughout the nation will place small American flags on the graves of those who served in the US military. Flags are also placed on the graves of those in Arlington National Cemetery, the American Cemetery in Normandy, France, and Kentucky’s own Camp Nelson. Ceremonies are held at Arlington and other National cemeteries and often include the playing of “Taps.”
                              • Many communities hold Memorial Day parades. Ironton, Ohio, claims to have the nation’s oldest continuously held Memorial Day Parade. Its first parade was held in 1868, and it has been held every year since. The parade in Washington, D.C. is the nation’s largest.
                              • The running of the “Indianapolis 500” (aka Indy 500) has become an integral part of the Memorial Day celebrations. The first 500 was held on Decoration Day in 1911. This year’s race will mark the 100th running. (The race was not held in 1917-18, and 1942-45 due to WWI, and WWII.)
                              • Cookouts and picnics are also part of the celebrations. Memorial Day is considered the unofficial start to cookout season and is the nation’s second-largest cookout day. July 4th has the top spot with Labor Day taking third place. 87% of the cookouts will include hamburgers, and steak comes in second. In fact, Memorial Day is the biggest day of the year for beef consumption—nearly 60 million pounds of it. Depending on the year and source, hot dogs (71 million of them), or chicken, take third place. Many cookouts (such as your truly’s) will feature several—or even all of those entrees. Corn on the cob is the top side item; veggies are second, and potatoes take third place.
                              • Memorial Day weekend is also the unofficial start to the summer travel season. AAA projects that nearly 37 million Americans will take to the road on the weekend. Sadly, almost 400 of those will die in collisions on the way.
                              • The National Memorial Day Concert which began in 1989 takes place on the west lawn of the US Capital in Washington, D.C. It is televised by PBS. This year’s concert performers will include General Colin L. Powell; RenĂ©e Fleming; The Beach Boys; The National Symphony Orchestra; The U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, The U.S. Army Chorus, The Soldiers' Chorus of the U.S. Army Field Band, The U.S. Navy Band Sea Chanters, The U.S. Air Force Singing Sergeants, the Armed Forces Color Guard, and Service Color Teams.
                              • A new, and not yet well-known tradition is the “National Moment of Remembrance.” Enacted in 2001, the National Moment of Remembrance encourages “Americans everywhere, to pause for one minute at 3:00 p.m. (local time) on Memorial Day, to remember and reflect on the sacrifices made by so many to provide freedom for all.”
                              Many families have their own traditions. In my home, we display the US flag, have a cookout if the weather cooperates, and watch patriotic films (such as “Band of Brothers”) as a way of remembering the fallen.

                              What are your family traditions?






                              "Seven Fun Memorial Day Facts for the Holiday Weekend"



                              "Memorial Day Marks the Largest Beef Consumption Day of the Year"

                              Wednesday, May 18, 2016

                              Military Appreciation Month: Armed Forces Day

                              Armed Forces Day, which was established in 1949, will be celebrated on Saturday, May 21, 2016. According to the Armed Forces Day website, the day is set aside, "for citizens to come together and thank our military members for their patriotic service in support of our country."

                              The following books represent just a few of the titles that the library has about military service. Please visit the library's Military Students website to see books and online resources that are available to Sullivan University students.

                              From the Air Force to College: Transitioning from the Service to Higher Education by Jillian Ventrone; 378.1 V467fr

                              From the Army to College: Transitioning from the Service to Higher Education by Jillian Ventrone;  378.1 V467f

                              From the Marine Corps to College: Transitioning from the Service to Higher Education by Jillian Ventrone; 378.1982 V467f

                              From the Navy to College: Transitioning from the Service to Higher Education by Jillian Ventrone; 378.1982 V467f

                              Military Finances: Personal Money Management for Service Members, Veterans, and Their Families
                              by Cheryl Lawhorne-Scott;  332.024 L417m 

                              Click here to learn more about the history of Armed Forces Day.  

                              Thursday, May 5, 2016

                              On the Homefront

                              The entire month of May has been designated as Military Appreciation Month, with days being set aside for different aspects of military service. Tomorrow, May 6, 2016, is Military Spouse Appreciation Day, and the library has selected the following resources to help the spouses and children of those who are deployed. The library staff thanks the families at home who sacrifice so that their loved ones can serve and protect the United States of America.

                              The book resources below can be borrowed from the library, and if you need help locating any of the books you may ask a librarian for assistance.

                              The library also has a website dedicated to military personnel and their families.

                              Books for spouses of service members:

                              Coming Back Together: A Guide to Successful Reintegration after Your Partner Returns from Military Deployment by Steven Sayers; 646.782 S274c
                              A psychologist guides readers through the transitions spouses and families encounter when a service member returns home.

                              The Invisible Wounds of War: Coming Home from Iraq and Afghanistan by Marguerite Guzman Bouvard; 616.8521 B782i
                              This is a guide to help those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and the families of those who served to adjust as they are reunited.

                              Books for children of service members:

                              Coming Home written and illustrated by Greg Ruth; JF R
                              A boy waits for his mother to come home from her deployment in the military.

                              Crow Call written by Lois Lowry and illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline; JF L
                              When her father comes back from serving in World War II, Liz does not really know him well until they reconnect hunting for crows.

                              Hero Dad and Hero Mom  written by Melinda Hardin and illustrated by Bryan Langdo; JF H
                              The heroes in these books are mothers and fathers who serve in the military.

                              Nubs: The Story of a Mutt, a Marine, and a Miracle by Brian Dennis; JF D
                              A Marine and an abandoned dog become friends in this book which is based on a true story.

                              A Year in the Jungle written by Suzanne Collins and illustrated by James Proimos; JF C
                              The author of the best-selling Hunger Games trilogy tells about what her life was like when her father was away serving in the Vietnam War.

                              Wednesday, May 4, 2016

                              Derby Doin's

                              Are you planning a party for the 142nd running of the Ketucky Derby, or are you curious about some of the Derby traditions? Take a study break using the selected resources below to learn about mint juleps and burgoo, or to take a free tour of Churchill Downs and Woodford Reserve. Any of library's resources listed can be borrowed. Just ask one of the librarians for assistance, and we will be glad to help you.

                              Official website of the Kentucky Derby:

                              Official website of Churchill Downs:

                              An expert often featured on NBC’s Today Show shares her tips and tricks for creating an enjoyable party around a set theme. Recipes and decorating ideas are included.

                              A New York caterer gives readers some of his recipes for innovative and delicious party-pleasing appetizers.

                              Whether it is made with mutton, beef, deer, or another type of game, burgoo has its fans, and viewers see different types being made on this video.

                              Kentucky DVD 917.69 K37
                              From Keeneland’s horse sales to Woodford Reserve and Churchill Downs, this Discoveries America DVD features horse-racing and Derby-related details to pique viewers’ interests.

                              The Kentucky Bourbon Cocktail Book by Joy Perrine and Susan Reigler; 641.874 P458k
                              A Louisville bartender recommends her favorite bourbons to use for particular cocktails and gives numerous recipes for how to make cocktails, including the mint julep.

                              This in-depth look at Kentucky bourbon distilleries highlights eating and lodging destinations alongside detailed descriptions of the distilleries. Many of these distilleries are within a short driving distance.

                              The Kentucky Mint Julep by Joe Nickell; 641.874 N632k
                              Nickell waxes poetically about the drink of the Derby and provides recipes for different types of mint juleps.

                              The Mint Julep by Richard Barksdale Harwell ; 641.252 H353m 
                              The signature drink of the Derby gets its due with this not-too-serious look at the history and lore of the mint julep.

                              Out of Kentucky Kitchens by Marion Flexner; 641.5976 F619ou
                              Flexner gives suggestions and recipes for Derby fare along with non-Derby food in her book Out of Kentucky Kitchens. Though originally published in 1949, the recipes for Benedictine sandwich spread, cheese biscuits, burgoo, and a mint julep work well for twenty-first century Derby menus.