Speedway was laid out as a “model” city in July 1912. It was planned by Carl G. Fisher, James A. Allison, owners of the Globe Realty Company, and Lem H. Trotter, their real estate partner.
The partners conceived Speedway to be a horseless manufacturing city adjacent to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The city was to be as nearly fireproof as modern skills could make it. The industrial buildings were to be of concrete, steel, and tile, to avoid the use of inflammable material wherever possible. The streets were to be broad, paved thoroughfares named after pioneers in the automobile industry, such as Fisher, Allison, Winton, Cord, Auburn, and kindred titles.
The new city was to be attractive to skilled mechanics with comfortable and modern homes. The partners hoped these workers would be an asset for their planned manufacturing center. They builders desired to attract to Speedway substantial concerns in the automotive industry and hoped the prospective plants would draw over 10,000 workers in a few years.
Fisher and Allison’s Prest-O-Lite Company was the first to build five buildings on the north plat near 16th and Main Streets.
The lots on the west side of Main Street were originally specified for stores and offices. In late 1915, Allison became the sole owner of the Indianapolis Speedway Team Company and moved operations to a small shop on the west side of Main Street. The morning after America declared war on Germany in 1917, Allison instructed his chief engineer to find out how to get war orders going. Thus, the Allison Experimental Company was founded. Allison Experimental Company Plant 1 was built on the south side of 13th and Main Street in 1917 to produce Liberty aircraft engines and other war material.
Other factories followed and the residential streets began to fill up. In 1926, the town was incorporated and experienced explosive growth during World War II when the company, then known as Allison Division of General Motors, became a large manufacturer of military aircraft engines.
Speedway is experiencing renewal along Main Street in this new century. Some of these new buildings are the Dallara Indy Car Factory, Speedway Indoor Karting facility, and the A. J. Foyt Racing shops. Thus, the town is returning to its racing roots.
I invite you to come and see what’s happening in Speedway, the model city.
For more information on Indiana’s auto pioneers, follow this link.