Representatives of Allison Transmission and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway have celebrated their shared heritage and recent centennial milestones with a ceremony to honour the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 this weekend.
Employees and local dignitaries attended the outdoor event at Allison’s global headquarters in Speedway, Ind., several blocks south of the world famous racetrack.
The Marmon Wasp, winning car of the first 500-mile race in 1911, was onsite, as well as actors representing the track’s four co-founders: James Allison, Carl Fisher, Arthur Newby and Frank Wheeler.
As part of the ceremony, the leaders of both companies made remarks and exchanged symbolic gifts.
“We’re here today because it’s a time of celebration,” said Larry Dewey, chairman and CEO of Allison Transmission. “The 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 is a perfect opportunity for our companies to reflect on and renew their century-long relationship.”
Allison traces its corporate lineage back to the founding of the Indianapolis Speedway Team Co. on Sept. 14, 1915. As a co-founder of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and part owner of several racing teams, James Allison, a prominent entrepreneur, innovator and businessman, established a precision machine shop and experimental firm on Main Street in Speedway called the Allison Experimental Co. to support his racing endeavours.
Dewey presented Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles with an award featuring a gear, representative of both companies’ origins and a fundamental component still used by Allison to manufacture its transmissions. Boles presented Dewey with a Culver Block, which were used to pave the track in 1909.
“We felt it was really important to present everybody at Allison Transmission with this original Culver brick from 1909, for display as we lead up to the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500,” said Boles.
James Allison was one of two co-founders who signed the contract for more than 3 million bricks used to upgrade the track surface, and led to the facility’s nickname as the ‘Brickyard.’
As a race team owner, Allison won the 1919 Indianapolis 500 with driver Howdy Wilcox. In 1923, he became the primary shareholder and president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Co. and remained in that position until he oversaw its sale in 1927.
In his closing comments, Dewey announced that Allison would join Ed Carpenter Racing as a sponsor during the month of May. Allison will appear on the No. 20 car driven by two-time Indianapolis 500 pole winner and three-time IndyCar race winner Ed Carpenter for the Indianapolis 500 on May 29.
Earlier in the month, Allison also appeared on the No. 21 car driven by two-time IndyCar race winner Josef Newgarden in the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
“We’re honored that Allison Transmission has chosen to join us again,” said team owner and driver Ed Carpenter. “In addition to producing world class products, they are great neighbors and supporters of the community.”