[Transcript of an article from the Indianapolis News, 5/30/1911]
City Greets and Cares for Greatest Crowd of Visitors in Its History.
EXODUS EARLY TO TRACK
Police Rise to Occasion and There Are Few Accidents—Hotels Packed, Many Walk Streets All Night.
Never before in its history has the city of Indianapolis entertained a larger throng of strangers. Never has there been a more cosmopolitan crowd in the city coming as it did from nearly every state and territory in the United States, from Canada and from many parts of Europe to attend the five-hundred-mile motor classic at the speedway today.
Coupled with the fact that the city had its largest crowd is the interesting fact that the city was prepared to entertain it; in fact, the city was prepared to take care of many more. It is true some people walked the streets all night, but this was either due to the fact they were not aware that the information bureau of the speedway management had hundreds of available rooms in private homes or that they did not care to go to private homes for the night.
Moving the Crowds.
After sheltering the crowd, a more difficult problem presented itself in getting the crowd to the speedway. Those who did not own automobiles, or who were unable to arrange to go in automobiles, were compelled to rely almost exclusively on the Big Four Railroad Company for transportation and the railroad company demonstrated its ability to handle thousands of persons with a fair degree of promptness.
Beginning at 4:30 o’clock this morning the railroad company ran trains from union station to the speedway every thirty minutes until 8 o’clock. After that, there was a train every ten minutes, each train hauling 1,100 persons. By 10 o’clock, it was estimated the Big Four company had hauled at least 22,000 persons to the speedway.
At noon, W. I. Lamport, trainmaster of the St. Louis division of the Big Four, and who was in charge of the speedway trains, estimated his company had hauled 38,000 persons to the speedway. It was expected thousands would go to the speedway during the afternoon, and that the Big Four would carry a total of fifty thousand passengers to the speedway today, breaking all former records.
Fifteen Special Trains.
Fifteen special trains from Peoria, Springfield, Richmond, Chicago, St. Louis and Cincinnati brought perhaps twelve thousand people to the city today. It is believed the regular trains brought at least twenty thousand additional. At the traction terminal station the twelve interurban lines were unloading approximately two thousand four hundred people an hour, each line doubling its usual schedule.
The Indianapolis, Crawfordsville & Traction Company, the only interurban line reaching the speedway, was unable to obtain special cars and hence was unable to handle much of the crowd to the speedway. This line sent three cars an hour to the course, and up to noon it had hauled 1,100 passengers.
Crowd Was Good Natured.
It was a good-natured crowd too that invaded the city. There were few “kickers,” many accepting cots or chairs in lieu of real beds, with a grace that was admirable. Then, again, when they were obliged to wait their turn in the hotel dining rooms, or in the restaurants, or were obliged to go from one restaurant to another in an effort to find service they did not complain.
There was praise for the manner in which the city entertained the visitors, and there was praise for the weather man for providing a day that scarcely could have been surpassed. There was praise for the speedway management for conducting, free of charge, a bureau for the assignment of rooms in private homes, and for the information service provided by a corps of auto volunteers.
Early in the day the speedway office downtown believed it would see its hope of 100,000 spectators at the race realized. Every reserved seat, 33,000 in all, had been sold when the office closed late last night. In addition thousands of general admission tickets, entitling the holders to free seats—if they could get them—were sold. Additional thousands of tickets were sold to those who expected to view the race from automobiles.
Police Earned Their Pay.
It is doubtful if there was a policeman in town who did not earn his pay last night and today, but for once the police found a situation it was almost impossible to cope with. Traffic in the downtown streets was congested by the thousands of automobiles, and although there were numerous extra traffic officers, they could do little to keep traffic moving in an orderly manner.
Automobiles were jammed in every direction between street cars and pedestrians had trouble in crossing the streets, but there were few accidents. Drivers, for the most part, were cautious, and when caught in tight places used their judgment.
Hotels Were Packed.
In the hotel dining rooms, patrons had to wait their turn and at times there was a real shortage of food. Time after time butchers and bakers and other dealers in foodstuffs had to be called on for additional supplies. Last night there was a bread famine, and many restaurants and hotels served meals without bread.
At some of the hotels improvised dining rooms were provided. In others women’s cafes were thrown open to men also. One Illinois street restaurant said it had turned away five hundred people by 8 o’clock this morning, because the people could not be accommodated with seats at tables. The dairy lunches all had a capacity business and boarding houses were busy from daylight until a few minutes before the race started.
Cots in Every Nook.
In the hotels, cots were placed in every nook and corner. People even begged for the privilege of paying to sit up in a chair all night, and in some instances the privilege was granted. Many paid a dollar for a chair. Some of the hotels also permitted persons to sit up in the hotel lobbies during the night.
The larger downtown hotels reported they cared for 5,839 people and the smaller hotels took care of several thousand additional. Figures submitted by the hotels as to the number of people they accommodated last night were: Claypool, nine hundred; English, five hundred; Spencer, 495; Denison, 463; Edward, four hundred; Grand, 365; Sherman, three hundred; Plaza, 360; Morton, 173; Imperial, 150; Colonial, 250; Linden, 350, besides regular guests; Bates, 127 and New Occidental, one hundred.
Garages Filled to Capacity.
Garages were filled to capacity and garage and repair men had a busy night filing tanks with oil and gasoline, repairing punctures and making adjustments and repairs. The downtown streets were turned into a temporary garage for the parking of cars that could not find room in the public garages. Illinois street, from the Union station to Tenth street, was almost a solid line of automobiles. Cars were packed in Capitol avenue, along the statehouse grounds, and from New York to Walnut streets. Washington street, from Illinois street to Capitol avenue was an improvised parking space and Monument place, around the monument, was filled with cars.
Many drivers slept in their cars during the night, not because they were unable to find beds, but to protect their cars. The police gave the best protection possible, policing the downtown streets rigidly.
In Washington street, between Illinois street and Capitol avenue, cars were parked from West Virginia, Illinois, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Michigan, Missouri, New York and Pennsylvania, besides numerous machines from various parts of Indiana, which came yesterday and last night to be in time for the race.
Other Cities Jammed.
Reports from Indiana towns near Indianapolis are to the effect that all available hotel accommodations were taken by persons bound for Indianapolis. A Shelbyville hotel reported it had every available room taken by persons coming to the race.
At Columbus and many other points the hotels were crowded beyond normal capacity by persons who feared they could not get accommodations in Indianapolis. Many who came for Bob Burman’s speed trials yesterday went to smaller Indiana cities and towns for accommodations last night, returning to Indianapolis early this morning.
It was reported from Cambridge City that at least five hundred automobiles and numerous motorcycles had passed through the town, over the National road, since Sunday, bound for Indianapolis.
Also see this article about the race day traffic at Indianapolis Union Station: http://www.firstsuperspeedway.com/articles/crowd-indianapolis-union-station