(Senate - May 25, 2016)

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[Congressional Record Volume 162, Number 83 (Wednesday, May 25, 2016)]
[Pages S3162-S3163]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  Mr. COATS. Mr. President, I am on the floor with my colleague from 
Indiana Senator Donnelly to talk about something that is very special 
to the State of Indiana which happens to be coming up this weekend. On 
Sunday, May 29, the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, the greatest 
spectacle in racing, will take place in the town of Speedway, IN, a 
small town within the confines of the borders of Indianapolis.
  The Indianapolis 500-mile race is the largest single-day sporting 
event in the world. It is almost staggering to think about this small 
town of Speedway, IN, hosting 350,000 fans this year. It is a 
logistical challenge that the city and security people have met year 
after year. It is something to see.
  Since the first race in 1911, race fans from around the world have 
packed the grandstands and the speedway's expansive infield to enjoy 
the race and take in the experience of being at one of the world's most 
famous motor sports events.
  I can't begin to describe the dimension of a 2\1/2\-mile track and 
the infield. There is a golf course--and a significant part of it is in 
the infield--that only takes up part of that infield. The 2\1/2\-mile 
track, with 350,000 people, is a spectacle you will not see anywhere 
  For those of us who are from Indiana, the Indy 500 is a celebration 
of our State, and along with basketball, is what it means to be a 
Hoosier. Timeless traditions, like the singing of ``Back Home Again in 
Indiana,'' are embedded into the fabric of Hoosier culture. When the 
announcer says the phrase ``Gentlemen, start your engines,'' as was 
said for many years, 33 cars' engines start to roar to the cheers of 
the crowd. Today that same phrase is now ``Gentlemen and ladies, start 
your engines'' because the race has brought women to the track to also 
  Thirty-three cars start the pace laps, and off the third or fourth 
pace lap, as the pace car races down the straightaway and pulls aside, 
33 cars come roaring around the fourth turn and hurtling down the home 
stretch at over 200 miles per hour to plunge into the first turn while 
350,000 people stand there holding their breath, maybe saying a prayer, 
and saying: How in the world can those 33 cars at 200 miles an hour 
pile into that very small banked first turn without cataclysmic 
consequences? But they do it, and it is a testament to the agility of 
the drivers and the technology that has been incorporated into the 
cars. It is something to see.
  The roots of all of this date back to 1909, when a group of 
businessmen, led by Hoosier entrepreneur Carl Fisher, purchased the 320 
acre Pressley Farm--that is not Elvis Presley, by the way--just outside 
Indianapolis and began construction of the gravel-and-tar racetrack.
  At that time, Indianapolis and Detroit were competing to be America's 
automotive capital, and Fisher believed that a large speedway, where 
reliability and speed could be tested, would give Indianapolis an upper 
  Fisher and other speedway founders hired a New York engineer and 
asked him to design a 2\1/2\-mile track with a banked corner, a unique 
design that still endures today. The first track surface proved to be 
somewhat problematic so Fisher and his partners needed a way to pave 
it. They settled on bricks, and covering the 2\1/2\-mile oval required 
an astonishing 3.2 million bricks at a cost of $400,000, which was no 
small change back then. That is why it is called the brickyard.
  As time wore on, bricks didn't become the ideal surface, and when the 
current surface was put in place, we retained 1 yard of bricks at the 
finish line. If you are watching the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday--and I 
know all of these pages will be tuning into that spectacle after 
Senator Donnelly and I are through convincing you that this is 
something you really want to see--that yard of bricks is there and 
symbolizes what that track has been.
  With the bricks laid, about 80,000 spectators gathered around the 
track on Memorial Day weekend in 1911 for the inaugural Indianapolis 
500 race. They witnessed Ray Harroun win the race in his yellow No. 32 
Marmon ``Wasp'' at an average speed of 74.6 miles an hour--about what 
Senator Donnelly and I try to drive when we are on the interstates in 
Indiana and going no faster than that so we don't get a speeding 
ticket, which wouldn't help our careers.
  Initially, the cars had two people. One was the driver and the other 
was a mechanic. This is early on in 1911. We were still developing 
cars, and of course the impacts the car had to absorb going around a 
tar-and-gravel track caused many stops, so the mechanic would jump out, 
make the fix, put on a new tire, and help with the fueling. Ray Harroun 
surprised everybody by showing up without a mechanic. He was the only 
person in the car. It was the first such instance that had happened. 
What they did see in the car was something they hadn't seen on any of 
the other cars--a rearview mirror being used in an automobile. That is 
the first instance that we know of that automobiles used a rearview 
mirror. Since that first race, the Indianapolis 500 has occurred on 
every Memorial Day since 1911, with the exception of 1917 and 1918 when 
the United States was involved in World War I, and there was an 
exception from 1942 to 1945 when the United States was involved in 
World War II.
  When the soldiers came home after the war was over, they looked at 
the track and it was in a state of despair. It simply was not ready to 
be used. It had been neglected, understandably, through the war years 
and was broken down. At that time, the talk was let's close it down, 
but Terre Haute, IN, native Tony Hulman purchased the Indianapolis 
Motor Speedway, and under his leadership the facility was restored and 
  Beginning in 1946 until today, the Indianapolis 500 restarted with 
massive crowds and the event has only grown over time. In the decades 
since, the speedway has been owned by the Hulman-George family and all 
race fans are indebted to this family for their passion for Indy 500 
and careful stewardship of the world's most famous racetrack.
  As the years passed, the technology used at the Indianapolis Motor 
Speedway has progressed and so has the speed. In 2013, Tony Kanaan set 
the record for the fastest Indianapolis 500, winning the race in 2 
hours 40 minutes, at an average speed of 187.4 miles per hour. Think 
about that. Think of driving for 2 hours 40 minutes, at 187 miles per 
hour, including yellow lights, when everybody has to slow down 
significantly because of an accident on the track, a loose tire or 
something that causes the race to have to slow down, and the pit stops 
where they have to change the tires and fuel the cars--230 miles per 
hour is an extraordinary speed, and you have to run at that top speed 
almost continuously while you are on the track in order to achieve that 
187-miles-per-hour record.
  There is nothing like being there and seeing cars at that speed so 
deftly handled by drivers in very difficult situations. The 
Indianapolis 500 is a showcase of ingenuity, human achievement,

[[Page S3163]]

and the continuous pursuit of racing immortality.
  Racing legends like A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Rick Mears, Al Unser, 
and Bobby Rahal have become synonymous with the Indianapolis 500. The 
race is a source of great pride for all citizens of our State, and we 
are all very excited about the 100th running on Sunday.
  I am pleased to be joined by my Indiana colleague Senator Donnelly in 
recognizing--through a Senate resolution, which we will offering after 
Senator Donnelly speaks--the tremendous occasion of the 100th running 
of the Indianapolis 500.
  I am more than happy to yield to my colleague, Senator Donnelly.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Indiana.
  Mr. DONNELLY. Mr. President, I thank my good friend and colleague 
Senator Coats. He is truly an institution in our State.
  I rise with Senator Coats to commemorate the 100th running of the 
Indianapolis 500. Think about that. What a long and storied history. 
The Indy 500 is more than a Memorial Day weekend tradition, and it is 
more than just a sporting event. It has a storied history, and the list 
of winners includes some of the most legendary drivers in motor racing 
history--names like Foyt, Mears, Unser, Andretti, and the legendary 
family who has been such good friends to our State and such good 
stewards of the track, the Hulman-George family.
  The Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indianapolis 500 are a sight to 
see, with its iconic 2\1/2\-mile oval and the buzzing atmosphere 
created by hundreds of thousands of cheering fans. As my colleague and 
dear friend Senator Coats said, the singing of ``Back Home Again in 
Indiana,'' the winner drinking milk in victory lane, and raising the 
Borg-Warner trophy, this is defined by career-making victories as well 
as heartbreaking crashes and down-to-the-wire finishes.
  The Indy 500 is more than just the greatest spectacle in racing. It 
is about a whole lot more than just that. It is about bringing people 
and families together. More than 300,000 people will come to watch the 
race in the city of the speedway this weekend. It boosts local 
businesses and gives Central Indiana an opportunity to showcase 
ourselves to the rest of the world.
  Over its history, the Indy 500 has been part of the fabric of our 
Hoosier State. It has endured through economic booms, depressions, and 
times of turmoil at home and abroad. Through it all, the Indy 500 has 
become one of the biggest sporting events in the world. It brings 
together people of all different backgrounds. As the race has grown, it 
has drawn spectators from across the United States and from around the 
world--diehard racing fanatics and casual fans alike. Donald Davidson, 
the track historian, told the Indianapolis Star earlier this week:

       There is nothing else like it. It just took off. There was 
     Christmas, there was Easter, and there was the Indianapolis 

  It is a special event, unlike any other. I have had the privilege of 
attending the 500 many times, and I am looking forward to attending 
Sunday's 100th running of the race. You can't help but be struck by the 
talent of the drivers and the team.
  Earlier this month, I visited the Andretti Autosport, where I saw 
firsthand the craftsmanship and extensive preparations that go into 
building a single Indy car for the Indy 500. They were building a 
number of them. The dedication and teamwork is remarkable. Each piece 
is an intricate creation, and the driver of each car has to have 
complete trust in the team that designed and built this car, before it 
even rolls onto the track. The team has to have that same confidence in 
the driver, that he or she can bring that car into Victory Lane.
  For thousands of Hoosier families and racing fans, the Indy 500 is a 
time for creating lifelong memories. Joining together with friends and 
neighbors, the race is a chance to showcase the best in Hoosier 
hospitality and the best our State has to offer. To win the Indy 500, 
one needs all of the things that we Hoosiers hold dear: determination, 
hard work, ingenuity, an unwillingness to give up in the face of 
adversity, and, sometimes, a little bit of luck.
  To win you have to be able to overcome setbacks, get back up, dust 
yourself off, and put your nose back to the grindstone. That is the 
Hoosier way.
  I wish the best to our drivers, to the crews, and to the teams and 
owners competing in Sunday's 100th running of the Indy 500. May it be a 
safe and competitive race. May God bless all those involved. God bless 
Indiana, and God bless America.
  Thank you, Mr. President.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Perdue). The Senator from Indiana.
  Mr. COATS. Mr. President, on behalf of my colleague and friend, 
Senator Donnelly, and myself, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate 
proceed to the consideration of S. Res. 475, submitted earlier today.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the resolution by title.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       A resolution (S. Res. 475) recognizing the 100th running of 
     the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

  There being no objection, the Senate proceeded to consider the 
  Mr. COATS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the resolution 
be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, and the motions to reconsider 
be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action 
or debate.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The resolution (S. Res. 475) was agreed to.
  The preamble was agreed to.
  (The resolution, with its preamble, is printed in today's Record 
under ``Submitted Resolutions.'')
  Mr. COATS. Mr. President, I yield the floor.