Batesville and Connersville both have interesting ties to what is known as the “biggest spectacle in racing.” Two years before the first Indianapolis 500, the 300 mile Wheeler-Schebler Trophy Race was the biggest race on the Indiana Motor Speedway (IMS). It was sponsored by the Wheeler-Schebler Carburetor Company, started by sales agent Frank Wheeler of Indianapolis and George Schebler, inventor of the Schebler carburetor, from Batesville.
These men joined three others to form the Indiana Motor Speedway Company and hosted the 1909 and 1910 races before the first Indy 500 in 1911.
Connersville’s connection to the Indy 500 centers more on the racecars and less on the track. Stant Manufacturing, headquartered in Connersville, was vital to the performance of some of the first cars to drive on the IMS track. One of the cars that participated in the first race in 1911, a McFarlan, was made in Connersville, as was one that raced in 1912.
According to Donald Davidson, an Indy 500 Speedway historian, “Stant was vital. Every car had a Stant pressure cap back in those days or they didn’t make it to the end of the 500 miles, it was really that simple and what they make was truly that vital.” Even today many NASCAR stars depend on specially made Stant radiator caps to keep their cars running smoothly.
Of course the Indy 500 isn’t the only notable event at the end of May. The very next day is Memorial Day, marking another year of thanks for the service of those who sacrificed their lives protecting our country.
Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day was officially proclaimed in 1868 by General John Logan and was first observed in 1868 when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
Some popular traditions to celebrate Memorial Day include wearing red paper poppies, parades honoring fallen soldiers, placing small American flags and wreaths on the graves of those who died in service, flying the U.S. flag at half-staff and learning about ancestors and family history.
In 2000, Congress passed a resolution creating the National Moment of Remembrance. On Memorial Day each year, Americans are asked to stop at 3 p.m. and take a moment to pause and silently remember and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation.
Make sure to check your local communities to find out if there is anything special going on to celebrate Memorial Day, or start your own traditions in honor of your family members who gave their lives for our freedom. I would like to thank all of our service men and women who are currently serving in our military and offer condolences to the families who are missing members, especially on this day.
State Rep. Cindy Ziemke serves as Vice Chairman of the Family, Children and Human Affairs Committee. She also serves on the Commerce, Small Business and Economic Development Committee and the Select Committee on Government Reduction. Rep. Ziemke represents portions of Rush, Fayette, Franklin, Ripley and Decatur counties.