Carl G. Fisher was the driving force behind the creation of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a testing facility for the automobile industry. He served as the track’s president from 1909 until turning the duties over to his principal partner, James Allison, in 1923.
An early bicycle racer who briefly raced cars, Fisher was a significant advocate for the development of automobiles, aviation, and transportation in general. In addition to leading the Lincoln Highway Commission, which built the first drivable highway across the United States, Fisher also transformed Miami Beach from swamplands into a major city. Other ventures included the Dixie Highway and, with James Allison and engineer P. C. Avery, creation of the hugely successful Prest-O-Lite Company, which solved the problem of safe night driving by producing carbide-gas-fired head lights. Not only was Fisher very likely the originator of the idea of a 500-mile race, but his decision to use a rolling start for the 1911 inaugural race at Indianapolis may have been the first mass rolling start for any automobile race anywhere in the world. It also may have represented the first use of a passenger vehicle as a pace car.
Courtesy of Indianapolis Motors Speedway Museum