The centennial of the Indianapolis 500 is only days away. So while you’re resting up for all that Snake Pit revelry, here’s a selection of official programs from over the years. The National Indy 500 Collector Club has every program with details going back to the Speedway’s pre- 500 races including the first race in 1909, which was a balloon race.
The programs parallel magazine trends, including book thickness and styles of cover design. There are the Art Deco illustrations of the 1930s, those illustrated montages from the 1980s, foldouts, and the requisite hologram cover. The program prices, which are prominently displayed on the covers through 2000, climb through the years from ten cents on up!
Upper left, program from the first 500 in 1911. Upper right, 2001 hologram-cover. At bottom is a foldout from 2009 by the renowned artist Thomas Kinkade.
Most of these are on eBay right now, where prices can go as high as $250.
In celebration of the Allied victory in WWI, the
race was renamed the "Liberty Sweep Stakes."
From 1955 through 1975, this program cover ran
for all but two years.
One of three covers for this year’s race.