Born on this day in 1890, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Famer Eddie Rickenbacker America’s World War I flying ace, was an Indianapolis 500 driver before he ever learned how to fly a plane. He started his auto racing career in 1910, participating as a relief driver in the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911. After returning from World War I, he led a group of investors who purchased the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and elected him its president. Rickenbacker guided the Indianapolis 500 through the economic difficulties of the 1930s and also served as chairman of the American Automobile Association Contest Board for several years before selling the track to Anton Hulman, Jr. in November 1945. He made many improvements during those difficult times, adding a golf course in 1929, removing the dangerous outer banking in the turns in 1935, and beginning the process of paving over the bricks.
Rickenbacker (left) is shown here examining the track wall with Pop Meyers (right) circa 1936