As you watch the Indy 500, remember a good man
For those living in and around Indianapolis (and motor sports fans everywhere), today is Race Day – the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500. It is presented as a Memorial Day tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our nation. One of the most patriotic moments in our country occurs during the pre-race ceremonies, when a bugler plays "Taps" in recognition of the fallen, and 300,000 spectators – including the revelers in the infield – stand in respectful silence.
Another man, all but forgotten today, deserves recognition from race fans and Indianapolis residents. Although he never served in the military, he helped create this great event, and he did immeasurable good to his community. His name was Arthur C. Newby.
Born in 1865, Arthur Newby embodied the Horatio Alger tale. He left school at 16 to seek his fortune. At 24, he founded a company – Diamond Chain – that continues in business today. He later entered the automobile business, founding the National Motor Car Company (later acquired by Walter Chrysler). He eagerly joined his friends Carl Fisher, James Allison, and Frank Wheeler in creating the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. When the four Speedway founders decided to hold one great race each year, Newby suggested a distance of 500 miles, and the Indianapolis 500 was born.
Retiring from business in 1916, Newby dedicated his remaining years to philanthropy. He was a chief fundraiser and contributor to the construction of Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, one of the leading pediatric hospitals in the United States. He donated land and money to schools and colleges but refused to affix his name to his charitable work. At his death in 1933, his friends revealed that he had spent considerable money throughout his lifetime feeding, clothing, and housing the poor. He also sent many underprivileged young people to college. He had done all of this anonymously.
Except for an elementary school near the Speedway that bears only his name, Newby's work has gone unrecognized. That oversight should be corrected by the politicians in Indianapolis. For the rest of us, we should enjoy the race and remember the man who helped bring it to us, as well as being an example of good citizenship.