Newsroom Archive

Facts for Features
March 24, 2009

*Special Edition*
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
100th Anniversary

Needing a test facility for Indianapolis' burgeoning automobile industry, Carl Fisher and three other investors purchased 325 acres in 1909. They built a 2.5-mile racetrack and dubbed it Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "The Brickyard" -- a nickname coming about later that year when 3.2 million bricks were used to pave the track -- is the world's largest sports venue with the ability to accommodate about 400,000 spectators. One hundred years after the first of more than 300 races at the speedway, it remains home of the world-famous Indianapolis 500, as well as NASCAR's Brickyard 400, and some motorcycle and Formula One events. The 93rd Indy 500 on May 24, 2009, is being billed as the first race in the track's "Centennial Era" of 2009-2011. To commemorate this automotive milestone, the Census Bureau has compiled a collection of facts and figures relating to our nation, Indiana and Indianapolis during the past 100 years.

How Times Have Changed

National Population

1909: 90 million
2009: 306 million
Source: National population estimates

Global Population

1909: 1.7 billion
2009: 6.8 billion
Source: International database

Median Age of the U.S. Population

1909: 24.1
2009: 36.8 (projected)
Source: Median Age of the Population: 1820 to 2000
and American FactFinder <>

Average Price of a New Home

1909: $2,650
2009: $258,000 (as of March 2009)
Source: New residential sales

Price of a New Car

1909: $1,280
2009: $28,715
Source: National Automotive Dealers Association
<> Link to a non-federal Web site

Price of a Gallon of Gas

1909: 6 cents (regular leaded)
2009: $2.31 (regular unleaded as of May 18)
Source: Energy Information Administration

Median Age of First Marriage

1909: Men, 25.1; women, 21.6
2009: Men, 27.4; women, 25.6 (as of 2008)
Source: Current Population Survey

Most Popular Baby Names

1909: John and Mary
2009: Jacob and Emma (as of 2008)
Source: Social Security Administration



The population of Indianapolis from the 1910 Census, making it the nation's 22nd largest city at that time.
Source: Population of the 100 Largest Urban Places: 1910


The July 1, 2007, estimated population of Indianapolis, making it the nation's 14th largest city. The 2009 Indy 500 race-day attendance at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is expected to approach 400,000. If the speedway itself were a city, its population would be among the nation's top 50 on that day.
Source: Population Finder


Percentage of Indianapolis' population in 2000 that was 65 and older. In 2007 in Indiana, 12.5 percent of the population was 65 and older, and in the nation, it was also 12.5 percent.
Source: Census 2000 and 2007 American Community Survey

22.1 minutes

The mean travel time to work for Indianapolis. The national mean commute time was 25.3 minutes.
Source: 2007 American Community Survey at American FactFinder



The July 1, 2008, estimated population of Indiana, up from 2,700,876 at the time of the 1910 Census.
Source: Population Finder


Percentage of Indiana's population age 25 and over in 2007 that had at least a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the national percentage of 27.5.
Source: 2007 American Community Survey at American FactFinder


Median household income in Indiana in 2007, which is below the national figure of $50,740.
Source: 2007 American Community Survey at American FactFinder


The number of workers employed in manufacturing in 2006 in Indiana, the most of any industry group. That same year there were 23,469 retail trade establishments, the most number of businesses in any industry group in the state.
Source: County Business Patterns: 2006

Auto Racing

4.7 million

Number of adults who attended an auto racing event one or more times a month in 2007.
Source: 2009 Statistical Abstract, Table 1206



Number of U.S. companies involved in automobile manufacturing in 1909, employing more than 85,000 people. These employees earned an average of $680 per year. In 2007, motor vehicle manufacturing employed about 223,000 and these employees earned an average of $29.23 an hour.
Source: 1912 Statistical Abstract, Table 132
2009 Statistical Abstract, Table 612


Number of motor vehicles produced in the United States in 2006, with 4,367,000 of them being passenger cars (39 percent). In 1909, Ford produced 17,771 vehicles (all of them Model T's), followed by Buick at 14,606. Also in 1909, there were nearly a dozen automobile manufacturers based in Indianapolis and another 30 in the rest of Indiana.
Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics


Number of registered motor vehicles across the country in 2006. A little more than 135 million, or about 55 percent, of them were cars. In 1909, there were 312,000 registered motor vehicles -- 98 percent of them cars.
Source: 2009 Statistical Abstract
U.S. Federal Highway Administration
<> Link to a non-federal Web site


Number of automobile dealers across the country in 2006, with nearly 1.3 million employees and an annual payroll of more than $55 billion.
Source: County Business Patterns: 2006


$13.5 billion

The projected amount spent on recreational vehicles in 2007. Thousands of spectators across the country attend motorsports events in their RVs.
Source: 2009 Statistical Abstract, Table 1210

Special Editions of the U.S. Census Bureau's Facts for Features are issued to provide background information for lesser-known observances, anniversaries of historic events and other timely topics in the news.

Editor’s note: The preceding data were collected from a variety of sources and may be subject to sampling variability and other sources of error. Facts for Features are customarily released about two months before an observance in order to accommodate magazine production timelines. Questions or comments should be directed to the Census Bureau’s Public Information Office: telephone: 301-763-3030; fax: 301-763-3762; or e-mail: <>.

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Information Office | | Last Revised: September 09, 2014