The balloon painting at IMS

February 12, 2014 by

Have you ever wondered about the balloon painted on the outside of the restroom in turn 4 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway?  It has a “colorful” history.

As part of the festivities for the 1966 race, the Speedway harkened back to an early time—1909 when the first race was a balloon race.  As they were getting the balloons ready to fly for the Golden Anniversary of the Indianapolis 500, one balloonist wanted to reposition the balloon for its ascension.  And that is where the trouble began.

The day was windy….not too blustery for the balloon to ascend to the skies…but windy enough to make the repositioning of the inflated balloon difficult.  As the guys handling the lines on the ground were guiding the balloon to its new position, a gust of wind came along giving lift to the balloon.

The men on the ground fought gallantly to control the balloon but couldn’t.   By this time, it was barreling toward a temporary restroom….a women’s restroom.   By this point in time, the Speedway had been open for several hours and nature was calling.  The balloon smacked into the restroom toppling it….with two women inside.  Just imagine being one of the women taking care of business when the restroom is, without warning, tipped over.

Today the restroom is a permanent structure but the painting on its side commemorates the balloon incident of 1966.  I hope the women inside were later able to laugh about their contribution to the Indy 500 lore.

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