The Near Eastsides Very Own Auto History
We’re only 8 days away from the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500. While it’s well known around the world that Indy is a racing town, there is an abundance of racing history located on the Near Eastside and in the Promise Zone.
Circle City Industrial Complex
The Circle City Industrial Complex, or locally known as CCIC or “Big Blue”, is a 500,000 square foot industrial building located at the intersection of East 10th Street and Massachusetts Avenue. After sitting underutilized for decades, the CCIC has recently been invigorated through a combination of artists with studios there, organizations and businesses, and light industrial uses such as RecycleForce and Indianapolis Fabrications. Combined with a recent brewery, Centerpoint Brewery, a restaurant (Convivial Community Bar) by the owners of La Margarita set to open soon, and an influx of affordable and market rate infill housing options, the Windsor Park neighborhood anchor has a lot to offer residents of the Near Eastside.
However, before it was the next up-and-coming spot in Indy, the CCIC was the headquarters of the Schwitzer Corporation, a major producer of cooling pumps, superchargers, and other auto components in the industry after World War I. The Schwitzer Corporation was founded in the 1920s by Louis Schwitzer, an emigrant from Austria, an engineer, and also the winner of the first race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1909. While that first race was small – five miles, two laps – compared to today’s, it was monumental in the Circle City and earned Schwitzer an induction into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 1970.
The history of this site has inspred many to set up nascar fantasy leagues to relive those glory days in a virtual state, complete with betting and cheering supportive crowds. Whilst it isn’t the same as the actual races it gives punters a way to scratch the itch for action between the big days.
While Louis passed away in 1967 at the age of 87, his legacy lives on in Indy. The Student Center at the University of Indianapolis is named for him, as is a women’s dorm at Butler University; the Louis H. Schwitzer Award for Design Innovation is presented annually after each running of the Indy 500; and Schwitzer is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery.