Four Houses of the IMS

We all know the story, four wise founders came up with an idea to build a magnificent structure where they could teach all the magical children in the…no…four founders came up with an idea to build a speedway where automobile manufactures could test various aspects of their cars and tires.1 Thus, Carl Fisher, James Allison, Arthur Newby, and Frank Wheeler founded the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The IMS has four founders, Hogwarts has four founders: coincidence?

In the mythical school of Hogwarts the students are sorted into four distinct houses: Griffyndor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff. If you’ve never read the Harry Potter books allow me to explain the houses (if you have read the books, drop down two paragraphs). Griffyndor house is of course named after Godric Griffyndor, who praised courage, determination, and strength of heart. This is the house where the bold and daring went, who had brave deeds and fought against injustices. Griffyndor house is contrasted with Slytherin house. Salazar Slytherin, a power-hungry and shrewd man, founded Slytherin house. He favored blood purity (which in Harry Potter land meant witches and wizards who came from witches and wizards) as well as ambitious students. This is the house of the resourceful students, who are cunning, power hungry, and determined. In this house, you have to have wizzarding parents, no muggles.2

The two men, Godric and Salazar, ended their friendship; in contrast, the friendship between Rowena Ravenclaw and Helga Hufflepuff was strong to the end.  Ravenclaw is the house of the brilliant students, who pride themselves on intelligence and wisdom. Rowena Ravenclaw was known for being clever, creative, and brilliant. Rowena’s good friend, Helga Hufflepuff, rounds out the four founders. Helga is called “good” and “sweet” and the students of her house are known to be good workers, loyal, patient, and honest.

What if the four IMS founders were placed into houses? Which houses would they fall into – don’t worry I figured that out for you (no surprise as I am a Ravenclaw).3

Carl Fisher is the most famous name of the four-founders. A man who not only was instrumental in the building of the Speedway, but he also formed the Lincoln Highway Commission, which would create the drivable highway the United States, and he created the Dixie Highway which connected the Upper Peninsula with Florida. He had the first automobile dealership in United States. Carl Fisher is a Griffyndor through and through. He one time attached a hot air balloon to a car4 and flew it across downtown Indianapolis. The idea to create the Speedway came after he and a friend drove from Indianapolis to Dayton, on really rough roads. The number of times that they had to change their tires planted the idea of a place where cars and tires would be tested. The amount brave deeds Carl Fisher did goes on. He was also bold as a Griffyndor, he was known as a “promotional genus” and his ex-wife commented that “he was all speed [. . .] he often said, ‘I just like to see the dirt fly’”. Fisher was bold and courageous. Someone who likes to see the dirt fly, and attach a car to a hot air balloon to increase sales for his dealership, would be sorted directly into Griffyndor.

If Fisher was the idea man – James Allison put the idea into action. Speedway residents know Allison both as a founder of the IMS, but also as the founder of the Allison Transmission. By the age of thirty-two, Allison had been the executive at two companies. He formed “Prest-O-Lite” with Fisher, the company produced the first viable headlight. Following the formation of the IMS, and Allison Transmission, he then formed the Indianapolis Speedway Team Company that would engineer racecars for the 500. A friend described Allison as “the most brilliant mind of any man”. Clearly, James Allison is in Ravenclaw. He had a sharp mind like Ravenclaws: clever, and creative. He founded multiple companies and had a penchant for working on engineering problems. Completely a Ravenclaw.

As clearly as Carl Fisher is a Griffyndor, and James Allison is a Ravenclaw, Arthur Newby is a Hufflepuff. Aside from the formation of the IMS, he also was really involved in bike racing and sought to build a velodrome in Indy to create the best area for bikes to race, 5 and he also went on to head the National Motor Vehicle Company. These are not the actions that make Arthur Newby a Hufflepuff (it does strengthen the idea that Hufflepuffs are not ‘push-over’ as some people like to characterize them!). Newby was called “the quiet philanthropist”. He saved Turkey Run State Park from encroachment. He gave a $100,000 donation to Riley Hospital. He did these things not to seek notoriety as a Griffyndor or a Slytherin might, he did these things because they needed to be done. A hard worker and true soul. A good-hearted person, Newby embodies the characteristics of a Hufflepuff.

That leaves Frank Wheeler, a story that is tragic. 6 He made his fortune in automobile part manufacturing. He was formed the Wheeler-Schebler Carburetor firm with the creator of the carburetor.  He held several high-power positions in the city of Indianapolis, including director of the Stutz fire engine Company, and membership in the Scottish Rite and the Columbia Club.7 He had been called “flamboyant” during his lifetime and lived quite well in a large house with servants.  Wheeler is a Slytherin, and remember that not all Slytherin’s are skulking about trying to ruin every other student. Slytherin’s are resourceful; they’re cunning and driven by ambition. Wheeler held positions in many large firms. He had many high-power club memberships. He made a fortune in automobile part manufacturing in the fledgling lives of automobiles, and a fortune to live in a very good house with servants. He is a Slytherin.

A hundred years or more ago,

When automobiles were still new,

There lived four men of renown,

Whose names are still well known;

Courageous Fisher who flew a car,

Brilliant Allison who never stopped engineering cars;

Charitable Newby who protected Indiana woods,

Resourceful Wheeler who made his fortune with cars.

They shared a dream,

They hatched a plan,

To build a track where cars would run,

Thus the Indianapolis Motor Speedway began.  

No word on if the staircases in the track move, I’ve not caught any of them yet…

1 – This is clearly a parody, my apologies in advance to J.K. Rowling for pretending I’m half the writer she is, but I mean I had too!

2 – Muggles = nonmagic people

3 – Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure

4 – A white Stoddard-Dayton if you’re interested

5 – The velodrome is no longer standing

6 – Wheeler committed suicide after falling despondent over falling ill with a disease

7 – Well known in Indianapolis as the place where very powerful people meet

8 – Again I’m sorry J.K. Rowling, poetry is not my strength

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