Abstract

Auto racing is a technoscientific sport that represents key aspects of sport's broader cultural significance. In the early-1900s era of urbanization and industrialization, motor sport was the activity by which a modern desire to use infrastructure and transportation technology to bring people and places closer together was transformed into exchange value. Via racing, in other words, the apparent annihilation of space was commodified and became sport. This article uses insights of intellectual and cultural history to explore motor sport, especially as carried out at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as a societal ritual signifying deeper shifts in spatial and temporal relations. Indianapolis's iconic 500-mile races were inaugurated by auto-parts mogul Carl Graham Fisher, a contemporary of Henry Ford who might be seen as a Gramsci-style organic intellectual who was an influential thinker despite his nonacademic background. By examining auto racing as a representational and commodified activity that incorporates yet also transcends human physicality, historians gain a greater understanding of sport's essential role within modern society.

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