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Indiana: Hoosier State
JOINED UNION: December 11, 1816
STATE BIRD: Cardinal
STATE FLOWER: Peony
MEANING OF STATE NAME: "Land of the Indians"
1992 POPULATION: 5,661,800
RANK FOR POPULATION: 14
LAND AREA: 35,870 square miles
RANK IN SIZE IN UNION: 38
ECONOMY: Soybeans and grains, pigs, lumber, coal and limestone, auto parts, mobile homes,farm equipment
HISTORY: Prehistoric Indian mounds exist here and, later, the area was home to the Miami Indians. Explored for France in 1679 by La Salle, Indiana was central in the fighting of the Frenchand Indian War. In 1763, France gave the region to England, which then gave it to the U.S. after the Revolutionary War. U.S. troops defeated Miami Indians during 1790 fighting and, in 1811, General Harrison defeated Tecumseh's Indian confederation at Tippecanoe. Indiana today is known, among other things, for its great high school and college basketball teams.
Winner, and Still Madman 1991
As basketball coach, Bobby Knight, the University of Indiana's on-campus legend, has won everything: an NIT title in 1979, three NCAA titles (in 1976, 1981, and 1987, perhaps more impressive for its span than winning two or three consecutive titles would be), and the Olympic gold in 1984. What's more, he even played on an NCAA championship basketball team, the 1960 Ohio State Buckeyes. It's been said there may be no one in the world who knows more about the game of basketball than Coach Knight.
But while he has coached numerous future NBA stars, and while he's revered throughout the stateand the universe of college basketball for his emphasis on fundamentals, team play, defense, and winning, he can't seem to escape the onus of his own personality. His is a manic character which, on the one hand, has driven him to be so successful and, on the other hand, to humiliate freshmen in front of full stadiums of fans; to enrage local authorities while coaching the US basketball contingent in international competition; and, in his most notorious act of a wayward temper, to throw a chair across the court, while free throws were being shot, to express his displeasure with a referee's call.
Some take issue with his methods -- until he brings home another national crown or at least a Big Ten title; then Coach Knight is forgiven by all. He does boast a sterling graduation rate among his players, a rarity in big-time college basketball, but must he get so volcanically angry at a freshman? Is it necessary to be so withering? Aren't there good college coaches out there whose faces don't turn purple and whose veins don't bulge?
Gentlemen, Start Your Engines 1911 to Present
The first Indianapolis 500 took place in 1911 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and carried a purse of $25,000, $10,000 to the winner. Forty-four cars entered, each one sporting not just a driver but a mechanic as well. The day was marred by a succession of crashes, including one that led to the event's very first death when mechanic S.P. Dickson was hurled against a fence 20 feet away after the front wheels of his car flew off. The winner was Ray Harroun, who navigated a car
called a Marmon Wasp at an average speed of 74.062 miles an hour.
The current Indy, with its high-tech racing machines that reach breathtaking speeds and compete for huge purses, bears little resemblance to that pioneer event, which gave birth to what remains the greatest spectacle in auto racing. Held on Memorial Day, it annually draws the largest crowd of any sporting event in the world, give or take a World Cup soccer match or two. About the only thing that remains the same from that original race -- besides the crashes, of course -- is the
single-minded pursuit of victory that has always motivated drivers at The Brickyard.
When Rick Mears won in 1991, he reached qualifying speeds of 224 mph s and averaged 176.457 mph in his 200 laps around the 1.5-mile oval, earning $1,219,704 for his efforts. It was the fourth victory for Mears, who joined A.J. Foyt and Al Unser as the only four-time winners.
So far, only one woman has been able to break into Gasoline Alley. In May of 1976, Janet Guthrie competed in the qualifying round but failed to win a place in the actual race when she had to withdraw her car with mechanical problems. In 1977, she competed but had to quit after 27 laps because her car again failed. She finished the race in 1978, completing 190 laps and finishing ninth. Kevin Cogan was not so lucky in 1982. Starting from the front row, Cogan initiated a pileup
during the 80 mph pace lap that knocked Mario Andretti, Roger Mears, Dale Whittington and himself out of the race before it had begun.
Other memorable Indys include the 1916 race, which was actually the Indianapolis 300. The race was shortened because World War I had limited European entries and curtailed American car making. Carl Fisher, the Indy president, did not think that older cars would survive 500 miles. The most controversial 500 was run in 1981, when Bobby Unser crossed the finish line first, but was penalized a lap after the race was completed for passing cars illegally under the caution flag.
Runnerup Mario Andretti was awarded first place, but Unser appealed to the US Auto Club, and four months later, the USAC overturned the ruling as too harsh. Unser was allowed to keep the championship as long as he paid a $40,000 fine, a small price to pay for the most prestigious victory in auto racing.
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