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  • Old School Gasoline Alley garage questions

    ​I've recently started refinishing my garage, and I've decided to go with a Gasoline Alley theme, at least on the inside (the outside is suburban home) and I have a couple questions based on pictures I took of the mock up in the Museum.

    DSCF1068.jpg
    Does anyone have plans, or dimensions for the work benches?

    DSCF1069.jpg
    Were the floors checkered like this, and if they were, were the colors grey and white like the walls?
    “America is all about speed. Hot, nasty, badass speed.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

  • #2
    IIRC, some garages had checkered tile installed, but not all of them.
    Doctorindy.com

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    • #3
      If that museum model is true to scale, how in the world did crews work on cars through the early '80s? It looks like you could get a modern-dimention car in there with maybe an inch on all sides. Storage, barely. Working on them? Impossible.
      You have the IndyCar you deserve.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by dalz View Post
        If that museum model is true to scale, how in the world did crews work on cars through the early '80s? It looks like you could get a modern-dimention car in there with maybe an inch on all sides. Storage, barely. Working on them? Impossible.
        I've always assumed that was sort of a full-scale diorama, but didn't actually represent the size in terms of square footage. The good news is that I'm not building to scale
        “America is all about speed. Hot, nasty, badass speed.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Doctorindy View Post
          IIRC, some garages had checkered tile installed, but not all of them.
          The floors were concrete. Any checkered (or other design) tiles were added by the individual teams. Some teams painted their floors but many did not. And the width of the garage in the museum is pretty accurate. However, I don't ever remember any benches or shelves on the sides in the single car garages. The bigger entrants would have been using double (or even triple) adjoining garages with no walls in between. I do remember shelves up above on the sides in many of the single car garages. These were up high and you basically needed a step ladder to use them. When you were working on the cars in was pretty common to set the bodywork outside and lean it up against the garage. In some cases it would be stored on the upper shelves.

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          • #6
            This video is from 1985.



            You can really see how congested it was. As mentioned, teams would store equipment, bodywork, tires, etc. outside because of the lack or space. And having all that stuff outside made it even more crowded congested. Mari Hulman George was right when she said at the time the whole place was one big "firetrap."

            Since there was only one race per year, the teams actually got to use the garage for the whole 12 months if they wanted. I'd guess that offered them the time if they chose to install tile or other features...shelves, etc.

            As mentioned, the width is probably about right, but many of the stalls didn't have partitions. Many/most were open on both sides (just like the garages we have now). So the depiction in the museum is mostly accurate, but a little 'fictional.'
            Doctorindy.com

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            • #7
              Something else I remember was that the garage floors were elevated over an inch or so above the "alley" itself to keep out water when it rained. For years that worked well but as cars started sitting lower and lower to the ground they would often get hung up on the raised floors if you didn't aim them in perfectly straight. When there were crowds in the Garage Area it was often hard to turn your car sharp enough for a straight shot in. You ended up doing a lot of back and forth pushing before getting the car aligned properly to go into the garage.

              Also, a lot of race fans seem to thing that the white and green doors were somehow unique to the Speedway. That style of door has been common for over a hundred years on a lot of buildings and especially on horse farms. There was even another Gasoline Alley in Patterson, NJ where the East Coast racers like Ted Horn were based with doors of a somewhat similar design and colors.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by indyrjc View Post
                Also, a lot of race fans seem to thing that the white and green doors were somehow unique to the Speedway. That style of door has been common for over a hundred years on a lot of buildings and especially on horse farms. There was even another Gasoline Alley in Patterson, NJ where the East Coast racers like Ted Horn were based with doors of a somewhat similar design and colors.
                Funny you mention this. There is a shipping company around the corner from me that has an out building over to the side that has green doors like this.

                “America is all about speed. Hot, nasty, badass speed.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

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                • #9
                  Penske should rebuild the garages with the retro look eventually... hope that is.
                  Chicago Cubs 2016 World Series Champions

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                  • #10
                    Makes sense that as the cars became wider the benches and shelving seen in the Museum diorama would be eliminated or moved to better places.

                    In the Tom Carnegie-narrated photo book on the 500 it was stated that some of the garages razed in the summer of 1986 dated back to the post-fire construction of 1941.
                    You have the IndyCar you deserve.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by dalz View Post
                      ......

                      In the Tom Carnegie-narrated photo book on the 500 it was stated that some of the garages razed in the summer of 1986 dated back to the post-fire construction of 1941.
                      I'm sure you are correct. I've never known the exact timeline but about the last 1/3 of the garages on the east end were of concrete block construction while the rest going to far west side were still wooden. I've always thought that some of those dated back even earlier than 1941. The concrete extensions on the east were likely constructed after WWII after Hulman took over. DoctorIndy's video shows the transition from wooden walls to concrete block is you look closely.

                      I remember there was sometimes decades old racing graffiti written on some of the walls. I specifically remember that someone had done a beautiful pencil drawing of a Konstant Hot roadster on the inside of one of the restroom doors. Even after the everything had been repainted the painters had left the drawing uncovered on purpose. And I once found chalk notes that oldtimer's told me had been written by Jimmy Bryan which were never removed. I know I checked every year and they were still there when the garages came down after the 1985 500.
                      Last edited by indyrjc; 05-19-2020, 08:10 AM.

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                      • #12
                        Given their size and lack of amenities, I'm surprised crews got any constructive work done on modern cars.
                        The Ayn Rand of Indycar

                        No one had to badge the Offy.

                        Crapping all over threads since 2000.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by DaveL View Post
                          Given their size and lack of amenities, I'm surprised crews got any constructive work done on modern cars.
                          Remember that garages at most other tracks weren't much better even into the '70s and '80s. A few well funded teams were starting to have semis that could be worked in but a lot of teams simply worked out in the open at many tracks. Milwaukee never did have garages. Back then even Formula One was sometimes racing at tracks that had no garages.

                          At Indianapolis setup work was done in the Bear garages on multiple racks which were open for use to everyone. Engine changes weren't too bad inside the garages but if the weather was good working outside was even better. And there were also accessory shops in the garage area where the teams could use other tooling like presses and grinding equipment. The Indiana Oxygen garage provided first class welding equipment and even provided highly skilled welders for no charge to the teams. In a lot ways even the new garages aren't much different. Yes, they certainly have a lot more room. But it's still pretty common to see bodywork and piles of tires being stored outside of the garages in the aisles where fans walk by. No matter how much room you have you can always use more.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by indyrjc View Post

                            Remember that garages at most other tracks weren't much better even into the '70s and '80s. A few well funded teams were starting to have semis that could be worked in but a lot of teams simply worked out in the open at many tracks. Milwaukee never did have garages. Back then even Formula One was sometimes racing at tracks that had no garages.

                            At Indianapolis setup work was done in the Bear garages on multiple racks which were open for use to everyone. Engine changes weren't too bad inside the garages but if the weather was good working outside was even better. And there were also accessory shops in the garage area where the teams could use other tooling like presses and grinding equipment. The Indiana Oxygen garage provided first class welding equipment and even provided highly skilled welders for no charge to the teams. In a lot ways even the new garages aren't much different. Yes, they certainly have a lot more room. But it's still pretty common to see bodywork and piles of tires being stored outside of the garages in the aisles where fans walk by. No matter how much room you have you can always use more.
                            The Ayn Rand of Indycar

                            No one had to badge the Offy.

                            Crapping all over threads since 2000.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by indyrjc View Post

                              I'm sure you are correct. I've never known the exact timeline but about the last 1/3 of the garages on the east end were of concrete block construction while the rest going to far west side were still wooden. I've always thought that some of those dated back even earlier than 1941. The concrete extensions on the east were likely constructed after WWII after Hulman took over. DoctorIndy's video shows the transition from wooden walls to concrete block is you look closely.

                              I remember there was sometimes decades old racing graffiti written on some of the walls. I specifically remember that someone had done a beautiful pencil drawing of a Konstant Hot roadster on the inside of one of the restroom doors. Even after the everything had been repainted the painters had left the drawing uncovered on purpose. And I once found chalk notes that oldtimer's told me had been written by Jimmy Bryan which were never removed. I know I checked every year and they were still there when the garages came down after the 1985 500.
                              It took a lot of digging, and piecing together newspapers articles, but I think I'm confident that I have more or less nailed down how things went. On the morning of the race in 1941, the fire burned down about 1/3 of the southern bank of garages. Looking back, it's amazing it was just that much. It was a terrible inferno, but stories over the years might have slightly exaggerated the extent of the damage.
                              Around July 1941, the rest of the garage was demolished...the north bank I think being the original bank from the beginning. The south bank having been built in 1929.
                              Plans were drawn up over the summer, and the new garages were built sometime in Aug/Sept/Oct (+/-) of 1941. Then the war interfered and shortly after the garages were completed, the track shut down. So the "new" garages sat during the war, unused. It was reported that unlike the rest of the facility, they survived the shutdown fairly well and did not need to be rebuilt.

                              It's notable that the pre-WWII garages had a slightly different look than the post-WWII garages. The pre-WWII garages had a row of short windows along the peaks of the roof, which the post-WWII garages did not. (see this photo, for instance... https://d2i8ejbvsgsqtt.cloudfront.ne...d/imsc3017.jpg)

                              I was never sure until fairly recently if the garages were rebuilt before or after the war, and according to articles, it was before. They were not built in 1946, as some might have simply assumed. Over time, additional stalls were added to the east. After being cleaned out and the doors removed, etc. they were torn down the first week of June 1985.
                              Doctorindy.com

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