Vintage and historic Indianapolis 500
race memorabilia on display in Imlay City

 

IMLAY CITY — Race fans have a rare opportunity to check out vintage tickets, programs and memorabilia from what’s been dubbed ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ at the Ruth Hughes Memorial District Library.

As the 107th Indianapolis 500 race gears up at the starting line on Sunday, May 28, the library is featuring ‘Gentlemen, Start Your Engines: Francesco ‘Frank’ Minolli historic Indianapolis 500 memorabilia’ in the showcase located near the elevator.

The collection features tickets and ticket stubs dating from the late 1940s through 1994, displayed in consecutive order.

Minolli began attending the race in 1949. It was the 33rd Indy 500, and the ticket cost just $7.58. By the time he attended his last race in 1994, tickets were going for $65.

Vintage newspapers and Indy 500 programs are on display throughout the month at the library.

He was there in the late 1960s when a horrible crash killed two drivers and sprayed fuel and debris on some fans in the grandstands.

Minolli was among those hit in the stands, and among those who went down to the field to see what they could do to help the injured. He was interviewed by a reporter from the Indianapolis News, and the historic issue is among those featured in the display.

Minolli was born in the mountain town of Pescosolido (translation ‘solid rock’), Italy. As a young man, he was interested in all things mechanical, and had a knack for precision work with motors, engines, and mechanical systems, as well as a talent for creative woodworking, craftsmanship, building and design.

With a high school education, Minolli went on to become a founding member of World Manufacturing Inc., a company known for its manufacture of precision aircraft parts. World Manufacturing Inc. was commissioned to make a part for the Apollo 11 rocketship.

He and his wife Anna (Rossi) Minolli, were married in May of 1952, and embarked on many adventures by motorhome, motorcycle and aircraft throughout their 49 year marriage. Minolli’s love of cars, motorcycles and all things mechanical prompted his interest in the Indy 500 race. He visited the “brickyard” annually beginning in 1949 and continued to attend the annual race until 1994. The tickets on display are in chronological order, with the year 1972 missing. That year, Minolli suffered a massive heart attack on the day of the race and was given his last rites in an Indianapolis hospital. He survived the ordeal and was able to return home to Michigan three months later. He and Anna raised four daughters, Roseann, Catherine, Dawn and Virginia.

Francesco ‘Frank’ Minolli died on February 21, 2011 at age 83. He continued to ride his motorcycle, with his last ride in the fall of 2010. Anna (Rossi) Minolli was 86 years-old when she passed away on January 29, 2018.

The ‘Gentlemen, Start Your Engines’ display runs through the end of May. All are welcome to stop in and take a look.

The Ruth Hughes Memorial District Library is located at 211 N. Almont Avenue. The library is open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Tuesday and Friday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and is closed on Sunday. Call 810-724-8043 or visit ruthhughes.org for more information.