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James A. Allison

JAMES A. ALLISON, one of the four founders of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, was a major contributor to the track’s successful operation. He succeeded his longtime associate and business partner Carl G. Fisher as Speedway president in June 1923, and assumed complete charge of the Indianapolis 500 as Fisher became more and more involved in the development of Miami Beach as a winter resort after World War I. Allison and Fisher were partners in many ventures, the most successful being the one that produced Prest-O-Lite carbide gas-fueled headlights (and later batteries). Founded in 1904 for approximately $5,000, it was sold in 1917 to Union Carbide for $9 million. Allison also was intensely interested in engine development and formed the Allison Experimental Company, which quickly became Allison Engineering Company, eventually spinning off, among others, Allison Transmission and Allison Gas Turbine. The latter is now owned by the Rolls-Royce Corporation.