INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The Indianapolis 500 Gordon Pipers has been a musical tradition at the Indianapolis 500. So, how did they become such a fixture at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway? 24-Hour News 8’s 500 contributor Laura Steele talked with a member to find out.
Doug Hardwick of the Indianapolis 500 Gordon Pipers talked about the history and how it all started with a man named Gordon Wallace Diel.
Diel was playing with the Murat Highlanders in Indianapolis when he decided he wanted his family to perform with him. However, at the time the Murat Highlanders had a rule that said you had to be over six feet tall and had to be a male. This rule excluded his daughters from the band.
The founder of the band decided to start a band with no height or gender rules and called it the Gordon Pipers. When IMS President Tony Hulman heard the band perform, it was history in the making.
“He was so impressed with those five guys back then that we were the WFBM Gordon Pipers. He was amazed that they could draw such a big crowd with that small of a group,” said Hardwick.
Hulman wanted people attending the race to feel comfortable, so his idea was to bring the band to the grounds for the first time in 1963.
It was the same year that Tony Hulman declared the band the Indianapolis 500 Gordon Pipers. For this year’s historical race the band will get even bigger.
“This year for the 100th running we plan on fielding 100 performers on the track race day. Which will be a pretty awesome sight if you’ve never seen 100 bagpipes and drummers come down the main straightaway,” said Hardwick.
You can hear the Indianapolis 500 Gordon Pipers during this year’s 100 running of the Indy 500. To see 24-Hour News 8’s complete coverage of the race, click here.