Photo: Allison Transmission

Photo: Allison Transmission

As part of ongoing activities to celebrate the company's centennial in 2015, Allison Transmission Holdings Inc. recently announced the dedication of an "Allison Machine Shop" historical marker at the building's location where it still stands on Main Street in Speedway, Ind.

The marker is part of the State of Indiana Historical Marker Program, which is administered by the Indiana Historical Bureau. State historical markers commemorate significant individuals, organizations, places, and events in Indiana history. Since 1946, the marker format has been a large roadside marker, which has a dark blue background with gold lettering and the outline of the state of Indiana at the top.

"I can't think of a more appropriate time for this dedication ceremony to take place," said Lawrence Dewey, chairman, president, and CEO of Allison Transmission.

Allison traces its corporate lineage back to the founding of the Indianapolis Speedway Team Co. on Sept. 14, 1915. As a co-founder of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and part owner of several racing teams, James Allison, an entrepreneur, innovator, and businessman, established a precision machine shop and experimental firm on Main Street in Speedway called the Allison Experimental Co. to support his racing endeavors.

After expressing frustration at having to drive the fine-tuned cars from the city to the track in the area that would become the Town of Speedway, Allison offered to take over one of the racing teams, the Indianapolis Speedway Team Co., and open a precision machine shop and experimental firm under his name nearer to the track. He established the Allison Experimental Co. and had the dedicated shop built on Main Street in Speedway, where he moved operations on January 1, 1917.

In the years that followed, the company evolved from working on race cars to becoming a leading manufacturer of both aircraft engines and, beginning in the mid-1940s, automatic transmissions. Today, Allison Transmission has become a manufacturer of fully automatic commercial-duty transmissions and hybrid-propulsion systems.

The following is the full text for the Allison Machine Shop historical marker:

"Entrepreneur James Allison helped establish Indianapolis Speedway Team Co., 1915, and later built a precision machine shop here near speedway to improve race cars. Upon U.S. entry in WWI, 1917, 500-mile race was suspended and he devoted shop resources to war effort, including making parts for Liberty aircraft engines. Shop name became Allison Engineering Co. by 1921. General Motors purchased company, 1929, and focused work on aircraft engines. During WWII, Allison Division built 70,000 liquid-cooled V-1710 engines for fighter aircraft. Company grew to over 23,000 employees and received awards for excellence in production. By mid-1940s, it manufactured jet engines and transmissions, which later played a key role in Korean War."