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The Indy 500 - 100 Years of the Greatest Automotive Racing Spectacle In the World
Indy 500 History 1909 Through 1945

The Indianapolis 500 Motor Speedway opened its turnstiles for viewers and unlocked its Gasoline Alley paddocks for racecars and the race teams that run ‘em all out in 1909 and hasn’t stopped thrilling spectators and participants alike with the drama of wide open oval racing on the Brickyard ever since. Indianapolis is known throughout the world for its annual 500-mile race held over Memorial weekend each May. Despite being known as ‘The Richest Prize In Racing’ the circuit where the race is held has far simpler origins.



Initially, the 2.5-mile circuit was built to enable a means of testing and developing new American car designs. It was the idea of Carl Fisher, an early car salesman. In collaboration with Jim Allison, Frank Wheeler and Arthur Newby he moved ahead with his plans and by 1909 the track was ready.

IndyCar Driver Will Power - Verizon Team Penske

Occasional races between manufacturers were envisaged by the group and, on August 19th, 1909, cars competed in anger for the first time. The damage inflicted on the circuit by the heavy machines revealed extensive flaws in the track surface, which contributed to several deaths during the meeting. The solution was found by paving the course with more than three million bricks, earning the track its nickname, ‘The Brickyard.’

After several unsuccessful car and motorcycle races it was decided that the speedway should hold just one annual race each year with a rewarding purse. The inaugura Indianapolis 500 took place on Memorial Day, 1911. It was won by Ray Harroun in, for the time, a highly unusual car. His yellow Marmon Wasp was not only the first car to have a rear-view mirror; it was also the only car in the race without a riding mechanic.



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European manufacturers performed well at the speedway in the early years. Peugeot, Delage and Mercedes all won there in the race’s first decade. Two American engineers were to change all that. Throughout the roaring twenties the race would be dominated by the elegant cars and engines of Harry Miller, the son of a German immigrant. His success brought with it the chance to indulge an extravagant lifestyle. In 1933 the company went bankrupt, but the engine designs were bought by Fred Offenhauser, an employee of Miller. Over the next 27 races Offenhauser engines would fail to win the 500 only three times.


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The course had been sold in 1927 to World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker who made improvements, including the construction of a golf course on the site. Louis Meyer became the first three-time winner of the 500 in 1936 and, in an interview many years later for BBC TV’s ‘The Power and the Glory,’ recalled the perils of racing on the track in the early days. “The track was rough, and the bricks would buckle, on account of the heat.” There was also another unnecessary danger, which Meyer remembered:

“We had a concrete wall at the top of the course, which leaned the wrong way. It leaned outward instead of inward and when you hit it would just shoot you right over the top.”
Read on

•    Indycar Driver Vitor Meira
•    Indy 500 Driver Jerry Karl
•    Unusual Indy 500 Cars

Although tarmac started to be laid before the outbreak of World War Two it would take until 1961 to complete the resurfacing. As a reminder of the track’s past a yard of bricks was left uncovered at the start/finish line. 1936 also saw the first appearance of the glorious Borg-Warner trophy. Standing over five feet tall it is engraved in bas-relief with the likeness of every winner since Ray Harroun. Louis Meyer also became the first driver to drink a pint of milk after winning the 500 in 1936, a tradition which continues to this day.


Danica's Go Daddy IndyCar #7

Centennial Era

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is celebrating 100 years of worldwide leadership in motorsports entertainment from 2009-2011 through its Centennial Era, which features many special events and a new, old school corporate logo.
Plans for the Centennial Era celebration were revealed during an event May 22, 2008 at Allison Mansion of Marian College in Indianapolis.

IMS is honoring the 100th anniversaries of the opening of the venerable racetrack, in 1909, and of the inaugural Indianapolis 500, in 1911, through the Centennial Era celebration.

Indiana businessmen Carl G. Fisher, James A. Allison, Arthur C. Newby and Frank H. Wheeler pooled their savings to build the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1909 as an automobile testing ground to support Indiana’s growing automotive industry. The focus of the facility soon turned to racing, with Ray Harroun winning the inaugural Indianapolis 500 on May 30, 1911.

"No other motorsports facility in the world has the rich history and tradition of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway," IMS Chairman of the Board Mari Hulman George said. "The Centennial Era celebration pays homage to the heroes and events of our storied past while anticipating an even more glorious future."

There are many intertwined components to the Centennial Era celebration:

•        Centennial Gala. A Centennial Gala took place Feb. 27, 2009 at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis. Nineteen of the 27 living Indianapolis 500 winners – including four-time winners A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears – were among the featured guests at the black-tie event. Proceeds benefited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Foundation, which operates the Hall of Fame Museum.
•        Balloon Festival. The Centennial Era Balloon Festival presented by AT&T Yellow Pages took place May 1-3, 2009 at IMS with a full schedule of evening balloon "glows" and daytime ascensions. The event returned May 8, 2010. Both events commemorated the first competitive event ever at the Speedway, a gas-filled balloon race June 5, 1909.
•        Centennial Era Logo. A new Centennial Era logo is being used at IMS from 2009-2011. The logo, designed by IMS Creative Services, draws elements from 1909, 1934 and 1961 IMS graphics in a historic motif.

Two video series, Centennial Era Moments and Centennial Era Gala, highlight the legends of the Speedway through interviews, historical footage and footage from the Centennial Era Gala. Click here to visit the IMS YouTube channel and watch these videos.

The Indy 500 Centennial Era celebration encapsulates all that is awesome about Indy Racing throughout its illustrious history. In the present day and into the future, the Indy Racing League looks poised to be ever more prosperous and exciting for IRL Racing fans, with dynamic and talented drivers like Danica Patrick, Will Power and Dario Francitti behind the wheel and professional race teams like Penske Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing providing the expertise to field competitive racecars.

At IZOD Racing, there is a knowledgeable crew of dedicated employees formulating an innovative and progressive Indy Racing Schedule year after year. There are certain racetracks that will be part of the Indy Schedule every season and some venues that will run several years and then take a hiatus. The goal is to have an IndyCar Schedule that assures there are challenging ovals, road courses and street tracks for the talented racecar drivers, and that these venues are appealing to IRL Racing fans. Having IZOD Racing as the title sponsor for IndyCar for so many years has provided a strong foundation indeed for Indy Racing League to build upon. We can’t wait to cover the next Indy Car action and bet you can’t wait for the next race to begin.

Indy 500 Winners

YEAR
WINNER
AVG. MPH
2010
Dario Franchitti
 
2009
Helio Castroneves
150.318
2008
Scott Dixon
143.567
2007
Dario Franchitti
151.774
2006
Sam Hornish, Jr.
157.085
2005
Dan Wheldon
157.603
2004
Buddy Rice
138.518
2003
Gil de Ferran
156.291
2002
Helio Castroneves
166.499
2001
Helio Castroneves
153.601
2000
Juan Montoya
167.496
1999
Kenny Brack
153.176
1998
Eddie Cheever Jr.
145.155
1997
Arie Luyendyk
145.827
1996
Buddy Lazier
147.956
1995
Jacques Villeneuve
153.616
1994
Al Unser Jr.
160.872
1993
Emerson Fittipaldi
157.207
1992
Al Unser Jr.
134.477
1991
Rick Mears
176.457
1990
Arie Luyendyk
185.981
1989
Emerson Fittipaldi
167.581
1988
Rick Mears
144.809
1987
Al Unser
162.175
1986
Bobby Rahal
170.722
1985
Danny Sullivan
152.982
1984
Rick Mears
163.612
1983
Tom Sneva
162.117
1982
Gordon Johncock
162.029
1981
Bobby Unser
139.084
1980
Johnny Rutherford
142.682
1979
Rick Mears
158.899
1978
Al Unser
161.363
1977
A.J. Foyt Jr.
161.331
1976
Johnny Rutherford
148.725
1975
Bobby Unser
148.725
1974
Johnny Rutherford
158.589
1973
Gordon Johncock
159.036
1972
Mark Donohue
162.962
1971
Al Unser
157.735
1970
Al Unser
155.749
1969
Mario Andretti
156.867
1968
Bobby Unser
152.882
1967
A.J. Foyt Jr.
151.207
1966
Graham Hill
144.317
1965
Jim Clark
150.686
1964
A.J. Foyt Jr.
147.350
1963
Parnelli Jones
143.137
1962
Rodger Ward
140.293
1961
A.J. Foyt Jr.
139.130
1960
Jim Rathmann
138.767
1959
Rodger Ward
135.857
1958
Jimmy Bryan
133.791
1957
Sam Hanks
135.601
1956
Pat Flaherty
128.490
1955
Bob Sweikert
128.213
1954
Bill Vukovich
130.840
1953
Bill Vukovich
128.740
1952
Troy Ruttman
128.922
1951
Lee Wallard
126.244
1950
Johnnie Parsons
124.002
1949
Bill Holland
121.327
1948
Mauri Rose
119.814
1947
Mauri Rose
116.338
1946
George Robson
114.820
1941
Floyd Davis
115.117
 
Mauri Rose
115.117
1940
Wilbur Shaw
114.277
1939
Wilbur Shaw
115.035
1938
Floyd Roberts
117.200
1937
Wilbur Shaw
113.580
1936
Lou Meyer
109.069
1935
Kelly Petillo
106.240
1934
Bill Cummings
104.863
1933
Lou Meyer
104.162
1932
Fred Frame
104.144
1931
Louis Schneider
96.629
1930
Billy Arnold
100.448
1929
Ray Keech
97.585
1928
Lou Meyer
99.482
1927
George Souders
97.545
1926
Frank Lockhart
95.904
1925
Peter DePaolo
101.127
1924
L.L. Corum
98.234
 
Joe Boyer
98.234
1923
Tommy Milton
90.954
1922
Jimmy Murphy
94.484
1921
Tommy Milton
89.621
1920
Gaston Chevrolet
88.618
1919
Howdy Wilcox
88.050
1916
Dario Resta
84.001
1915
Ralph DePalma
89.840
1914
Rene Thomas
82.474
1913
Jules Goux
75.933
1912
Joe Dawson
78.719
1911
Ray Harroun
74.602
 




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Earning the top prize of Best of Show was a superlative 1928 Mercedes-Benz 680S Saoutchik Cabriolet, which is owned by
Paul and Judy Andrews of Fort Worth, Texas. Designer/Coachbuilder Jacques Saoutchik produced seven exquisite Torpedo bodies for the Mercedes 680S chassis, with all six bodies having unique features. A low windscreen and chrome accents give this particular Saoutchik Torpedo a sports car, which enhances this luxury touring car's appeal. Similar to the racing engines that powered the Mercedes-Benz SSK, the engine is a supercharged 6.8-liter straight eight.Robert and Sylvia Affleck, of Bradford Woods, Pennsylvania, own a very jaunty looking 1938 HRG Airline A. Crofts Coupe. Major Edward Halford, Guy Robins and Henry Ronald Godfrey founded HRG in 1936. With the exception of this coupe, all 241 HRGs were roadsters. There are still 225 HRGs still in existence, and 224 of these are roadsters.
The three images that succeed this one show an adept driver, who brought the car all the way back on course without incident. Well done!
Mazda North America went vintage racing in a big way, with no less than four of the company's rotary engine powered road burners taking to the famous track with the nasty corkscrew turns at the top of the course. Team Mazda will be back for the Rolex Motorsports Reunion. Of course, Redline Review will also be back for all the action.Surrounded by three Lotus Evoras and three of Lotus Cars USA's big shot executives, our temporary home during the Monterey Pre-Historics was with the Lotus display.
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