Race into Spring
Whether you're a racing rookie, a seasoned pro, or simply an avid reader, James Craig Reinhardt paints a gripping picture of The Indy 500, its history, and tradition with his new and highly anticipated releases of The Winning Cars of the Indianapolis 500 and The Indianapolis 500: Inside the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. Be the first to read the excerpts below of these two fabulous books coming to a bookstore near you April 1, 2019!
The early 1900s saw Indiana emerge as one of the leaders in the brand-new automobile industry. More than fifty manufacturers called Indiana home, and many early-day classics such as Marmon, Cole, National, Stutz, and Duesenberg had their operations based in Indianapolis at one time or another.
There was, however, a problem. Indiana roads were little more than dirt or gravel paths at that time and were still several years away from being paved with either blacktop or concrete. As a result, manufacturers had nowhere to test their products. As technology improved, the vehicles became capable of greater speeds than any public road could provide.
“What we need,” said one visionary, “is a huge, sprawling speedway at which an automobile could be extended to its fullest in order to find its weakest point . . . then go back and make it better.” Additionally, occasional racing events could be conducted to give the manufacturers an opportunity to prove their worth against one another in competition, thereby providing the general public with an opportunity to observe and form opinions on what they might consider purchasing for personal use.
That visionary was Carl G. Fisher. He joined forces with Arthur C. Newby, head of the National Motor Vehicle Company, Frank H. Wheeler, president of the Wheeler-Schebler Carburetor Company, and James A. Allison, whose experimental company would eventually grow into the massive Allison Engineering concern, the prolific manufacturer of the Liberty Aircraft Engine.In mid-December 1908, four eighty-acre tracts of farmland lying approximately five miles northwest of Indianapolis were purchased.
Ray and The Wasp "Sting"
DRIVER Ray Harroun (US)
CAR NUMBER 32
STARTING POSITION 28
DATE May 30, 1911
This famed six-cylinder, single-seat, streamlined Marmon “Wasp” won the very first Indianapolis 500 in 1911. Driven by Ray Harroun and relief man Cyrus Patschke, it was designed and built by the engineering department of the Indianapolis-based Nordyke & Marmon passenger-car firm, where Harroun was an engineer and a race car driver. He had won the Wheeler-Schebler twohundred-mile race and the American Automobile championship the previous year, after which he retired from racing. It was Howard Marmon who coaxed Harroun out of retirement to drive the car in the 1911 Indianapolis 500.
The engine had a displacement of 447.1 cubic inches and was built from stock components, including three two-cylinder units.
The car differed from most race cars of the time in that it was built with a smoothly cowled cockpit and a long, pointed tail to reduce air drag. It was soon known as the Wasp because of its yellowand-black color scheme and sleek lines.