This is the story of the unsung heroes of the Indianapolis 500; men who drove relief for the winning car. Setting aside co-winners Mauri Rose (1941) and Joe Boyer (1924), four men contributed to Indy 500 victory in relative anonymity. Most interesting of these was perhaps Howdy Wilcox, who won the race for himself in 1919.
A conversation that has stuck with me for several years now is one I had back in 2009 with author Charles Leershen who wrote an entertaining but biased book titled, “Blood and Smoke: A True Tale of Mystery, Mayhem and the Birth of the Indy 500.” It was clear to me that he had been referencing First Super Speedway <
Digging deeper into the milestone March 18, 1907 automobile parade through Indianapolis you can click thru here for some pretty darn amazing historical information. You'll find an analysis of a couple of original articles which are attached.
Despite two fifth-place finishes in his only appearances in the Indianapolis 500 (1914 & 1916), Barney Oldfield's biggest day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was probably May 30, 1910. The events that day were the concluding contests of a Memorial Day weekend American Automobile Association (AAA) race meet.
We've spent some energy in revealing the full story behind the famous Marmon Wasp that won the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911. What you see here is an image derived from microfilm records of a photo originally published in the Indianapolis Sun on May 30, 1910.
Barney Oldfield gave an interesting interview in 1910. The writer focused on the spectacular: accidents and speed. There were some factual issues with the piece, especially reporting that Oldfield retired for three years beginning in 1906.
The National Motor Vehicle Company, the Indianapolis automobile manufacturer headed Arthur C. Newby, one of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's four founders, had an awesome race team in 1910. Three young stars headed by the more established Johnny Aitken had proven their prowess in running with the best of 'em.
The New York newspapermen dubbed Joe Dawson "The Indiana Whirlwind" after the 21-year-old stormed to the front of the 1910 Vanderbilt Cup with something less than 50 miles remaining to the finish. His primary rival was the deliberate tactician Harry Grant back to defend his title of the previous year with his awe-inspiring "Black Beast" ALCO racer.
According to the local newspapers 60,000 people attended the first Memorial Day of racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 30, 1910. Understanding the context of history is central to enjoying it and imagining the experience of all those wonderful souls of the day.