Marmon Wasp Project Begins

This article originally appeared in the January 30, 1910 Indianapolis Star and discusses the plans of the Marmon company to design and construct the Marmon Wasp, the car destined to became one of the most iconic racing machines in history as winner of the first Indianapolis 500. The Marmon Wasp, contrary to many opinions, was constructed in 1910 and not specially for the Indianapolis 500. An interesting aspect to this article is that even before the legendary car was completed or tested the press was calling Marmon entries "Yellow Jackets" and "Wasps" and this article proves that.
Ray Harroun, already a winner of big events like the Wheatley Hills Sweepstakes, was firmly established as the team's number one driver over number two Harry "Sunshine" Stillman. The team was recruiting a third driver who would later prove to be Marmon factory mechanic Joe Dawson but that decision had not been made by the time of this article.
The article notes that Marmon had a full stable of racing machines for various classes provided for by the 1910 American Automobile Association (AAA) rulebook. This included stock cars, stock chassis racers and special racing cars. While not referred to as the "Marmon Wasp," the new "special racer" is reported to be for free-for-all classes as well as exhibition and handicap events. All this flew in the face of those advocating that "freak" racers proved nothing and that only stock car races gave meaningful input to factory engineers and the buying public alike. As a side note the car would win the 1910 Wheeler-Schebler 200 mile race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that May during the first full race meet at the newly paved Brickyard.
The article specifically mentions the team colors: yellow with black trim. It also suggests that 1909 was the first year of racing for the marques as well as Harroun and Stillman. Several victories established the team and everyone connected to it in the auto racing world.
The article describes the anticipated new Marmon Wasp, calling it a new "Speed Monster" expected to be completed by March 1. It also reported that it would first be tested at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
An excerpt provides the description, at least according to the plans apparently shared by someone at Marmon. Note the emphasis even at this early period design on aerodynamics:
"There will be special features of construction to this machine unlike any ever before shown on a racing car, while wind resistance and the way to reduce it is the aim of the designer. The axles will be built to a point in front and rear, the starting crank will also be pointed. the radiator and rear end will be built to a point, while the driver will be concealed right behind the engine and seated in the center of the frame with only goggles visible above the rakish, pointed hood, calculated to reduce the pressure of the air and motion of the earth to its lowest point of resistance. The machine will be of the six-cylinder type and will carry fuel and sufficient water to travel 200 miles at top speed."
In the end this description proved reasonably prophetic with the exception of the pointed front of the car which for whatever reason did not happen. This might have been the result of the realities of trying to cool the car and the necessity of maximum surface area exposure of the radiator to the rushing air. The conventional blunt nose and giant rectangular radiator was retained in design. The plan for the Marmon Wasp's distinctive pointed tail did become a reality, further reinforcing the image of the stinger-equipped flying insects.

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