1916 Indianapolis "300"


This video is a brief look at the 1916 Indianapolis 500, which wasn't a 500 mile race. This edition of the "Memorial Day Classic" was the only one planned to be shorter than 500 miles as it was scheduled as a 300-miler. A number of factors were at work in making this decision, not the least of which was the raging war in Europe which limited entries from manufacturers located there. The field was the smallest in the historic race's history at just 21 cars.


The winner, Dario Resta, was an Italian-born Englishman who came to the United States in 1915 to ply his trade. He courted and wed a prominent American woman, Mary Wishart, the daughter of Wall Street financier George Wishart and the sister of racer Spencer Whishart who finished second at Indy in 1913 and was killed at the Elgin road race in 1914. Resta cut his teeth on the famous Brooklands high-banked, concrete paved closed circuit course in England.


The pinnacle of Resta's career was his 1915 and 1916 racing seasons in the United States. During that span he won the Vanderbilt Cup twice, the American Grand Prize in 1915 and the Indianapolis "300" you can see here. Resta won several other speedway events and was a master of the board track in Chicago.


Wife Mary pulled at Dario to retire from racing, which he did after 1917, but only half-heartedly. He staged a comeback but never attained the level of success he enjoyed in those two special years. During a black September in 1924, Resta was killed in a record attempt at Brooklands.  Resta's passing occurred during a two-week span when three Indianapolis 500 winners lost their lives racing. The other two were Joe Boyer and Jimmy Murphy.