Harroun, A Man Perfect For His Times


Ray Harroun cemented his reputation as a top American race driver in 1909. He scored important victories in the Wheatley Hills Sweepstakes (support race for the Vanderbilt Cup), a sprint race at the new Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the New Orleans 100, and the Atlanta 125 miler.
Harroun went into 1910 as more than a respected race driver, but also an outstanding mechanic and engineer. Among the highlights of the coming season would be his dominating victories in the 100-mile go on America's first auto racing board track near Los Angeles at Playa Del Rey and the Wheeler-Schebler 200 - the first feature contest at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after it was paved with bricks.

The Speedway triumph was achieved with the new Marmon Wasp, the same car that would rise to iconic status with a second Brickyard win a year later, almost to the day, in the inaugural Indianapolis 500. The car had already demonstrated its prowess with victory in its maiden race at Atlanta earlier in the same month.
The man with primary responsibility for the design of the ground-breaking Marmon Wasp? Ray Harroun.
Most people don't realize it today, but aerodynamics was the primary principle behind the Marmon Wasp design. Right down to its pointy stinger tail, it was like an arrow, shaped to slip through air.
One of the juicy tidbits in the article you will find here if you only click thru is reporting that Harroun had acquired an abandoned industrial building on Indianapolis' west side. It was there he intended to develop engines to power airplanes. Make no mistake, Speedway Founder Carl Fisher's vision of making the track an epicenter for the nascent aviation industry was a factor in Harroun's decision to launch his aviation work in the Hoosier capital.
1910 was a pivotal year for auto racing and the emergence of the Brickyard and the "Piepan" (the nickname for the one-mile wood plank circle - not oval - of Playa Del Rey) are demonstrative proof of this point. What's more, Ray Harroun, absolutely fit into the comprehensive mosaic of the age.
Harroun wasn't a product of the times, he was a creator of the era. He was a perfect match with the age in which he lived.
Click thru and consider this and so much more as you will find a moment when the automotive and auto racing communities looked forward to tackling their first high-banked board speedway. It is a moment frozen in time, but it comes back to life...at First Super Speedway.