100th Running of the Indy 500

  • 05/25/2016


The 100th Running of the Indy 500; Sunday May 30, 2016!

In 1911 the cars averaged roughly 75 miles an hour, 125 in 1951 my birth year, and now about 235!  Innovation in racing is an ongoing hallmark of Indy Cars, and every running of the 500 has had its drama.  But it all began with the 1911 Marmon Wasp…

I’ve been to the race a half dozen times, enjoyed it from both infield and stands, and loved every aspect of it.  This year, however, work and ticket availability mean watching it on TV – but no matter; any way you can experience the Indy 500 is good!

But, I have also enjoyed the Indy 500 in another way; by researching and illustrating the First Indy 500 race in a book “Fine Line” completed for Author Jerry Slauter.  Enjoy the following description of “MARMON WIN”, the historical comments supporting the drawing, and other info provided!


1911 Indianapolis 500

Marmon Win


Marmon Win

“Marmon Win” is the second illustration for Jerry Slauter’s sequel to “Woodcutter’s Revival” – entitled “Fine Line”… …hence the connection with the “fine line” drawing style of the illustrations.

“Marmon Win” shows the Marmon “Wasp” (note the wasp-like tail) driven by Ray Harroun winning the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911. Harroun’s average speed was 74.602 mph – a speed maintained to reduce tire wear – thereby requiring one less pit stop – a strategy that worked! Note that Harroun’s Marmon Wasp had no observer-mechanic either – made up for by Harroun’s implementation of a first-ever rearview mirror. The car also had quick-disconnect wheel and tire sets and the body was narrower than all the other cars which had two-occupant side-by-side seat designs – thus adding to the “Wasp’s” quick pit stops and early aerodynamics – very forward thinking for the time.

Daryl, the main character in “Fine Line” is shown taking a shot with a 1911 Kodak Box Camera as the Marmon crosses the line. Note that in early Indy 500’s the flagman stood in a dangerous spot – directly on the track on the outboard side. By 1920, flagmen stood in a much safer platform elevated above the track surface – where it is today. The 1911 track surface was paved with bricks, and covered with sand and cement (hence the dust shown in the illustration). A preserved yard of these original bricks form the finish line at Indy today.

The Marmon Win illustration is available for purchase on Wiley Studio. 

The book “Fine Line” is available for purchase on Amazon.

Here’s a view of the Marmon Wasp at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.  It will be driven in the pre-race events this year!



Do you have a favorite memory of the Indy 500?

We enjoy reading your comments.

Till’ Next Time

Scott & Dixie