Posting vignettes based on great postcards found in my mail box and elsewhere.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Racing Past The Starting Line

Indianapolis 500-Mile Race Sweepstakes start, circa 1950
I wanted a postcard to coincide with the official opening of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's month of May activities leading up to the big race, Sunday, 27 May, 2012. I found this one in my limited Indianapolis collection. It is in poor condition but it remains a good example of a lithographed card done by a photo-chrome process. It shows the start of a race in the late 40s, early 50s. The pagoda on the infield was replaced in 1957. If you compare this image with the race photo postcard of the 1965 race I posted here, you will see many changes to the speedway grandstands and pit layout.

The speedway was built in 1909 and after some initial disastrous races, claiming the lives of a driver, two mechanics and a spectators, the track was paved with some 3.2 million bricks. The first 500-mile race was held on May 30, 1911. It was won by Ray Harroun at the then astonishing average speed of 74.602 mph. It is claimed that this 500-mile race was the first to use a pace car. Perhaps more significantly, Harroun's  Marmon "Wasp" racecar sported a rear-view mirror, the first occasion of its use in a motor car.

See a picture of Harroun's racer here and a picture of a car from last year's race here. If you are a real Indy aficianodo, here is a picture postcard of the 1963 winning car driven by Parnelli Jones.

If you can pinpoint the exact year of the race on this postcard, please let me know. Leave a comment below.

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