Posted May 30th 2012 9:00AM
It was on this day in 1911 that the very first Indianapolis 500 race was held. Driver Ray Harroun took his Marmon Wasp (pictured above) to victory.
The now iconic race took place on the equally famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The track was originally proposed several years earlier as a test track for new cars by local dealer Carl Fisher. According to Fisher, the poor development of the road systems in place didn't allow for rigorous testing of new automobiles.
The track broke ground in 1909 and really, what better way to test a manufacturer's mettle than a race? First starting as small, quick races, the idea came in 1911 to focus on one long 500 mile (800 kilometre) race per year and thus, the Indy 500 was born.
On the dawn of the first race, 40 cars, with primarily American drivers, lined up on the grid. Despite a multi-car crash on the 13th lap, the race ended with Ray Harroun taking home the prize of US$14,250. Harroun's car had an advantage that no other did at the time - a rear view mirror. Perhaps also somewhat of an advantage to Harroun, he didn't have a technician on board meaning reduced weight. Indeed, every other race car held two people - the driver and a technician. Harroun averaged around 120 kilometres per hour. Though that was quick at the time, just 10 years later, a speed like that wouldn't get you anywhere near 1st place.
Hit the jump for some footage from the first race!