100 Races Later — The Indianapolis 500

HVA Celebrates First Winner, the Marmon Wasp

Historic Indy Race Car Laps the Brickyard with Four-Time Indy 500 Winner Al Unser Behind the Wheel

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – June 1, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) –  The Historic Vehicle Association (HVA) announced today that the Marmon Wasp joins other automotive icons on the HVA’s National Historic Vehicle Register. The first Indy 500 winner is currently being exhaustively measured and documented by the HVA using the guidelines set by the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Heritage Documentation and the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER). Once complete, the material will permanently reside in the Library of Congress, joining such iconic cars as the Shelby Cobra Daytona prototype, the first Meyers Manx dune buggy and one of the last surviving Futurliners. This is being done to preserve an important chapter in America’s automotive heritage.

Historic Vehicle Association Marmon Wasp

#32 Marmon Wasp
Photo Credit: Chris Graythen, gettyimages

“The yellow #32 Marmon Wasp is arguably one of the best known race cars in America,” said Mark Gessler, President of the Historic Vehicle Association. “The 1911 race was the inauguration of a single, large-scale event designed to attract widespread attention from both American and European racing teams and manufacturers. It proved to be a successful event, immediately establishing itself both as the premier motorsports competition in the nation, and one of the most prestigious in the world.”

Organization and Funding:

The documentation of the Marmon Wasp on the National Historic Vehicle Register is being organized by the Historic Vehicle Association and underwritten by Hagerty & Shell (including their Pennzoil and Quaker State brands).

shell oilHagerty Logo

“Pennzoil has a long and storied history in Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500 dating back to the 1930s with Russell Snowberger. Fast forward to the 1980s, Pennzoil was the oil used by the team of Johnny Rutherford and Rick Mears, the same oil you could buy right off the shelf even then,” said Shell Lubricants Don Moser. “As the Indianapolis 500 celebrates its 100 year anniversary, we are proud to continue to honor the history of this storied series and celebrate the first win with the Marmon Wasp.”

5 Facts You Will Want to Know About the First Winner, the Marmon Wasp

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(Photo courtesy of HVA – Photo Credit: Chris Graythen, gettyimages – May 29, 2016)

5. Luxury Performance –
Initially avoiding the trend set by Ford for low-priced, high-volume cars, Marmon focused squarely on the high-end market with an eye on speed.  Early marketing included hiring Helen Keller as a spokeswoman, fielding cars in races around the country – where Ray Harroun won over forty-one races in 1910, and sending a 1916 Model 34 across country in six days breaking the previous record held by Cannon Ball Baker.  Their production cars gained a reputation as reliable and fast upscale automobiles.  Marmon, like its luxury competitors, couldn’t survive the Great Depression, however.  Despite introducing a lower cost car in the late 1920s, the company built its last automobile – the sixteen cylinder Series 16 – in 1933.

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(Photo courtesy of HVA – Photo Credit: Chris Graythen, gettyimages – May 29, 2016)

4. Factory Hot Rod –
Ray Harroun, an engineer for the Marmon Motor Car Company, designed the six-cylinder Marmon Wasp from stock Marmon engine components, adding two cylinders to the production Model 32 engine on which it was based.  The Marmon, originally dubbed “Yellow Jacket” by the media and later shortened to “Wasp,” was built with a cowled cockpit and a long pointed tail to reduce air drag, and adorned with a yellow and black paint scheme.  The car also featured another important innovation – the rear view mirror.  Ray Harroun was the first driver to race without a riding mechanic to watch for cars from behind and it is believed that the Marmon was the first car equipped with this vital piece of equipment.

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(Photo courtesy of HVA – Photo Credit: Chris Graythen, gettyimages – May 29, 2016)

3. Must Drive 75 – The 1911 International 500-Mile Sweepstakes Race Grid
Out of the 46 entries, only 40 were able to achieve the 75 mph along the quarter-mile straight required in order to qualify.  Cars started based on their entry date (also their car number) rather than qualifying time.  Joining Harroun for the historic rolling start were racing legends such as Ralph de Palma in a Simplex, Bob Burman in a Benz and runner up Ralph Mulford in a Lozier.

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(Photo Credit: Courtesy of Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum)

2. One and Done  –
Ray Harroun and the Marmon Wasp started in row 6 in the 28th position.  He completed the 500-mile race in 6 hours, 42 minutes and 8 seconds with an average speed of 74.49 mph.  Harroun, preferring his engineering career over that of a motorsports celebrity risking life and limb never raced again.  Marmon likewise retired from official competition, content with the boost in sales provided by the 1911 victory.

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(Photo courtesy of HVA – Photo Credit: Chris Graythen, gettyimages – May 29, 2016)

1. Birth of a Legend –
The inaugural Indy 500 made an indelible mark on international motor racing, quickly becoming one of the premier motorsports competitions in the world.  Despite a few off years due to WWI and WWII, the race has been run continuously since 1911.  This year marked the 100th running of what has become the largest single day motorsports spectator event in the world.

Click here for Marmon Wasp Photos: HVA Marmon Wasp Photos

About the Historic Vehicle Association
The HVA is dedicated to preserving and sharing America’s automotive heritage. In 2014, the HVA established the National Historic Vehicle Register. Working with the U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Heritage Documentation Programs and Library of Congress, their aim is to document historically significant automobiles in America’s past. The HVA is supported by over 400,000 individual historic vehicle owners, key stakeholders and corporations such as Shell (including their Pennzoil and Quaker State brands), Hagerty, American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, as well as individual benefactors. Please visit: historicvehicle.org

About Shell Lubricants
The term ‘Shell Lubricants’ collectively refers to the companies of Royal Dutch Shell plc that are engaged in the lubricants business. Shell Lubricants companies lead the lubricants industry, supplying more than 12 percent of global lubricants volume. * The companies manufacture and blend products for use in consumer, heavy industrial and commercial transport applications. The Shell Lubricants portfolio of top-quality brands includes Pennzoil®, Quaker State®, FormulaShell®, Shell TELLUS®, Shell RIMULA®, Shell ROTELLA® T, Shell SPIRAX® and Jiffy Lube®.

*Kline & Company, “Global Lubricants Industry July 2015: Market Analysis and Assessment.”

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