Ray Wade Harroun (born January 12, 1879 in Spartansburg, Pennsylvania, United States – died January 19, 1968 in Anderson, Indiana, United States) was a driver who won the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911, which was considered a Grand Prix. He drove a Marmon, his specific car being the Marmon Wasp.
Harroun came out of retirement to take part in the race, and returned to retirement afterwards.
Ray Harroun was born in Spartansburg in Pennsylvania in early 1879. A worker in the automotive industry, he was racing by 1903, taking part in record-setting Chicago to New York drives. As an engineer for Marmon, he created the Marmon Wasp, earning the nickname of the "Little Professor" for his efforts. He started at 60 AAA-sanctioned races, and was retroactively awarded the 1910 title, after points were retroactively calculated for races considered "Championship" events in 1927. He retired after the 1910 season, aged 31.
1911 Indianapolis 500Edit
Within months of retiring, Harroun decided to come out of retirement for the 1911 Indianapolis 500. One of two Marmon drivers (along with Joe Dawson), Harroun controversially drove without the riding mechanic that was specified in the rules, but instead used a rear-view mirror. It was allowed and with the grid order decided by date of entry, Harroun lined up 28th. Harroun made his way up the field and took the lead on lap 103. Fighting with Ray Mulford, Harroun lead 88 of the remaining laps to secure the victory ahead of Mulford by one minute and 43 seconds. It was not an easy victory; Harroun's tires failed and he temporarily lost the lead while getting new rubber, though he took the lead back once Mulford pitted himself.
Harroun had aimed to drive at around 75 mph to save his tire life and in completing the race in six hours, 42 minutes and eight seconds, achieved an average speed of 74.602 mph (120.060 km/h). He was also relieved by Cyrus Patschke for 35 laps of the race, though Patschke is not credited with the victory. While the race awarded a $10,000 prize ($261,330 in 2016), Harroun earned $14,250 for his victory ($372,395 in 2016). He returned to retirement following the race.
Harroun continued to work for Marmon following retirement, and later worked for the Maxwell team before founding his own car company, the Harroun Motor Sales Corporation, in 1916. In 1918 the company earned a Government contract to produce artillery shells and eventually the company folded in 1922. He joined Lincoln Products in 1927 and eventually retired in 1958, aged 79.
He died in Anderson, Indiana, a week after his 89th birthday.
Grand Prix Statistical OverviewEdit
Grand Prix RecordEdit
|1911||Nordyke & Marmon Company||Marmon|
|Front Row Starts||0|
|Distance Raced||500 km (311 mi)|
|Distance Led||220 km (137 mi)|
|Win Number||Grand Prix|
|1||1911 Indianapolis 500|
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