Friday 19th January 1968
Ray Harroum (89), winner of the first Indianapolis 500, died in Anderson, Illinois, US. Nicknamed the “Little Professor” for his pioneering work of creating the Marmon Wasp, which was a revolutionary design being the first open-wheel single-seater racecar, he is known to have started at least 60 AAA-sanctioned races, during the years 1905–1911. At the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911, his used what would now be called a rear-view mirror, rather than the riding mechanic specified in the rules, created controversy, but was ultimately allowed. Harroun went on to win at an average speed of 74.602 miles per hour (120.060 km/h). Harroun, who came out of retirement to race in the first 500, would not race after 1911. Harroun’s historic Firestone-shod yellow #32 Marmon “Wasp,” in which he won the Indianapolis 500, is on display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. He won a total of 8 races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the second-most of any driver in the history of the track (the only driver with more victories at IMS is Johnny Aitken, with 15 wins in 1909–1916).