Indianapolis 500 Centennial Celebrated with a Stamp

Ray Harroun, winner of the first Indianapolis 500, begins racing his Marmon “Wasp” through the nation’s mail stream Friday in the form of 50 million First-Class Mail Forever stamps to celebrate 100 years of racing at the iconic brickyard.

The first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony took place at the Speedway as a prelude to Fast Friday, the qualification runs for the 100th Indianapolis 500.

“At the Postal Service, we understand the power of our stamps in celebrating American history and culture — in this case, the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500,” said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe in dedicating the stamp.

“I won’t be so bold as to predict the winner of the race, but I will predict that 50 or 100 years from now the U.S. Postal Service will issue another stamp to commemorate the next milestone anniversary of this great event.”

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Joining Donahoe in dedicating the stamp were Greg Ballard, Indianapolis mayor; Jeff Belskus, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president; Duane “Poncho” Carter Jr., 1974 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year; and Dave Calabro, Indianapolis Motor Speedway announcer.

On May 30, 1911, approximately 80,000 spectators gathered at the Speedway to witness the first running of the Indianapolis 500.

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Driving a Marmon “Wasp” he designed, Ray Harroun beat 39 other drivers to win with a time of 6 hours, 42 minutes and 8 seconds. A century later, the Indy 500 has become an American cultural phenomenon rich in ceremony and tradition and is hailed as “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

The car was built by the Indianapolis-based Marmon Motor Car Company and included one of Harroun’s own inventions, the rearview mirror. Today, it is a prime attraction at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.

The Indianapolis 500 Forever Stamp is equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce rate.

RMN News

Rakesh Raman