Indianapolis News and Headlines


Road to 100: 1912

Posted at 5:30 PM, Feb 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-20 17:30:07-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- In 1912, horses and buggies, street cars and automobiles shared downtown Indianapolis' streets. 

Women in long skirts and men in suits patronized such shops as Wasson's Department Store and Kahn Tailoring.

And a new Memorial Day tradition was taking hold - The second running of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race.

Under new rules, riding mechanics became mandatory in each car, something the winner of the first race in 1911 did not have. The racing prize also grew substantially from the year before to $50,000.

Out of 29 entries, 24 cars qualified for the race by reaching speeds of at least 75 miles per hour for one lap. The previous year's winner, Ray Harroun, averaged only 74.59 miles per hour.

Norway's Gil Andersen was on the pole, but not because he was the fastest, rather because he was the first entry.

Ralph DePalma built a large five-and-a-half lap, 11-minute lead over second place, leading the race for 196 of the 200 laps. 

But his No. 4 Mercedes began misfiring and losing power as the race wound down thanks to a broken connecting rod. He was passed for the lead by Indiana-native Joe Dawson.

With just two laps to go, DePalma's car came to a stop. DePalma and his mechanic entered motor racing lore when they climbed out of the car and began pushing the 1.3 ton vehicle. The effort was to no avail, and DePalma finished 11th having only completed a total of 198 laps. 

"It's hard luck, but it's all in the game. I did my best and since I've lost out, I'm for the man who picked the prize," DePalma said.

The vehicle issue opened the door for Dawson, who after running in second place for most of the race took the checkered flag.

Dawson was the first Hoosier to win the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

Road to 100: 1911Special Section: Road to 100 | Enter to win tickets to the Indy 500 | Start your engines: 100 stories in 100 days

Tune in to RTV6 News at 6 p.m. every night for our Road to 100, where we take a look back at each of the races leading up to the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500. 

Want tickets to this year's race? Tune in to RTV6 News at 6 p.m. and watch for the daily trivia question and answer, then click here to enter the answer to be entered daily for your chance to win tickets to the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 29.


Download the new and improved RTV6 app to get the latest news on the go and receive alerts to your phone

Sign up to have the latest news headlines delivered straight to your email inbox