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1930: Indy 500 used a green flag for first time

Posted at 5:24 PM, Mar 07, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS -- In 1930, the pain of the Great Depression started to hit Indianapolis.

Among those taking a huge hit in the Wall Street crash of 1929 was businessman and Indianapolis co-founder Carl Fisher, who had sold the track to World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker a few years earlier. 

But the Depression didn't stop 170,000 fans from showing up to the Indianapolis 500.

Rickenbacker wanted more automobile manufacturers to show up to the race as well, not just the cars built specifically to race. New specs were implemented to make that effort more affordable.

Also new in 1930, a green flag replaced a red one to start the 38 drivers on their 500-mile journey.

Drivers again shared their car with a riding mechanic, which was mandatory once more.

Only two drivers claimed the lead during the entire 500 miles: One-time champ Louis Meyer led laps 1 and 2, and then 23-year-old Billy Arnold took over. 

Arnold wasn't even originally scheduled to be in the race, instead taking over for a driver recovering from injury during qualifying, grabbing the pole position.

He ran a phenomenal race, leading 198 consecutive laps, a record that still stands today, and became the first driver to average more than 100 miles per hour without a relief driver.

His prize for the win: Just a bit over $50,000.

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