INDIANAPOLIS -- The year 1934 was a tumultuous one - John Dillinger and his violent gang were on a crime spree, and while the manhunt for him continued, unrest took hold in Indianapolis in the form of the Real Silk Hosiery Mills Strike.
The strike started in April and continued into May of that year. It's widely considered one of the most violent strikes in Indianapolis history, complete with street fights and even the bombing of an employee's home.
But there was good news to be had in May thanks to an Indianapolis native still looking for his first win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
"Wile Bill" Cummings had suffered disappointment after disappointment in the Indy 500 - The popular Hoosier driver started second in 1931 and ran just 70 laps. He started from the pole in 1933 and again, didn't finish.
So with a new set of rules in 1934's race that implemented a maximum fuel consumption, Cummings put his vehicle to work.
With a 45 gallons limit, strategy and fuel management were critical parts of the race.
It was a showdown between two drivers most of the race. Cummings and future two-time winner Mauri Rose led all but three of the final 129 laps. Cummings barely held off Rose by 27.25 seconds in the closest finish in Indy 500 history, and it took a record speed to win it. Rose filed a protest after the race, but the results were upheld.
Only 12 cars finished in total, with Cummings finally taking the checkered flag. He won by 27 seconds, which at the time was the closest finish in the history of The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
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