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Road to 100: 1940

Posted at 5:02 PM, Mar 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-17 17:02:39-04

As 1940 began, people anxiously awaited news of war breaking out around Europe. 

Future World War II POW and acclaimed novelist Kurt Vonnegut was preparing to graduate from Shortridge High School.

And a new auto-racing star was emerging. 

Shelbyville native Wilbur Shaw had won the Indianapolis 500 the previous year. Along with his 1937 victory, he was trying to become the race's first 3-time champion. 

Shaw started the race in the middle of the front row. He would trace the lead back and forth with pole-winner Rex Mays in the first third of the race. But as the day went on, it was clear Shaw had the best car in the field. 

He took the lead again in lap 105, and stayed out in front. 

Rain settled in on the Speedway with 50 laps to go, and the final 125 miles of the race were all run under caution. It is still the longest caution period in Indianapolis 500 history, just three cars finished the race on the lead lap. 

Shaw's win made him the 500's first back-to-back champion. 

The victory earned Shaw more than $30,000 and headlines across the country. 

MORE ON THE ROAD TO 100

1939 | 1938  | 1937  | 1936  | 1935  | 1934  | 1933  | 1932  | 1931  | 1930 1929  | 1928  | 1927   | 1926   | 1925    | 1924    | 1923    | 1922   | 1921    | 1920    | 1919   | 1916    | 1915    | 1914    | 1913    | 1912   | 1911    | Special Section: Road to 100    | Enter to win tickets to the Indy 500    | Start your engines: 100 stories in 100 days

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