The 500-mile race at Indianapolis will be celebrating its centennial on May 29, 2011. Although it is the 100th anniversary, it is still the 95th race since the event was suspended during the World Wars I and II.
The vehicle industry considers Indy as more than a race famous for its four left turns at 200 mph, but also for its great innovations. A hundred years ago, Ray Harroun joined the race with the only single-seat vehicle in the field and won the first Indy 500. The vehicle was an Indianapolis-built Marmon Wasp, which had a 3-by-8-inch mirror attached on the hood.
The mirror was built in response to the complaints for safety voiced by competitors, all of whom rode with a passenger who kept an eye for possible collisions. Harroun was able to come up with this vehicle fixture from a mirror that he saw on a horse-drawn carriage, Popular Mechanics revealed.
This led to the birth of the rearview mirror, which is one of the many ways that Indy triggered changes in the vehicle industry. Other changes involved marketing campaigns, safety technology and supplier innovations. David Caldwell, spokesperson for Chevrolet, shared that the techniques used in labs and in testing the vehicles helped in developing cars to sell.
Carl Fisher, the founder of the track, paced the first Indianapolis 500 in his personal car because he felt a rolling start would be safer than the traditional sprint. The pace laps that start the race have been a popular tradition in Indianapolis.
One of the vehicles from Chevrolet will be leading the pack, although it will not join in the 500 race this year. For 10 consecutive years, the company is sponsoring the pace car, and this year, a special edition Camaro SS Convertible will be used.
This white vehicle has orange racing stripes and its interior is furnished with orange leather. Its design was inspired by the 1969 Camaro convertible that paced the 1969 running of the Indianapolis 500.