Indianapolis Motor Speedway Historian Donald Davidson has been the expert on the history of the Racing Capital of the World since he arrived in Central Indiana in the mid-1960s. Now 2010 Auto Racing Hall of Fame inductee Davidson is answering your questions periodically in this blog!
Q: When did the “500″ first go to the three-abreast start?
– Ted Crawford
A: The answer is 1921. For the first two years—1911 and 1912—the cars lined up five abreast, although in the first year, the Pace Car sat in the spot known as the pole position, with four cars next to it and then five per row behind that. In 1912, five cars were on the front row with the Pace Car out in front. It was then four per row from 1913 until 1920, with the tradition of three abreast having remained unbroken ever since 1921.
Q: I have read in different places that Howdy Wilcox, the 1919 winner, and Howdy Wilcox, the runner-up in 1932, were father and son, that they were uncle/nephew and that they were not related at all. Which is correct?
– Jason Deming
A: As strange as it may seem, they were not related at all. By the time the “other” Howdy Wilcox began to come to the fore in Indiana dirt track racing in the late 1920s, the immediate family of the 1919 winner, Howard Samuel Wilcox, suspected the newcomer might simply be using the name in order to capitalize on the immense popularity of the champion, who by then was deceased. In fact, Howdy Wilcox II, as he was dubbed by the media, was born Howard Omar Wilcox on Feb. 20, 1905, which is before the “original” Howdy had even begun to race. Howard S. Wilcox Jr., the son of the 1919 winner, never did race but was a prominent “500″ and United States Auto Club official. At one time or another serving as the head of the Indianapolis Junior Chamber of Commerce, the Indiana National Guard and the Five Hundred Festival Committee, he is the man who, in 1950, created Indiana University’s Little 500 bicycle race.
Click here to ask your questions to Donald about the people and races that have formed a century of rich history at IMS. Include your complete name and city and state/country of residence.
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