The 1926 Indianapolis 500

Published On September 12, 2012 » 1508 Views» By Donald Davidson » Blogs, IMS History, IMS Photo Digitization Project

Frank Lockhart, who two years later would lose his life in an attempt to break the World Land Speed Record on the sands of Daytona Beach, showed up at Indianapolis as a 23-year-old unknown. He secured an assignment as a potential relief driver for Bennett Hill, but just a few days before the race, driver/owner Peter Kreis had to be hospitalized with pneumonia. Lockhart took over the Kreis car and immediately began to travel quickly, setting a one-lap track record of 115.448 mph on an incomplete qualifying attempt. He eventually started back in 20th position but was two laps ahead of the second-place car when the rain-interrupted race was halted for the second and final time at 400 miles. This was the first of four years for engines limited to only 91 ½ cubic inches.

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Donald Davidson

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Historian Donald Davidson, based at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, developed a passionate interest in the Indianapolis 500 as a teenager in England. Arriving at IMS in 1964, he delighted the racing community with his ability to recite year-by-year accounts of participants’ careers. Returning permanently in 1965, he was invited by Sid Collins to join the worldwide IMS Radio Network and was hired by Henry Banks as USAC statistician, remaining at USAC for almost 32 years. He was named Indianapolis Motor Speedway historian in 1998. Along with numerous television and radio assignments, raconteur Davidson has played host to the popular call-in radio show “The Talk of Gasoline Alley” on 1070 AM in Indianapolis during the month of May continuously since 1971. His writing credits include countless historical articles and columns, a pair of “500” annuals in 1974 and ‘75 and co-authorship with Rick Shaffer of the acclaimed “Autocourse Official History of the Indianapolis 500,” published in 2006.
5 comments
essay
essay

Great blog article about this topic, I have been lately in your blog once or twice now. I just wanted to say my thanks for the information provided here.

Bob
Bob

Amazing. 1 1/2 liters in 1926 and 115 mph. That was pretty quick for an antique. These old race cars were already pretty sophisticated in design. The big advance in the last 40 years has been in materials that can take the power. I 'd love to see one of these cars rebuilt with modern metals , more boost and modern tires. They would be a lot faster.

Stephen Terrell
Stephen Terrell

What true* rookies made the biggest impact at Indianapolis? My vote: 1) Frank Lockhart 2) Marco Andretti 3) Jim Hurtubise 4) Walt Falkner 5) J.R. Hildebrand *True rookies means those who have not established a substantial open wheel career before racing in 500 -- eg. Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya

Ken
Ken

I love receiving these. Two passions...history/archives and the IMS. I grew up in INDY and went on to work in libraries and archives, so I have a deep appreciation for your work.