It’s not just modern cars that are being shown off at the 2016 SEMA Show.
Helping kick off the annual aftermarket convention in Las Vegas is the first-ever Indianapolis 500 winner, the Marmon Wasp. As one of America’s most historic automobiles, it was driven to victory in 1911 and is part of a special public display at the Shell Pioneering Performance exhibition that features other significant race and performance cars. The Marmon Wasp is currently owned by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum and the public display at SEMA is part of a broad national program spearheaded by the Historic Vehicle Association (HVA) to bolster appreciation of America’s automotive heritage.
Earlier this year, the Marmon Wasp became the 11th vehicle on the HVA’s National Historic Vehicle Register, just before the start of the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. The car was originally raced by Ray Harroun, who long with Howard Marmon, designed the car. At the time, it was a study of innovation from nose to tail, using a four shock system up front to counteract the bumpy conditions of the dirt and gravel surfaces of the new brick surface at Indy.
On his way to victory, Harroun determined that speeds over 80 mph were disastrous for tires, so he kept his speed in check and only had to change two tires during the race. In comparison, the second-place finisher had to change tires 14 times during the race.
“The yellow #32 Marmon Wasp is arguably one of the most important race cars in America,” said Mark Gessler, President of the Historic Vehicle Association. “That first Indianapolis 500 mile race was designed to attract widespread attention from both American and European racing teams and manufacturers. It proved to be successful and immediately establishing itself both as the premier motorsports competition in the nation and one of the most prestigious in the world. Having the car on display at the SEMA Show provides the public with an opportunity to see the Marmon Wasp and appreciate the role it played in the development of motorsports in the United States.”