Anderson News

Posted on: April 27, 2016

IRMA to Honor Anderson Native Ray Harroun with Historical Marker

Ray Harroun is the first winner of the Indianapolis 500

(Anderson, IN)-- The Indiana Racing Memorial Association and the community of Anderson, will celebrate the life of native son Ray Harroun, the first winner of the Indianapolis 500, with two events on May 1. The event held at Anderson Memorial Park Cemetery where Harroun is buried will unveil a historical marker for the legendary driver and honor him with a brief memorial service. The second event will be held nearby at the Anderson University Flagship Event Center and will feature a reception and celebration of Harroun’s career and his iconic place in racing history as the winner of the inaugural Indianapolis 500 and as an inductee into the Motorsports Hall of Fame. Both events are open to the public at no cost.
Harroun designed one of the most recognizable race cars in history, the “Marmon Wasp,” as an engineer with the Marmon Motor Company. He subsequently drove the “Wasp” to victory in the first Indianapolis 500, known then as the Indianapolis International Sweepstakes, at a speed of 74.602 mph. He is also credited with the first use of a rear-view mirror on an automobile, on the “Wasp,” and for being the only entrant in the 500 that year without a riding mechanic.

“The Indiana Racing Memorial Association (IRMA), is proud to add Ray Harroun to our list of honorees being commemorated with race-themed historic markers,” said Co-Founder Brian Hasler. “Harroun is an iconic figure in Indianapolis Motor Speedway history and it is very appropriate that the City of Anderson is joining with IRMA to recognize him this year during the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.”
“Anderson is proud that Ray Harroun chose Anderson as his home and that our City serves as Ray’s final resting place,” said Mayor Thomas Broderick, Jr. “We are so pleased that Anderson will be part of the kick-off to the “Month of May” by honoring Ray with this celebration and by providing this lasting historic marker.”
Joining the celebration from Florida will be Barbara Sherlin and Victoria Bateman, the granddaughter and great-granddaughter respectively of Harroun. Three of racing’s most recognized individuals, Indianapolis Motor Speedway historian Donald Davidson, “Voice of the 500” Bob Jenkins, and announcer and commentator Howdy Bell, will also participate.
The events will feature an exact replica of the “Marmon Wasp” owned by Corky Coker, the CEO of Coker Tire of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Coker will appear at the event and share his experience in recreating the “Wasp,” which was built from scratch by the “Honest Charley Garage.” The replica is a truly functional car and the most authentic replica ever built of the “Wasp.” Coker Tire has been in business since 1958 and under Coker’s leadership has become the leading supplier of tires and wheels for collector vehicles around the world.
The Tribute to Ray Harroun will begin at I PM with a historical marker unveiling ceremony at Anderson Memorial Park Cemetery. The event will feature brief remarks by Mayor Broderick, Bell, Jenkins, Sherlin, Coker and Anderson Memorial Park Cemetery owner Jay Wiley and will include the “Marmon Wasp” replica. A balloon release will be held to commemorate Harroun, after which the assembly will walk the short distance to the Harroun gravesite to place a “Borg-Warner” replica wreath.
Following the program at the cemetery, the “Marmon Wasp” will lead those in attendance the short drive to the Anderson University Flagship Event Center. A reception and celebration of the life of Ray Harroun and the First Indianapolis 500 will be held with special guest Donald Davidson, the revered historian of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Winchester Barbershop Quartet will perform “Back Home Again in Indiana” and other favorites.
“This will be a special day for Anderson to remember one of its own and to pay tribute to Ray’s lasting legacy in racing,” said Jay Wiley of Anderson Memorial Park Cemetery. “It is an honor to bring the Harroun Family, the “Marmon Wasp” replica and noted Indianapolis Motor Speedway dignitaries to our community. We hope that race fans from around the State and the citizens of greater Anderson will join us for these free events to pay tribute to one of the greatest legends of the Indianapolis 500.”

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