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Gentleman, Show Us Your Engines – The 1912 Indianapolis 500

  • Rail3

Early in the last century when the automobile was still very much a novelty, the Indianapolis 500 race garnered the attention of the whole nation and to some extent the world. In its pre-race coverage on the eve of the second running of race on May 30, 1912, Motor Age magazine shared with its readers details of the practice laps, other activities of interest and even the daily number of railbirds in attendance at the track during the week leading up to the event.

For this pre-race issue, the publication was able to photograph many of the engines in the field of twenty-four cars that had qualified for the event. We have condensed that number down to show you these rare views of fourteen of the most interesting power plants in the race that year. Full specifications of the engines, carburetors, magnetos along with the chassis of the entrants cars can be found in charts that the Motor Age prepared which you will find in the bottom row of images.

  • Bird1      Bird3      Bird4
  • Horan’s Lozier Motor – Bruce-Brown’s National – The Stutz “Ram’s-Horn”
  • Bird5      Bird6      bird7
  • The McFarland Six –  DePalma’s 37/90 Mercedes – The 50 HP Simplex 
  • bird8      bird9      bird10
  • Hughes’ Mercer – Mason Eight-Valve “Walking Beam” – Dawson’s National
  • bird11      bird12     bird13
  • Marquette-Buick – The Schact Wisconsin “T-Head” – The OHV Knox Six
  •  Bird14      bird15      bird16
  • L and R: Full specifications of the entrants – Center the White Six

And finally, to finish off this post, take a ride around the track with 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal and writer Peter Egan in this Road & Track video. In it you can see and learn about what is believed to be the original National with which Joe Dawson won the 1912 Indianapolis 500. You can also find out more about the event in our earlier coverage here on The Old Motor.

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