Who Won the Very First Indy 500 in 1911?

Greg Zyla
Q: Greg, I just returned from the Indy 500 and am a big fan of motorsports and car collecting. Bosch had a nice display on hand, and I didn’t realize that the very first winner of the 500, Ray Harroun, drove a Bosch-equipped race car.  I use numerous Bosch products in my cars, both collector and street, and didn’t realize the company‘s involvement. Thanks for any info you can give me on this display. Al B., Michigan.

A:  A Bosch-powered Marmon Wasp driven by Ray Harroun did indeed win the very first Indy 500 in 1911, so Bosch’s roots in motorsports goes back a long, long way. Additionally, Harroun’s 96-year old son was at the race this year and television during the event.

As for the display you mention,  Bosch debuted its technological “road tour” and plans to visit numerous race tracks this year. So, if our readers are nearby a major race and Bosch is having its interactive display, try to make it a point to visit.

Called “Driving Innovation,” the Bosch display includes a traveling road tour to demonstrate Bosch’s automotive technology prowess and leadership. The display utilizes a  40-foot trailer and  features hands-on demonstrations and games that involve the visitor. Included are simulated racing games, an interactive spark plug kiosk that introduces the new Bosch Iridium plug,  wiper blade demo, a DistancePlus™ oil filter kiosk and an actual 2012 NASCAR fuel-injected engine with Bosch fuel injectors, spark plugs, ignition coils, oxygen sensors, alternator and starter. The latter is most interesting, as 2012 marks the first year NASCAR racers will use fuel injection instead of carburetors.

Inside, motorsports videos and images, including dramatic scenes featuring drifting champion Vaughn Gittin, reflect the images presented outside and immerse the visitor in the latest in Bosch automotive products. 

Personally, Bosch products have always found a “home” in my cars, be it a starter, alternator, wiper blades, fuel injectors, brakes or spark plugs to name a few. I used Bosch spark plugs on my winning 1980 Vega gas powered Funny Car when others relied on different brands, as they lasted longer. Thus, Bosch’s road tour gives consumers a close look at Bosch,  and the company’s involvement in the automotive aftermarket, motorsports and with automobile manufacturers.  You’ll be surprised to see how many ideas have come from the Robert Bosch founded company, which celebrates its 125th anniversary in 2011.
For the balance of 2011 and into 2012, the “Driving Innovation” road tour is scheduled to visit a variety of NASCAR races, open wheel races, and other recreational events across the country.

I want to thank Bosch for supplying the photos and extended information for this column, and also Al B. for asking about it.
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