Art & Photography

Canned Heat

Thu Jun 13 2013 13:10:12 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

Here’s some exceptional, seldom-seen film footage of the inaugural 1911 Indianapolis 500-Mile Sweepstakes.

Sometimes it can be difficult to wrap our heads around the concept that the Indianapolis 500 is now more than 100 years old. Auto racing seems like such a contemporary enterprise.

But watch this film and the realization is driven home: It truly was a different world in 1911. Take the moment in the lead image above, for example: Here’s a race car crash attended to by soldiers on horseback. There are jaw-dropping wonders in every second of footage here. We all carry around our little mental snapshot of the first Indy 500: winner Ray Harroun, average speed 74.602 mph, so on—but it represents only a tiny sliver of what actually happened that day.

In watching the film, most of all you may be amazed that a hundred people weren’t killed—only one, riding mechanic Sam Dickson. Thrown from the Simplex driven by Arthur Greiner, he was reportedly killed instantly. National guardsmen then had to beat back the mob of gawkers with their rifle butts to clear a path for the physicians.

There’s so much going on here that simply defies description. All we can say is watch.

Courtesy of

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