1916 Indianapolis 500

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6th Indianapolis 500
1916Indianapolis500Field.jpg
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Indianapolis 500
Sanctioning body AAA
Date May 30, 1916
Winner Dario Resta
Winning Entrant Peugeot
Average speed 84.001 mph (135.187 km/h)
Pole position Johnny Aitken
Pole speed 96.69 mph (155.61 km/h)
Most laps led Resta (103)
Pre-race
Pace car Premier 6 (Model 6-56)
Pace car driver Frank E. Smith
Chronology
Previous Next
1915 1919

The 6th International 300-Mile Sweepstakes Race was the sixth running of the Indianapolis 500. It was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Tuesday, May 30, 1916. The management scheduled the race for 120 laps, 300 miles (480 km), the only Indianapolis 500 scheduled for less than 500 miles (800 km).

Although the common belief is that the race distance was changed due to the onset of World War I, it was in fact Speedway management that changed the distance in order to make the race shorter and more appealing to fans. Despite the one-time altered distance, the race is still considered part of the continuous lineage of the Memorial Day classic, known as the Indianapolis 500.[1]

Eddie Rickenbacker took the lead at the start, and led the first nine laps until dropping out with steering problems. Dario Resta led 103 of the 120 laps, and claimed the victory. Resta was accompanied by riding mechanic Bob Dahnke.

Seven of the cars were entered by the Speedway or its owners, in order to ensure a strong field during the war. None of them finished in the top five. Despite the promoter's entries, the field consisted of only 21 cars, the smallest in Indy history.

World War I[edit]

Three months after the 1916 race, on Labor Day weekend of 1916, the Speedway held a second event, the Harvest Auto Racing Classic. The 1917 race was scheduled to return to 500 miles, but a dispute with the local hoteliers and the escalation of World War I intervened. On March 23, 1917, Speedway management cancelled the 1917 Indianapolis 500, and halted racing at the facility for both 1917 and 1918.

The track was offered as a landing strip and maintenance/refueling station for military aircraft traveling between Wilbur Wright Field and Chanute Air Force Base. It was referred to as the Speedway Aviation Repair Depot, and the 821st Aero Repair Squadron was stationed there.[2][3] In addition, several experimental aircraft were tested at the grounds. At least one test pilot was fatally injured in a plane crash at the track.[4]

No racing of any kind took place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1917-1918. Likewise, the National Championship was suspended in both 1917 and 1918. There were, however, AAA races (non-championship races) conducted during the war years at other tracks. On Memorial Day 1917, a 250-mile race was held at Cincinnati.[5]

The Indianapolis 500 resumed after the war in 1919.

Box score[edit]

Finish Start No Name Qual Rank Laps Led Status
1 4 17 United Kingdom Dario Resta 94.400 4 120 103 Running
2 10 1 United States Wilbur D'Alene (R) 90.870 11 120 0 Running
3 20 10 United States Ralph Mulford 91.090 10 120 0 Running
4 14 14 Belgium Josef Christiaens 86.080 16 120 0 Running
5 5 15 United States Barney Oldfield 94.330 5 120 0 Running
6 9 4 Canada Pete Henderson (R) 91.330 9 120 0 Running
7 6 29 United States Howdy Wilcox 93.810 6 120 0 Running
8 17 26 United States Art Johnson (R) 83.690 19 120 0 Running
9 15 24 United States William Chandler 84.840 17 120 0 Running
10 13 9 United States Ora Haibe (R) 87.080 15 120 0 Running
11 19 12 United States Tom Alley 82.040 21 120 0 Running
12 21 8 Switzerland Louis Chevrolet 87.690 13 82 0 Rod
13 3 28 Norway Gil Andersen 95.940 3 75 0 Oil line
14 18 25 United States Dave Lewis (R) 83.120 20 71 0 Gas tank
15 1 18 United States Johnny Aitken 96.690 1 69 8 Valve
16 12 21 France Jules Devigne (R) 87.170 14 61 0 Crash NC
17 7 27 United States Tom Rooney (R) 93.390 7 48 0 Crash T1
18 11 7 Switzerland Arthur Chevrolet 87.740 12 35 0 Magneto
19 8 19 United States Charlie Merz 93.330 8 25 0 Lubrication
20 2 5 United States Eddie Rickenbacker 96.440 2 9 9 Steering
21 16 23 Italy Aldo Franchi (R) 84.120 18 9 0 Engine trouble
[6]

Race details[edit]

  • For 1916, riding mechanics were required.[7]
  • In the weeks and months leading up to the race, Speedway president Carl G. Fisher had expressed concern and disdain over the local hoteliers practice of price gouging customers during the race week. It reached a boiling point where Fisher threatened to move the 1916 and/or 1917 Memorial Day 500-mile race to a board track in Cincinnati, Ohio. Ultimately, a truce was reached, and the race(s) were not moved. Apropos to that, the 1917 Indianapolis 500 was cancelled anyway shortly after the entry blanks were mailed out, due to the escalation of World War I.[8]

Notes[edit]

Works cited[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Talk of Gasoline Alley" - WFNI: May 5, 2012
  2. ^ Mittman, Dick (2003-12-17). "Speedway Has Plenty Of Connections To First 100 Years Of Flight". Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Retrieved 2014-02-18. 
  3. ^ 821st Areo Squadron, Aviation Repair Depot, Speedway, Indiana, December 1918
  4. ^ The Talk of Gasoline Alley - 1070-AM WIBC, June 15, 2005
  5. ^ 1917 Sharonville Sweepstakes
  6. ^ "Indianapolis 500 1916". Ultimate Racing History. Archived from the original on 15 January 2012. Retrieved 15 January 2012. 
  7. ^ Blazier, John E. and Rollings, Tom (1994). Forgotten Heroes of the Speedways: The Riding Mechanics. 
  8. ^ The Talk of Gasoline Alley - WFNI, May 23, 2013


1915 Indianapolis 500
Ralph DePalma
1916 Indianapolis 500
Dario Resta
1919 Indianapolis 500
Howdy Wilcox