Indy 500 Centennial Stamp Receives the Green Flag


While many people complain about the slow speed of the postal office, the same stain of sluggishness never applies to action at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

This weekend, speeds are expected to reach past 230 miles per hour in competition that will lead up to the 100th year anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 on May 29th. Popularly referred as “The Brickyard” by many racing fans for the long-time usage of bricks on the track surface, every race car driver dreams of winning the Indianapolis 500 (or Indy 500). Commemorating the 100th year since the first Indy 500, the United States Postal Service has issued a special stamp honouring the historical auto racing event.

With so many great victories performed by drivers such as Wilbur Shaw, AJ Foyt, Rick Mears, Mario Andretti driving their respected vehicles, the United States Post Forever stamp goes back to the very first Indy 500 in 1911. Depicting the winning car from the inaugural 200-lap race, the US commemorate stamp captures the image of the yellow #32 Marmon Wasp. In the 1911 Indy 500, the #32 car crossed the finish line first at an average race speed of 74.602 miles per hour. While the modern edition of the 500-mile race takes under 3 hours to complete, the race car honoured on the US stamp required over 6 hours and 40 minutes to finish the distance. Though the race car technology would largely be considered antique, the Marmon Wasp was renowned for the first incorporation of a staple to almost all modern automobiles; the rear-view mirror.

While history recognizes Ray Harroun as the first race winner but the victory was in fact done in partnership with a co-driver. The victorious Marmon race car was also wheeled by a relief driver named Cyrus Patschke. One of only three times more than a single driver piloted a vehicle to victory after the 200-lap event, Patschke’s contribution is not officially recorded by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway history books.

Released May 20th on the day known at the Indianapolis Motor Speed as Fast Friday, the US postal stamp was officially kicked off sales through a ceremony at the Brickyard. Present at the unveiling was US Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, Indianapolis mayor Greg Ballard, President of Indianapolis Motor Speedway Jeff Belskus and 1974 Indy 500 rookie of the year Duane “Poncho” Carter. Honouring the 100th year anniversary of the first Indianapolis 500, the 2011 stamp is actually the second time the Indy-winning Marmon Wasp had its likeness placed on a US postage stamp. The #32 race car was also part of a 1987 Transportation set.

Able to be purchased a standard postage stamp in the United States, collectors of motorsport memorabilia and stamps in general will be most interested in one or many special sets. The United States Postal Service has presentation quality items including First Day Cover, Ceremony Program and Deck Card styles. A rather inexpensive way to absorb the enthusiasm of the centennial year of the most famous auto race, these special sets of the 100-year anniversary Indianapolis 500 stamp range from 88 cents to $16.95.

Information Source: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, United States Postal Service
Photo Source: Ron McQueeney/INDYCAR