Automobile Innovations Inspired by the Indianapolis 500

The Indianapolis 500 is just not another automobile race but has also has many automobile innovations that proved its worth on the Indianapolis race track. Here are some of the innovations that have come from the Indianapolis 500 race over the years.

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1. Front Wheel Drive—in the 1920’s race car driver Jimmy Murphy raced a front drive car, which lowered the center of gravity and cut weight. In addition the transverse-mounted transmission got rid of the driver shaft and rear differential.

2. Alternative Fuels—at least one driver in the 1920’s used Methanol. After a fiery crash in the 1960’s gasoline was abandoned so teams switched to the less volatile alcohol fuels.

3. Seat Belts—in 1922 race car driver Barney Oldfield ordered a harness for his car, which was developed by a parachute maker. Front seat belts became mandatory in U.S. vehicles in the early 1960’s.

4. Powerful Diesel Engine—the race fans in 1952 were shocked when driver Freddie Agabashian drove a car powered by a Cummins turbo diesel.

5. Tires—racing has always been used as a test lab for tire structure, tread, and compound design.

6. All Wheel Drive—racing engineer Harry Miller created an all-wheel drive racer in the 1930’s because he was convinced that the configuration would give better traction and grip especially around the curves.

7. Disc Brakes—these types of brakes were also designed by racing engineer Harry Miller and appeared on Miller Specials in the 1930’s.

More Indy 500 Innovations:

Indy 500 Innovation: Can It Be Brought Back? | Bleacher Report

Oct 3, 2008  The Indy 500 has a history of innovation. From the cars, to the track itself, many great ideas have been tried there.


The 100th Anniversary of Indy 500 Marks Brickyard Return of Innovation

May 6, 2011  Manufacturers of alternative-energy vehicles will compete for a trophy not seen at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval since 1996.


Survival, innovation and the Indy 500 – IRL – Yahoo! Sports

While the Indy 500 has become safer and more competitive, has homogenization hurt its prestige? – IRL news.


The Brickyard at 100: Retaining tradition, embracing innovation …

May 22, 2009  Among the innovations developed at Indianapolis Motor Speedway:  What: Indianapolis 500, 4th of 17 races for the Indy Racing League’s