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April 03, 2012  |   By Donald Davidson

The 1919 Indianapolis 500

THE RACE: The “500” was back after a two-year hiatus due to WWI and it was a local victory of sorts, the winning driver being the very popular Crawfordsville, Ind.–born Howdy Wilcox. His mount may well have been a French Peugeot, but it was owned by Carl Fisher and Jim Allison, two of the Speedway’s four founding members, and it had been prepared only about four blocks south of the track’s main entrance in the building that was gaining considerable notoriety as Allison Engineering’s Plant One.

In fact, nine of the 33 starting cars were French, the tri-color’s 1914 “500” winner René Thomas returning from World War I action to sit on the pole with a record lap of 104.78 mph in one of four Ballots entered, while 1913 winner Jules Goux placed third as Wilcox’s teammate in a Speedway-owned Peugeot. Runnerup Eddie Hearne’s Durant Special was actually one of the 1915 Stutz entries, while his riding mechanic, Harry Hartz, was one of 11 in this event who would later drive in the “500,” including Duesenberg’s Jimmy Murphy, who was destined to beat Hartz for the win in 1922.