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Mormon Meteor, Blue Goose Among Classics At Celebration of Automobiles

One of the terrific new events commemorating the centennial of the Indianapolis 500 this year is the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 Celebration of Automobiles – a “beauty pageant” for more than 250 classic automobiles of any make or manufacturer from the first 50 years of the Indianapolis 500, 1911 through 1961.

The cars are divided into two divisions, one a general collection of cars from 1911-1961, and the other classic cars produced by the 24 manufactures that competed in the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911. Class winners will be honored on May 14 after judging by a panel led by 1963 Indianapolis 500 winner Parnelli Jones.

Below are descriptions of two very unique cars that will be on display during the Celebration of Automobiles: The 1935 Duesenberg SJ Mormon Meteor Speedster and the 1936 “Blue Goose” Mercedes 540K Special Roadster.

1935 Duesenberg SJ Mormon Meteor Speedster

The Duesenberg SJ Mormon Meteor Speedster, owned by Harry Yeaggy of Cincinnati, is the epitome of the classic race car. With its art deco design and remarkable speeds, it truly is a sight to see. This beauty is one of only 36 ever made and was driven by A.J. Jenkins, who set a 24-hour speed record at 135.58 mph.

The car was originally tested at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway before heading to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, where it set a number of land speed records.

Boasting a supercharged 420 cubic-inch, eight-cylinder engine, it is easy to see how in 2007 it became one for the first sports cars to win Best of Show at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

1936 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special

In 1936, Mercedes-Benz built the 540K special (540Ks), and due to its high price tag, only 32 were ever commissioned. One person who took a liking to the Mercedes 540Ks was Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering, commander of the German Air Force during World War II, and he had one made in his favorite color – blue.

The car featured armor-plated sides and bulletproof glass, and it became nicknamed the “Blue Goose.” Then on May 4, 1945, the U.S. 101st Airborne Division found the “Blue Goose” in Berchtesgaden, Germany, where it took possession of the car. Major General Maxwell Taylor used it as his command vehicle.

To this day, the “Blue Goose” has visible bullet holes from her days on the battle field.

In 1946, the car was shipped back to the U.S., where it was featured in a Victory Bond tour. Then it appeared at the first reunion of the 101st Airborne Division held in Indianapolis. Tony Hulman, then owner of IMS, invited reunion attendees to bring the “Blue Goose” to the track to pace two special trophy races. Hulman drove the “Blue Goose” in pacing the Indy cars to a flying start.

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2011 Indianapolis 500 tickets: Tickets are on sale for the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500, “The Most Important Race in History,” on Sunday, May 29, 2011 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Race Day ticket prices start at just $30. Fans can buy tickets online at www.imstix.com, by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700, or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area, or by visiting the ticket office at the IMS Administration Building at the corner of Georgetown Road and 16th Street between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday-Friday.

Children 12 and under will be receive free general admission to any IMS event in 2011 when accompanied by an adult general admission ticket holder.

Tickets for groups of 20 or more also are on sale. Contact the IMS Group Sales Department at (866) 221-8775 for more information.

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