Here’s video from the first-ever Indianapolis 500 (1911), which Ray Harroun won driving a “Marmon Wasp”

Here are the basic details. (Here’s a bit more.) Harroun won in 6 hours and 42 minutes. Tony Kanaan won the 2013 Indy 500 in 2 hours and 40 minutes. The Marmon auto brand still does survive, albeit not at the level perceived in 1911. One of the great ironies of the beginnings of the Indianapolis 500 is that it came about because the 1909 and 1910 racing seasons had too many events (“too much racing!”) so they wanted to condense the 1911 season into one major event that would draw interest from America and Europe. They did, and ’twas successful, so now it’s a part of the American cultural canon. Here’s the thing, though: there are now 18 IndyCar schedule events, and probably north of 35 NASCAR events (I realize NASCAR and Indy aren’t the same thing, but still). Drivers in both circuits complain about the schedule — as do the wives and girlfriends of the crew teams, which I know from personal context — and yet, one of the reasons the Indy 500 became “a thing” was because it held a singular position in American racing at the time. Point being? Sometimes, to build a brand, less can actually be more. That’s something we all seem to forget in 2014.

Ted Bauer