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Ray Harroun

RAY HARROUN always thought of himself more as an engineer than as a driver; he was on Nordyke & Marmon’s engineering staff when he drove a special six-cylinder Marmon to victory in the inaugural Indianapolis 500 on May 30, 1911. After complaints from other teams during practice that his single-seat race car represented a safety hazard because it did not carry a riding mechanic, he devised what is believed to have been the first rearview mirror used on an automobile. He based the design on something he had seen several years earlier on a horse-drawn taxi cab in Chicago. Prior to the 1911 Indianapolis International Sweepstakes, he won two races on the Playa del Rey board track in California in 1910 and had additional triumphs of major importance in 200- mile races at Atlanta, Georgia, and on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. After retiring as a driver, Harroun led the Maxwell team, for which Eddie Rickenbacker was the lead driver in 1915. His ambitious Harroun Motor Company in Wayne, Michigan, failed when the company was forced to fill government contracts at a loss during World War I, but his fertile mind continued to invent. A bomb carrier he designed was still being used in Vietnam shortly before he died in 1968.