Aug 13 2009

Why the Alco was Assigned #19 for the First Indy 500 Race

After winning its second consecutive Vanderbilt Cup Race in October 1910, the Alco-6 Racer was one of the favorites for the Inaugural Indy 500 Race to be held on May 30, 1911. For this race, the Alco-6 was assigned # 19. Unlike, the Vanderbilt Cup Races, the number was not assigned by a random drawing but a rather unique procedure.

As shown in the above entry ledger from the 1911 "Five Hundred Miles International Sweepstakes", the numbers were assigned based on the date that the entry and fee were received by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Accordingly, the American Locomotive Company's entry for the Alco driven by Harry Grant was received on February 28, 1910 and was number 19 in the ledger. Note also for some unknown reason #13 and #14 were reassigned to #31 and #32 (the eventual winner Ray Harroun's Marmon).

Links to related posts on

Index: Alco-6 Black Beast Racer

Index: Alco-6 Black Beast Racing History

Index: Indy 500 Races


Aug 13 2009 Mark Dill 3:55 PM

Hi Howard.

I can tell you the reason the Marmons were given #31 and #32 was because they requested it. It was part of a promotion of the Marmon 32 touring car. Marmon #32 driver Ray Harroun actually started 28th because six of the original 46 entrants either had mechanical problems or could not attain the required qualifying speed of 75 mph in the quarter mile. Four of those dropouts would have been assigned starting spots in front of Harroun, who ended up winning the race.

Aug 13 2009 Howard Kroplick 5:34 PM


Thanks for the neat tidbit!


Aug 16 2009 jan Hyde 9:42 AM

Beyond my wildest dream that besides those familiar steam and diesel train locos, ALCO made automobiles.  If not too distracting, that might make for a nice slideshow, bring in some train freaks which I suspect there are many in this crowd.

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