INDIANAPOLIS â€” Ray Harroun, winner of the first Indianapolis 500, begins racing his Marmon â€œWaspâ€ through the nationâ€™s mail stream today in the form of 50 million First-Class Mail Forever stamps to celebrate 100 years of racing at the iconic brickyard.
The first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony took place at the Speedway as a prelude to Fast Friday, the qualification runs for the 100th Indianapolis 500.
â€œAt the Postal Service, we understand the power of our stamps in celebrating American history and culture â€” in this case, the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500,â€ said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe in dedicating the stamp. â€œI wonâ€™t be so bold as to predict the winner of the race, but I will predict that 50 or 100 years from now the U.S. Postal Service will issue another stamp to commemorate the next milestone anniversary of this great event.â€
Joining Donahoe in dedicating the stamp were Greg Ballard, Indianapolis mayor; Jeff Belskus, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president; Duane â€œPonchoâ€ Carter Jr., 1974 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year; and Dave Calabro, Indianapolis Motor Speedway announcer.
â€œWeâ€™ve eagerly been awaiting this day since the United States Postal Service announced the commemorative stamp honoring the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 last December,â€ said Belskus. â€œItâ€™s a great honor and an important part of our Centennial celebration that the iconic image of the Marmon â€˜Waspâ€™ will be seen on mail sent from coast to coast.â€
The First 500
On May 30, 1911, approximately 80,000 spectators gathered at the Speedway to witness the first running of the Indianapolis 500. Driving a Marmon â€œWaspâ€ he designed, Ray Harroun beat 39 other drivers to win with a time of 6 hours, 42 minutes and 8 seconds. A century later, the Indy 500 has become an American cultural phenomenon rich in ceremony and tradition and is hailed as â€œThe Greatest Spectacle in Racing.â€
The car was built by the Indianapolis-based Marmon Motor Car Company and included one of Harrounâ€™s own inventions, the rearview mirror. Today, it is a prime attraction at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.
The Indianapolis 500 Forever Stamp is always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce rate.
Ordering First-Day-of-Issue Postmarks
Customers have 60 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. They may purchase new stamps at local Post Offices, at The Postal Store website at www.usps.com/shop, or by calling 800-STAMP-24. They should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes to themselves or others, and place them in larger envelopes addressed to:
Indianapolis 500 Stamp
125 West South Street
Indianapolis, IN 46206-9998
After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark. All orders must be postmarked by July 20, 2011.
Ordering First-Day Covers
The Postal Service also offers first-day covers for new stamp issues and Postal Service stationery items postmarked with the official first-day-of-issue cancellation. Each item has an individual catalog number and is offered in the quarterly USA Philatelic Catalog. Customers may request a free catalog by calling 800-STAMP-24 or writing to:
U.S. Postal Service
PO Box 219014
Kansas City, MO 64121-9014
Ordering the stamp and related products
In addition to the stamps, there are seven philatelic products available for this stamp issue. Many of these items will be on sale at the race. Customers can order all stamps and products online at www.usps.com/shop, by calling 1-800 STAMP-24, or by using the mail-in order form in the USA Philatelic Catalog. Customers can subscribe to the catalog at www.beyondtheperf.com, www.usps.com/shop, or by calling 1-800 STAMP-24.