About Us

The Marmon Wasp

Our namesake and a winner from the start.

How It Began

Marmon Motor Car Company was an automobile manufacturer in the early 1900s. The company created some buzz in 1911 when the Marmon Wasp won the first Indianapolis 500 race.

Named for its unique color scheme and shape of its tail, the Wasp secured its place in racing history from the engineering and driving by Marmon’s Ray Harroun and his team.

Ray Harroun in Marmon Wasp at first Indy 500
Ray Harroun driving Marmon Wasp in 1911
Ray Harroun in the Marmon Wasp in 1911

Engineering A Winner

At the time, racing cars were all two seaters, which allowed the riding mechanic to tag along and watch for approaching cars.

Defying convention, Marmon built a single seater, saving on weight and allowing for a streamlined body. To calm safety concerns, Harroun improvised by adding a rearview mirror, believed to be the first one installed on a car.

Key to the outcome of the race was Marmon’s approach to tires. Blown tires were common and downtime significant. Marmon engineers determined that if their car ran five miles per hour slower than the maximum safe speed, they could double the tire life. It worked! The Wasp had four pit stops and no blowouts on race day, compared to the second-place car with 11 stops and 14 tires changed.

Innovation Then And Now

Marmon Herrington Original Paperwork with vintage cars, trucks and busesMarmon Motor Car’s highly disciplined approach worked — combining innovation, differentiation and an intense focus on what mattered most to winning.

While the company did not survive the Great Depression, the Marmon business name continued when Walter Marmon started a new company called Marmon-Herrington. By the early 1960s, Marmon-Herrington was one of a dozen industrial businesses owned by the Pritzker family of Chicago. In 1964, the Marmon name was chosen for the growing group of companies.

More than a century after Ray Harroun drove the Wasp to victory, Marmon Holdings is still growing and innovating. Thanks to the quality of our people and their commitment to providing the customer with innovative, practical solutions, we are still winning, too.

Innovation From The Start

While our name comes from the maker of the first Indianapolis 500 winning car, our history begins in the 1950s with two entrepreneurial brothers.

Race Over To Our History Page To Learn More