36 Fascinating Vintage Photos of Motor Racing From the 1920s and 1930s

By the time racing resumed at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after World War I, the Indianapolis 500 was already a renowned sporting event, attracting an international entry of drivers and cars and a crowd of more than 100,000.

Carl Fisher’s dream of building a proving ground that would put machine and man to the ultimate test had become a reality. And even in those early days of the Speedway, the men in charge struggled to rein in the burgeoning technology of the rapidly advancing automotive industry – and the speed and danger that resulted from it.

Overland car jumping a ‘fallen bridge’ in a promotional stunt,mid 1920s.
Dave Carrigan at wheel of a Willys Knight car in which he had driven from Melbourne to Sydney on one can of petrol. Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1926.
D.J. Harkness at wheel in RAC hill climb, No ’35’ on car, Royal National Park, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1926.
Large group of men at meeting in hall, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1920s.
The 100,000th Willys-Overland exported car, outside Overland Sydney Ltd office, 1920s.
Horse and cart on wharf with crate containing the 100,000th Willys-Overland exported car, 1920s.
Dave Carrigan at wheel of a Willys Knight car, 1926
Overland car jumping a fallen bridge in a promotional stunt, 1920s.
Group on occasion of the testing of the Genairco, the first all-Australian built plane, 1930
Overland car being driven down steps of Sydney Town Hall, 1920s.
Cars at the end of 1,000 mile rally organised by the Overland company, 1927
Launch of car F.H. Stewart Enterprise, 1931.
Sir Malcolm Campbell at the wheel of the Bluebird, with crowd, 1931.
Anzac car [with Harkness & Hillier staff at Five Dock], 1928 – 1929
Don Harkness at the wheel of his Overland Sports car Whitey at 10 Mile Championships, 1920s.
Don Harkness at the wheel of his Overland Sports car Whitey at race meeting, 1920s.
Don Harkness, 1920s.
Hydroglider outside the Harkness & Hillier factory, 1928
Timber straddler outside the Harkness & Hillier factory.
Don Harkness at the wheel of his Overland Sports car Whitey, 1920s.
D.J. Harkness at the wheel of an Overland Sports car, 1920s.
Men inspecting the frame of the car F.H. Stewart Enterprise, 1931.
Don Harkness and unidentifed man with hydroglider engine, 1928.
Avro Avian two-seater light aeroplane, 1929.
Norman Wizard Smith and Don Harkness and two other men (on steps of Sydney Town Hall], 1931.
Group portrait on board S.S. Maunganui, 1931.
Norman Wizard Smith and Don Harkness on board S.S. Maunganui, 1931.
Men inspecting the car F.H. Stewart Enterprise, 1931.
Men on beach with Anzac car, 1930.
Group inspecting the car F.H. Stewart Enterprise, 1931.
Don Harkness at the wheel of his Overland Sports car Whitey, 1920s.
Don Harkness at the wheel of modified Overland car at race meeting, 1920s.
Man seated in a modified Overland racing car surrounded by crowd, 1920s.
Don Harkness at wheel of Overland 6 after setting Australasian 24 hour record, 1926.
Group and a cat inspecting the car F.H. Stewart Enterprise, 1931.
Group inspecting the car F.H. Stewart Enterprise, 1931.

(Photos via Powerhouse Museum Collection on Flickr)

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