ORIGINAL 1965 MARIO ANDRETTI 100MPH CLUB JACKET
Posted: 1st May 2015
Posted in: Memorabilia
This is a rare piece of Indycar motorsport history. This jacket is Mario Andretti’s 100mph Club Jacket from his rookie year at the Indy 500 in 1965 – the year he finished third behind Jim Clark and Parnelli Jones and was named “rookie of the year”.
The Champion Spark Plug 100 Mile an Hour Club was a group formed to honor drivers who completed the Indianapolis 500 at an average speed of 100 miles per hour or faster. It was formed in 1935, and continued to be recognised through 1969.
It was sponsored by Champion Spark Plugs, and was the brainchild of M.C. deWitt, the company’s advertising manager.
During its heyday, it was considered one of the most prestigious honors in motorsports, and membership was highly sought after by drivers. A total of 124 drivers were inducted as members, with 1930 winner Billy Arnold named the club’s first member.
In 1964, when the race started airing live on MCA closed-circuit television, the rules were changed which limited the time drivers were allotted to finish the race once the winner crossed the finish line. Roughly five minutes were allowed for the other cars on the track to complete the 200 laps.
This had the effect of substantially limiting the chances of joining the Club, and only a handful of drivers earned the honor after 1964 – including Andretti the following year.
During the 1969 race, no new members were inducted, since all four drivers who completed the 500 miles that year were already part of the club.
In 1970, Dick McGeorge, Champion’s public relations representative, retired from his position. McGeorge was considered the key fixture in organizing the club, dating back to 1946. He died in 1971, and the 100 mph Club quietly folded.
The 1968 inductees (led by race winner Bobby Unser) were the final names added to the membership.
The jacket was made by L Strauss & Co which was a high-end Indianapolis department store which was established in 1853 before going bankrupt in 1993.
During the store’s existence, winners of the Indianapolis 500 were presented, in addition to the Borg-Warner Trophy, the L. Strauss & Co. Trophy.
The jacket has been signed by Andretti in silver marking pen on the left hand chest above the embroided 100mph logo.
The jacket is faultless and inclusive of unmarked brass buttons. It is part of private Mario Andretti collection in Australia.