Ray Harroun was convinced he could win the first Indianapolis 500. He came out of retirement to race in that first race in 1911. His yellow #32 Marmon “Wasp” was fine-tuned and ready to race.
As the time for the race to begin drew close, it became clear that Ray was going to be a lightening rod of controversy for his unorthodoxed approach to the race. You see in 1911, each racecar included a driver and a mechanic as a passenger. The on-board mechanic would check oil pressure throughout the race and give a verbal update of what was happening behind the driver with the other racecars.
Ray was attempting to race in this first Indy 500 without the mechanic. Ray installed a rearview mirror, the first recorded instance of a person mounting a mirror on a car to monitor traffic from behind the car.
There was an uproar of controversy the day of the race, but eventually, it was determined that Ray was within the rules as he bypassed using a riding mechanic and trusted the mirror he had installed. Detractors argued that it was dangerous and illegal. In the end, Ray won the race with an average speed of just over 74 miles per hour… and he revolutionized the way racecar drivers drove and for that matter, the way we drive today. This year we mark the 100th anniversary of the first use of the rearview mirror, a standard requirement on all cars.
When I think about this story, I see parallels into our lives when it comes to viewing our past. Often, if we are not careful we can chose a bad riding mechanic and feel as though we have a mechanic who is reminding us of all the things that are behind us… our past failures and mistakes. Scripture calls Satan “the accuser” and he is keenly adept at assisting us in looking backwards. I’m thankful for the Scripture in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that reminds us that if “anyone belongs to Christ, they are a new creation. The old is gone and the new has come.”
Rearview mirrors can help us remember the past and the grace that has been poured into our lives without the added weight of a bad riding mechanic. Go full speed into the future that God has for you. You are a new creation, the old is gone and you are being renewed.