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As we gear up for the 103rd Indianapolis 500 race this weekend, what kind of traditions do you have with your family? A longstanding reference patron brought me a 1914 drinking cup passed down in his family. His family has gone to the race each year since it began in 1911! These metal cups were fastened on individual water jugs to stay hydrated on what is historically a hot day.
Besides its functional purpose, the Blue Ribbon metal polish company cup’s design and imagery also provide some history: there’s a list of the 1911, 1912, and 1913 race winners – Ray Harroun, Joe Dawson, and Jules Goux, respectively – and a blank spot next to 1914 to write in the winner. The background image of the race depicts the original pace cars, spectator stands and structures inside the track, which have been long replaced. The 1913 pagoda, the original version of the iconic structure we see today, is visible in the background to the right of the stands.
Interested in comparing more photos of the race over time? Explore Indy 500 images in our digital collections.
This 105-year-old cup, slightly bigger than your standard shot glass, also contains directions on how to use it. The text states that “This SOUVENIR CUP can be used for Drinking Water” but you be the judge.