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500 Miles on $1.76 Worth of Fuel: Cummins #8 Race Car

8 Car From MATS 300pxWIDESetting a speed record at Daytona Beach, Florida, was impressive, but going the distance at the Indianapolis 500 without stopping for fuel is what helped establish the Cummins diesel as a leader in efficiency, reliability and durability.

The year was 1931. Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials were initially not enthusiastic about letting a Cummins-powered diesel into the race, so they set two conditions: The car had to qualify on speed (averaging 80 mph) and if it won, they would have to forfeit any prize winnings! It didn’t matter to Clessie Cummins and his team. They were out to prove a point. They knew from a speed trial on Daytona Beach that the car would qualify easily (16th position out of 40 entries). And they consulted a track physician and put in special arm and shoulder padding that could help the driver survive hours’ worth of lateral forces and pounding across the bricks. One by one, as competitors dropped out, the Cummins Diesel forged on – and the track officials cooperated, letting it complete the full 500 miles even after the winner had taken the checkered flag.

After a total of 5 hours, 48 minutes and 9 seconds, the #8 Cummins Diesel finished in 13th position, as the first car ever to run the Indianapolis 500 nonstop, averaging 16.5 mpg at racing speeds, establishing eight official world records and running the entire race on just $1.76 worth of fuel oil.

Newsreel footage of the #8 Cmmins diesel at this famous event can be viewed on the CumminsEngines YouTube channel.

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