Corky Coker leads a team of craftsmen to recreate the winner of 1911 Indy 500
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – When it comes to historic racecars, it’s hard to top the Marmon Wasp, winner of the inaugural Indianapolis 500. It was a revolutionary car, with an intelligent driver, and the result is a car that will be forever etched into the brains of racers and vintage car enthusiasts. While the original Marmon Wasp rests in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, Corky Coker and the crew at Honest Charley Garage recently finished an exact replica of the historic car.
Corky Coker, owner of Coker Tire Company, is a diehard car guy with an extreme passion for vintage racecars, especially those with a Brickyard background. The Marmon Wasp is the cream of the crop, so it was his goal to precisely recreate the car, but be able to have fun with it as well. Corky isn’t the type to let a car collect dust, so this rendition of the Marmon Wasp is meant to be driven. This task of mixing flawless detail with dependable drivability was the task of the crew at Honest Charley Garage.
Every component is built from scratch, including the body, which is made of steel and aluminum. The frame is highly modified to withstand Corky’s abuse and the weight of the Herschell Spillman T-Head six-cylinder engine. This mix of period-correct parts, and the intentionally weathered paint job make this the most authentic Marmon Wasp replica in the world. Corky even had new Firestone tires developed to match the original tires run in the 1911 race.
The extreme attention to detail of Coker’s replica, and great historical significance of the original Marmon Wasp met during the running of the 100th annual Indy 500 in May 2011, as both cars were in Indy for the event. During this time, Richard Ray Harroun, grandson of the man who wheeled the Marmon Wasp to the first Indy victory, signed the cowl of Corky’s replica—the perfect finishing touch for such an amazing car.