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Unique Indy 500 Connection: The Schebler Carburetor

Video originally aired in May of 2022:

(BATESVILLE, Ind.) – As the Indy 500 Race approaches, race fans from every state and several foreign countries will make their way to our state’s capital … but did you know that there is a local connection to the race’s history?


The late George Schebler of the rural Batesville area was multi-talented as a farmer, fiddle maker and was known for being a bit of a mechanic as well. The carburetor came about because of his desire to have better control over the combustible engine. 


Schebler’s close friend, Burt Pierce worked with the entrepreneur and the pair began to tinker. Schebler ultimately designed a “carburetor” using a tin can with a simple flap that he attached to a motorcycle engine. 


In 1902, Schebler patented the first air-valve designed carburetor. To further perfect his product, he needed financial backing. Meanwhile, Pierce continued to work on what became known as the Marvel design and received a patent in 1909.


Schebler drew the attention of Harry Stutz, known for the designing and manufacturing of internal combustion engines, and Frank Wheeler. These men provided the financial backing and marketing, while Schebler provided the mental knowledge, and the IMS (Indianapolis Motor Speedway) Company was born. 


The Schebler carburetor was originally used with great success in racing cars and from 1911 to 1935, racing trophies carried the Wheeler name. As a testament to the role played by Frank Wheeler and George Schebler, the original Wheeler-Schebler building has been renamed the Wheeler Arts Community and is located on Indy’s south side. Later the Wheeler-Schebler carburetors began being used in boats, agricultural equipment such as the Model D and Waterloo Boys tractors and ultimately in aircraft.


Schebler sold his shares in the company in 1912. While the company changed hands many times, its reputation for quality carburetors has remained.


Early ingenuity with it’s roots in the 812!

This story written by The 812's contributing writer Sue Siefert.


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