First Indianapolis 500 - 1911

This is a large collection of articles concerning the 1911 Indianapolis 500. This content covers practice and preparation for the event, many featuring the star drivers such as eventual winner Ray Harroun, Ralph Mulford, Bob Burman and Ralph DePlama. Barney Oldfield, who was banned by the AAA during this period and missed the first Indianapolis 500, wrote a racing column and several of his contributions are contained in this folder. Complete race day coverage is yet to be added, but will be included them in the future.


These articles from the May 27, 1911 Indianapolis News provided excellent information for Indianapolis Motor Speedway fans to use in following the race. One article explains how disks of black, white, red and yellow carrying numbers 1-9; 10-19; 20-29 and 30-40 were affixed to the cars for easy identification. Another article has a description of how the pace car led rolling start at 40 mph was to be conducted - the first time such a start was ever used.

The early Indianapolis 500s had an epic quality simply because they took all day to run: like six hours. Back in that day, Indianapolis had both morning and evening newspapers, and the evening Indianapolis News would go to press before the race was over. In May 1911 they reported on the progress of the race at 300 miles, leaving the finish to the next morning's Indianapolis Star. This clip is what so many Indianapolis residents saw about 4 p.m. at news stands.

This article is part of the Indianapolis News' mid-race coverage of the first Indianapolis 500 on May 30, 1911. This report is related to another post, "Harroun Leads at 300 Miles," and I suggest you cross reference them for fuller context. This package has two articles, one that focuses on accidents up to that point in the race and the other reports on the buzz in the city and overstates attendance at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at 100,000. From what I have read, a more accurate appraisal is 60 to 80K.

This article captures the flavor of race day morning in the pits at the first Indianapolis 500. Nice, concise and colorful coverage well worth the read.

According to this brief article, the betting men had it right. They were leaning toward a Marmon victory.

On May 29, 1911, the day before the first Indianapolis 500, world land speed record holder Bob Burman was crowned "Speed King" at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He was presented with a crown of gold with pearls and jewels. It was said to be worth $10,000. I wonder whatever happend to that thing?
 
Check out this coverage from the Indianapolis News.

These two articles describes how the massive crowd for the first Indianapolis 500 tested the city's capacity to transport and shelter a huge influx of guests.

It's well documented that there was confusion over the scoring records of the first Indianapolis 500. Some have even suggested that the officials were so out of control that Lozier driver Ralph Mulford may have actually won this historic race instead of Ray Harroun. Based on what I have read there is little evidence of this as Harroun made only a handful of tire changes all day and Mulford visited the pits frequently to replace rubber, even enduring blow-outs on the track and having to drive on the rim.

The story of Cyrus Patschke is an important but somewhat obscure piece of Indianapolis 500 history because he relieved winner Ray Harroun for about 80 miles in the inaugural race. Making a terrific contribution, he never missed a beat as he held to the game plan and kept the Marmon team in the hunt for the win.

In this very brief and somewhat contradictory article Ray Harroun, winner of the inaugural Indianapolis 500 is quoted as saying that when you lead a race, you don't get tired. Conversely, he also says that 500 miles is too great a distance for a man to attempt to drive without relief. Harroun did obtain relief as Cyrus Patschke spotted him for about 80 miles. Nonetheless, I always enjoy articles that quote the great pioneers. I get a sense of hearing their voice.