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.


This brief article describes the race strategy developed by Pope-Hartford driver Louis Disbrow for the first Indianapolis 500. Chief among his considerations were track temperature and tire wear. This is an interesting read when compared with current strategies developed to win races like the Indianapolis 500. This article was published May 28, 1911 in the Indianapolis Star.

This article offers great perspective as drivers in the first Indianapolis 500 predicted the winning speed average. More great insight to the personalities of these special men. The article was published in the May 28, 1911 Indianapolis 500.

This article is one of those rare and interesting pieces that focuses on the role of the riding mechanic. The byline reads "A Novice," and the scribe was an Indianapolis Star report that did four laps with Harry Endicott on May 26, 1911 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Not only does he describe the sensations, but also recounts a couple stories about the role of professional riding mechanics. Well worth the read, the article was published in the Indianapolis Star on May 27, 1911.

The Indianapolis Star recruited Barney Oldfield to write columns about all the happenings leading up to the first Indianapolis 500. Oldfield, who was serving a suspension for competing in events unsactioned by the AAA, would have been an ESPN analyst if there was cable TV in 1911. Instead, he pontificated on developments at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and filed his prognostications. Among them was his prediction that the winning speed average would be 73.5 mph. Not far off the mark, as Ray Harroun's winning average was 74.59 mph.

Just days before the first Indianapolis 500 representatives of numerous automobile companies answered the question, "Why race?" This article presents their rationale and makes for fascinating reading. Without exception, all the maunfacturers questions stress the tremendous value they derived from sustatined, high speed racing. Among those interviewed: Marmon, Fiat, Cole, Cutting, Stutz, Case, Jackson and Knox.
 

In an article published in the May 28, 1911 Indianapolis Star by Ralph De Palma the racing great discusses what it takes to win a special race like the first Indianapolis 500. Above all else, De Palma stressed "headwork," or setting a strategy and thinking throughout the race to adjust to developments. He goes so far as to say that he studies most of his competitors and found them lacking.
 

This brief item on Bob Burman's record-breaking attempt at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Monday, May 29, 1911 ran in the May 28, 1911 Indianapolis Star. This attempt was originally planned for the morning of the first Indianapolis 500, which ran the following day, Tuesday, May 30, 1911. Manufacturers thought this run by Burman in the German "Blitzen" Benz might overshadow any success they might have in the 500-mile race. Very brief item, but a good data point for historical researchers.

This is an excellent article that presents brief biographical sketches of the drivers competing in the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911. This article is particularly important because it is difficult or even impossible to find information on several of the more obscure drivers from any other source.
 
This article, printed in the May 28, 1911 Indianapolis 500 is broken into two parts because of size restrictions in uploading documents larger than 30MB with my Web content management system.

This article is written - and even admits as much - to help those with a betting inclination make some decisions. It notes the difference between track (oval) racers and road course drivers. Based on an assessment of skills - in particular, strength in long distance track racing - the author of the article, Paul Willis, suggests Ray Harroun, Ralph Mulford, David Bruce-Brown, Harry Grant, Spencer Wishart and Charlie Merz as favorites. Interestingly, Willis refers to Herb Lytle, who began racing as a teenager in the 1890's, as the grand old man.
 

This package contains two articles (published in the May 28, 1911 Indianapolis Star), both stressing the nationwide appeal of the first Indianapolis 500. "Touring parties" of 10 to 20 cars were assembled from all corners of the country - especially the underdeveloped western states - to traverse the rough terrain on their trek to Indianapolis. Indianapolis, regarded as a sedate city out of the limelight of the capitols of commerce - despite having a robust auto industry - was suddenly on the map.