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 package includes two articles (published May 28, 1911 in the Indianapolis Star) one of which is a small, but interesting item. The main article discusses Indianapolis Motor Speedway management's efforts to guide traffic for the first Indianapolis 500 to the track and then point them in the right direction once inside the great facility. Interestingly, they created a big loop with different routes coming in and leaving.

This article by C.E. Shuart in the May 28, 1911 Indianapolis 500 describes the newspaper industry's fascination with the first Indianapolis 500. It claims that 30 telegraph operators were stationed in the press stand to "broadcast" the event to the country and the world. Most of all, I love this line: "Publicity will not make this race half so much as this race will make publicity."
 

This article was published May 28, 1911 in the Indianapolis Star. Imagine an aerial perspective of the first Indianapolis 500. That's what Captain George Bumbaugh, Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Carl Fisher's ballooning mentor enjoyed, if only briefly. This artcile discusses his preparation of the giant balloon, the "Duesseldorfer" for a launch at 4 p.m. during or just after the historic race on Tuesday, May 30, 1911. The balloon was capable of carrying six to eight passengers.

This article recounts the Indianapolis Motor Speedway practice crash of Lozier driver Harold Van Gorder. This Lozier was a private entry owned by W.H.

This is a great article describing the terrific record runs of Bob Burman at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Monday, May 29, 1911, the day before the first Indianapolis 500. Burman, who had earlier in the spring set the world land speed record of 141 mph on Daytona Beach, set the flying mile, half-mile, quarter-mile and kilometer track records, all of which were previously held by Barney Oldfield driving the same Blitzen Benz one year earlier.
 

While not the main reference in this article, but by far the most astonishing, was a description of people forming betting "pools" in Indianapolis cafes the day before the first Indianapolis 500 wagering on how many drivers and riding mechanics would be killed in the race. Other items covered include plans for Carl Fisher to pace the race at 40 mph, and for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to set of aerial bombs including one that would somehow unfurl a giant American flag at the start of the race.

The photo and article ran in the May 30, 1911 Indianapolis Star. Looking like a Martian from a 1950's "B" sci-fi flick, there is an image associated with this very brief item that shows Joe Jagersberger allegedly dressed to race in the first Indianapolis 500. I'm a shade incredulous, because I have not seen many photos of any drivers dressed in such a manner, which includes a cloth facemask and elaborate taping analogous to support wrap for an NFL lineman.

This is an interesting article that focuses on the roles of officials for the first Indianapolis 500. It also provides the names of many of these officials, which is not always easy to find.
 
This article was published in the May 30, 1911 Indianapolis Star.

This article by Barney Oldfield shares his day of hobnobbing with racing cronies, even dating back to his days as a bicycle racer on the Newby Oval board velodrome in 1898-99 (developed by Indianapolis Motor Speedway co-founder Arthur C. Newby).

This package contains two lengthy articles on the first Indianapolis 500. Both published in the Indianapolis Star on May 31, 1911, it just flat-out doesn't get any better than this. No book, no magazine, no retrospective beats this. The Star has everyone else covered. If you think you're an expert on the first Indianapolis 500, you better have read these articles.