Cobe Trophy to Indianapolis Motor Speedway - 1910

The article in attachment IMSCobe103109 was published in the Indianapolis Star on October 31, 1909. It discussed the likelihood that the Ira Cobe Trophy Race would be conducted at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1910. The event, the first major auto race organized in Indiana, originally ran in Crown Point, Indiana in June 1909. Organized by the Chicago Automobile Club, it was not well attended and the country roads course was judged to be a mess.
 
While there had been no official announcement the article reflected speculation that the 1910 competition for the Cobe Trophy would be conducted at the Speedway. The article also shares that laws in Illinois made the staging of auto races excessively difficult and that Indiana was more lenient. The 1909 event reportedly lost $30,000 and some of that had to be the work done to condition the country roads as well erect facilities such as a grandstand. The Speedway as a permanent facility undoubtedly allowed the Chicago Automobile Club - of which Ira Cobe was an officer - to organize the race at a reduced expense than in 1909.
 
Adding credence to the speculation of the race moving from northwest Indiana to the Speedway was the disassembly of the grandstands built for the 1909 race. Although an unnamed Chicago Automobile Club official reportedly said that club officials were looking to develop a public roads course nearer Chicago the magnetic draw to the Brickyard seemed irresistable.
 
The article also reports on the status of upgrades to the Speedway and its grounds. The new grandstands were completed but the brick paving of the track still was underway with a new prediction of "early" November to wrap up the work. This was despite earlier predictions of an auto race meet taking place November 1.
 
In closing out the article an anonymous Chicago Automobile Club official is quoted about the situation which provides good information about sales figures for the 1909 race:
 
"While the wrecking of the stand does not necessarily mean the Crown Point-Lowell course is abandoned, it certainly looks that way. The location of the stand came in for criticism, but that is not surprising, as the race was disappointing in many ways. The failure to sell seats in the stand was not so much of a disappointment as the comparatively small attendance, 30,000 or 40,000, where 100,000 had been expected."
 
Attachment Cobe121209 contains a follow-up article in the December 12, 1909 Indianapolis Star. It reports on continued speculation on the future of the Cobe Trophy - even if the race should be continued. Forces were at work in Chicago to resist the magnetic and convenient attraction of the purpose-built Indianapolis Motor Speedway as road racing purists insisted that the trophy for the race nicknamed the "Western Vanderbilt" should not be staged on on an oval track, no matter how grand.
 
Others simply wanted, understandably enough, wanted the Chicago Automobile Club race to be staged in Chicago. There were other rumors circulating that two rival groups were considering the construction of two speedways in the Chicago area - but no one believed the market would support two. One of the speedway groups were considering a location south of Chicago and the other described as "on the line of the Northwestern road."
 
Another interesting detail in the article is that a fraternal lodge in nearby Elgin, Illinois was proposing a public roads circuit. This is noteworthy because Elgin did launch a road race in 1910 and continued to run it through 1920 with the exception of World War I years of 1916 through 1918. This provided a road racing venue in Illinois and it is a bit of a mystery as to why the trophy was not contested for in Elgin in 1910. It's also worth noting that other host cities were considered, among them Ft. Wayne, Indiana; Grand Rapids, Michigan and a location in Wisconsin.

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IMSCobe103109.pdf320.58 KB
Cobe121209.pdf767.68 KB
Cobe Announcement.pdf21.77 MB