10,000 at Brickyard Debut - May 27, 1910

The attachments* below contain an article from the May 27, 1910 Indianapolis Sun reports that attendance at the first day of  May 1910 race meet at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was about 10,000. The May 1910 race meet weekend included "national championships," a newly-announced distinction by the American Automobile Association (AAA) for select race meets. Car manufacturers were keen to make a great showing. Check out other articles that provide additional summaries on the results of the races staged May 27 and May 28 elsewhere on First Super Speedway.
The Sun was an afternoon paper so the report provides incomplete coverage of the contests, which started at 1 o'clock. At this time the - it was May 27, a Friday - the grandstand on the front stretch was reported to be half full with total attendance on the grounds estimated at 10,000. Interestingly, the article notes, "...a great share of the number were women gay in summer attire. The day was ideal...".
Caleb Bragg was reported to have set fast time in the first event, a time trial for the measured mile. He failed to establish a new record for the distance, missing the 39-second record at the time by half a second. Herb Lytle in the American "Underslung" and Johnny Aitken recorded a 44.03 time in his National. Note that Aitken's first name is spelled, "Johnnie," which is an unusual but not unheard of spelling choice. 
The article makes a point that many racing enthusiasts and automobile factory representatives hailed from other big cities such as Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit and Columbus (Ohio). Locally, the Ben Hur line of the interurban rail service from the Traction Terminal was packed with hundreds of travelers to the track. (I want to note that one of most best-selling books of the time was, "Ben Hur, a Tale of the Christ," by Hoosier author Lew Wallace and this almost certainly had something to do with the name choice for the mass transit system). The Big Four Railroad was busy routing commuters from the Union Station and promising 20 minute service.
IMS Director of Contests Ernie Moross predicted record crowds for not only Friday but all through the weekend. Meanwhile observers pronounced the new Brickyard track in good condition, but others labeled by the writer as "pessimists" expressed concern about "grease" making turns dangerous. The reference was clearly to oil. The cars of the day lacked seals and were notorious for constantly leaking oil from engine seams. Also, an accident by a Knox driver identified as "Ray Beal" on Thursday apparently was blamed on a grease spot. Interestingly, Speedway officials apparently addressed the slippery spot by setting it on fire.
The article reports that 10 races were on the card for the day. They are listed in the article:

  • Event 1: Time trials for one quarter mile and one kilometer.
  • Event 2: Five mile race for cars of 160 cubic inches or less. (Three entries)
  • Event 3: Five miles, cars of 161 to 230 cubic inches. (Ten entries)
  • Event 4: 10 miles, stock cars 231 to 300 cubic inches. (Ten entries)
  • Event 5: Five miles, stock chassis, 301 to 450 cubic inches. (12 entries)
  • Event 6: Ten miles, cars of 451 to 600 cubic inches. (8 cars)
  • Event 7: Five miles, free-for-all handicap. (26 entries)
  • Event 8: Five miles, amateur stock car race. (3 entries - Tousey, National; Updike, Knox; Art Greiner, National)
  • Event 9: Five miles, free-for-all Speedway Helmet race. (11 entries)
  • Feature: 100-mile race for the $1,000 Prest-O-Lite Trophy for stock chassis cars with 301 to 650 cubic inches. 

The Wheeler-Schebler Trophy and the contest for it is mentioned even though it was not part of the first day card. The cup is described as weighing 500 pounds and made of coin silver. In this article it is described as worth $5,000 but I have seen other estimates at $8,000 and even $10,000. Wheeler-Schebler was a carburetor company co-founded by Frank Wheeler, who also co-founded the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The company announced that a $1,000 bonus would be awarded to the winner if his car was equipped with their product.
The sub-head, "A Kick is Registered" appears next in the article. The term, "kick," in this context meant, "complaint." This was in reference to a AAA officiating decision to disqualify some entries represented as stock cars. A rule of the day was that for a manufacturer to file an entry in a stock car race the factory needed to crank out at least 25 issues of the model for the consumer market. The companies affected were Buick, Jackson, Cutting, Westcott, American, Fuller and Empire.
Subsequent paragraphs in the article read like late, ad-hoc augmentations and report on some of the day's events. First, we learn of the results of the first event of the day, one-mile time trials for Class D cars. Time is expressed in seconds and I suspect that the order they are listed reflects the order they went onto the track. It certainly is not a list based on time:

We pick up a good insight when the article reports that event 4 was actually conducted immediately after the first event on the day's schedule. This was for cars weighing 1,700 or more pounds with 231 to 300 cubic inch engine displacement. The report has it that Marmon "32" teammates Harroun and Joe Dawson finished in a dead heat. Frank Fox (Pope-Toledo) was third with Sheifler in a Jackson taking fourth.
Event 5 is praised for its entertainment value. Leigh Lynch, driving a Jackson, suffered mechanical failure and left the contest to the National team of Aitken, Kincaid and Charlie Merz and the two Marmon drivers mentioned above. Kincaid prevailed in the end, but only barely over Dawson. The prizes were $100 in gold coin to Kincaid and $60 in silver to Dawson. The winning time was 4:05.76 for five miles, a new American speedway record at the time.
*There are two attachments, but only one article. The second attachment is the jump to finish the article. For whatever reason the researcher copied them as separate documents.

IMSSun052710.pdf1.26 MB
IMSjumpSun052710.pdf262.3 KB