1907 French GP - Indianapolis Coverage

The first three attachments below contain articles about the second French Grand Prix that were published in the Indianapolis Star in July 1907. The fourth attachment contains an article on the same race that appeared in the Indianapolis News.
The article in the first attachment (FrenchGP070107), published July 1, is curious in that it reports that the tragic Paris-Madrid race, conducted in May 1903 and where several spectators lining the public roads were killed and injured, had occured the previous year. The commentary discusses the need for a closed-circuit course to avoid course crowding and provide easier race management. More significant is that this iteration of the French GP was only its second running. The first in 1906 was the landmark event that gave the sport one of its key brand names, "Grand Prix."
One of the all-time great drivers, Felice Nazzaro, won the world's second Grand Prix by inheriting the lead on lap 9 and extending it to the end. In all there were 38 cars in the field with the top European drivers and manufacturers competeing in what was regarded as the most important competition of the year.
With that preamble, let's dig deeper into the articles.
The article in attachment (FrenchGP070107) reads, as noted above, as if the tragic Paris-Madrid road race had been conducted the previous year. Obviously, the reporter didn't get his facts straight. Noteworthy is that the 1907 course moved to Dieppe from Le Mans the previous year. These were public roads courses. The 1907 course was triangular with the cities of Dieppe, Eu and Londinieres serving as the angle points. The 70 kilometer course skirted the seashore at one point. The race was 10 laps. There were expectations of great speed as observers predicted many competitors would exceed an Ardennes course record reportedly held by Arthur Duray.
As with all public roads races, crowd control was an issue. This article says an incredible 8,000 soldiers had been pressed into service to patrol the perimeter. The soldiers were said to be stationed at 40-feet intervals.
The following point is especially interesting with respect to tech inspection. Officials reportedly set aside rules pertaining to weight for the regulation of "essence consumption." They were allowed 30 liters per 100 kilometers.
There were 38 entries from 15 factories. Of those 38 cars 24 were French, five Italian, three Belgian, three German, two English, one Swiss and one American - that one entered and designed by Walter Christie. The article says there were two Americans, counting Elliott Shepard. This is not really accurate as Shepard was an American driver but in a French Clement-Bayard. Expatriate George Heath was another American driver, but living in Paris and driving for one of the French Panhards - but there is no mention of him in this article.
In discussing the drivers, the article notes that all the world's "cracks" (best drivers in the vernacular of the day) were on hand. These included: Felice Nazzaro, Vincenzo Lancia, Louis Wagner, Camille Jenatzy, Arthur Duray, Ferenc Szisz (his name is misspelled in the attached article) and Victor Hemery. Nazzaro, Lancia and Louis Wagner were cited as favorites. Over 100,000 people were predicted to attend and Dieppe was already discribed as "overcrowded."
Attachment FrenchGP070207 contains an article published in the July 2, 1907 Indianapolis Star with the headline, "Ready for Big Auto Race." The sub-head notes that practice up to that point had been hindered by rain and that course conditions were still slippery - probably because these were dirt and/or macadam roads. The point on the course - a decent from a railroad bridge near the town of Ancourt - is cited as treacherous. This assessment was evidenced by the tragic fatal accident to the skilled young pilot Albert Clement, who I believe was about 28 years old when he lost his life there on May 17. 
In a sign of the times, wagering on the event was reportedly heavy. The Fiat team held odds of 2 to 1, with Renault at 3 to 1. J. Walter Christie's front-wheel driver racer, the sole American entry, was seen as a "freak," and while having speed not likely to compete for the win. American driver Elliott Shepard is noted as the most "reckless" driver which may be a reputation he earned in the 1906 Vanderbilt Cup when he struck and killed a spectator largely through no fault of his own.
The article reports that the event had garnered global attention. Prominent Americans in attendance were George J. Gould, Howard K. Burras, Ormand L. Johnston and Jeffereson De Mont Thompson. Thompson who was the American Automobile Association (AAA) racing board chairman. He took the opportunity to insert the message that if the United States Government would provide troops to guard the Vanderbilt Cup course as France had for their Grand Prix, the 1907 Vanderbilt Cup would be assurred. Issues with the 1907 race centered on the fatal spectator accident noted above. Vanderbilt Cup organizers had set out on an ambitious project to build the Long Island Motor Parkway to enable them to stage their event on private property that could restrict the invasion of the public onto the roads while they were racing. The project was not well managed and when they fell far short of their construction goals the event for that year was cancelled.
The Indianapolis Star article in attachment FrenchGP070307 was published the day after the July 2, 1907 race. It reports that Felice Nazzaro in his Fiat set a new world's speed record of 70.6 MPH in winning the contest. Defending race winner Ferenc Szisz was second. Lancia suffered mechancial failure late in the race. The first American angle on the story reported is that AAA executive J. De Mont Thompson entertained American and English guests in one of the box seating areas.
Despite rains the day before, brisk winds throughout the night reportedly dried the running surface. Strangely, even though it was the second day of July, the weather is described as cold and spectators donned overcoats.
Lancia was the first away in this era of elapsed time events and drivers starting one at a time with intervals for safety. The procession of starters was accompanied by a band playing music. While Lancia was the first driver to complete a lap, he was not in first place. This report has the leader as Arthur Duray (but it was actually Louis Wagner) who cut his lap at 40 minutes flat, a full one minute and 33 seconds faster than Lancia. Although no exact start time is provided, it is reported that Lancia reached Eu at 6:30 AM, so the race began at an early hour which was customary in the day.
Duray led convincingly in the early going with Lancia running second. American expat George Heath, who raised his profile in his home country by winning the 1904 Vanderbilt Cup, saw his fortunes run afoul in this contest when his Panhard failed in the early going. Christie in his namesake car did nothing to refute America's reputation as a laggard in automotive technology by trailing the field with mechanical maladies including a broken valve.
The article is curious in that it does not explain the fate of Duray, who suddenly disappears from the report. Wagner isn't even mentioned. From other accounts we know Duray's Lorraine-Dietrich failed on lap 8 and Wagner's car expired on lap 3. Lancia then led but was overhauled by Nazzaro, who, by this report apparently won handily. Second was the previous year's victor, Szisz who drove for Renault. 
For historical context, some of the notables among those spectating were: Count Forcez who commanded the third army corps troops, Prince and Princess Orleff Diarof, Baron Rothschild and Baron Dorlwlot. Also note that a woman was apparently injured when Jenatzy's Mercedes threw a tire. The article is in error calling Jenatzy's car a Mercer.
The fourth attachment below contains the same-day coverage from the Indianapolis News. This may seem remarkable given the race took place in Europe, but the telegraph wires carried the reports with the speed of electricity. Combine that with the fact that the race started at a very early hour and France was some seven hours ahead of Indianapolis you can see how it could easily happen that the report would end up in the evening daily.
This report is superior to the Star's article, which appeared the next day. The race is described as approximately 477 miles with 38 competitors. Nazzaro's winning time is reported as 6:46:33.00 - some nine minutes ahead of second-place Szisz in the Renault. Only nine drivers were credited with finishing with American Shepard last among those with a time of 7:33:35.00 - nearly behind the winning Fiat.
The spectator count was about 200,000, with an estimated 50,000 gathered at "the tribune," which I assume was start-finish. The sole American entry, the Christie of J. Walter Christie, is described as "finishing in the ruck." That means at the back. The car only endured four laps with a variety of mechanical ills.
A little sense of the atmosphere as we learn the signal to start was given by six saluting cannons. Lancia in a Fiat was first away and the others were released at minute intervals. Duray was reported as driving a "Torraine de Deitrich," but this is a typesetting error as the name of the car is Lorraine-Dietrich as noted above.
Louis Wagner is reported to have led the first lap. His Fiat proved unreliable and he was gone by lap 3. Duray took command and despite fumbling with fueling his car in the pit he maintained his lead until lap 8 when this article reports that he stripped his gears. Nazzaro took up the lead from there and finished the remaining two laps unchallenged. The article reports that Nazzaro was having an outstanding year with other race wins in the April Targa Florio at Palermo and the German Emperor's Cup at the Taunus Circuit in June. 

FrenchGP070107.pdf634.45 KB
FrenchGP070207.pdf624.42 KB
FrenchGP070307.pdf862.58 KB
FrenchGPNews070207.pdf1.07 MB