A.C. Webb, Premier & Russell Benefit

Before we ge started, please let me note that there is a companion entry with additional coverage of this same landmark race meet in early Indianapolis automobile history that you will want to familiarize yourself with by clicking thru
A unique race was staged on October 20, 1906, at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. It was one of the best examples I have found of an auto race of this early era that is interwoven with the larger historical context of the times. For the previous month to the publication of the articles in the attachments below one of the biggest news stories in Indianapolis was the shooting of a police officer by what the Star referred to as a "Negro." The black man's name was Jesse Coe and the officer was Charles Russell. A "Wild West" style posse was formed and Coe, who was a fugitive for two years, was finally hunted down in Kentucky. He was shot to death under suspicious circumstances that suggest there was no intention by the law enforcement involved of taking him to trial.
Given the immense racial atrocities of the times when lynching and burning blacks were weekly news items and the Ku Klux Klan was revived from a hiatus dating back to the Civil War, it is impossible to know the real story behind the incident. It is entirely possible that Coe acted in self-defense, but the reality is he was hunted down, shot to death and branded as a bloodthirsty fiend.
Shortly after Russell's death, news that he let his life insurance policy expire hit the local papers. The local leaders of the automotive and motorsports industry came up with the idea of running a benefit for the fallen officer's family. Among the leaders of the plan to stage the benefit race was future Indianapolis Motor Speedway Founder Carl Fisher.
The articles in the attachments focus on a very interesting finding - that the big Premier racer developed to Carl Fisher's specifications to drive in the 1905 Vanderbilt Cup but was disqualified for failure to comply with car construction rules pertaining to weight. The driver in this instance was Alonzo Webb. Indeed, it shattered a record held previously by Barney Oldfield. This is significant because popular belief has it that the car was raced only once - by Fisher during a handicap event that supported a 100-mile feature at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in November 1905. From First Super Speedway analysis this is widely held belief is simply wrong. The car is at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum and this finding proves the it was driven in at least two other competitive auto race events, both by a well-known driver of the day, A.C. (Alonzo) WebbWebb drove in the 1904 Vanderbilt Cup and won the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Trophy - using other cars.
Now, let's drill down deeply into the important article contained in attachment WebbPremier. The headline calls out Webb's destruction of Oldfield's old record: "Oldfield's Record Broken By Webb." Check out the sub-heads that call out the major message points:

  • Premier Racer Carries Off Honors in Five-Mile Open at Fair Grounds
  • Zoo Zoo Wins Trotting Race
  • Great Crowd Attends Benefit for Russell Family

The article kicks off with a call-out box accounting for the monetary contributions to the Russell Relief Fund. The total was $737.40. Confusingly, a paragraph under the total suggests that ticket sales at the track totaled $434.80 and that outstanding ticket sales by the Indianapolis police force would push the total to $800. Go figure. Regardless, the dollar amounts are interesting. Keep in mind tickets were sold for 25 cents each.
The article reiterated what was previously stated:

  • The event was a benefit for the family of Patrolman Charles J. Russell who died on the job.
  • The article asserts that Russell was murdered by "Desperado Negro" Jesse Coe.
  • The Indianapolis Star would hold the funds until distributing them to the family.
  • The program was arranged by the Indianapolis Automobile Racing Association and the Gentlemen's Driving Club.

The five-mile open auto race was the fastest contest with A.C. Webb driving the 100-MPH Premier broke both the one and five-mile records for the State Fair track. As for the horses, Zoo-Zoo was the star. George J. Marott was the animal's owner. Zoo-Zoo broke the half-mile trotting record of the Gentlemen's Driving Club with a time of 1:07.5.
One impromptu event was proposed by Fred Cline, secretary of the driving club. That was a half-mile foot race for police officers in full uniform. Eight "big bluecoats" entered. All completed the first 100 yards but soon began falling by the wayside. Patrolman C.S. Adams was the only officer who proved stout enough to complete the distance. Adams, a former marine, was presented $5 for the victory.
"Take it and give it to the widow - Mrs. Russell," Adams said. Cline reportedly instructed Adams to make that presentation himself.
The five-mile open auto contest was conducted in three heats of five miles each. Two cars were pitted against each other in each heat. The heats came at intervals throughout the day-long program. In the first heat H.E. Freiberg, in a 55 HP White Flyer Autocar (I have my doubts this is a real brand name) lined up against Tom Kincaid in a 40 HP National. Freiberg won in a time of 5:47.40.
Jap Clemens in a 60 HP National and Webb in the Premier were the second heat entries. This is the heat where Webb set fast time for the day at 57.8 seconds for a lap. That eclipsed Oldfield's old mark of 58.25 seconds. Webb also won the third and final heat against Freiberg. The speed was slower at 4:57 total for the five miles and the reason given was that the darkness of night was approaching.
I like this excerpt from the piece:
"Every automobile garage and factory in the city and the owners of the best horse flesh in Indianapolis did everything in their power to make the various events interesting. The police department also exerted every effort to make the program successful and through their efforts in keeping the crowd from the track and with the careful driving of the contestants there was not a single accident to mar the afternoon. The police were under the command of Lieutenant Henry W. Sandmann."
The horse race officials are listed:

  • Field W. Scholler of Franklin, Indiana, as the starter.

The men listed below served as judges and timers.

  • James W. Neal
  • Sterling R. Holt
  • Charles Downing
  • Samuel D. Pierson

The auto race officials were:

  • Referee: Frank Wheeler
  • Clerk of Course: G.H. Hamilton
  • Starter: Lew Wainwright
  • Timer: John Fox
  • Timer: George Kern
  • Timer: George Van Camp
  • Timer: Gus Craft
  • Timer: B.F. Meixel
  • Timer: E.S. De Tamble
  • Timer: J.A. Rink
  • Judge: Charles Sample
  • Judge: Frank Sweet
  • Judge: George Schebler
  • Judge: Herbert Rice
  • Judge: Charles Sommers
  • Scorer: Gus Kevers
  • Scorer: A.A. Barnes
  • Scorer: L. Newberger
  • Scorer: F.F. Carrico
  • Scorer: O.B. Henderson
  • Scorer: A.C. Downing
  • Scorer: H.H. Hubbard
  • Umpire: F. Bevens
  • Umpire: William Schebler
  • Umpire: R. Davison
  • Umpire:A. Handy
  • Announcer: Art McKee
  • Announcer: George Dickson

The article provides a summary of the two harness events:
Free-for-all trotting: (Five Heats) Zoo-Zoo, G.J. Marott, owner, and driver, first; Victor C, M.H. Reardon, owner and driver, second. Best heat: 1:07.5.
Free-for-all pacing: (Three Heats) Lady D, G.G. Allen, owner, and driver, first; American Bell, Fred Cline, owner and driver, second. Best heat: 1:05.5.
A complete listing of the competitors - both car and driver - and race results is provided.
Event 1, three miles, runabouts of $1,000 or less:

  1. Buick, 22 HP, entered by Federal Motor Car Company, Thomas E. Madden, driver (first).
  2. Premier, 16 HP, entered by Premier Motor Manufacturing Company, Joe Moore (second).
  3. Leader, 16 HP, entered by Hill and Beeson, J.H. McCune, driver (third)
  • Winning time: 4:40.4.

Event 2, ten miles, stock touring cars costing over $2,000

  1. National, 40 HP, entered by National Motor Vehicle Company, Tom Kincaid, first.
  2. National, 40 HP, entered and driven, James Allison
  3. Stoddard-Dayton, 35 HP, entered Fisher Automobile Company
  • Winning time: 12:32

Event 3, ten miles, stripped stock cars

  1. National, 40 HP, entered by National Motor Vehicle Company, Tom Kincaid
  2. National, 40 HP, entered and driven by James Allison
  3. Stoddard-Dayton, 35 HP, entered by Fisher Automobile Company, Carl G. Fisher
  4. Premier, 16 HP, entered by Premier Motor Manufacturing Company, Joe Moore
  • Winning time: 11:35.6.

Event 4, five-mile handicap

  1. National, 60 HP, entered by National Motor Vehicle Company, Jap Clemens
  2. National, 40 HP?, entered by National Motor Vehicle Company, Tom Kincaid
  3. White Flyer AutoCar, 55 HP, entered and driven by Dr. H.E. Freiberg
  • Winning time: 5:26.6.

Event 5, five-mile open

  1. Premier, 100 HP, entered by Premier Motor Manufacturing Company, Alonzo Webb, driver.
  • Three heats of five minutes each; best time: 4:55.2.
webbpremierraceresults.pdf6.65 MB
WebbPremier101806.pdf2.84 MB
WebbPremier.pdf3.63 MB