Rain Postpones First Races at Indy Speedway

This content was originally published in the August 13, 1909, Indianapolis News. The first item is a nice article that not only reports that the first day of racing (August 13) at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was postponed due to rain (imagine that, rain interfering with racing!), but also and more importantly discusses the preparation of the track, with some vivid descriptions of the grounds and architecture. A terrific example of how different the standards were in those days for challenging outrageous assertions, the article states the "stone track" would dry within 15 minutes in the event of rain showers. This begs the question, "Why postpone the motorcycle races?"
While Speedway management was rightfully concerned that the iffy weather might deter people from attending, the truth most likely was that they were still struggling to make the track safer and took this opportunity to buy time. The crushed stone and tar surface simply did not hold up well under groups of motorcycles digging at it through the turns. Imagine leaning a bike at 50 to 70 miles per hour with loose stones under your wheels. Proof of that was the accident of police officer Albert Gibney who took the delay of the racing as an opportunity to practice because he was entered in amateur contests. This was reported in another article about the postponement. 
Very important is the description of the track as a 5-mile course as some work had been done to create a winding road course extension of another 2.5 miles in the infield. The idea was to enable road course racing that would utilize both the oval and the road course. This plan was never acted on because of the expense of paving the oval with bricks during the fall of 1909 after the disastrous auto races the week following the motorcycles in August.
There are smaller items in this package, including a nice overview of the careers of some of the more famous motorcycle riders like Jake DeRosier and Ed Lingenfelder. Another is the card of events for the planned two-day event, which never came to fruition because the second day was canceled after the debacle that was the first. Finally, there is an ad that the Speedway took out to make sure people were aware that the schedule of events had changed after the rain postponement.

news81309.pdf16.11 MB