Excellent Summary of Motorcycle Races

These attachments have some overlap with the main article which was originally published in the August 15, 1909, Indianapolis Star.
Attachment Star81509 is described in the following paragraph.
If you don't read anything else, this is the package you need to read to get a handle on the first motorized competition at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Because the race meet, originally planned as a two-day affair, was curtailed early to end at a single day, all the action is packed into these articles. This package is 11 PDF pages. Among the features is a full list of the results of the various races of the meet and a sidebar that discusses the dimensions of the track and its cost, estimated at $350,000.
Attachment MotoRaces091509 repeats the main article of the other attachment but is more legible and so worthwhile to duplicate. The headline, "Death Nearly Wins Motorcycle Races," is crafted in the sensational style of journalism in these days. It starts with a tidy summary of the seven races that were conducted, complete with the winners, their bike manufacturer, the distance and time.
When considering this historic competition there are some basic facts to keep in mind, all of which are detailed in the article:

  • Bottom line, this race meet was a fiasco.
  • An estimated crowd of 8,500 attended, which had to be disappointing.
  • Of the seven races, the longest was but four laps of the oval or 10 miles.
  • There were two 10-mile races, four five-mile races, and a one-mile sprint.
  • Four brands of bike won races: Indian (4) with N.S.U., Reading-Standard, and Minneapolis with one each.
  • An aborted match race between prominent riders Jake DeRosier and Ed Lingenfelder end in a massive shunt for DeRosier who suffered serious injuries but would recover.
  • Original plans for a two-day event were canceled after the DeRosier accident and FAM's general dissatisfaction with the quality of the track's running surface.
  • Erwin George Baker won the 10-mile amateur event which proved to be the final race of the meet. Baker would later earn the nickname "Cannon Ball" for his cross country exploits. He would also go on to compete in the 1922 Indianapolis 500.
  • Amateur Fred Huyck of Chicago had the best of it. The Indian rider won thee races. One race was for a mile, two others were five miles each.

If you can imagine sitting in the stands all day to watch seven short sprint races you can guess how dull this meet may have been. One event was so short (one mile) that the competitors did not even lap the track.
Unfortunately, the big excitement probably resulted from tragedy when DeRosier was injured. This race was not in the original program but so many riders refused to participate the Speedway scrambled to create some excitement by matching what was probably the two most prominent competitors on the grounds.
Announced with much fanfare by Speedway Director of Contests Ernie Moross DeRosier appeared in red tights and draped in an American flag - despite the fact he was born in Canada. Reportedly the DeRosier urged Lingenfelder to slow up a bit to make it a close race, apparently concerned that the course was too dangerous. Lingenfelder questioned DeRosier's bravery and the two issued challenges until just before the accident.
When his front tire exploded DeRosier was pitched onto the sharp crushed stones that made up the track surface, inflicting serious cuts and contusions. The other accident of note, to amateur J.F. Torney, occurred when he too burst a tire in the amateur 10-miler. In the end, FAM President Earle Ovington called an end to the brutal affair saying he wanted to protect the lives of the riders.

star81509.pdf14.25 MB
MotoRaces091509.pdf3.52 MB