Brickyard Practice - May 1910

The attached article orginally appeared in the May 24, 1910 Indianapolis Star as part of the build-up to the May 1910 race meet at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This article previewed the May 1910 "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.
This wonderfully written article by C.E. Shuart summarizes the highlights from the first day of practice (May 23) for the upcoming races set to start May 27. He launches into it with some savory prose, so let's hear from him for just a moment:
"Seventy-five and eighty miles and hour is just a jaunt out at the big Motor Speedway course these days, and the resonant hum of a motor buzzing off that kind of mileage is a continuous performance that sounds like music to the motoring fan. Pilots about whom the wires have carried stories of wild dashes into seemingly the very jaws of death stand around and joke with each other about hitting the fence at Brighton Beach or doing an aerial contortion act with a big motor mill at Atlanta or New Orleans, then calmly slip into the seat of a snorting, heaving monster of steel and clip off twenty miles in two-thirds the number of minutes. They don't mind it - it's their business."
Bob Burman is called out as the only Buick driver to take to the track, shaking down at least a couple of what was reported to be a ten-car team. One car specifically mentioned is smaller entry called "the little White Model 10" for the 161 to 230 cubic inch class. The "W" in "White" is upper case and I believe a reference to the nickname, "White Flash" the public had given it. Schuart describes the car hopping like a "jack rabbit" at speed but who can know how much of that is sensationalism.
The Chevrolet brothers, Louis and Arthur were reportedly at the track and hard at work but did not drive. They were expected to get behind the wheel the day the article was published.
The Marion team with driver Gil Andersen and Charles Stutz gave their machines workouts. The cars were described as "blue-rimmed" which is always good to note. Harry Stutz is mentioned as team manager.
National's star drivers, "The Indigo Twins," Johnny Aitken and Tom Kincaid were reported as absent, their racers still being prepared at the local factory. Charlie Merz was the third driver on the team and his car, called a "blue wagon," was expected to show the day of the report. The new National "70" model was much anticipated. Amateur driver Art Greiner also had his National private entry at the factory to enlist the aid of the factory experts for prep work. 
One of the factors that literally dampened the practice action was that it rained much of the day. This did not stop drivers from taking to the track but apparently discouraged some. The article claims the wet track did not produce slippery conditions which is hard to believe.
Anticipation for the day ahead was fueled by the pending arrival of the new driving sensation Caleb Bragg who gain fame with his match race over the much-revered Barney Oldfield. Bragg is described as a "Cincinnati millionaire." 
The newly brick-paved course, complete with concrete retaining walls and other safety features was reportedly receiving high marks from drivers. Here's a relevant excerpt from the article:
"They (the drivers) agree that no other track they have raced upon equals the Indianapolis oval."
Al Poole, identified as the Simplex driver who won the Brighton Beach race (24 hour) apparently approached Speedway management with an entry request. Meanwhile Oldfield, who was reported earlier as negotiating for larger purses for time trial competition, had still not confirmed his entries. Schuart takes the opportunity to needle him:
"...Oldfield is fussing around with the stylus and papyrus. He may flirt a little ink on an entry blank before the last closing. Some of the pilots already here believe 'Fence Breaking Barney' may feel a little backward on account of the competition he would face. Barney's manager, William (Bill) Pickens, has missed a great chance to give the 'Daredevil' a little astounding good publicity."
It's obvious everyone wanted to see Oldfield and nuances like putting the word, "Daredevil" in quotes is clear evidence Schuart and Speedway officials were nudging him along. 
Meanwhile Speedway management was putting the finishing touches on their magnificent facility. Two of the much-reported "monster scoreboards" were still receiving attention. One was atop the Wheeler-Schebler garage in front of the main grandstand and the other at the top of "contestants' garage No. 1." The second one was also near the starting line. Construction was not yet finished on the giant ramps for the hazard race that was an important part of the program.
Legendary Starter Fred Wagner planned to arrive at the Speedway on Thursday (two days hence) while AAA Contest Board Tech Chairman David Beecroft had already come and gone back to Chicago, having completed his inspection of the race cars.
Finally, check out this interesting point - the Speedway was selling tickets at these outlets: Weber's drug store in the Claypool Hotel building, Huder's drug store at Pennsylvania and Washington Streets as well as at the Speedway's main office which was downtown at Vermont Street and Capitol Avenue.

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