Indianapolis Motorcycle Races - 1909

This is a wonderful collection of Indianapolis News, Indianapolis Sun and Indianapolis Star newspaper articles covering the August 14, 1909 Federation of American Motorcyclists (FAM) national championship race meet at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This was the first motorized competition at the Speedway and delivered mixed results at best. The track was simply not ready, its rough macadam and tar surface broke up during the events. Further, the nature of the surface and length of the giant track was such that the riders could attain speeds in excess of 70 miles per hour but the lightweight bikes bounced dangerously over the loose stones. Many observers called a fiasco as numerous planned events were canceled when riders refused to take any more risks. Champion rider Jake DeRosier suffered serious injuries in a spectacular fall in a match race conceived on the fly. Also see my story of this event from the 2008 Moto GP Program.

Note: I will update this section with a synopsis of each article as time permits.

This is the best single article (two different copies of the same article in the attachments) I have yet to find on Jake DeRosier. I honestly believe you can't find a better backgrounder written during his lifetime on this brave pioneering champion of the motorized two-wheelers than what you will find here.

These two items were originally published in the August 2, 1909 Indianapolis News. One is a caption to an image of N.S.U. rider Fred Voelker, who was injured at a race on the one-mile dirt track at Brighton Beach, New Jersey. This track was a popular setting for early motor races. The other image is of Merkel rider Stanley Kellogg, who won at Brighton.

This brief article was originally published in the August 3, 1909 edition of the Indianapolis News. This report anticipates the arrival of a cadre of California riders including Charles Balke, Ray Seymour, Paul Derkum and Ed Lingenfelder.

This brief article originally appeared in the August 5, 1909, Indianapolis News. It reports on how the Merkel team was the first factory entrant to arrive in Indianapolis for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's first motorized competition. The team was called, "The Flying Merkels," and were headquartered in Pottstown, Pennsylvania.

You'll find here two attachments of the same article, one in better shape. The article was originally published in the August 6, 1909, Indianapolis News. This item has two components, one is an article with amateur rider Stanley Kellogg predicting that records would fall after testing at the new Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

These articles were originally published in the August 7, 1909 Indianapolis News. This package provides a couple of meaty articles for researchers. The first item includes head shots of the cheif officers of the Indiana Motorcycle Club which was instrumental to organizing the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's first motorized competition August 14.

These two attachments contain articles reporting on the controversy concerning the opening of saloons or bars originally appeared in the Indianapolis News during August 1909. The more amusing one is a very brief item in attachment news80909  about the cancellation of plans for a "saloon" on the grounds of the newly constructed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

These articles were originally published in the August 10, 1909 Indianapolis News. The first article reports on the start of the Cleveland to Indianapolis motorcycle run, which involved 99 entries. An early report describes a pair of accidents that occurred. The next item is a nice chart that stacks up the speed records of motorcycles and automobiles, with the bikes comparing very favorably.

These items were originally published in the August 11, 1909, Indianapolis News. This package contains three items: two images and a brief article. The first image is of three members of the Reading-Standard team who rode into Indianapolis from Cleveland among 93 other riders in the annual endurance run between the two cities.

This article was originally published in the August 12, 1909 Indianapolis News. It is absolutely rich with history from the first motorized competition at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway - the 1909 motorcycle races. If you love the history of the Speedway, this is a must to digest.