First Auto Races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway - August 1909

This folder has numerous articles on the inaugural auto races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. These races occurred only days after the Speedway hosted the Federation of American Motorcycles (FAM) race meet. The auto races were a blend of success and tragedy. Most of the major American drivers entered – Barney Oldfield, Ray Harroun, Bob Burman, Tom Kincaid, Lewis Strang, Louis Chevrolet, Jap Clemens, Charlie Merz, Eddie Hearne, Ralph De Palma and Tobin DeHymel among them. With the exception of a Fiat and a Benz, the entries were American, including: Marmon, Marion, Stearns, National, Jackson, Stoddard-Dayton, Buick and Apperson. Tragedy came in the loss of several lives, including Willfred Bourque, who became the first driver to die in a racing accident at the Speedway.

This article appeared in the August 18, 1909, Indianapolis Star. The piece was written by journalist Betty Blythe, (actual name - Marie Chomel) who became the first woman to complete a lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when she rode with notorious scorcher "Wild" Bob Burman in his Buick.

This package contains an August 19, 1909 front page Indianapolis Star article describing the inflow of companies and people to Indianapolis for the first big race meet at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The article also provides an update on practice and heralds fast time set by crowd favorite Barney Oldfield.

Two attachments to this entry are virtual duplicates of the same articles that appeared in the August 20, 1909, Indianapolis Star. The articles cover the first day of auto racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A third attachment, IMSNews081909, contains an article from the Indianapolis News published on August 19.

This is 20 PDF pages chock-full of information about the first two days of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's first race meet. Romance was front and center as G&J Trophy winner Lewis Strang was pictured kissing his beautiful actress wife Jeanne L.

This package is a priceless collection of details about the final day of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's first auto racing meet. Lots of sensational detail describes the tragic death of three people: a riding mechanic and two spectators during the 300-mile Wheeler-Schebler Trophy Race.

This is a small article printed August 25, 1910, reporting State Coroner Blackwell determined through testimonial interviews that the cause of the accident of Charlie Merz' National that resulted in three fatalities was a exploded tire.

In this August 26, 1909 article the Jackson Automobile Company is reported to be sueing the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for rights to the Wheeler-Schebler Trophy.

Published August 26, 1910 this file has a headshot of Lieutenant Governor Frank J. Hall with cutline. Hall sought a special session of the state legislature to issue a ban against auto racing. You can find this image as a jpeg elsewhere on First Super Speedway.

This package of articles was originally published on August 29, 1909. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the manufacturers were still reeling from the devastating results of the Speedway's first auto race meet.

These attachments contain articles from the Indianapolis Star in August and September 1909. They illustrate the outstanding level of support for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway among the city's civic and business leaders. The need for these people to pronounce their backing was triggered by the track's tragic first auto racing event.