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.

The two attachments below offer three articles originally published August 20, 1910, summarizing the first day of auto racing the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

This article (published August 26, 1909) details the Jackson Company's claims against the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The company sued for rights to the Wheeler-Schebler Trophy.

This collecgtion contains several newspaper ads appearing in the Indianapolis Star during the summer of 1909. Many of these ads trumpet the records set by automobile manufacturers such as Marmon, National and Jackson during the August 1909 race meet at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Some of these ads provide quick references for the race results. The Jackson ad is particularly interesting in that it promotes its victory in the first race for the Wheeler-Schebler Trophy, the seven-foot sterling silver cup designed by Tiffany’s.

A harbinger of tragedy, perhaps, but a Stoddard-Dayton mechanic by the name of Cliff Literall was killed on Capitol Avenue in downtown Indianapolis when he fell off the gas tank of a race car and spilled onto the street to be crushed by a company truck following closely behind.

This is an amazing article for its perspective and vision.

I came across a pair of interesting articles from the August 20, 1909 edition of the Indianapolis Sun recently and was struck by how unique they were in terms of perspective. The articles report on events during the first auto races (August 19 - 21) at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The article in attachment IMSprizes062609 was first published in the June 26, 1909 Indianapolis Star and does a great job promoting the new Indianapolis Motor Speedway which was under construction at the time. It esepcially focused on the upcoming auto races and made the following points:

Published June 23, 1909 this Indianapolis Star article discusses plans for the first auto race meet at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway which was still under construction at the time.

This article was published in the Indianapolis Star on July 25, 1909, and discusses a charming time now lost forever. It is decidedly light on news but is a wonderful example of how the newspaper supported the city's new Indianapolis Motor Speedway as it approached its initial automobile competition events in August.

This article was published in the July 28, 1909 Indianapolis Star and reports that entries for the upcoming first auto race meet at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway were being filed at a rapid pace. At this point there were 29 cars entered from seven different manufacturers with Stoddard-Dayton of Dayton, Ohio, leading the way.