Mark Dill Articles Part 2

This category contains feature stories on auto racing history that have been published in Indianapolis Motor Speedway Programs and historical publications. Most of the articles pertain to per-WWI auto racing, but others cover more recent history. Among the subjects covered are: Barney Oldfield, the 1914 Cactus Derby; Jim Clark racing in NASCAR; Jim Hurtubise racing in NASCAR; an interview with John Surtees; the 1909 Motorcycle meet at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway; the first French Grand Prix; the Vanderbilt Cup; the 1937 Indianapolis 500; Wilbur Shaw; Cannon Ball Baker; Holmon and Moody; Indianapolis 500 relief drivers; Ralph De Palma; Smokey Yunick; the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Harvest Classic; Rudolf Carraciola; Dan Gurney and Johnny Aitken. The articles are a mix of biographical pieces and stories of milestone events in auto racing history.

This is the story of not just the first French Grand Prix, but the first auto racing Grand Prix. In a controversial move, the French pulled back from the previously recognized greatest road race in the world, the James Gordon Bennett Cup. They resented the rules of the Bennett Cup that only allowed three representatives from each car producing nation to participate.

This article originally appeared in the Missouri Historical Society's quarterly magazine for summer 2004. It marked the 100th anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase Trophy, the first major auto race in Missouri. Barney Oldfield was the marquee name at the state fairgrounds track that day, the recognized super-star of early track racing.

"No Record, No Money," was the mantra of rugged Erwin George "Cannon Ball" Baker, best known for traversing the country coast-to-coast on the roadless, craggy terrain of early 20th century America. After one record-setting grind in 1915, newspapers nicknamed him "Cannonball" after New York's Cannonball Express Locomotive. It was just one of his 143 endurance record attempts with motorcycles, cars and trucks.

This article, which originally appeared in the 2007 Allstate 400 program, catches up with the legendary speed shop of Holman and Moody. Its founders, John Holman and Ralph Moody, were a force to be reckoned with in the 1960's working with such marquee names as Fred Lorenzen, Curtis Turner, David Pearson, Johnny Beauchamp, Fireball Roberts, Dan Gurney, Mario Andretti and even Formula One all-time great, Jimmy Clark. Currently headed up by John's son Lee Holman, the business focuses on restoring 1960's vintage Fords for clubs and vintage car races.

This is the story of the unsung heroes of the Indianapolis 500; men who drove relief for the winning car. Setting aside co-winners Mauri Rose (1941) and Joe Boyer (1924), four men contributed to Indy 500 victory in relative anonymity. Most interesting of these was perhaps Howdy Wilcox, who won the race for himself in 1919.

This article recounts the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's disastrous motorcycle race meet of 1909. This was the Speedway's first motorized competition - a balloon race having been conducted two months prior. Newly constructed, the crushed stone and tar track was raw. Sharp stones tore at tires, and ruts worn in the track twisted handlebars in the riders' hands.

The versatile Jimmy Clark could drive anything - and loved to test his mettle with the best of them. Like A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Dan Gurney, Juan Pablo Montoya and Lloyd Ruby, Clark loved to try his hand at any form of racing. Not only that but he was good, winning in a variety of cars: Formula One, sports cars and IndyCars. A footnote in his career was his foray into the world of NASCAR at Rockingham, North Carolina in 1967. Driving for John Holmon and Ralph Moody, Clark tested his skills in the big stock cars and found the adventure intriguing, albeit a struggle.

The preeminence of NASCAR on today's American motorsports landscape obscures one clear fact: numerous IndyCar drivers have won in the top ranks of NASCAR, but not one single NASCAR racer has won any race on the IndyCar circuit. The list of these great names consists of: A.J.

It was my honor to interview the great John Surtees for the attached article. The only man to reign as the world champion of both motorcycles and Formula One, Surtees' relationship to his father was extremely positive and inspiring. Absolutely dominant in motorcycles during the 1950's, he burst onto the Formula One scene to win the 1964 World Championship for Ferrari. A versatile driver, he won in Le Mans sports cars and won the 1966 United States Road Racing Championship.

Barney Oldfield and Ralph DePalma were more than rivals - they had a genuine dislike for one another. Some say it started when in 1908 young DePalma, an unknown upstart racer, beat Barney Oldfield in a best of three match race on a horse track.