DePalma on Road vs. Track Racing

This article is yet another item from a special Sunday edition of the Indianapolis Star that touted the excitement of the upcoming first automobile races at the new Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The date was August 15, 1909.
The article is an interesting comparison with the challenge of oval track racing and road racing today. Even in these formative years it was apparent there were fundamental differences - including cultural. No one was more qualified to address the matter than one of auto racing's all-time greats, Ralph DePalma, who was adept at both. Interestingly, though, he makes it clear he preferred ovals.
In addition to DePalma's views on road racing vs. track racing the article provides some biographical information. Keep in mind that this was a very early point in DePalma's career. Among the highlights:

Check out this DePalma quote:
"Road courses have their turns, as a rule, in sharp angles and the method of taking them is entirely different from turning on a track. In a road contest, as one approaches a curve, it is necessary to slow down and usually throw out the clutch in rounding it., but this would not do on a saucer. In road buzzing a driver expects to lose time on the turns and makes his speed in straightaway stretches, but on a circular course, it is necessary to keep going at high speed at all times. With the latter style, there is not the manipulation of change-speed levers necessitated that there is in a contest on a long course, where hills and grades are encountered. In the latter case brakes are continually used to big advantage, while track whirling does not call for it to a very large extent."
Just as with today tire management was a consideration. Here are DePalma's thoughts.
"A driver in track contests at distances of ten miles or more has to take the item of tires into consideration. With constant turning, centrifugal force puts a great strain on tubes. Tires in a road race will wear right down through friction, but they will not be subjected to the continuous strain that tends to wrench them from their rims, which is the case when driving fast upon an oval. The avoidance of skidding is another element that enters into the game. There is a constant tendency to skid on a track, especially one that is not well banked, or one that is improperly oiled."
DePalma also discussed the wear and tear on the running surface and how the patterns are different depending on the type of venue. He also notes that drivers feared the rain and slippery, muddy conditions it created.

TrackvsRoad091509.pdf1.38 MB