DePalma Versus Robertson

This article was originally published in the February 20, 1910 Indianapolis Star. It reports on negotiations underway to pit Ralph DePalma in newly repaired Fiat Cyclone against George Robertson in his Simplex track racer. The Fiat Cyclone had been repaired following his serious accident at Danbury, Connecticut where he had broken his hip forcing an extended convalesence. He was just returning to race driving. While the event was being planned for a $5,000 prize no venue had as yet been selected - but the agreement was that it would be on an oval track.
At this time DePalma held most of the track speed records. Check out a few:

  • Mile record, 50.8 seconds, St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Ten mile record, eight minutes, 49.6 seconds, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
  • Twenty-Five miles, 23 minutes, 35.0 seconds.

Robertson was the acknowledged king of American road and endurance racing, these claims based on his success at events like the 1908 Vanderbilt Cup, the Fairmount Park road race and 24-hour track events such as at Brighton Beach.
Robertson's Simplex was a new machine and boasted an engine larger than the Fiat Cyclone that delivered 110 horsepower. An earlier match between Robertson and DePalma had been planned in New Orleans at a Mardi Gras race meet but was canceled when Robertson's car broke a crankshaft.
The DePalma-Robertson match race was being organized and promoted by Homer C. George who had managed the Mardi Gras meet. George offered a $5,000 purse for three to five heats. Each driver was to receive $1,000 for appearing with $3,000 going to the winner. The article reports that both drivers had signed an agreement based on those terms. The legendary starter and flagman Fred J. Wagner was hired to start the match. George planned to incorporate the feature into an established two-day race event and bill it as an international championship with DePalma representing Italy with Robertson for America.

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