Gladiators & Adoring Boys

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.
Written in delightfully sensational prose that glorifies the awesome "gladiators" of the era - the "daredevil" race drivers. Check out this excerpt:
"With muscles drawn and tense; clutching the wheel that the smallest variation means hurling them into eternity, guiding these snorting monsters through the long hours of a race, careening, lurching and swaying from side to side of the course, watching contestants, scoreboards that whirl by in mad jumbled confusion, signals, and signs that advise them of their position in the contest. Risking all and willing to risk more if necessary, to carry glory to the name of the car that they represent. Watch these stern-faced drivers, covered with dust from the course, as even a dustless course will sear their faces, causing the great deep lines to show, with a determined/deathlike stare."
Well, the article goes on like this - and I find it delightful. Check it out. It also describes how small boys recognized and idolized these men. Barney Oldfield, Johnny Aitken, and Herb Lytle all are noted as not only visible in the city but driving their race cars with their popping, throaty exhaust on the city streets.
This is the news of the article, or at least good information for historians trying to imagine and reconstruct the setting. Despite the fact that the first auto race meet was still more than three weeks away the drivers such as those noted above were on the scene and getting ready for what everyone knew would be a seminal moment in the sport.
The real point of the article was somewhat prophetic. The Speedway was influencing the local population, calling them "speed mad." Indeed, the lede of the article suggests, "The Speedway is developing a class of fans that do not exist any other place on the American continent."
One interesting point is that the Indianapolis Star reprinted this article a few weeks later on Sunday, August 15, 1909, special section previewing the upcoming auto races. That is attachment IMSmania091509.

IMS072509.pdf3.37 MB
IMSmania091509.pdf533.34 KB