IATA & French Lick 1909 + Strang Retires

The Indianapolis Automobile Trade Association (IATA), after two years of staging successful Indianapolis Auto Shows and the two "sealed bonnet runs" decided another Glidden Tour-inspired endurance run to French Lick would be in order. The first French Lick tour was run in 1908.
In an Indianapolis Star article published March 29, 1909 (attachment Enduro032909) the IATA announced that committees within the local automobile industry were forming to stage another journey to French Lick. Auto company leaders met at the Denison Hotel and the consensus was that the field of entries would be considerably larger in 1909. The tentative date for the run was May 20.
Other news in this article was that the National Motor Vehicle Company did not plan to enter the Glidden Tour. Company Officer George Dickson said, "It (the Glidden) has degenerated so that there are so many perfect scores that is is hard to get to the real merits of the runs. It ceases to be a great interest and is fast becoming a professional game. The public is often led astray by the reports of the merits of these cars."
Attachment StrangNews092309 contains an Indianapolis News article published September 23, 1909, that reports on the results of the 1909 French Lick run. The focus of the article is the fortunes of the Premier Motor Manufacturing Company. Short on details, we learn that the Premier group had a "successful and enjoyable" run. The point was to demonstrate the good touring qualities of Premier's 1910 models. Enthusiastic participants reported great appreciation of the "picturesque scenery" of southern Indiana. Please understand that the repeated insertion of French Link into conversations about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was the product of Democratic political powerhouse Tom Taggart's ownership of the French Lick resort. There's an often-told story the Carl Fisher and the other Speedway founders seriously considered locating their planned Speedway near Taggart's resort. For various reasons, none seriously documented, that option was discarded.
The day the story was published the Premier touring group planned a departure from the glorious downtown Denison Hotel to travel to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Dinner was planned for a venue referred to as, "The Country Club," followed by theater entertainment at "The Grand."
You will also find an interesting sidebar in this attachment. The topic of that article is that Lewis Strang announced his retirement. His decision may have been the result of friction in his marriage to Kentucky stage actor Jeanne Spaulding. The two had a brief, passionate marriage troubled by jealous concerns both had about the other's career. Strang later returned to racing and competed in the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911 after his marriage failed. He lost his life just weeks later in a freak accident during an endurance trial in Wisconsin when the car he was driving at a slow speed slipped into a muddy ditch and overturned on him.
As a follow on to the September 23, 1909, Indianapolis News article, the one we find in attachment PickensStrangNews100809 is curious. Also published in the Indianapolis News, but a couple of weeks later on October 8, 1909, is an article announcing that Strang, along with team manager Will Pickens, had left the Buick race team. There is no reference to the earlier announcement of Strang's retirement.
Pickens and Strang were headed in different directions, but both were becoming involved with European concerns. Pickens joined the Benz Import Company and Strang was linked to the Isotta Import Company. Isotta was an Italian company. Because the two resignations came on the same day rumors started that Buick was leaving racing, but that didn't happen for another year.
Apparently, Strang's departure was amicable. William Crapo Durant (the chief executive for General Motors, the holding company that contained Buick, which he owned) presented Strang with the car he drove to victory in the G&J Trophy, the 100-mile feature race on the second day of auto racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in August. He also presented him with a bonus check of $10,000 for his contributions to the success of the team with teammate Louis Chevrolet's victory in the June Cobe Trophy race.
Meanwhile, Pickens was headed to Germany to observe the construction of cars at the Benz factory. In a very interesting note, apparently, Pickens was representing Barney Oldfield's interest in acquiring the Blitzen Benz he would later take to Daytona to establish a new world land speed record of 131.7 mph. This corroborates another story found elsewhere on First Super Speedway but moves the acquisition date of the car forward several months.
Attachment CobeNews011710 contains an extremely brief item sharing that Buick paid Louis Chevrolet and Bob Burman $30,000 bonuses in recognition of the team's tremendous success during the year. This is of interest given the payout to their teammate Lewis Strang mentioned above.

Enduro032909.pdf720.28 KB
StrangNews092309.pdf1.13 MB
PickensStrangNews100809.pdf521.36 KB
CobeNews011710.pdf284.16 KB