The Indiana Trophy

After a build-up of months the Indiana Trophy - the support race to the Cobe Trophy - was staged June 18, 1909. At long last Indiana and the mid-west United States had a major auto race. Conducted over a 23.6-mile public roads course connecting Crown Point, Indiana and Lowell, Indiana while skirting a community known as Cedar Lake the contest was sanctioned by the American Automobile Association (AAA) and supported by the Manufacturer's Contest Association. The event was for stock cars with minor modifications specific to positioning of the steering wheels, gearing and the wheels. A strong report of the race was published in the Indianapolis Star on June 19, 1909 (see attachment Indiana-Trophy061909).
The article colorfully describes the dusty finish and the battle to the end between winner Chalmers-Detroit driver Joe Matson and second place George Robertson in a Locomobile. The Harry Stutz-designed, Indianapolis-built Marion of Adolph Monson finished third. Winner Matson covered the 232.74-mile distance in 4 hours, 31 minutes and 21 seconds. His margin of victory was seven minutes, 42 seconds. All of that and more is provided in a box at the beginning of the article, including a summary of Matson's speeds on each of the 10 laps as well as his position in the race on any given lap.
The article reports that Matson "upset the dope bucket," which, in the terms of the day, meant he was the dark horse nobody bet on. The three Buicks of the "super team" of day - Bob Burman, Lewis Strang and Louis Chevrolet had been heavily favored but one by one had fallen to the sidelines with mechanical maladies. Strang, it is reported, was the apparent crowd favorite as the cheers of the lookerson resonated loudest when starter Fred Wagner sent him into action. As with all the road races of the day, each car was sent off into the fray one after an another with intervals of a minute or more. The time was noted so that winners were frequently not the first to arrive at the checkered flag but the driver who did so in the least time.
The big disappointment of the day was an estimated spectator turnout of 75,000 - far below the anticipated 300,000. Nonetheless the race began an hour late because the state militia guards required more time to get into their positions than the scheduled eight o'clock start allowed.
Attachment IndianaTrophy061909 offers an Indianapolis Star article presented as a summary of the race, lap-by-lap. The problem is that it summarizes who came across the ine first and in what order behind him, not the actual running order of the race. It also fails to provide the elapsed time of each competitor so if you are limited to this information it is a hopeless cause to determine the actual running order. However it does underscore the character of these early road races when cars were launched into battle one at a time in one minute intervals (which this article confirms).
The attachment also contains an image of Marion driver Adolph Monson who finished third and subsequently created a buzz in Indianapolis where the car was designed and built. It is also possible that given the bias of the Indianapolis Star the summary was presented in the manner it was because it was a way of showing the Marion car leading laps 6 through 10 because it was the first car to finish the race. Attachment IndTrophySummary061909 contains a sidebar that also appeared in the Star on the same day as the other two articles. Presented as "Facts About First Race at Crown Point" it focuses on the Marion entry and neglects to mention anything about race winner Matson or his Chalmers-Detroit.
Attachment CobeSpectators061909 contains an Indianapolis Star article that reports not on the race but the injuries to spectators or people within the vicinity that were hurt in accidents involving motor vehicles of any type.  An example is T.G. Free, age 40, who was reportly ran over by a motorcycle in downtown Crown Point. It is interesting to note that none of the accidents had anything to do with the actual race competitors striking spectators. Most of what is mentioned seems to be the result of the reckless behavior of people that may have been inspired by the concept of the professional drivers attaining high speed. For example two men, Walter Ford and William Gillam, were reportedly driving their touring cars and hitting the then-phenomenal speed of 70 MPH when the driver lost control and crashed into a ditch. Fortunately for the two men they escaped severe injuries. It is also interesting to note that one of the makeshift hospitals reportedly was staffed with a single nurse, Bessie Gibson, and two doctors. The ages of the some of the injuried are listed and doing the math I like to remind myself of their birth years. In the case of Free that would 1869.
The Indianapolis News also provided great coverage of the Indiana Trophy and as an evening paper produced same day reports with an article (attachment Cobe1News061809) on June 18, 1909. I should start by saying that the reproduction of this article is only fair and while legible it does require patience to plow through blurry type.
At the beginning of the article there are two information boxes containing the entries for both the Indiana Trophy and the Cobe Trophy. The cars are listed in order of starting position and while that is useful it would also have been interesting to see the Indiana Trophy results spelled out. These are not ignored entirely as lap-by-lap reports are the heart of the article with at least the leaders listed. The Indiana Trophy starting order includes with asterisk the two cars that were no-shows: the Ford and the Renault. To continue the confusion over which Stutz - Harry or Charles - was at the wheel, this information lists "H. Stutz" as one of the Marion drivers.
Winner Joe Matson is described as "lithe, sinewy and enduring," physical qualities that seem an advantage in tackling a 232 mile high-speed (averaged 51 MPH) battle over rough terrain in four hours and 21 minutes. His single stop for gas and oil distinguished him from a field who frequently met with nagging problems you would expect over a pounding, thrashing ride. Indeed, many cars fell by the wayside including all three of the highly respected Buicks of Louis Chevrolet, Lewis Strang and Bob Burman. By halfway of the 10 lap race only nine of the 16 starters were still on the same lap of the 23.6 mile course.
The always relentless Buick driver Bob Burman led the first two laps before encountering valve trouble. He was eventually disqualified for using a part off his stranded teammate Strang's car. Matson and his Chalmers-Detroit teammates Billy Knipper and Al Poole then established themselves as the team to beat. On lap four they were one-two-three with Knipper leading but with only a two second advantage over Matson. Knipper's time at the front came to an end the very next lap when his car "suffered an injury" near Cedar Lake. This is believed to be a cracked cylinder. Although it is unclear why, but Poole dropped back to fourth as Monson in the Marion surged to second with Robertson in the Locomobile in third. The top three positions remained unchanged on lap six but Poole continued his slide back to eighth falling behind Jim Florida (Locomobile), Wiseman (Stoddard-Dayton) and Phillip Wells (Moon).
On lap eight the second Marion - this time reported to be driven by Charles Stutz - blew a gasket and ran into a ditch. The driver was uninjured aside from a few scratches and bruises. Matson looked like a sure winner as only seven starters remained. Monson and Robertson contended for second place while Wiseman and Florida battled for fourth. Monson entered the final circuit in second but failed to hold off the hard charging Robertson who ended up with a three minute advantage over the Marion driver. The article provides the essential statistical information about the race and closes with some fine prose about the single file start, the awakenng of the surrounding community at dawn and the progression of farmers and their families - largely using horse drawn wagons and buggies - into the area. The deployment of the National Guard troops is also noted. There is lots of good color and context here.

Indiana-Trophy061909.pdf2.27 MB
IndianaTrophy061909.pdf716.58 KB
IndTrophySummary061909.pdf145.22 KB
CobeSpectators061909.pdf215.62 KB
Cobe1News061809.pdf3.1 MB