Louis Wagner Wins Vanderbilt Cup!

The article in the first attachment below (VCRNews100606) was published in the October 6, 1906 Indianapolis News and describes that year's Vanderbilt Cup international auto race won by Louis Wagner of France. The article starts with a proclamtion of speed as Wagner averaged over 60 mph by covering the 297.1 miles in 290 minutes and 30.66 seconds. This is especially impressive when you consider that it was only four years earlier that Barney Oldfield became the first driver to cover a one-mile, closed circuit track in under 60 mph. Wagner's French Darracq was reported to have a 110 HP engine.
Vincenzo Lancia in a Fiat finished second and Arthur Duray (his name appears as "Antoine") is noted as third in the De Dietrich. The European cars dominated as Albert Clement (Clement-Bayard) and Camille Jenatzy (Mercedes) rounded out the top five. These were the only cars to complete the distance.
A lap back were Felice Nazzaro (Fiat), Alessandero Cagno (Itala), and Hubert Le Blon with the first American car in the final results, a Thomas. In the overarching storyline of the contest, the crowds were out of control, especially in the final lap. They reportedly swamped the course, only clearing a path as the speeding racers approached.
There were 17 cars that started the race with five each from the United States, France and Italy while three German machines participated. The big moment for the Americans was when Locomobile driver Joe Tracy cut the fastest lap of the race at 26 minutes, 21 seconds. Tracy was a lap down at the finish after enduring several tire failures. I believe he was on Diamond tires, an American brand.
The big threat to Wagner's victory came in the closing stages of the race when he blew a tire. A seven minute-plus lead dwindled to about three minutes but he made the change and returned to the contest. Lancia, Duray and Clement experienced no such mishap. 
What is described as a "drizzle" of rain dampened the finish after a cloudy day that occasionally let the sun peek through. Regardless of the weather the estimated spectator attendance was 200,000. Keep in mind 90 percent of these did not purchase tickets but simply stood at the side of the road.
The first car out was the Fiat of Dr. Aldo Weilschott. His car broke a steering linkage and bounced over an embankment. His riding mechanic, a man named "Colombo," was reportedly injured. Frank Lawwell in the Frayer-Miller was another early out.
The big news of the day was the death to one spectator and injuries to others. William K. Vanderbilt, Jr.'s cousin, Elliott Sheppard ran over a spectator while taking the turn at Krug's Corner. The article reports that he retired a lap later with a broken crankshaft. Fourteen cars were running when Wagner won the race. All had completed at least seven of the ten laps. A crowd stormed around the winner and a band played the French national anthem, "Marselliaise." 
Joe Tracy also struck a spectator. In this case it was a man named Herbert Baldwin of Norwalk, Connecticut. The man reportedly suffered a broken leg and both ankles were fractured. 
Dr. Weilschott had another spectator incident that was almost comical. He reportedly realized he was unable to stop the car at Manhasset Hill and started calling out to spectators there to warn them. Not surprisingly, this was completely ineffective. He plunged off the road and down an embankment to crash through a fence behind which was a cluster of spectators. His Fiat struck a boy named John Brooks of Port Washington who was reportedly thrown some 20 feet. Other people were knocked aside.
The car plummeted into a ditch to toss out its driver and mechanic. Both men were injured, but were revived. The article speculated that the boy, Brooks, might not survive his injuries. In the end he did, and I have seen that information in other sources published in subsequent days.
The article provides the starting order of the 17 entries. Keep in mind that the race was scheduled to start at 6 AM. Instead, the foggy weather delayed the start 15 minutes. Le Blon was first away and the cars carried the numbers of their starting order. The other competitors were released one after another at one minute intervals. The driver who started second is unnamed. Jenatzy started third and the others mentioned followed: Lancia, Lawwell, Shepard, Willam Luttgen (Mercedes) and Nazzaro.
Joe Tracy in the American Locomobile received "wild cheers" according to the report. Foxhall Keene had been entered but was withdrawn. Next up was Cagno with John Haynes in the Kokomo, Indiana car carrying the same name - Haynes - following. Honestly, I don't know who John Haynes was as Elwood Haynes was the company founder.
Weilschott was the next starter with J. Walter Christie in his Christie starting after him. Arthur Duray and Maurice Fabry (Itala) were the final two starters.
The article reports that the first lap took its toll. Le Blon had to stop after just five miles to tend to his car. Tracy had his first bout of tire trouble and Weilschott had his trouble. Jenatzy was first to complete the lap, but Wagner was officially in the lead as he started several minutes later and had the fastest lap. On the second lap Lawwell lost 15 minutes changing tires. Tracy had to stop again to change tires as well.
The article skips to a point described as "within sixty miles of completion." Wagner reportedly held the lead over Lancia and Jenatzy. This would put the race at the eighth lap. Interestingly, the next paragraph backs up to lap six when Shepard struck the spectator who is not named. I know from other sources his name was Curt Gruner and he was from Passaic, New Jersey. The article suggests that his injuries were so bad that his legs had to be amputated. I don't believe that to be true.
The article's next paragraph discusses the position of several of the cars on the fourth lap. Haynes, because of the Indiana angle, is followed and was reported fifth at this point in the contest. Wagner was reported to be in the lead "by a wide margin" on lap six. Christie ran seventh, which put him first among the American contingent.
In all, the article in the first attachment jumps around and comes off as pretty fragmented. Still, there is good information for researchers.
A second article in the second attachment below (VCRNews100806) is a follow-up to the race report story. This second article was also published in the Indianapolis News, two days later on October 8. It provides an update to the spectator accident where this time the man's name, Curt Gruner, is shared.
The article centers on a report prepared by Long Island Coroner Cornelius Remsen who interviewed eyewitnesses to the accident. Despite the report in the previous article you find here, Gruner was killed instantly and obviously did not have his legs medically amputated. Remsen absolved Gruner of any blame for Gruner's death. Gruner is largely blamed for ignoring warnings about entering the course during competition.
William K. Vanderbilt, Jr. and the American Automobile Association (AAA) reportedly agreed to care for Gruner's wife and children. What that really meant is lost to the ages. Remsen's report also launched a discussion of how to manage future Vanderbilt Cup races and especially under what conditions they would be conducted. The need for improved policing of the course was cited as a condition for any future races.
The article also provides interesting insight that manufacturers were interested in the construction of a dedicated race course purpose-built for racing. This has implications for the state of the industry and even society at the time. It is relevant to the eventual construction of Brooklands in England and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Obviously, this is directly related to the construction of the Long Island Motor Parkway that was eventually used for the 1908 through 1910 runnings of the Vanderbilt Cup.
Along this vein, the article shares that American manufacturers were interested in just such a facility. They believed that in competition events they were at a distinct disadvantage to Europeans because they had no such venue to use in testing their machines prior to entering races. All of this is very relevant to an August blog created for First Super Speedway.

VCRNews100606.pdf2.59 MB
VCRNews100806.pdf500.72 KB