May 17 - "Raising Ned" at Sizzling Speed

With the arrival of the awe-inspiring Peugeot team practice for the 1913 Indianapolis intensified on May 16. The four attachments offer four articles as well as some images from both the Indianapolis Star morning newspaper as well as it's evening competitor (they were seperate companies at the time) Indianapolis News. These articles were all published May 16, 1913.
Attachment NewsPractice051713 presents great information starting off with reports on the fortunes of the Peugeots featuring star drivers Jules Goux and Paul Zuccarelli. Both were sizzling fast with laps at or above 90 MPH but struggled with tire wear. Working late into the night May 15 they swapped out their Diamond tires for sets of Firestones that showed promise. The report uses a slang referene of the day, "raising Ned," which means taking great risk, to describe the stress they were putting on their tire casings with those 90 MPH speeds when hitting the turns. Great stuff.
Among the Americans Gil Anderson in the Stutz was a standout, cutting laps at 87 MPH. Ralph DePalma, the leader of the three yellow Mercer cars was nearly as fast and reported that his two teammates still needed to break in the new motors in their cars. Howdy Wilcox in the Gray Fox was reported to be also breaking in his motor. Harry Endicott in the Nyberg was still coming up to speed and Johnny Jenkins still had not gotten his Schacht racer on the track. Bob Burman in the Keeton was apparently struggling as the reports of his progress seems tempered despit early high expectations.
The other key European teams, Sunbeam with driver Albert Guyot and the Isotta team with Vincenzo Trucco had yet to arrive at the Speedway. Attachment PracticeStar051713 also reports on the speed of the Peugeot and Stutz teams as well as the tire travails of the Europeans. This article provides more insight into the challenges of favorite Bob Burman who is reported to be regularly tweaking his Keeton racer - a clear indication that it wasn't fast enough out of the box. His riding mechanic, Tony Jeanette, was a Frenchman who had traveled with Venenzio Lancia when he visited the United States for the Vanderbilt Cup in 1905. The mechanic reportedly stayed but frequently had his name mispelled by the local newspapers although in this instance I think they got it right.
Like the Indianapolis News article the Star covers the drivers mentioned earlier but also throws in a very interesting sidelight to on-track activity. A Chicago aviator by the name of Robert Elliott was performing at the track - other than amusement the exact reason is unclear - when his plane's engine stopped working. The craft plunged to Earth from some 50 feet and Elliott time his jump - sans parachute - when just a few feet to the ground. His plane plowed into the track infield to be destroyed while Elliott tumled on the ground to no great injury.
Conversation also swirled around those who were not yet at the track. At the head of the list was Theodore Pilette whose Chicago Auto Club entry from owner C.E. Patterson a millionaire sportsman was a Mercedes-Knight - proclaimed to be the first "sleeve valve" engine to appear at the track. Mercedes used some of these Charles Yale Knight designed powerplants in their production models. Ralph Mulford, set to drive the privately entered Mercedes that DePlama had nearly won the 1912 Indianapolis 500 with, had still not arrived at the Speedway.
Speedway activity - or as the called it in the day, "doings" - were a favorite of local newspaper cartoonists. AttachmentCartoonStar051713 summarizes the track action during May 1913. By the way another slang term for "fan" was "bug." They were also using the term "railbird" by then, but "bug" was a new one for me. I have seen it in several references from the May 1913 coverage.
The attachment, "NewsDrivers051713," is an interesting piece as it profiles six drivers, one of which is an obscure figure Fred Adams, who did not qualify for the race. The article acknowledges his lack of experience and the concern other drivers had about his participation. The three Stutz drivers are discussed: Don Herr, Gil Anderson and Charlie Merz. All are acknowledged as experienced, talented but the commentary is more subjective than specific. Billy Knipper also receives good praise and in an interesting note the engine described in his Henderson racer is said to be designed by Duesenberg. The other driver is the noteworthy Howdy Wilcox, still early in his career. I did not know before reading this that the future Indianapolis 500 winner (1919) had a nickname..."Cockey." No details on how he got tagged with that one.

NewsPractice051713i.pdf2.35 MB
PracticeStar051713.pdf4.18 MB
CartoonStar051713.pdf994.73 KB
NewsDrivers051713.pdf8.42 MB