May 1910: Brickyard Entries

This article from the Wednesday, May 25, 1910 Indianapolis Sun reports on entries for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's May 1910 race meet - the first Memorial Day weekend of racing at the track. The race meet was held May 27-30 but skipped May 29 as it was the Sabbath. The meet included "national championships," a newly-announced distinction by the American Automobile Association (AAA) for select race meets. Car manufacturers were keen to make a great showing. Check out other articles that provide additional summaries on the results of the races staged May 27 and May 28 elsewhere on First Super Speedway.
Roy Buckley gets the byline here and opens the article with assertions from IMS Founder and President Carl Fisher that ticket sales were brisk and would produce the largest gathering of spectators in Indianapolis history. The most expensive individual seats and boxes were nearly sold out by the publication date of the article. Long lines of ticket purchasers were reported at the IMS business office at Vermont Street and Capitol Avenue in downtown Indianapolis.
The bulk of the article focuses on the entries for upcoming meet, with a special emphasis on the drivers, especially Barney Oldfield who is mentioned throughout. In places the article is confusing such as when it reports that Oldfield would not stage any exhibition races as was his custom at fairgrounds dirt tracks across the country. While no match races took place, Oldfield did run time trials with his world land speed record car, the Blitzen Benz
Someone referred to as "President" Marmon of the Marmon Company apparently announced that his company would have three drivers, Ray Harroun, Joe Dawson and Bruce Keene using five cars in different classes. The reference to the Marmon executive may have been Walter or his brother Howard who is probably better known today. Howard was known as an engineering genius while brother Walter had more of a business management role. Four of the Marmon cars were cited as AAA Class B machines while one, clearly the Marmon Wasp, is called Class C. It is noted that the car would be an entry in the 200-mile Wheeler-Schebler Trophy.
Another Class B car was the Jackson entry with their star driver Leigh Lynch at the wheel. He had been on the track on Wednesday (this is confusing, it may mean he was on the track on May 18, which was a week earlier) cutting practice laps. James Allison, one of the track's four founder was reportedly working on the event program which surprises me because I always see references to Ernie Moross, who was director of Speedway contests, as having that responsibility.
Much of the column space is devoted to Barney Oldfield and his plans. It reports on the deal he negotiated with the local Conduitt Automoible Company - a local dealer - to drive a stock Knox car. The following excerpt underscores the significance of Oldfield as the major star of the era:
"Notwithstanding the fact that other auto drivers are looked upon as close rivals of dare-devil Barney, still there is just one Oldfield in the auto racing game, and that is the self-same Barney who will compete at the Speedway." 
Oldfield's recent Daytona record is discussed, citing the mile time of 27.33 seconds at over 131 MPH. In a curious comment Buckley, the writer, makes is to say that Oldfield achieved 142 MPH at Cheyene, Wyoming. He also indicates the extra speed was attributed to a thinner atmosphere. I think he had his facts seriously mixed up here. I have seen in other reports that Barney hit 142 MPH at Daytona after he passed the mile marker. I believe that the Cheyene appearance was at fairgrounds track and not some measured, straight-line mile.
A trio of Fiats are highlighted as entries, all privately owned. The drivers were stout and the names ring bells with true auto racing aficionados: Ralph DePalma, Caleb Bragg and Eddie Hearne. Writer Buckley notes that both Bragg and Harroun had prevailed over Oldfield during the Playa Del Rey race the previous month. Referred to as "Jack" in this article, National Motor Vehicle Company's Johnny Aitken is noted as a threat in his National "70." Aitken was seen as having the advantage of having more practice on the bricks due to his local presence.
Buick's Louis Chevrolet and Bob Burman are called out as threats. Curiously, Burman is called, "Bobbie." He reportedly was ticking off miles at a 38 second pace. Chevrolet had yet to push for speed. Ray Harroun, who reportedly had only been racing three years, is cited for his recent success at the two-mile Atlanta Speedway where he won several races, including the maiden contest for the Marmon Wasp which is referred to as a "Yellow Jacket" in Buckley's article.
The Marion team with drivers Charles Stutz and Gil Andersen are predicted to be be tough competition in the shorter races. The team had performed poorly in the Brighton Beach 24-hour "grinder" staged earlier in the month.
Overland Automobile Company took a high profile in the race meet but in an unconventional way. They were not entered in the standard competition. Instead they were used in the hazard races involving wood plank ramps.
The article wraps up with a return to Oldfield's plans. Barney reportedly had communicated to Moross that he would not race his Blitzen Benz in any of the races during the weekend unless the Knox was not competitive. This doesn't make sense to me as the Knox and the Benz were in different classes and I am not sure the latter was even eligible for "free-for-all" competition based on AAA rules. Also relevant to Oldfield was the entry of Ben Kerscher. He was an employee of Oldfield's and barnstormed with him at the time at various fairgrounds tracks. Kerscher drove the Darracq that won the 1905 Vanderbilt Cup in the hands of Victor Hemery.

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