May 23 - Cold Dulls Practice

May 23, 1913 - Compared to the previous day the local newspapers flooded their readers with articles about events at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as race teams prepared for the May 30 Indianapolis 500.
Coverage concerning the previous day from the morning paper, the Indianapolis Star, (attachment IMSCold052313) stressed that the day's cold temperatures (the article fails to say how cold) put a damper on drivers taking to the track. It is hard to know why, exactly this would be an issue as it could be something as complex as the grip of the rubber tires or as straightforward as the drivers were much more exposed to the onrushing wind than they are today. My guess is the latter: it was simply too darn cold and the drivers did not like it.
Nevertheless the reports have it that a few brave souls ventured out. Among them were Peugeot drivers Jules Goux and Paul Zuccarelli and the man billed as their chief American rival, Keeton driver Bob Burman. Others on the track were Ralph Mulford, who did four tours of the track in Ralph DePalma's white Mercedes of 1912, Don Herr, who did 40 laps in his white Stutz, Theodore Pilette (Mercedes-Knight) and Harry Endicott (Nyberg).
The Indianapolis News article (NewsPeugeot052313) that summarizes practice for the previous day and that morning (the News was the evening paper) is fairly peculiar. The head makes the assertion that something is seriously amiss with the Peugeot team but specific details were not forthcoming. Reportedly Goux was testing Zuccarelli's racer when something went amiss. The article says that questions about the problem yielded no answers as the language barrier and the clandestine nature of the team managers prevented any outsider from gaining insight. Nonetheless the article asserts that the malady could take days to sort through and it was precious time to the French drivers who needed practice on a still unfamiliar track.
The article makes much of Ralph Mulford's gleaming white Mercedes and matching white uniform. The driver the press liked to call "Smiling Ralph" made "three or four" laps of the course and brought it back to the garage with seeming confidence. Harry Grant arrived at the track apparently to commiserate with teammate Teddy Tetzlaff over the fact that their Isotta race cars had yet to arrive from Italy. They were not expected until the following Monday with race day looming on Friday. Already speculation had it that they would be granted an exception from the Speedway's policy of shutting the course down the day before race day for clearn-up so the team could squeeze in much needed practice.
Noteworthy was that Ralph DePalma cut his first fast laps of the month in his Mercer, covering a 2.5 mile lap in 1 minute, 42 seconds or 88.24 MPH. Bob Burman spent most of his day adjusting his carburators, Billy Liesaw and his Anel team were "fussing" with their magnetos and George Clark was still loosening up the bearings in his Tulsa racer.
The Isotta team wasn't the only European outfit that struggled to get their cars to the Speedway. The British Sunbeam team endured a comedy of errors by the American rail system as somehow their race car was misplaced in a freight yard and it took several days to track it down. It finally made it to the Brickyard by May 23. Driver Albert Guyot had been waiting patiently as is reported in the brief item contained in attachment NewsGuyot052313.
The press was building up the sibling rivalry between the Endicott brothers - Bill and Harry - who they dubbed, "The Rattlesnake Twins." Attachment NewsNyberg052313 provides an image of Harry and his Nyberg racer, described as crimson.
The attachment, "NewsSedwick052313" is one of those items that provides a little insight to personalities of the era and makes them come alive. It concerns the efforts of Charles Sedwick to schedule a driver's meeting the night before the Indianapolis 500. The meeting was to be led by Race Starter Charles Root of the American Automobile Association (AAA). The drivers, both the Americans and Europeans, had other ideas. They wanted to attend a boxing match between two pugs name Klaus and Dillon. Speedway General Manager Charles Sedwick came up with a compromise. He would arrange reserved seating for all the drivers at the fight if they agreed to attend the driver's meeting. He guaranteed they would arrive in advance of the main event on the fight card. This reportedly placated the drivers.

IMSCold052313.pdf489.29 KB
NewsPeugeot052313.pdf2.19 MB
NewsNyberg052313.pdf244.05 KB
NewsSedwick052313.pdf755.63 KB