May 24 - Isottas on the Lusitania

The consternation over the absence of the highly touted Isotta team was high at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 24, 1913 as less than a week remained before the May 30 Indianapolis 500. Hopeful news was reported in the Indianapolis Star (attachment IsottaStar052413) that the team and its cars were loaded on the grand cruise liner Lusitania which was steaming its way across the Atlantic.
Yes, this is the same British ocean liner that figured so heavily in stirring American support for the British in World War I when it was sunk by German U-Boats off the coast of Ireland in 1914. Although encouraging news Isotta drivers Harry Grant and Teddy Tetzlaff must have been nervously pacing up and down the Speedway garages as they went stir crazy waiting for their mounts. Speedway officials, too, were probably mumbling expletives under their collective breath as they had worked so hard to shore up the international flavor of the Indianapolis 500. Note in the article that they were communicating with the Lusitania via wireless telegraph transmission for updates on expected port in New York.
Further evidence of the looming deadline of race day is also provided in the same Star article as American Automobile Association (AAA) Chairman of the Technical Committee F. E. Edwards and his assistant Darwin Hatch were preparing to examine all the entries for compliance. This spooked many of the competitors enough that most stayed in their garages giving their machines a once-over. Aside from the freshly arrived Sunbeam for Albert Guyot, only Bob Burman in his Keeton, Mercer captain Ralph DePalma, Bill Endicott's Case entries were reported to have cut laps. DePalma was the extreme example as he reportedly logged an amazing 190 miles at speed - obviously working on race conditions.
Perhaps under-reported was the delay in the arrival of the Mason team with drivers Jack Tower, Willie Haupt and Robert Evans. These were cars designed and prepared by the Duesenberg brothers who were notorious for last-minute brinksmanship and this was very early in their careers. The team's arrival was expected that day - May 24 - but had not yet hit the bricks. The long-awaited appearance of the Sunbeam with Guyot at the wheel finally was realized the day prior (May 23) and is captured in an image (NewsSunbeam052413) from the May 24 Indianapolis News. The car was painted black and described as in the shape of a "Perfecto cigar," which is apt as you gather from image - however grainy.
The article in attachment NewsArrvals052413 the arrival of the Masons and Guyot's first laps are covered. DePalma's extended practice session is reported again and speculation about the American Deltal car by B.M. Delling is mentioned. Attachment NewsIMS052413 has images of what are obviously striking photos of the track as it existed race week, 1913. If those photos still exist it would be a marvel to see them. As they appear here they are still instructive. The caption shares that the Speedway planned a dress rehearsal of sorts for "army" of guards that would man the Speedway on race day. The positioning of the timing wire on the track with relation to the pits is discussed as well as the logic of competitors in selecting their pit stalls. The new Pagoda is noted as well as its role with respect to officials and press.
Attachment NewsTrials052413 talks about the plans for the following day, Sunday, to hold time trials, test timing gear and make a final assessment of the men selected for scoring and timing. Every car entered was required to complete at least one flying start lap at 75 MPH. According to the article the only car deemed to be challenged to meet this standard was the Mercedes-Knight of driver Theodore Pilette. Interesting, too, are plans for eyesight exams for the timing and scoring personnel.
A feature article from the Saturday evening Indianapolis News (attachment NewsOverseas052413) demonstrates Hoosier fascination with their European guests. Much is made of their customs and mannerisms such as removing their hats upon meeting someone. Indeed, the piece illustrates how carefully the Euro representatives were scrutinized. The description of Jules Goux as a slight stature, boy-like figure who liked to "play" by walking balance-beam style on the railing that lined the pits is priceless. Each of the primary drivers is described if at least briefly as well as more obscure pilots such as Mercedes-Knight relief driver Bartholemy Bruyere. Note that Vincenzo Trucco of Isotta is referred to as not just a driver but chief engineer.
The feature article describes the Europeans (typically referred to as "foriegners") as secretive and justaposes this with a more outgoing nature of "Yankee" drivers and crew who reportedly broke out in Ragtime songs on a whim - Irving Berlin's "Everybody's Doing It" and Henry Marshall's "Be My Baby Bumblebee" are specifically mentioned. Characteristics of the new Pagoda are also touched on. Note that there were two separate stairways to the press area and the officials area. This was to prevent news reporters from disturbing the officials while at work. To ensure updates to the press, however, a chute was constructed to allow the officials to pass updates to the press during the race. The timing wire was positioned directly in front of the Pagoda and all the pit stalls were located south of it.
This feature contains a number of images, especially of the European drivers. I especially like the shot of the Western Union technician working on a cabinet of telegraph equipment in the Pagoda. The shot from the fourth floor of the Pagoda is cool too. Western Union provided state-of-the-art telegraph equipment which was used by 30 operators to communicate with newspapers nationwide as well as scoreboard operators in the infield. The article notes that the men positioned at the scoreboards were lax in the two previous years and failed to update the standings to create confusion among observers.
Further evidence of the Hoosier fascination with their European guests was the exception made by Indianapolis Motor Speedway General Manager Charles Sedwick in allowing Mrs. Charles Faroux to become the only woman to take a lap around the brick oval. Mrs. Faroux, was wife to the leading French journalist Charles Faroux. The couple spent most of their time with the Peugeot team and, no surprise, the driver who served as her chauffeur for the occasion was Jules Goux. Mrs. Faroux' intoxicating charms captivated Hoosiers and her fashion choices were scrutinzed. Her access to corners of the facility typically forbidden to women is also noted. An image of the official responsible for granting these exceptions to Mrs. Faroux, Charles Sedwick, is captured in attachment NewsSedwick052413.
File attachment NewsGauge052413 under "proving grounds" for automotive technology. In this small item an image of a gauge referred to as a "motometer" is provided with a caption describing how it monitored water and oil temperature. It was designed to be affixed to a radiator cap. The caption also names a few of the drivers who were testing it out but from the description it was clearly intended for everyday driving applications.

IsottaStar052413.pdf430.59 KB
NewsSunbeam052413.pdf273.89 KB
NewsArrivals052413.pdf950.22 KB
NewsIMS052413.pdf2.55 MB
NewsOverseas052413.pdf5.8 MB
GouxStar052413.pdf264.5 KB
NewsFaroux052413.pdf306.11 KB
NewsFaroux052413.pdf306.11 KB