May 28 - Time Trials & Isottas!

The long awaited arrival of the Isottas as well the Indianapolis 500 qualifications of nine cars all on May 27, 1913 were reported in the Indianapolis Star and Indianapolis News papers the following day, May 28. Most of the cars were still in the garage, but the purpose of time trials in this instance is difficult to fathom. Speedway officials could not have been thrilled with the race attracting less than the 30 car field limit they had announced. That meant that other than insuring that a car was not ridiculously slow there was not much point in running time trials since they were starting in the order the cars were entered, not in the order of their speed as they do today.
The Indianapolis Star article in attachment StarTrials052813 reports that the nine cars to qualify - in order of time - were:

  • Caleb Bragg, Mercer, 1 minute, 42.86 seconds.
  • Paul Zuccarelli, Peugeot, 1.44.86
  • Charlie Merz, Stutz, 1.46.5
  • Don Herr, Stutz, 1:48.67
  • Gil Anderson, Stutz, 1:48.92
  • Robert Evans, Mason, 1:49.75
  • Harry Endicott, Nyberg, 1:57.88
  • Johnny Jenkins, Schacht, 1:58.48
  • Theodore Pilette, Mercedes-Knight, 1:59.17

The skeptic in me says Pilette's time might have been a slight fudge as it was barely under the wire and the last thing race officials needed was a shorter field - but who knows? In addition to time trials, practice was hot and heavy as drivers late to the game searched for speed. Joe Dawson received roars of approval for simply getting out on the track in the Deltal but from the report it sounds like he immediately started to equivocate as the car must have needed a lot more work than there was time for. He would eventually withdraw. The Isottas of Vincenzo Trucco, Harry Grant and Teddy Tetzlaff were on the track and performing reasonably well in that their times were reportedly under the 2 minute standard for a qualification lap. Harry Endicott and Zuccarelli both experienced tire failure that called on all their skills to maintain control and prevent catastrophe. Ironically both men would suffer fatal injuries later in 1913 as a result of racing accidents.
The evening Indianapolis News (attachment NewsTrials052813) reported much of what their morning counterpart offered but was also able to file a report that included six more qualifiers from the morning of May 28. In order, there were:

  • Jack Tower, Mason, 1:42.0
  • Bill Endicott, Case, 1:45.02
  • George Clark, Tulsa, 1:48.57
  • Spencer Wishart, Mercer, 1:49.77
  • Howdy Wilcox, Gray Fox, 1:50.48
  • Willie Haupt, Mason, 1:51.50

Attachment NewsMason052813 contains an image of the #5 Mason driven by Robert Evans at speed - it would stupendous to see the original photo. NewsTrucco052813 is an image of an animated Vincenzo Trucco who arrived at the Speedway with the red Isottas just the day before. The cars were fast out of the box and one has to wonder how much more competitive they would have been had they been to arrive with their primary French competitors the Peugeots over a week earlier. The crazy delays had to damage their ability to reach their competitive potential as they were on track just three days before the 1913 Indianapolis 500.
Attachment NewsStarter052813 is a shadowy image of starter Charles Root in action during the Speedway's time trials. This was Root's first day officially on the job. The bigger news was that he replaced the most storied starter of the era - Fred Wagner - who was associated with all the major auto races of the era - notably the Vanderbilt Cup, the American Grand Prize and the first two Indianapolis 500s. A big blow up of egos erupted in 1912 when in a misunderstanding Wagner had stormed into Speedway President Carl Fisher's office and shouted "Murderer!" The incident is covered by Wagner in his book, Saga of the Roaring Road, and available free on this site.
Reading the article in attachment NewsBands052813 will make an emotional connection for true fans of the Indianapolis 500. The pomp and circumstance of the Indianapolis 500's pre-race show has long been an emotional moment for many who will recognize the traditions of marching bands dating back to the earliest days of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This brief article notes how the focus on the use of the bands to build the international character of the 1913 Indianapolis 500 - the first time the race attracted international manufacturer works teams - specifically Isotta (Italy), Peugeot (France) and Sunbeam (Great Britain). This article reports that six bands were dispersed around the track to entertain fans arriving early (the Speedway encouraged early arrivals to smooth out traffic congestion into the facility) but most dramatically the bands were instructed to play national anthems of the relevant countries as the teams representing them appeared on the starting grid.
An interesting sidebar to basically everything that was going on at the track was the speeding citation to driver Ray Gilhooley who was assigned to the Isotta team as a relief driver. Indianapolis police pulled him over on Crawfordsville Road near the Speedway. Joe Byrne, said to be of Bob Burman's team but no specific role is noted, was also cited for the same offense. Both men were reported to be going 30 miles an hour. The speed limit is not mentioned but it should be noted that Crawfordsville Road at the time was two lanes and gravel. This information is in attachment StarSpeeding052813.
Finally in attachments NewIMSOffice052813 and NewsPennantes052813 I have a couple of ads the provide insights to arrangements being made for the upcoming race. The first of the two is an ad placed by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for advance ticket sales from their office in downtown Indianapolis - note the address. The second ad is from a vendor selling pennants for fans to brandish on race day. The price was 10 cents - one can only guess what an original would bring on e-Bay today. I am guessing licensing was a future consideration.

StarTrials052813.pdf1.06 MB
NewsTrials052813.pdf1.47 MB
NewsMason052813.pdf777.82 KB
NewsTrucco052813.pdf1.12 MB
NewsStarter052813.pdf1006.77 KB
NewsBands052813.pdf249.96 KB
StarSpeeding052813.pdf452.46 KB
NewsIMSOffice052813.pdf582.67 KB
NewsPennants052813.pdf173.98 KB