May 30 - Mid-Race Report

These attachments contain articles that were published in the Indianapolis News on May 30, 1913 covering race day afternoon at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.The News published several extra editions that day including one that reported the final results. I have yet to see copies of those newspapers and cannot be certain any still exist.
The biggest, most important article is in attachment NewsHalfway053013 and reports on the progress of the race at just past half-way. The article reports the day had been all about Jules Goux and his dark blue Peugeot. The French driver had accumulated virtually all the laurels possible at this point in the race, most notably the Remy Brassard and Trophy for the leader at 200 miles and the Prest-O-Lite Trophy for 300 miles. Goux started in the second row and quickly moved to the front. While he established himself as the man to beat teammate Paul Zuccarelli's Peugeot survived only 18 laps, ending his day with burned engine bearings.
Predictably from practice results Keeton driver Bob Burman emerged as the Frenchman's primary speed rival. Burman started 21st but led the race at 60 miles, holding it until past 100 miles. While it is not completely clear what happened, an engine fire erupted in the Keeton and Burman had at least two lengthy pit stops. The report indicates that he was in the pits at lap 55 and had to swap out his carburetor. He returned to the race some 25 laps in arrears to drive like a demon in a hopeless cause. His apparent goal was to at least move up into the top 10 for a paycheck.
Goux had his own challenges in the pits, at least according to the article. He reportedly entered the pits with a flat tire but his English-speaking crew could not understand his French and gestures. I thought this was particularly interesting in that I would have assumed that Peugeot would have brought a French crew but apparently not. Pure speculation but I have to wonder if Johnny Aitken of National Motor Vehicle Company pulled together a team of American mechanics to support the Peugeot effort. The misunderstanding did not prove excessively damaging as Goux was back on the bricks and at the front of the field.
At the start of the race Goux diced with Mason pilot Robert Evans for the lead but the later blew a tire and spun on the backstretch never to be a factor again. Ralph DePalma was fast but his Mercer was not up to the task as he became the first to retire with mechancial problems. The Isotta effort wound up pretty much a disaster as all three entries for Harry Grant, Vincenzo Trucco and Teddy Tetzlaff were history before the halfway mark. The most spectacular exit was by Jack Tower whose Mason flipped after a tire blew. Tower broke a leg and his riding mechanic Lee Gunning suffered three cracked ribs according to a hospital report published in the article.
This article also offered some interesting sidebars such as a report on how Robert Pennebaker's effort crumbled when his Stearns-Knight suffered engine failure before he could qualify it. In another story the popularity of Ralph DePalma is noted as the crowd's sympathies were with him still after his heartbreaking finish the previous year. Another item notes the color schemes of some of the cars - Billy Liesaw's orange and black Anel, the three yellow Mercers of DePalma, Caleb Bragg and Spencer Wishart, the red Nyberg of Harry Endicott, the orange Mercedes-Knight of Theodore Pilette and the red with green trim Isottas (it was an Italian thing) - are mentioned.
Attachment News100K053013 contains a 9-page article that proves a delightful read despite the fact that it contains little racing information. The location of Jack Tower's accident - the south end of the track - is noted but aside from that this is colorful prose that is a wonderful description of the race day morning crowd. The Speedway guards of Captain William Carpenter - the forerunners of what today's fans typically call "yellow shirts" - wore khaki and brandished intimidating clubs. Woe to the typically young lad that could not produce an official one dollar admission ticket upon request. The article is full of descriptions of people such  as a vendor known as the "cushion man," who hawked his wares just inside the main gate entrance, "Get your cushions them seats ain't get'n no softer, I been, I know." Estimates ranged to over 100,000 people in attendance - humanity still flowed through the gates as the race started.
The crush of humanity is pictured vividly in words by the article found in attachment NewsUnionStation053013 which describes the bad behavior of human beings in crowds. The description reminds me of today's videos of Christmas shoppers trampling each other to get at products on sale when Wal-Mart opens its doors. This article describes men diving through train windows when the doorways shut - and the train departing with their legs hanging outside. In other instances women, their agility hindered by their floor-length skirts, were swept up by their male companions and "hurled" into the train cars as people competed for a spot on the train. The out-of-control maddness was most evident at Union Station but the article also describes the scramble of people making their way to the Speedway in automobiles and the interurban rails.
A partial explanation for the frenzied behavior at the Union Station might come through what is described by the article in NewsThroats053010 about the thriving business at downtown saloons and bars. I picked up a new word for my vocabulary as the article describes "spielers" or barkers beckoning fans headed to the Speedway to stop in for a brew...or two. "Fresh draughts to the swirling crowds of humanity, which pushed along the sidewalks toward Union Station, Speedway bent."
I love the specifics provided such as Mike Duffecy's bar as the Swan hotel or the classic bars at the Majestic, Oneida and New St. Charles hotels. The article indicates that even European visitors could find familiar brews. "There was not a Speedway visitor, so inclined, who had to go without his national drink today. In fact, the Speedway visitor who ran the gauntlet of saloons between Washington Street and the station without facing at least one "knight of the mahogany" (I believe this reference is to the wood of choice for the bar surface) was certainly a visitor from the 'driest' of dry towns." Anyway, this is another example of colorful writing that captures the atmosphere of the times and the day of the 1913 Indianapolis 500.
A bit of contrast from the previous article comes in one from the attachment NewsDesecration053013 that describes the Memorial Day ceremonies downtown at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. In that article Archibald Hall, a featured speaker, proclaimed that the Indianapolis 500 was not a desecration to the meaning of the day - a perspective that apparently differed from the other dignitaries.
"There are probably one hundred thousand people at the Speedway," said Mr. Hall. "In their hearts beat feelings beat feelings of patriotism and devotion to their country. Should the United States be attacked by a foreign foe, every one of the hundred thousand men and women who are witnessing the race today would be willing to rise in defense of our beloved country."
Despite its headline the article offers little discussion about Speedway events. I find it interesting because it again provides a context for the times and the feelings people had - pro and con - toward the Speedway. For example the focus of that time when it came to remembering the sacrifice of war veterans  was the Civil War. Veterans of that conflict were still among the living and despite the relatively recent Spanish-American War, the war between the States ocurred at home and at a cost of American lives still exceeds all other wars of American history. Amazingly the article states that there was still a surviving Revolutionary War pensioner - undoubtedly a child of a long deceased soldier.
A sidelight to Speedway races dating back to the track's 1909 construction was ballooning - even during the races. The article in attachment NewsBumbaugh053013 indicates that balloon tethered ascensions were planned during the 1913 Indianapolis 500. As usual, when the subject of early days Brickyard ballooning is discussed George Bumbaugh - Carl Fisher's mentor on this activity - was in the middle of things. Several balloons are mentioned (the Cole Company, Goodyear, the Plastina) but it is unclear from this article if any took to the air. Imagine an aerial view of these wonderful early races - it must have been thrilling to see those classic racers pounding over the bricks.
Attachment NewsTable053013 is straightforward and an extremely valuable as reference material. It is a list of the cars, drivers, riding mechanics and relief drivers. I challenge anyone to find this information anywhere else on the Web.
No surprise, the newspaper ran several pictures. Most include informative captions. I list the attachments the articles are contained in with commentary below:

  • The image in NewsGoux053013 shows Jules Goux on the starting grid shortly before the start. I believe the man with him is French journalists Charles Faroux. An interesting item is that the winner of the Remy Brassard and Trophy for leading at 200 miles provided a weekly cash "salary" of $50.00 for 20 weeks.
  • NewsBurman053013 contains a portrait shot of Bob Burman at the wheel. I am not sure this was a current photo in 1913 and might have been a stock shot from a previous year.
  • NewsDePalma053013 contains a portrait shot of Ralph DePalma at the wheel. Again, I am not sure this was current in 1913. DePalma had a tough day, finishing 23rd of 27 cars. He later drove relief for teammate Caleb Bragg as DePalma was team captain and widely recognized as the best in the business in his time.
  • NewsEndicott053013 contains a portrait-style shot of "Farmer" Bill Endicott who drove one of three Case entries.
  • I list the next three images successively because they all pertain to Jack Tower's accident in the Mason. An image of the wrecked car is in attachment NewsMason053013i.
  • A portrait shot of Jack Tower is in NewsTower053013 and another head shot of Lee Gunning, his riding mechanic, is in NewsMason053013.
  • I love the image in NewsGates053013 as it shows the large cluster of people around the main entrance to the Speedway shortly after the gates opened. Note the "Beware of Pickpockets" sign above the ticket booth.
  • NewsField053013 provides an image of the starting grid shortly before start time.
  • NewsStart053013 contains an image of cars charging into turn one shortly after the start. Although grainy, this and the above image are informative and enjoyable for fans of racing history.
  • I love the editorial cartoons with a racing theme. The one in NewsCartoon053013 attempts to capture the sights and features of events surrounding the 1913 Indianapolis 500.
NewsHalfway053013.pdf7.16 MB
News100K053013.pdf2.56 MB
NewsUnionStation053013.pdf1.97 MB
NewsThroats053013.pdf1.05 MB
NewsDesecration053013.pdf2.59 MB
NewsBumbaugh053013.pdf202.99 KB
NewsTable053013.pdf519.02 KB
NewsGoux053013.pdf1.52 MB
NewsBurman053013.pdf309.8 KB
NewsDePalma053013.pdf218.82 KB
NewsEndicott053013.pdf244 KB
NewsMason053013i.pdf433.99 KB
NewsTower053013.pdf179.58 KB
NewsMason053013.pdf295.04 KB
NewsGates053013.pdf251.78 KB
NewsField053013.pdf248.9 KB
NewsStart053013.pdf203.35 KB
NewsCartoon053013.pdf500.83 KB