Moross & Time Trials

The article in attachment Moross111909 was originally published in the Indianapolis Star on November 19, 1909. It contains several pieces of interesting information about management decisions in the early days of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and some hints about the interpersonal relationships between the founders and their chosen general manager, Ernie Moross.
 
The lead of the article notes that apparently Moross had considered resigning from the Speedway but later stepped back from that decision. There can be little doubt track management was under a lot of stress. Meeting deadlines for race events throughout the construction of the track had been a constant struggle, at times with extra shifts of laborers toiling around the clock under the light of Prest-O-Lite gas burning lighting. Both the first motorcycle race meet and the first automobile race meet had resulted in tragic consequences. The events had also demonstrated that the original track surface not only fell far short of grandiose promises but also proved not up to the rigors of high speed racing. Indiana's Lieutenant Governor even called for a ban on motorsport after the fatal accidents that occurred on the first and third days of the meet.
 
Subsequently a much ballyhooed autumn aviation show and another auto race meet both failed to materialize. This had to be embarassing as for weeks public pronounements were made about how these contests would attract the top competitors worldwide for glory and riches. In the middle of all this the track was morphing into "the Brickyard" as 3.2 million red clay blocks were laid into place, but forecasts of when the work would be complete were excessively optimistic and were revised - and then revised again and again.
 
All of these setbacks had to ratchet up tensions between Moross and his impatient boss, Speedway President Carl Graham Fisher. This is speculation on my part - but founded in study and reflection - as there is no record of correspondence between Moross and Fisher and there is no one left that observed their interactions.
 
Moross and others from the Speedway had just returned from a race meet at the Atlanta Speedway, a two-mile crushed stone track that held its inaugural auto race meet. The result was a host of American speed records as the southern track rivaled the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as America's ultimate auto racing facility.
 
The star in Atlanta was Lewis Strang in his big Fiat. Strang had reportedly already shipped his car to Indianapolis for a time trial event Moross was organizing in December. Despite the likely inclement weather Fisher and Moross had a sense of urgency about re-establishing the Speedway as the fastest race track in America.
 
More problematic was making that claim worldwide as England's Brooklands with its smooth concrete running surface and higher banked turns had already recorded speeds in excess of 127 MPH. This did not stop Moross from yet again asserting promises he had no hope of fulfilling, and he is quoted:
 
"It is not only the Atlanta marks that will be lowered, but the slate of records made at Brooklands, England will be set back also. A few days ago the cable carried a report of Hemery lowering several marks with the new big Benz at Brooklands and this car will be shipped here."
 
The Benz never made it and the banking at the Brickyard was simply too gradual to support the kind of speed drivers on the much steeper Brooklands could attain. Interestingly, the bricking paving still was not complete. The new projection was December 5. Instead of a race meet Moross was now talking up a time trial event - and this was all about putting Atlanta in their place and asserting the Speedway as America's premiere facility.
 
Moross was also excessively optimistic about the level of interest in an outdoor event in the teeth of winter. He predicted there would be events with ten to 15 race cars on the track at a time. The reality was that they did not attract that many entries in total. He also expected a level of fan interest great enough to warrant ticket prices from 25 to 50 cents.
 
Relevant to this Moross said:
 
"This money will be used to defray the expenses of the meet and whatever is left over will be given to the drivers that lower records, as it is the desire of the management that the marks be established here, which will prove the course the fastest in the world."

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