Oldfield Sets IMS Track Record

This article first appeared in the August 19, 1909 Indianapolis Star and reports on the fourth day of practice and associated preparations for the first automobile races every held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
This article appeared the morning of the first races and covered developments at the track up to the previous evening. Beyond the track the Indianapolis was buzzing and no better example can be provided than the arrival of some 200 motorists from Chicago just after noon on August 18. Members of the Chicago Automobile Club they were led by two of that city's more active organizers, Charles P. Root (who was destined to start the 1913 Indianapolis 500) and Frank Trego who had been one of the primary officials of the Cobe Trophy events just weeks earlier in June.
Root and Trego had driven the "trailblazing" or "confetti" car which left some two hours ahead of the main caravan of 55 automobiles. Root and Trego scattered an estimated 200 pounds of pink and white confetti behind their vehicle to mark the passage for those who would follow. The tour passed through the following Hoosier cities: Hammond, Crown Point, Orchard Grove, Shelby, Thayer, Burgie, Aix, Rensselaer, Collegeville, Remington, Wolcott, Montmorenci, Lafayette, Dayton, Mulberry, Jefferson, Frankfort and Kirklin. At the conclusion in Indianapolis they had covered 202.5 miles in about 6.5 hours.
Among the noteables from Chicago were: Tom Hay; Jack Banter; Frank Case; Joseph Lithdrop; John Hayden; Charles Gregory; C.F. Price; Louis Geyler; A.M. Robbins; James Levy; Webb Jay; Cliff Taylor; J.V. Lawrence; A.J. Bants; R.A. Creek; S. Comstock; A.J. Rosseau; Ralph Temple and D.S. Chapin.
A host of names largely forgotten but prominent in the auto industry at the time arrived by train, primarily from the east. These were William Poertner (New York); William Thorne (Chicago); James Stack (Chicago); Charles Ackerson (Syracuse); E.H. Broadwell (New York); A.L. Riker (Bridgeport, CT); John Prince (New York); Fred Wagner (New York); Norman Church (Los Angeles); S.B. Stevens (Rome, N.Y.); C.G. Stoddard (Dayton, OH) and Art Pardington (New York).
On the track Barney Oldfield made a much anticipated appearance in his Benz racer, immediately laying down a new track record at one minute, 58 seconds  or 76.26 MPH. The previous record was set a few days earlier by Len Zengel in his Chadwick who was four seconds slower.
Colorful prose in the article sets the scene:
"A sudden cannonading came from a dozen garage, heralded the start of the final practices. Crackle, crackle, crackle. The garage doors swung open and several low built steel beasts sidled, purring to the Speedway track, shivered with pent-up power, pointed their long snouts toward the first curve and with sudden bellow, belches of flames and smoke, kicked up their heels like a group of playful prehistoric monsters and were off. In a second they melted in the distance..."
A second excerpt describes the value to the spectator:
"Automobile racing asks much of its votaries, but it gives them much. It gives them more sustained sensations, more picturesqueness and dramatic value than any other form of sport. It also develops the breed - a very important thing."
A portion of the article discusses the need for high speed racing to root out the imperfections of car design. The development of steel alloys over the previous four years is cited as an example. Also discussed are advances in rubber and tire technology - compressed air canisters replacing pumps, demountable rims with pre-mounted tires for quick pit stops and steel-studded, non-skid tires for dirt or mud roads - all advances attributed to motorsport.
The entire city was buzzing with anticipation. The automotive firms were celebrating as companies like Stoddard-Dayton brought 1,200 of their employees and Nordyke & Marmon hosted 500.

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