Oldfield Sets Records on Final Day of May 1910 Meet

These attachments contain articles that originally appeared in Indianapolis newspapers on May 31, 1910. Even though the first attachment's name (star053110) refers to the Indianapolis Star, I am embarrassed to admit I am not certain this is true. It may well have appeared in the Indianapolis News. The second attachment (IMSrecordsSun053110) is from the May 31 Indianapolis Sun.
Both articles ran in support of the May 1910 race meet at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The May 1910 race meet weekend included "national championships," a newly-announced distinction by the American Automobile Association (AAA) for select race meets. Car manufacturers were keen to make a great showing. Check out other articles that provide additional summaries of the results of the races staged May 27 and May 28 elsewhere on First Super Speedway.
Also, check out these other relevant articles:

The first attachment, star053110, kicks off with notations that there was record speed, 60,000 in attendance and no accidents. That sounds like a good day and I'd say I wish I could have been there, but then, again, I'd be dead. With respect to the crowd, the report notes that by completing the events by 5 pm people were allowed time to get home and, for most, get ready for a day of work. With the transportation options of the era, roads and trains were probably jammed. 
Barney Oldfield's successful establishment of new American track records for the mile and kilometer is referred to as the highlight of the day. He drove his Lightning Benz (aka Blitzen Benz) to new records of the mile at 35.63 seconds and the kilometer at 21.46. He held the previous marks at 36 seconds and 23.22 seconds respectively. The old mile record was set at Cheyenne, Wyoming and the old kilometer mark was at Playa Del Rey. Oldfield required three chances to lower the record for the mile and two for the kilometer. His first kilometer run, though, was hampered by a malfunctioning electric timer.
High winds made the record-setting more challenging than usual. This disappointed Oldfield who declared that he wanted another shot at the record on some later date. His marks fell short of the world track record held by Victor Hemery in the same car a year prior at Brooklands. Oldfield admitted that he had never been to Brooklands but announced that he had to believe the Brickyard a faster track. The reality is that Brooklands had steep banking, making it a venue that allowed for greater speed. Hemery's mile mark there was 31.05 seconds. Oldfield sums up his thoughts in the following quote:
"The track was undoubtedly several seconds slow under the conditions. Naturally, I am greatly pleased to have lowered the record, but I believe I can still do better. I never saw the Brooklands track, but I do not believe there is a faster course in the world than that at the Indianapolis Speedway and I will not be satisfied until I have placed the world's record to the credit of an American. I hope to get another chance on the Indianapolis track under good conditions and if I do, look for a big reduction in the time for the mile." 
After sharing Oldfield's runs the next event covered is Ray Harroun's victory in the 50-mile Remy Brassard contest. This was the longest event of the day as most of the rest of the card was taken up by the national championship events. Nine cars started the race and six finished. Harroun won handily, setting a new world's speed record for cars of 231-300 cubic inch displacement with a time of 42:31.33. There is a table in the attachment but it is not well explained. I can tell you the top five finishers with a great deal of confidence:

  1. Ray Harroun, Marmon
  2. Joe Dawson, Marmon
  3. Frank Fox, Pope-Hartford
  4. Tom Kincaid, Great Western
  5. Bert Miller, Warren-Detroit

The article becomes more challenging to follow as races are reported in no particular order. The point is made that in all the national championships the drivers were awarded medals for their success. Also, the manufacturers had bragging rights as the plan at the time was to wait until the following year to host the competition again. Harroun reportedly won the sixth race - for cars with engines of 231 to 300 cubic inches - with teammate Dawson second. Gil Andersen in a Marion finished third.
The seventh race was a contest for cars with engines between 450 and 600 cubic inches and pitted National drivers Johnny Aitken, Howdy Wilcox and Don Herr against Oldfield in the Knox. Oldfield won the five-mile go with a time of 4:00.13. 
Race eight for engines of 301-450 cubic inches saw the National team dominate with Aitken the winner followed by Kincaid and Charlie Merz in the five-mile competition. Aitken set a new record for the class at 4:06.70.
Reed, a Stoddard-Dayton driver, won the ninth race, a free-for-all handicap after he was given a 51-second head start. In addition to the winner there were 14 other starters:

  1. Newell Motsinger, Empire.
  2. Edmunds, Cole.
  3. Bill Endicott, Cole.
  4. Aitken, National.
  5. Merz, National.
  6. Leigh Lynch, Jackson.
  7. Tinkler, Marion.
  8. Gil Andersen, Marion.
  9. Bert Miller, Warren-Detroit.
  10. Roberts, Herreschoff
  11. Tousey, National
  12. Art Greiner, National
  13. Louis Chevrolet, Buick.

Three Nationals, driven by Aitken, Wilcox, and Kincaid, again squared off against Oldfield in the Knox in race ten. This time it was a 10-mile battle, but Oldfield won once more with a time of 7:50.7. Aitken, Kincaid, and Wilcox trailed him in that order. The race was for cars with engines of 351 to 400 cubic inch capacity.
The eleventh race was another National triumph for cars of 301 to 450 cubic inches. Aitken came home first with Kincaid and Merz in second and third. Joe Dawson finished fourth for Marmon. Aitken's time of 7:50.71 toppled Chevrolet's old mark of 8:17.52 set at Atlanta.
The twelfth race is reported as a contest between four cars: Caleb Bragg (Fiat); Ben Kirschner (Darracq);  Johnny Aitken (factory National) and Art Greiner (private National). After a see-saw battle between Bragg and Kirschner, the four finished in the order of the previous sentence. The contest was for ten miles.
There is a sidebar article included in this attachment. The title is, "Exodus of Racing Cars and Drivers." As you might suspect it is a wrap-up piece describing where the race teams were headed next. I like the description of how quiet the track was the day after with cleaning crews at work clearing the grounds of debris left behind by tens of thousands of fans. Barney Oldfield was reportedly headed to Kansas City with his cars loaded on his special railroad car to ship his team around the country. This was the team transporter of the day. Caleb Bragg was shipping his Fiat to Worcester, Massachusetts Dead Horse hill climb. Apparently, he also planned to attend the Giant's Despair hill climb following that. Starter Fred Wagner was also traveling in that direction. The article seems to imply that a good number of the racers planned to compete in the eastern hill climbs. The Buick team, however, was headed north to factory headquarters in Flint, Michigan. Most of the teams were said to have spent the night in Indianapolis and left for their next destination the following day. Spectators reportedly packed the roads immediately following the races.
Finally, this attachment (star053110) provides a list of speed records set at the meet:
Marmon "Thirty-Two." (231 to 300 Cubic Inch Class)

  • Five Miles, Dawson. Time: 4:04.13. Lowering mark of 4:48 set by Strang in Buick at Atlanta last fall by 43.87 seconds.
  • Twenty-Five Miles, Harroun. Time, 21:48.9. Lowering mark of 23:20.1 made by Strang in Buick at Atlanta by 2 minutes 31.2 seconds.
  • Thirty Miles, Harroun. Time, 26:06.11. Lowering mark of 26:54.43 made by Harroun in Marmon at Atlanta by 48.32 seconds.
  • Forty Miles, Harroun. Time, 34:25.4. Lowering mark of 35:49.32 made by Harroun in Marmon at Atlanta by 23.92 seconds.
  • Fifty Miles, Harroun. Time, 42:03.33. Lowering mark of 44:48.98 made by Harroun in Marmon at Atlanta by 2 minutes 17.65 seconds. Average miles per hour, 71.33.

Buick "Ten" (161 to 230 Cubic Inch Class)

National "Forty" (301 to 450 Cubic Inch Class)

  • Ten Miles, Aitken. Time, 7:57.1. Lowering the previous mark of 8:08.03 made by Aitken in National on Saturday, which in turn had lowered mark set by Aitken in National on Friday, by 10.93 seconds.

Benz (200 Horse Power) Free-for-all American Speedway records.

  • One Kilometer (1,093.61 yards), Barney Oldfield. Time, :21.45. Lowering the previous mark of: 23.51 made at Los Angeles by Oldfield in same Benz by 2.06 seconds. Average miles per hour, 105.
  • One Mile, Barney Oldfield. Time, :35.6. Lowering mark of 36.22 made by Oldfield in same Benz at Los Angeles by .12 second. Average miles per hour, 101.1.

Knox "Sixty." (451 to 600 Cubic Inch Class)

  • Five Miles, Barney Oldfield. Time, 4:01.3. Lowering the previous mark of 4:03.44 made by Oldfield in Knox on Saturday by 2.14 seconds.

Now, let's dig into the second attachment, IMSrecordsSun053110. The article you find here focuses on Barney Oldfield's record-setting exploits in his Lightning Benz as well as Harroun's 50-mile  231-300 cubic inch class record. The crowd is estimated at 55,000 (other articles say 60K) and were reportedly a challenge for the Indiana National Guardsmen (referred to as "militia") to contain.
Oldfield reportedly cut the mile speed record down from 36 seconds to 35.6. He whittled the kilometer mark down from 23.7 seconds to 21.45. Oldfield held the previous records and he set them at the Playa Del Rey banked board track.
Harroun is noted as setting not just the 50-mile speed record but the marks for 30 and 40 miles as well. His time for the 50 miles was 42 minutes, 41 seconds, easily bettering the previous mark which he also set at Atlanta with a 44:48 drive.
Cincinnati "amateur" Caleb Bragg is referred to as "the third star" in light of his three victories in a five-mile handicap and two ten-mile races. Ben Kirscher is credited for his impressive drives competing with Bragg. Kirscher's loss of a wheel in one of the contests is described in the article.
The national championship races are highlighted. They are described as close and competitive despite the AAA decision to disqualify entries, most notably the Buicks from many of the contests. This was the stock car controversy of the weekend where Buick, in particular, was cited for not complying with rules defining stock cars.
Winners in the national championship races are reviewed:

  • Louis Chevrolet (Buick), in winning the 161 to 230 cubic inch championship for ten miles with a record of nine minutes and three seconds, down from 9:46.
  • Joe Dawson (Marmon) overcame teammate Harroun in the 231-300 class for five miles with a time of 4:41, a new record.
  • Oldfield drove a Knox to victory in two races, one for five miles, the other for ten. Oldfield dominated and set a new five-mile record at 4:03.
  • National's Aitken won the 301-450 class with a record time of 7:52.

Harroun's morning practice accident in the Marmon Wasp is mentioned. The article provides a good description the car sliding along the top of the wall and flinging Harroun out of the cockpit. Amazingly, he was unhurt. Frank Wheeler's ceremonial presentation of a $1,000 check to Harroun later in the day for his Saturday, May 28 Wheeler-Schebler Trophy race is covered as well.

star053110.pdf16.61 MB
IMSrecordsSun053110.pdf1.55 MB