Race Day, May 27, 1910

This attachment contains an article which orginally appeared in the May 28, 1910 Indianapolis Star. The article covers the first day (Friday, May 27) of racing at the May 1910 race meet at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. These races were part of the May 1910 weekend that 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 another article that provides an additional summary of the race events for the day that was also published in the Indianapolis Star on the same day.
The article attached below was written by the great Hoosier automotive journalist of the day, Peter Paul Willis. Despite the fact that the only reported accident of the day ocurred late in the afternoon and involved Frank Fox, Willis starts his coverage noting that Pope-Toledo driver identified only as "Fuller" (George P.?) apparently got out of shape and almost spun just before the first event - time trials - started. The competitive contests were scheduled to start a 1 o'clock but other reports noted that the teams would be allowed to practice in the morning hours as they had been doing earlier in the week.
Willis reports that the first event, the time trials for a distance of one mile were not particularly satisfying. It is noteworthy that Barney Oldfield and his land speed record car Blitzen Benz is not mentioned. Those that are (I want to note that Willis also does not mention first names here either), with their times are:

The second race was cancelled due to a lack of entries. The third race was met with much anticipation. I want to quote Willis here as he describes renowned Starter Fred Wagner's work to set things in order.
"When Fred J. Wagner, a character needed whenever a genuine race meet is held anywhere in this country, because he is the peer of all starters, lined the roaring craft up for the third event, the crowd had seen enough to put it on edge for what followed."
Third Race
This was a five-mile, two-lap race for Class B, Division 2 cars with engines of 161 to 230 cubic inches and minimum weight of 1,400 pounds. There were six cars entered and Louis Chevrolet brought his Buick home first. Note that Chevrolet is referred to as French in the article and while he did live in that country for a time he was Swiss by birth. Cole driver Bill Endicott finished second. The winner's time was 4:41.77. Bob Burman, the other Buick driver, finished last but no explanation is provided for the poor performance.

  1. Chevrolet - 4:41.77
  2. Endicott
  3. Lee Frayer (Firestone-Columbus) 4:05.76

Fourth Race
This 10-mile race was for Class B, Division 3 cars of 231 to 300 cubic inch engine displacement. The minimum weight was 1,700 pounds. Seven cars started with Ray Harroun immediately pushing one of the Marmon entries into the lead followed by a driver only identified as "Schifler" in a Jackson following on his heels. On lap three Harroun's teammate Joe Dawson pushed by him to take the lead. Harroun got his younger partner back on lap five to win by the remarkable difference of just four hundredths of a second. Other finishers were Schifler, Clark (Cutting), Frank Fox (Pope-Toledo), Gil Andersen (Marion) and Tinkler (Marion).

  1. Harroun, time - 8:16.8
  2. Dawson
  3. Fox*

*Note that in the attachment the box score differs from the narrative with respect to the finishing order. The box score indicates that Frank Fox finished third while the narrative credits the driver "Schifler" with that placing.
Fifth Race
This was another five-mile sprint, Class B, Division 4 cars of 301 to 450 cubic engines and a weight minimum of 2,000 pounds. Six cars started and Tom Kincaid brought his National home first with a time of 4:05.76. This was reportedly a world record. Dawson finished second with another Marmon. Dawson led until the very end when Kincaid nipped him at the finish with a margin of two tenths of a second. Other competitors mentioned in the mix are: Harroun (Marmon), Charlie Merz (National) and Leigh Lynch (Jackson). Willis described this event as a "rainbow race" because of the vibrant colors of the cars: yellow, blue, brown and white.

  1. Kincaid - 4:05.76
  2. Dawson
  3. Harroun

At this point in the article the information is confusing. A list of 13 cars is provided with no explanation of how they are relevant to any part of the event. My guess this is a typesetting error but I flag this for you as if you download and read the attachment you may be wondering. This kind of thing happened occasionally in the assembly and printing of newspapers of the era. Times are also included but again it is not clear what this data is referencing. If you read on you realize the information is out of place and has to do with handicap race, event seven. Also, one thing I find disappointing about this article is that Willis only mentions drivers by last name, even on first reference. I supply the first names when I know them. Here is this "orphan" list:
"Hupmobile (Gelnaw), 2:00; Empire (Motsinger), 1:40; Warren-Detroit (Miller), 1:00; Cole (Bill Endicott), :55; Marion (Tinkler), :50; National (Tousey), :35; Marion (Gil Andersen), :35; Jackson (Lynch), :30; National (Art Greiner), :30; Pope-Hartford (Frank Fox), :25; National (Don Herr), :20; American (Herb Lytle), :20; National (Johnny Aitken), :15."
Sixth Race
Frankly, this race of three National cars sounds like it was a bit underwhelming. Barney Oldfield in the Conduitt Automobile Company Knox was entered but scratched after breaking a steering knuckle presumably in practice. That meant that the two senior National pilots - Aitken and Kincaid - squared off with a young Howdy Wilcox. Apparently some speculated that the more experienced drivers would cut the future 1919 Indianapolis 500 winner a break but they obviously did not understand the racer mentality. Aitken got the better of his teammates to win the ten-miler in a time of 8:25:94. Kincaid was competitive, leading the second and third laps. Wilcox trailed the entire contest.

  1. Aitken, time - 8:25.94
  2. Kincaid
  3. Wilcox

Seventh Race
This was a five-mile handicap race and was almost certainly the contest associated with "orphaned" data noted above. I think this is clearly a case of a typesetting error as I suggested earlier. The article even has a point where it says, "Following is the handicap slate:" but nothing that makes sense follows that.
Art Greiner in his privately owned National won the contest with a time of 5:44.90. Harry Stutz, just months before founding his own company, was still chief engineer for Marion. Apparently there was another bit of controversy at the tech committee apparently had recorded a wrong practice time and as a result established an unfair handicap for the small engine machine of only 255 cubic inches.
As suggested in the "orphaned" data the Hupmobile driven by Gelnaw (again, Willis does not provide his first name but I have seen a driver named Gelnaw referred to as "J.F." and "Frank" in other sources) started first - essentially, the biggest head start. It's likely the handicap calls were flawed for several cars as Greiner was seeded fifth but jumped to first in the second and final lap. Frank Fox went from eleventh to sixth in the two laps while Warren-Detroit driver Miller fell from sixth to last at the finish.

  1. Greiner, time - 5:44.90 (with handicap subtraction 3:44.90)
  2. Tousey
  3. Reed (Stoddard-Dayton)

Eighth Race
This contest was referred to as as a "millionaire race," a concept discussed by track management months prior. Hoping to attract the likes of William K. Vanderbilt, Jr., this five-mile had to fall well short of the original vision. Greiner won again but the only other competitor named was Tousey, who like Greiner also drove a National. Caleb Bragg, like Greiner a Chicagoan, had his amateur status called into question with accusations that his Fiat was actually a factory entry. Greiner's winning time was 4:09.30.
A humorous side note is that both drivers jumped Fred Wagner's starting pistol but he just let them go. Also, Herb Lytle showed up with his American racer apparently confused as to which event was being staged. As a professional he was not an entry.
Note that in the attachment for whatever reason there is no box score result. The box scores appear at the end of the attached original article. I guess it is understandable in that there were only two drivers but it also creates confusion for the reader which I think is unfortunate.
Ninth Race
This was a five-mile free-for-all open race which meant anyone could enter and there was no handicap. There were seven starters and interestingly only two of them, Bob Burman (Buick) and Johnny Aitken (National) carried riding mechanics. Despite great starts by Aitken, Burman and Kincaid (National), Caleb Bragg in his Fiat led the first lap. Burman was second with Aitken, Lytle, Harroun and Kincaid following. Burman took Bragg for the win in the next two and a half miles with Harroun third and Lytle, Aitken and Kincaid trailing in that order.
I find it suprising, perhaps shocking that there is no mention of this race at the Speedway Helmet event. As the winner, Burman not only took home the  trophy but also the $50 weekly salary that came with it when he ushered his white Buick forward past Caleb Bragg's red Fiat in the final turn. This was arguably the second most important event of the day and yet its special trophy is not mentioned. Honestly, the more I think about this article it's not one of Willis' best efforts, it is like he mailed it in.

  1. Burman, time - 3:37.24
  2. Bragg
  3. Harroun

Tenth Race
This was the feature, the historic 100-mile Prest-O-Lite Trophy. National scored a one-two sweep with Kincaid winning followed by teammate Charlie Merz with Leigh Lynch in a Jackson third. That report is a bit deceiving in that it wasn't a walkover for National. In particular the yellow Marmons gave them all they could handle.
Marmon's Joe Dawson led the first lap before being passed by National's top driver Johnny Aitken. Although not detailed in this attachment Aitken encountered mechanical problems and had to stop after ten miles. Harroun took command but also was forced to stop by lap 13 allowing teammate Dawson back to the front. Dawson looked like a sure winner as he led to 35th lap (there were 40) when he encounterd valve trouble. Kincaid assumed command with Merz and Lynch chasing him home.

  1. Kincaid, time - 1:23:43.12
  2. Merz
  3. Lynch
IMStrials052710.pdf2 MB