Race Day, May 28, 1910

This attachment contains an article which orginally appeared in the May 29, 1910 Indianapolis Star. The article reports on the race results for the second day of racing (May 28) for 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 other articles that provide additional summaries on the results of the races staged the previous day (May 27). You can also find an article published May 28 that set the stage for the day's program elsewhere on First Super Speedway.
C.E. Shuart (who later served as Joe Dawson's manager) was recognized with the byline of the attached article. The report starts off with a call out summarizing results of the day. Come to think of it, that's a good way to kick off this analysis as well:

Shuart adheres to the unfortunate convention of the day and fails to provide first names even on his initial reference. I supplied them in the above information based on my own knowledge. Despite the rundown of events above what Shuart really does with this article is report on the feature of the day, the Wheeler-Schebler Trophy.
For several reasons this may have been the single most important of the pre-Indianapolis 500 races staged at the then-young Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Consider that it, along with the biggest events of the other two summer race meets in July and September, it was the longest of the races held on the track prior to the first 500-miler. As the first 200-miler it provided compelling evidence long-distance trials could be staged on the brick running surface without catastrophic accidents. It also demonstrated that the Memorial Day weekend timing was ideal for attracting large crowds - and became what is annually auto racing's biggest day of the year, a tradition today that extends beyond the confines of IMS.
Consider this, too - Ray Harroun, forever memorialized as the first man to win the Indianapolis 500, was the winner of this amazing race. While the Wheeler-Schebler Trophy was not an Indianapolis 500 and so by no means can you say Harroun is effectively a two-time "500" winner I suggest he was something close to that. In terms of Indianapolis open wheel cars on the oval he is the winner of the race with the third-longest planned distance. Dario Resta is recorded as a winner of the 1916 Indianapolis 500 but that race was only planned to be 300 miles. Other Indianapolis 500 races have been shortened by rain but the rule requiring that the winner at least cover 250 miles or half the scheduled distance prevents anyone being awarded the prize at a shorter distance.
Also, as noted elsewhere on First Super Speedway, Harroun drove the same Marmon Wasp he soared into iconic status a year leader by seizing triumph at the first Indianapolis 500. This is not a well-known fact as the folklore promulgated by publicists for decades was that he designed the Wasp especially for the Indianapolis 500. It just simply isn't true. What's more he nearly totaled the Wasp two days later when he blew a tire entering the Speedway's turn three wall and nearly launched out of the ballpark. Instead, the badly damaged yellow car rode the wall and fell back onto the track. While Marmon mechanics considered junking the racer they reconsidered and it was restored within a few weeks. Note that in the article the car is referred to as both a "Wasp" and a "Yellow Jacket." His winning time was a national record.
Competiors should have paid closer attention to Harroun's strategy in winning the Wheeler-Schebler Trophy. It is discussed in this article and is the exact same approach he employed in his 1911 win. Instead of pushing his car and perhaps more importantly his tires to the limit he let the race come to him. He drove at a brisk but measured pace, averaging 72.12 MPH. This allowed him to stop only once for fuel - not tires. The article reports that he used one set of tires for the entire race. This was impossible a year later in the face of 500 miles but on that occasion the tire changes were held to a minimum. Only the right rear tire was changed because that is where most of a car's weight shifts in the banked left-hand corners and consequently produces greatest scuffing of rubber. 
The article reports that the event drew 25,000 people who cheered Harroun like he was "a victorious Roman general." Note that in the early portion of the article he is referred to as "The Bedouin," in reference to some alleged Arabian heritage that the facts did not bear out. The starting field consisted of 19 entries with 16 cars running at the finish - an impressive number in these still-nascent days of auto racing.
Buick's Louis Chevrolet, true to his relentless reputation, shot into the lead at the start with Harroun trailing. Bob Burman, in a second white Buick team car, got past both drivers to lead briefly but by the fifteenth mile or six laps Harroun was in front to stay. It was pure domination despite his consistent performance that never pushed his equipment to its limits. National driver Tom Kincaid held second at ten miles but faded for reasons unreported. Harroun's teammate, Joe Dawson, worked his way to second place only to be undone by an accident, I believe exiting turn two. There was a tall plank fence lining the track at that point and the yellow Marmon crashed through it.
The grueling contest took its toll on other entrants as Burman blew a tire at 61 miles - just before Dawson's wreck. Although the article is unclear it does report that Chevrolet had to report to the pits with tire or engine problems - or both. Crowd favorite Barney Oldfield - not well known for caring for his tires - blew a rear tire (probably the right rear) on his Knox racer entering turn one at 31 miles. The demountable rim - a sperate piece in those days that came affixed to the tire and then could be bolted to the hickory wheels - loosened and the destroyed tire parted from the car entirely. It rolled to the outer wall.
The Knox skidded violently but Oldfield, as good a wheelman as there was in the business, displayed his car control mastery to fans who responded with applause and cheers. The cigar-chomper regained control of the brown Knox and limped around to the pits for service. He had been running seventh but the incident took him completely out of contention. The reality is that his machine was truly stock car - provided by the Conduitt Automobile Company, a local dealership - could not hope to be a match with the likes of the purpose-built Marmon Wasp. He reportedly drove valiantly to pass other competitors but he was several laps down.
National's star driver Johnny Aitken delivered an inspired performance despite setbacks. He was forced to stop three times to replace spark plugs and tires. Even with the delays his efforts did yield some reward as he brought his midnight blue car home third. In his efforts to make up time he may have been the fastest car on the track, passing Harroun to earn back one of his lost laps. He lapped second-place finisher Leigh Lynch in the Jackson twice but was simply too far behind to advance beyond third.
Shuart heaps high praise on second-place finisher Leigh Lynch and his Jackson car. He describes a conservative but determined race strategy similar to Harroun's which enabled Lynch to drive the entire contest without a pit stop. Lynch averaged just under 71 MPH for the 200 miles.
Shuart spins a nice piece of prose in describing the color of the substance of the race. I want to share it here:
"As the race came near the finish motors began to snap more vigorously and occasionally a car would send a thrill through the stands when the oil burned from the exhaust pipes and flames shot out the hood sides many feet. Tires popped and sent cars skidding along the course and smoke clouds half concealed the fast moving caravan many times as the gas was fed fast to bring about a sudden spurt of speed. The picture thus painted came in keeping with the grimy faces of the drivers and mechanics as they whirled around the course, the white teeth showing almost the only human semblance of the entire flying figure."
Even more spectacular than Joe Dawson's fence-splintering mishap was the accident that befell veteran speedster Herb Lytle in the American. This occurred during the last lap of the 10-mile handicap race on the short chute at the north end of the track. Both his car's rear tires reportedly exploded within 30 feet of each other to hurtle the big machine into the soft dirt of the infield at 90 MPH. This no doubt caught the disintegrating wheels and induced an abrupt stop, the energy of which sent both Lytle and his riding mechanic William Clifton of Philadelphia hurtling through the air. Lytle suffered a broken left leg while Clifton sprained his shoulder. The car was apparently, and not surprisingly, severely damaged.

IMScoverage052910.pdf1.75 MB