Warner Electric Timer - 1910

The attached article orginally appeared in the May 22, 1910 Indianapolis Star as part of the build-up to the May 1910 race meet at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This was the Sunday edition of the paper just five days prior to the beginning of the meet and as such was packed with articles concerning the event in anticipation of subscribers spending more time with the paper over coffee on their day of rest. Because this article was previewing the May 1910 "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. 
This article focused on the the timing system created by Warner Speedometer Company of Arthur Pratt "A.P." Warner and Charles H. Warner that was to be used at the races. The article indicates that the scoring system would be "carried on" to the new large scoreboards that had recently been installed at the Speedway. Exactly how they would be integrated with the scoreboards is not described but I suspect it was a manual, not electrical, process.
The description of the device is also unclear and from other reports I have gathered the impression that these early systems were not at particularly effective. Check out this excerpt from the article:
"The race timer is equipped with four type wheels, operated like an odometer, recording hours, minutes, seconds an hundredths of a second. The record is made on a paper tape through a carbon ribbon by small hammers, actuated by electro magnets located over the type wheels."
If you are beginning to get the impression that the device was a bit of a Rube Goldberg kind of contraption my guess is you are right on. The next sentence in the article makes me wonder if the writer even understood what he was trying describe:
"In the circuit of the magnet that operates the hammers is a relay switch operated by an electro magnet in a circuit which is normally closed."
Got that?
Here's the part that always amazes me. They actually stretched a wire across the track surface at the tape for the cars to run over. The wire was not laying on the track, it was literally suspended inches above the running surface. This was designed with the intention of breaking the circuit when a car ran over it. The interruption to the circuit triggered - or was supposed to trigger - the activation of the "hammers" which typed the elapsed time onto a ticker tape.
By all accounts I have seen this technology was used time and again but it invariably proved problematic in races involving multiple cars. For individual timed runs it seems reasonable that the system might have improved accuracy over handheld stop watches but how the machine could have kept account of multiple cars chasing after one another is difficult to imagine. The cars, sometimes in groups, would have smashed that wire draped over the track almost without pause. Not surprisingly, the reports I see is that the wire snapped pretty early on in extended races like the first Indianapolis 500.  
As if to reassure or even amaze the reader the article closes with these words:
"A small motor which drives the type wheels is electrically controlled and corrected by an accurate chronometer. Any variation in rotation of driving shaft is corrected every second to within 1/1000 of a second."
There was an article similar to the one attached below in 1909 during the lead-up to the first auto race meet at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Check out additional information about the Warner Electric Timer and the men behind it elsewhere of First Super Speedway:

IMSwarnerDevice052210.pdf223.76 KB