Great Film: Indy in 1919,'20,'21


This video is the fourth in a multi-part series on the history of auto racing and primarily focuses on the Indianapolis 500 from 1919 through 1921. The footage is absolutely fantastic, with several scenes of what would be unthinkable today - drivers and mechanics pushing disabled cars along the inside apron to get them back to their pits.


The deadly 1919 Indianapolis, where three men were killed, is brought home with all its brutality as the damaged cars are captured on film. One note: in the 1920 race where once again foul luck thwarted a brilliant Ralph De Palma drive, the film's narrator says "De Palma's mechanic" runs back to the pits for fuel. Such a description hardly seems adequate as the man they show running was Peter DePaolo,  Ralph's nephew and winner of the 1925 Indianapolis 500. Another interest shot is of Tommy Milton's 1921 world land speed record car - a Duesenberg he drove to over 156 mph on Daytona Beach.


This segment of the documentary - which I believe was created in the 1950's - attempts to illustrate the transition from the early pioneering days to what many called the "golden age" of the 1920's. It opens with more outstanding footage of the 1914 French Grand Prix, which resulted in a French nightmare: a 1-2-3 sweep by the German Mercedes entries.