Charlie Merz, 1905

This image of Indianapolis 500 veteran Charlie Merz in his 1905 National Motor Vehicle Company stock car racer was submitted by Charles Test of Chuck's ToylandCharlie Merz was an impressive player in auto racing's early days. At just 17 - as you see him here - he and co-driver "Jap" Clemens set a new 24-hour world speed record in November 1905 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds driving a National Motor Vehicle Company stock car. 
This image may well be of the car Merz used to set the 24-hour record. This photo is actually from another race meet held earlier that same November - 11/05/05 - at the same Indiana State Fairgrounds oval. The feature was for stripped stock cars and the class of the field was the National Motor Vehicle Company entries for star driver "Jap" Clemens and 17-year-old marvel Charlie Merz. The team's leader was Arthur C. Newby, a top officer at National and another of the future Speedway founders. The two cars dominated from start to finish, their only competition was one another. Merz had the misfortune to suffer tire failure and crash through the wooden railing during the 95th mile. Not only was Merz unhurt but also the car was repaired and competed in other sprint events later in the day.
Clemens' winning time was a new record for the distance during wheel-to-wheel competition. He covered the 100 miles in 1 hour, 53 minutes and 21.8 seconds. His winning margin over second place Ray McNamara in a Premier was a full half hour. The race was the first event of the day, starting at noon and ending at about 3 o'clock. Only two of five starters survived to the end. In addition to the two Nationals and the Premier, there was a Marion driven by Fred Tone and a Maxwell with no driver named in news accounts. All these brands were manufactured in Indianapolis.
The back of the photo you see here dates the image as November 5, 1905. The race meet was postponed to the following day due to rain.

1905_CHAS MERZ.jpg2.3 MB