Fred Wagner & Pen & Ink

This image first appeared in the August 15, 1909 Indianapolis Star. The same photo ran in the same paper on August 1, but without the supporting pen and ink art.
Both uses of the photo were part of the build-up to the first auto races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway beginning August 19 of that year. The American Automobile Association (AAA) was announcing the team of officials that would be assigned to those races and this image is of the starter, Fred Wagner.
Fred Wagner was the recognized premier auto race starter of America in the sport's early days. Wagner was the first starter of the Indianapolis 500 and returned the following year only to engage in an argument with Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Carl Fisher - and to be dis-invited from playing the role in future "500's." Wagner was the starter of choice for all the early major auto races in the United States. With the exception of the inaugural in 1904, Wagner started every Vanderbilt Cup race conducted on Long Island. The role of the starter in those days not only involved displaying flags for starting, finishing and warnings during the contest, it was more of a director of operations role. Unlike today, there were no ear pieces connecting the "flag man" to race control through a communications system. The starter needed to make the judgments to provide order to the races.
Wagner was a character and penned his autobiography, "Saga of the Roaring Road," found elsewhere on First Super Speedway. As a memoir the book has its flawed recollections and outright exaggerations. Nonetheless Wagner is a wonderful personality among the pioneers of racing.

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