Keene's Marmon Wreck at IMS - 1909

This image artifact is derived from a photo was part of the news coverage of the tragic first auto racing event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The image is of the wrecked Marmon no. 17 racer of driver Bruce Keene that first appeared in the August 23, 1909, Indianapolis News. Riding mechanic James Schiller rode with Keene. The accident occurred during the final contest of the entire meet, the Wheeler-Schebler Trophy race. While both men survived Schiller was thrown from the car to incur a scalp wound and what might have been a concussion.
These races were controversial due to the devastating fatal accidents on the first and third days of the meet. In all, five men were killed:

The single most destructive race was the final event of the entire three days, the Wheeler-Schebler Trophy which was scheduled for 300 miles but was called off at 235 miles with Jackson Automobile Company driver Leigh Lynch in the lead. The big accident of the day occurred when the National Motor Vehicle Company racer driven by Charlie Merz blew a tire, crashed through the fencing lining the course and catapulted into the crowd. Riding Mechanic Kellum lost his life as did spectators West and Jolliff.
The Keene-Schiller incident occurred some 30 minutes after the calamitous Merz wreck. The image demonstrates that Keene hit one of support pillars (abutments) of the pedestrian suspension bridge. This was approximately the spot where Bourque and Holcomb had their fatal accident on Thursday, the first day of the meet.
The shadowy figures that look like something the demons who came and pulled evil souls into Hell during the Demi Moore flick, "Ghost," were actually National Guardsmen hired by Speedway management to fend off opportunistic souvenir hunters swarming wrecked machinery - or simply running onto the course during the heat of competition. You can see their distinctive wide-brim hats, the knickerbocker-style pants, boots and, in the foreground the canteen hanging from a soldier's utility belt. Grainy as it is, this image artifact helps an active imagination to flesh out the setting - so sink your eyeballs into it and stay a while.
Here's the caption that supported the original photo:
"The unfortunate accident in which Bruce Keene's Marmon skidded off the track and struck the bridge support caused grief and sore disappointment in the Marmon camp, where the belief had grown almost to a certainty that the three Marmon cars entered in the long grind of three hundred miles would stick to the end, and either the win or all be placed. Up to the time of the accident, with 235 miles covered, all three cars had run consistently, without distress, and all were humming along at about the same rate at which they had started, with nothing broken, nothing weakened, and apparently good for several hundred miles more. The Marmons, of course, raised no objection to having the race called off after this second accident within a few minutes of the first, but they naturally felt that hard luck had robbed them of the credit for a remarkably fine showing."

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