Lewis Strang, "Scorcher"

This image first appeared in the December 18, 1909 Indianapolis Star as part of that day's coverage of the first time trials at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after the 2.5 mile oval was paved with 3.2 million bricks. During this era daring drivers who pushed their cars to the limits of speed were known as scorchers and nobody was better than the man pictured here, Lewis Strang. This was never more true than when he was at the wheel of this 200 HP Fiat - the same machine he used to scorch the new speedway at Atlanta the previous month when he established several new American speed records.
This picture is of Strang screaming down the front stretch of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on a very frigid day where the temperatures barely reached 14 degrees Fahrenheit. Strang helped crush the Atlanta records and re-establish the Speedway as the fastest venue in America at the time. The story of Strang's "Giant" Fiat appears elsewhere on First Super Speedway. In 1910 Ralph DePalma succeeded Strang as driver of this great car.
This event was precipitated by Indianapolis Motor Speedway Founder & President Carl Fisher's determination to bury the memory of the track's first (and tragic) auto race meet the previous August as well as establish the Brickyard as the fastest track in America. This mantle had been claimed by rival Atlanta Speedway during their inaugural race meet in November. Fisher wanted to squeeze into 1909 new, official speed records so year-end reflections would list his facility at the top in America if not the world. The rivalry between the Brickyard and the Atlanta track was so strong that the southerners later cried foul, charging in a protest that IMS Director of Contests Ernie Moross had falsified records set at the time trial meet.

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