Merz Wreck 2

This image is of the scene immediately following the worst accident of the tragic first auto racing race meet at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In the background you can see the upside down, destroyed hulk of the National Motor Vehicle Company race car of driver driver Charlie Merz. In the foreground you can see uniformed soldiers standing over the bodies of two men. If you look closely you can see the bottoms of the shoes of one of the men - almost certainly spectators.
Two spectators also died in the devestating accident. These were James West and Homer Jolliff, the men lying in the foreground of this image may be them. Several others were injured including a man named Henry Tapking. Merz, 22 years old, crawled out from underneath his racer amazingly unscathed asking for those nearby to inform his parents that he was fine.
A cluster of track workers can be seen to the left of the back of the car. They are probably huddled around the body of mechanic Claude Kellum who was riding with Merz at the time. Kellum survived for a brief time following the wreck but subcumbed to his extensive injuries after a short while. The accident occurred during the running of the final race of the third and final day of the meet, the Wheeler Schebler Trophy.
The unfortunate Kellum was not originally assigned to the car but replaced Herbert Lyne, the riding mechanic who started with Merz. Lyne fainted in the pits during the race after running from the backstretch to retrieve supplies for the stalled Merz car. Kellum, who started the race with teammate Johnny Aitken in a car that failed after 100 miles, sprang into action to return to Merz and deliver what was needed to return his car to the race. This image first appeared in the August 22, 1909 Indianapolis Star.
Check out other angels of the Merz wreck elsewhere on First Super Speedway. You can also find an image of endagered spectators prior to the accident.

MerzWreck2.jpg1.63 MB