Merz Wreck 3

This image is of the scene immediately following the worst accident of the tragic first auto racing race meet at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Upside down, the destroyed hulk of the National Motor Vehicle Company race car of driver Charlie Merz can be seen center right. A cluster of track workers can be seen 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 succumbed 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.
Two spectators also died in the devastating accident. These were James West and Homer Jolliff. Several others were injured including a man named Henry TapkingMerz, 22 years old, crawled out from underneath his racer amazingly unscathed asking for those nearby to inform his parents that he was fine. Check out other angles of the Merz wreck elsewhere on First Super Speedway. You can also find an image of endangered spectators prior to the accident.

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