AP reprints 105 -year-old report from first Indianapolis 500

September 20, 2017

Ray Harroun races in the 1911 Indy 500. ( AP)

A lot has changed in the 105 years since the first Indy 500. Not simply the cars and drivers, but also the style the race is covered.

To mark the 100 th the efforts of the event this year, the Associated Press dug into its storehouses and reprinted its report from the first race in 1911, won by Ray Harroun in his yellow Marmon Wasp.

Its a historical artifact filled with words like mechanician and whirligig that might resulting you to believe that Mr. Burns from The Simpsons was one of the uncredited journalists behind the piece, who had never witnessed something like the 500 before and were creating a new style of reporting along the way.


( Associated Press Night Report .)

INDIANAPOLIS SPEEDWAY, May 30 Eighty-five thousand spectators assured forty of the most wonderful motor cars on globe started at 10 o’clock this morning in the great 500 -mile speed battle in which one human lost his life and three others were seriously injured.

Johnny Aitkin, in the National, jumped into the result at the end of the first mile but withdrew after fighting for 325 miles of the contest.

David Bruce Brown in the Fiat held the leading at the end of 100 miles, but his time was well behind the record of Teddy Tetzlaff, which is 1h. 14 m. 29 s. Spencer Wishart, in the Mercedes, was pushing Brown hard at the end of 125 miles but the Fiat driver held his place. Tire trouble stymie the Mercedes, and Brown continued to gain, simply to lose his place afterwards in the race to Harroun, in the Marmon, and Mulford, in the Lozier.

In the first lap the cars strung out all around the course. Aitken, in the National, held research results, with De Palma in the Simplex second, and Wishart, in the Mercedes, third.

The leaders, pressing the tail-enders of the preceding lap, constructed the race right at its beginning an enormous and desperate whirligig. The thousands of spectators leaned forward in their seats and hollered wildly as their favourites passed. The great bowl of the speedway was filled with the deafening thunder of the explosions of the forty motors as the hooded drivers, bending low over their steering wheels, pushed their engines to the farthest.

At the end of the first 150 miles of the 500 -mile automobile race at( term illegible) today, one mechanician had been killed and a driver perhaps fatally injured. Four of the forty autoes that started had been withdrawn because of breakdowns. David Bruce-Brown, driving a Fiat, was leading a long grind that promised to continue until 5:30 o’clock this afternoon.

S.P. Dickson, mechanician for Arthur Greiner of Chicago, driving an Amplex car, lost his life in an upset on the back stretching in the 13 th mile of the race. Greiner suffered several broken rib and perhaps concussion of the brain. Surgeons at the field hospital would not make a statement as to the probable outcome of his injuries.

The accident was caused by the throwing of a front tire. The machine skidded to the infield and whirled exclusively around, tearing off both back wheels. Dickson was hurled against a fencing. His body was awfully mangled. Greiner was hurled to the way. An exam at the field hospital, and a report made by the attending physicians, dedicates Greiner more than a fair chance to recover.

Bruce-Brown’s time for the 150 miles was 1h. 59 m. 12 s ., which is a new record, the old mark being 2h 1m .( detail illegible) by Joe Dawson of Atlanta last year. The automobiles were strung out behind the leaders all around the two and one-half mile course. The scorching pace burned up the tires and most of the cars had stopped one or more periods at the pits for changes.

Several of the drivers apparently preferred to keep up a steady grind two or three laps behind the leaders. There were few sensational brushes for leadership.

After the two hundredth mile several of the pilots fell out to rest a few minutes and relief drivers took their places in the cars. Patsche drove the Marmon “Wasp” for Harroun for several laps, and Lindenstruth replaced for Hearne in a Benz.

In a mix-up of Lyttle Apperson, Knight’s, Westcott and Jagersburger’s Case, immediately in front of the grand stand, John Glover, Knight’s mechanician, suffered an injury to the spine. The others escaped anything more than bruises by a wonderfully fortunate defined of circumstances.

The Case car contravened its steer gear and skidded to one side of the style. Larroneur, the mechanician, fell out and the car passed over his leg. The automobiles behind stimulated desperate building further efforts to escape a accident and all of them veered by safely except the Westcott and the Apperson, which turned over.

Eleven vehicles had receded because of accidents and breakdowns within the two hundred and fiftieth mile was reached. Thus left a field of twenty-nine automobiles to finish the last half of the races. The entries withdrawn up to this stage were: Louis Disbrow, Pope-Hartford; Harry Knight, Westcott; Joe Jagersburger, Case; Arthur Chevrolet, Buick; Charles Basle, Buick; Harry Grant, Alco, Ellis, Jackson; Teddy Tetzlaff, Lozier; Herb Lyttle, Apperson; Caleb Bragg, Fiat; Arthur Greiner, Amplex.

Ray Harroun( Marmon) had taken the leading from David Bruce-Brown at the 200 -mile mark. Harroun’s time for that distance was 3hrs, 43 m ., 21 s. Brown was second and Ralph Mulford( Lozier) was third.

At 300 miles Ray Harroun continued to lead. His time was 4hrs, 3m, 24 s. Ralph Mulford, in the Lozier, was second, and Bruce-Brown, in the Fiat, third.

Ray Harroun, in his Marmon, had a leave of about three laps at 350 miles. His time was 4 hrs, 44 m. 14 s. Ralph Mulford, Lozier, second; Joe Dawson, Marmon, third. Twenty-eight of the original starters continued in the race at this time.

At 400 miles Harroun, in the Marmon, was well in the lead. His time for that distance was 5hrs. 22 m. 15 s. Ralph Mulford, in the Lozier, was second, and Bruce-Brown, with the Fiat, third. Twenty-seven vehicles remained to drive the last 100 miles of the race.

The median day make use of Harroun in his Marmon for the first 400 miles was seventy-seven miles an hour.

As the cars dashed into the last 100 miles of the race it appeared that the drivers, instead of weakening from tirednes, and the nervous strain, gained assurance. They took more the chance of attempting to lead one another at the turnings and the crowd, excited by the mishaps and the hairbreadth escapes of the working hours, watched the cars eagerly as they turned in and out of the home stretching and the back stretch.

At 470 miles, Harroun, Marmon, resulted, Bruce-Brown, Fiat, second, Mulford, Lozier, third, Dawson, Marmon, fourth, and De Palma, Simplex, fifth.

At 480 miles the three resulting vehicles were less than thirty seconds apart.

Mulford, in the Lozier, raced ahead of Bruce-Bowen, in the Fiat, for second, at 480 miles. Harroun, Marmon, in the lead, was being mobbed by Mulford; hour, 6hrs. 25 m.

The thousands of spectators in the stands rose to their feet as the three leaders in the race entered the final 20 miles. Harroun( Marmon) was resulting with Bruce-Brown only half a mile behind, and Mulford( Lozier) trailing Bruce-Brown about the same distance. Bruce-Brown gained on Harroun and it was apparent that the finish would be very close.

The Marmon “Wasp” induced merely 4 stops during the course of its entire operate, each time to change tires on a rear wheel. Each day oil and gasoline tanks were filled to prevent stopping for fuel.

After one of the early stops Patsche alleviated Harroun at the wheel for a short time.

Harroun was born at Spartansburg, Wis ., and is 29 years old. He holds a long listing of records and has won many trophies. Harroun won more firsts than any other driver during 1910. He retired from the racing game at the close of the season but was induced to compete in this 500 -mile event.

He has won among other trophies the 200 -mile trophy, the Atlanta speedway trophy, Atlanta Automobile Association trophy, and the two hour’s race for all trophies of the Los Angeles Motodrome.

As Harroun drove up to the Marmon pit he was surrounded by a wildly enthusiastic rabble. He operated his vehicle into the infield and stopped.

“Gee, I’m hungry, ” he said, as he crawled out from under the steering wheel.

Asked to make a formal statement the conqueror in the first 500 -mile event ever run on a speedway said: “All credit is due my vehicle for the victory. At no time was the throttle wide open and I relied wholly on consistent high speed to win for me over occasional explosions in the back stretching. The climate was perceptibly warm, although I did not suffer in any way from the heat.

“The last hundred miles was by far the easiest of the entire go and the car was less difficult to handle on the turnings. At first there was a inclination to slip, which increased toward the 200 -mile mark but from that time I had little difficulty in holding the car to its course.

“In my estimation the limit is reached at 500 miles and is wholly too long for the endurance of the driver.”

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