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Harroun is in Lead at 300

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Pre-WWII Racing Topics:  Indianapolis 500

Harroun is in Lead at 300

Indianapolis News
May 30, 1911

New Records Made Over 200-Mark for Speedway—Mulford Second.







Special to The Indianapolis News

INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, May 30.—At three hundred miles Ray Harroun, in a Marmon, continued to lead in the five-hundred-mile race. His time was 4 hours, 3 minutes and 24 seconds. Ralph Mulford was second; D. Bruce-Brown third.

At 280 miles, Harroun led the field of racers, the time being 3:50:45.

As two hundred miles is the longest speedway race heretofore, the marks set after that figure were the record.

Bruce-Brown Close Up.
Bruce-Brown, in a Fiat, was a close second and Ralph Mulford, in Lozier 33, was third. It was about this time that Harroun thrilled the crowd by saving himself from serious accident. For some reason, his car started to skid on the slippery track in front of the grand stand and for a an instant it was thought another accident was to be added to the list.

Harroun managed to straighten the car and he speeded away much to the delight of the crowd, the people rising to their feet and shouting their pleasure. Dawson was fourth and DePalma, Cobe, Merz, Turner, Aitken and Gil Anderson, in the Stutz car, followed in the order named. Mulford is in Second.
Harroun crossed the tape leading at the three hundredth mile. Mulford had slipped up into second position, Bruce-Brown was third DePalma was fourth. Harry Cobe was fifth, Aitken sixth, Wishart seventh, Turner eighth, Merz ninth and Gil Anderson tenth. The time, for the three hundred miles, was 4:03:24.

The car in the lead at 280 miles was Studebaker, Harroun’s helper, in Marmon “32.” Bruce-Brown, in his Fiat, was second, DePalma, in a Simplex, third; Ralph Mulford, in a Lozier; Wishart, in a Mercedes; Dawson, in his Marmon; Cobe, in a Jackson; Turner, in an Amplex 12, and Merz and Wilcox in two National cars, were running in the order named.

At the end of two hundred miles, shortly before 1 o’clock, Ray Harroun, driving a Marmon No. 32, led the racers.

In passing the two hundred mark in 2:43:21, Harroun established a new speedway record. The former record for the distance, 2:53:48, being made by Louis Disbrow, in Rapier, at the Atlanta speedway, November 13, 1909. Pressing Harroun was David Bruce-Brown, in Fiat 28, and in third-place, close behind was Ralph Mulford, in Lozier 33. Spencer Wishart, in a Mercedes, was fourth, followed by Harry Knight, in a Westcott; Ralph De Palma, in a Simplex; Joe Dawson, in a Marmon; Bill Turner, in an Amplex; Lytle, in an Apperson, and Harry Cobe, in a Jackson. W. L. Studebaker relieved Harroun when the latter stopped for tire trouble.

Johnny Aitken, in a National, led the bunch at the end of the first lap, with Ralph DePalma in a Simplex second. Spencer Wishart’s Mercedes had pulled up into third place and Fred Belcher’s Knox was in fourth place. Louis Disbrow’s Pope-Hartford was fifth, and Turner’s Amplex, sixth; Hearne’s Fiat, seventh; Fox’s Pope-Hartford, eighth; Endicott’s Interstate, ninth, and Strang’s Case, tenth. The other cars were strung well around the course before they crossed the tape. The first car to stop was Chevrolet’s Buick, a punctured tire bringing him to the pits on the rim in the tenth mile.

DePalma Bursts Ahead.
At the end of twenty miles, Spencer Wishart’s Mercedes led, Belcher’s Knox was second. Aitken’s National third, DePalma’s Simplex fourth, Bruce-Brown’s Fiat fifth, Harroun’s Marmon sixth, Dawson’s Marmon seventh, Turner’s Amplex eighth, Lytle’s Apperson ninth, and Disbrow’s Pope-Hartford tenth. Time: 15:06.

Basle’s Buick stopped in the twentieth mile because of a broken tire and again in the thirtieth mile. Wishart’s Mercedes stopped shortly after the twentieth mile because of tire trouble.

At the end of fifty miles the racers were stretched all along the big brick course. Aitken, in his National, was in first place and David Bruce-Brown, in his Fiat, was pressing him. Wishart’s Mercedes was third. Time: 41:07.

With a burst of speed that amazed the spectators, Ralph DePalma, in his Simplex, overcame a long lead, and in the sixtieth mile was ahead. Bruce-Brown still clung to second place, and Harry Knight, in a Westcott, had moved up into third place. Time: 48:56.

The rapidly changing positions of the cars caused much confusion among the scorers.

Bruce-Brown to Front.
Ten cars leading, in order named at the end of seventy miles, were Bruce-Brown, who jumped ahead of DePalma, the latter being in second place. Johnny Aitken, who had suffered a slump, had pulled his National up into third place. Knight stood fourth, and Wild Bill Turner, in his Amplex, was fifth. Wishart was sixth; Charley Merz, in a National, seventh; Mulford, in a Lozier, eighth; Harry Grant, in an Alco, ninth, and Cobe, in a Jackson, was tenth. Time: 56:25.

Bruce-Brown still led at the eightieth and at the ninetieth mile. The two Loziers, driven by Tedzlaff and Mulford, were second and third, respectively. Harry Knight was in fourth place, and Aitken fifth. The ninety miles was made in 1:12:34. Bruce-Brown Breaks Record.

The record for one hundred miles was broken when Bruce-Brown in a Fiat crossed the tape at the end of one hundred miles in 1:22:16. The old record, which had stood since November 13, 1909, was 1:22:35, made by George Robertson in a Fiat at Atlanta.

Following Bruce-Brown at the end of one hundred miles were Mulford, Wishart, Joe Dawson, Merz, Turner, Knight, Burman, Aitken and DePalma, in order named.

Some of the most sensational driving ever seen came at the close of the first one hundred miles when the leaders realized they weer close to the record notch.

Several Cars Withdraw.
Before the first one hundred miles had elapsed several cars had to withdraw. Caleb Bragg broke a crank shaft on his Fiat and quit at the end of his seventy-eighth mile. Arthur Chevrolet, driving a Buick, broke a crank shaft in his ninetieth mile and withdrew.

At 110 miles Bruce-Brown was still leading. Mulford was second and De Palma third. There was no change in the positions of the leaders at 120 miles and at 130 miles there was a pretty race on between Ray Harroun and Harry Knight for fifth place. Time for the 130 miles was 1:45:26. At the 140 mile mark De Palma squeezed in ahead of Mulford for second place and Knight had moved up to fourth place. Time: 1:53:18.

Harry Grant Out.
Harry Grant, driver of Alco No. 19, driver and car both famous as winner of the Vanderbilt cup twice in succession, withdrew at the end of 140 miles because of a burnt bearing that had been retarding the car for some time.

At the end of 150 miles the leaders were again breaking speedway records for cars from 451 to 600 cubic inches piston displacement. Bruce-Brown and De Palma were fighting for first place, with De Palma in the lead. The time was 1:59:12, as compared to 2:03:02 made by Chevrolet in a Buick at Atlanta, November 9, 1909.

Cars Strung Out.
The cars were very strung out behind the leaders all around the two and one-half mile course. The scorching pace burned out the tires and most of the cars had stopped one or more times at the pits for tire changes. Several of the older drivers apparently preferred to keep up a steady grind two or three laps behind the leaders. As the race lengthened sensational brushes for leadership in the field grew less.

The two Marmon cars made a splendid showing after the 150-mile mark. With Bruce-Brown still in the lead at 150 miles, Harroun was in second place, Ralph Mulford was third. At 150 miles the time was 2:20:52, with Bruce-Brown, Harroun and Mulford running in the order named.

Two More Cars Out.
Chevrolet’s Buick went out at 175 miles with a broken crank shaft.

Hearne’s Fiat ran into the outer ditch when the steering gear broke while the car was coming down the home stretch in th 230th mile. Neither Basker, who had relieved Hearne, nor the mechanician was hurt. It was announced that the car would be repaired and sent back into the race.

Burman Jumps Wall.
Wild Bob Burman made a sensational drive in which his long experience stood him in need, while going his eighty-fifth lap. When directly in front of the judges stand, Burman burt a right rear tire with a deafening sound that brought the spectators to their feet. The car swerved slightly but Burman steadied the car and held it to its course. It was too late to stop and Burman continued on around the course on a flat wheel after tire had become torn loose and jumped the stone wall at the south curve.

At the 225th mile, Studebaker, relief driver for Harroun, led the procession of drivers. In second place was Ralph De Palma and Bruce-Brown, close behind. Mulford, Merz, Dawson, Knight, Turner, Cobe and Frayer followed in the order named. Time: 2:58:39.

Cars on Parade.
At 9 o’clock it was estimated that not less than forty thousand people had crowded through the speedway turnstiles and were coming as rapidly as rails and highway could carry them. At 9:20 o’clock started Fred Wagner picked up a big blond megaphone and shouted the announcement that he would introduce the machines and drivers to the crowd. One by one the cars moved around the track in numerical order. Ralph DePalma, in his big red Simplex No. 2, was leading the procession of forty cars.

Each driver received his share of an ovation as he passed. Bob Burman, in Benz 45, was greeted with an outburst of applause. Joe Dawson, Charlie Merz, Ray Harroun, Johnny Aitken, Howard Wilcox and all the other boys locally known had groups of friends in the stands who waved pennants and wished them good luck and a place in the money. Following the introduction the [“caplagam,” closest approximation to word’s appearance on page] moved past the judges stand to undergo the scrutiny of the technical committee of the American Automobile Association. Brakes were tested and each car was looked over with careful eye by F. E. Edwards, of Chicago, chairman. Each car was required to lock its break and slide the wheels technically to qualify. Cutting car No. 27 had to return to its pit to have its brake adjusted. It returned in a few minutes and passed inspection.

During the preliminary bands played lively airs in the stands and the big crowd cheered lustily when national airs were played.

Spectators Strain Nerves.
The thousands of spectators with straining nerves and with pulses throbbing sat still watching the steel cars that coughed and spluttered and barked with sounds like fusillades of musketry.

C. G. Fisher and J. A. Allison, speedway owners who sat quietly in a Stoddard-Dayton roadster, acted as pacemaker. Fisher’s car had the pole and abreast in the front row were the Case car, Lewis Strang; Simplex, Ralph DePalma; Interstate, Harry Endicott; and National, Johnny Aitken.

In the second row were two Pope-Hartfords, carrying Louis Disbrow and Frank Fox; Westcott, Harry Knight, and the two Case cars with Jagersberger and Will Jones. The Stutz car was the first in the third row, with the Mercedes, Spencer Wishart, next, and the Amplex, W. H. Turner; Knox, Fred Belcher, and Buick, Arthur Chevrolet, in order named.

The Buick, Fiat, Alco and two Nationals carry Charley Basle, Eddie Hearne, Harry Grant, Charley Merz and Howard Wilcox, respectively, were in the fourth. In the fifth row was McFarlan, Bert Adams, the three Jackson cars, carry Harry Cobe, Jack Tower, Fred Ellis and a Cutting, with Ernest Delaney. David Bruce-Brown, in a Fiat; Lee Frayer, in a Firestone-Columbus; Joe Dawson and Harroun, in Marmonsm abd Ralph Mulford, in a Lozier, were in the sixth row.

The Lozier, Apperson, two Mercers and the Simplex, carrying Teddy Tetzlaff, Herb Lytle, Hughie Hughes, Charley Bigelow and Ralph Beardsley, respectively, were in the seventh row. Caleb Bragg, in his Fiat, was at the pole in the eighth row. Opposite him were Howard Hall in a Velie, Bill Endicott in a Cole, Walter Jones in an Amplex, and Bob Burman in a Benz. Billy Knipper alone in a Benz was in the rear.

Explosions of Motors.
When the signal came there was a deafening noise of the countless explosions from the exhausts, and the sudden application of power into the veins of the monsters caused them to forge ahead with fast flying wheels that slipped around the brick course until they could gain headway. Smoke of blue and white hues arose in clouds until many of the cars could not be seen.

It was suggestive of a battle when the rows of plunging cars emerged in soldier-like formations from the cloud of smoke and started on the preliminary lap. It was a nerve stirring spectacle that brought the spectators to their feet, and as if by a sudden impulse all the lungs in the great throng burst out together and a mighty roar of voices spurred the fliers on. This great getaway, which the racing experts of the world pronounced as the most thrilling spectacle they had ever seen, was planned for the sole purpose of eliminating the smoke so that the spectators could see the cars when they came around and started on the race proper.

Fisher Sets the Pace.
With Fisher hugging the pole, the rows of cars moved around the south turn of the course at the start and maintained their alignment on the back stretch. Here and there a car would be seen to fall behind or forge ahead, but as a rule the pilots were enabled to keep a regulation speed and the column was not broken. The speed of forty miles an hour was maintained by Fisher, whose machine was equipped with a speedometer, and not once did he seem to vary in the pace he was setting.

The excitement became more intense when the column rounded into the home stretch and moved with precision toward the tape, as it was generally known that Fisher would drop out after the preliminary round and the racers would then begin a race that might cost human life. There were not a few in the stands who did not speculate as to the chances the drivers would be taking a moment later. When the column reached a point opposite the first pits, several hundred yards north of the tape, Fisher veered off to the left near the pit fence.

Bombs Were Exploded.
Bombs were exploded during the preliminaries, and when the cars approached the tape in the preliminary round a great bomb was set up, Thus was the signal that the race was on, and the cars lunged forward, the leading cars having an advantage of a clear road ahead. The racers were soon strung out along the course in bunches of two and three and sometimes four even before the end of the first lap.

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