I sincerely hope that the Editor’s profane mutterings about the pedigree of Brooklands has not upset too many readers in his dissertation about “Which came first Brooklands or Indianapolis?” Should this have been the case, I am sure Mr. Boddy will only too readily admit to the simple confusion between Indianapolis (the town) and Indianapolis (the speedway) and offer suitable apologies!
Motor racing came to Indianapolis in 1905 mainly as a result of Carl Fisher (a leading light in the acetylene lamp business and creator of the Brickyard), who succeded in convincing the automobile manufacturers of that town that success in racing brought the attention a the public to their products. As Marmon, Marion, Premier and National cars were made in Indianapolis, representatives from these firms soon formed the Indianapolis Automobile Racing Association. The first meeting was to have been held on October 21st 1905 but rain stopped play and the meeting was eventually held on November 4th. The venue of this meeting was the Indiana Fairgrounds Track, a one mile in length dirt-track. This was the track that the subsequent 24 hours record attempt took place.
I would also like to differ on the opinion expressed that the distance record in 24 hours was set up in 1907. One of the races in that first meeting in 1905 was a 100 mile event which was won by a National driven by Clemens in a record time for a dirt track in 1 hour, 53 minutes and 21.8 seconds. Surely is it not more logical for the National team, on the crest of a wave, to try for a 24 hour record as soon as possible rather than wait two years? In actual fact the 24 hour attempt took place between 2.45 p.m. Thursday November 16th and 2.45 p.m. Friday November 17th 1905. I also doubt the year 1907 as the American automobile industry was in an economic crisis in that year so that naturally would have precluded any record breaking.
Incidentally, grandstands were erected as well as those already present and the track illuminated at night by Prest-O-Lite lamps, one of Mr. Carl Fisher’s companies.
So it appears that in those early days Indianapolis had a dirt-track like that at Detroit and the Empire City, New York (where Guy Vaughan set the 1,015 miles/24 hour record). There may have been a circuit at Indianapolis before Brooklands, but never a motor-racing circuit.
Little Aston M. N. RUSHTON
(As I have said, the best way I know to solve a problem relating to motor-racing history is to throw it to Motor Sport readers. My thanks to Mr. Rushton for vindicating Brooklands as the World’s first proper Motor Course. I also note the date of the 24 hour record S. F. Else beat in 1907 was established in 1905 -Ed.)