Louis Meyer wins Indianapolis at record speed
Meyer joins Tommy Milton in winning race for second time. Four killed in many accidents. Stock Studebakers 7th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th. By our American correspondent T. MERIWETHER-SMITH
DRIVING with brilliant skill and consistency, Louis Meyer, 29-year old Californian, swept down the finishing straight of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway late in the afternoon of May 30th, winner of the 21st Indianapolis Race with the frenzied cheers of over 100,4000 spectators drowning the roaring exhausts of his lemon-tinted Tydol Special. In again capturing first honours in the race, Louis Meyer joined the great Tommy Milton, who had previously been the only man to twice take top position in the “500.” Milton was the victor in 1921 and 1923, while Meyer’s other triumph was established in 1928.
In practice before the race a fatal accident occurred to Bill Denver and his mechanic Bob Hurst, who were killed when their car leapt the outer wall at 100 m.p.h. and struck a tree.
For the first time in history, the start was delayed by a protest. Howard Wilcox, who had qualified the late Bob Carey’s Miller Special at 117.649 m.p.h., was ruled out of the race by the speedway physician, who said Wilcox was suffering from sugar diabetes that had weakened his heart action. Forty-one drivers rallied to Wilcox’s defence, signing a petition that the popular pilot be allowed to start. Officials over-ruled the petition, and Mauri Rose, young Jewish dirt-track star, was placed in Wilcox’s machine. This brought another protest, drivers claiming Rose had not enough experience to warrant his starting a strange car in the second row. This was settled by moving Rose’s mount to the back of the field.
Just after 10 o’clock in the morning, the 42 sleek racing cars moved slowly from the starting line, with Bryan Foy, Chrysler Corporation executive, driving the Chrysler pace car alongside the front row qualifiers. “Wild Bill” Cummings, who had qualified his Boyle Products Special at a sizzling 118.521 m.p.h. was on the pole; Frank Brisko, in the 4-wheel-drive Miller, and Fred Frame in the Hartz-Miller, completing the front row. Gar Wood was the official starter.
The cars flashed over the starting tape at close to 100 m.p.h. and Cummings had accelerated to better than 125 m.p.h. when they reached the first curve. ” Wild Bill” increased his lead, and was 25 yards in front of Frame at the end of the initial lap, with Brisko only inches behind. At the conclusion of the first 50-miles of the race, Cummings was nearly a lap ahead of Frame, and had shattered all speedway records with a speed of 114.118 m.p.h. Cummings was driving with great daring, sweeping into the curves almost flat-out, but showing uncanny ability in negotiating the dangerous bends with the minimum of skid.
Mauri Rose, driving Wilcox’s car, shared the early interest of the race with Cummings. Rose, starting in the rear of the entire field, had quickly weaved through to sixth position in 50 miles. Cummings lost his lead on his eighty-second mile when his radiator filler cap broke. He lost much time trying to repair it, but was finally forced to stuff rags in the opening. This caused later stops. Fred Frame, in the beautiful Hartz-Miller front-drive, roared into the lead, with Brisko still grimly hanging on. Mauri Rose had moved into fifth place at 75 miles, with Pete Kreis come up from nowhere to take seventh position in the Frame-Miller front-drive, once driven by Billy Arnold. Frame, smashing records with every lap, and driving with his usual heady consistency, was in the lead at 100 miles, with a speed of 112.247 miles per hour.
Meyer dropped into the pits on his 125th mile for gas and water, and lost his position in the first ten. Shortly afterwards, Brisko’s 4-wheel-drive Special went out of the race with oil trouble, and Babe Stapp, driving the front-drive Boyle Products 4-cylinder Miller, moved into second place.
Frame stopped for gas, water, and a tyre shortly after the 125 mile point, and Stapp, who had made a previous quick stop for fuel, roared out into the lead.
The first big thrill of the day occurred on the 37th lap, when Ira Hall’s Duesenberg broke a connecting rod as he was roaring through the south-east curve. The motor “froze,” and the big blue machine went into a broadside skid. Hall, fighting the careering car, barely missed striking the outer retaining wall, straightened up, lost control again, and finally halted inches from the inside wall.
Stapp continued to lead the field by a small margin at 200 miles, while Frame had moved up to second position. The half-way point in the gruelling race found Stapp still clinging to his lead, but Frame had been forced out of the contest with a broken valve in his 62nd lap. A long drawn sigh rose from the stands with the announcement of the popular Frame’s The positions at 250 miles were :
1. Babe Stapp (Boyle 4 cyl. Miller).
2. Louie Meyer (Tydol Special).
3. Wilbur Shaw (Miller 4 cyl. Mallory).
4. Chet Gardner (Sampson 16 cyl.).
5. Al Miller (Marr 8 cyl.).
6. Lester Spangler (Miller).
7. Dave Rvans (Art Rose).
8. Lou Moore (Miller 4 cyl.).
9. R. Snowberger (Russell).
10. Chet Miller (Mart* 8 cyl.).
The average of 109.429 miles per hour was a new record for 250 miles. Evans, in the Studebaker-motored Art Rose Special, using a Miller front-drive chassis, was creating a sensation with his fast, steady overhauling of the leaders. The first serious accident of the race came on the 79th lap when Mark Billman crashed on the south-east curve. In an effort to make up lost ground caused by a pit stop, Billmatt lost control of his white Duesenberg while riding low on the curve, the machine spinning around three times, and striking the outer retaining wall with terrific force. Billman was caught against the wall, but his mechanic, Ernie Lombard was catapulted 35 feet over the wall to the soft grass outside the track. Billman’s left arm was horribly mangled, and he suffered serious internal injuries, dying in the field hospital within an hour.
Oil spilled out on the track from the wrecked car, making the curve extremely dangerous. Stapp, Meyer, and the other leaders, lost their fine record-breaking average during this accident, as the yellow flag was posted and all cars maintained their positions at a greatly reduced speed. After sand had been sprinkled on the curve, the ” go ” signal was given and the sizzling pace was resumed.
Shortly afterwards, Stapp ran out of petrol on the back stretch, and could not get his car running again. Meyer, the 1928 winner, pushed his Tydol into the lead. Soon after this point occurred the most spectacular accident of recent years on this track. Malcolm Pox, in his Universal Garage Special, was on the heels of a group of cars going into the south-east curve. One of the machines swerved, causing Fox to go far out on the banking. The car skidded, but Fox was almost again under control when Lester Spangler, going at nearly 125 m.p.h., flashed his Miller Special into the curve. Spangler had to make a split-second decision : either strike Fox’s car directly in the centre or to take the risk of going high above, near the wall. Spangler chose the latter, struck the rear of Fox’s machine, and Spangler’s Miller jumped completely over the tail of the Universal, smashed head in against the concrete wall, slithered off, and rolled over twice. Both Spangler, and his mechanician, Jordan, were terribly smashed-up in the crash. Fox’s car skidded about again, but did not leave the course, and he and his riding mate were only slightly injured.
The track was nearly blocked by the two wrecked machines, and the yellow flag was immediately displayed to the other drivers. For many miles the cars were forced to travel at a reduced speed, while the track was cleared. Billy Winn, driving relief for Wesley Crawford in the Boyle Valve front-drive No. 32, threw a wheel in the south-west curve, but managed to keep his car under control. ” Doc ” Mackenzie lost a rear wheel from his Nardi Special, but did not wreck. Williard Prentice, driving the Jack Carr Special, hit the wall on the north-east curve, but the car was not damaged, and the inexperienced pilot continued in the race.
Meyer still held his lead at 400 miles with an average of only 104.683 m.p.h., which was still ahead of the record, however. The accidents had reduced the speed greatly. Dave Evans had moved into third place, but Shaw still clung to the second place.
The giant crowd rose from their seats, necks craned toward the end of the finishing straight. The yellow car appeared at the end of the stretch, fast grew in size as it flashed down the bricks, a pair of red sweatered arms were lifted in the air to greet the downward sweep of the checkered flag . . . and the mighty roar of the crowd proclaimed another winner of the ” 500 ‘ ! Meyer took two extra laps, and came into the pits, with swarms of officials, drivers, and mechanics literally burying his car as they rushed to congratulate the winner.
1. L. Meyer (Tydol Special Miller 8 cyl.), 104.162 m.p.h.
2. W. Shaw (Mallory Special Miller 4 (71),101.795 m.p.h.
3. L. Moore (Foreman Axle Special Miller 4 cyl.), 101.599 m.p.h.
4. C. Gardner (Sampson Radio Special 16 cyl.), 101.182 m.p.h.
S. H. W. Stubblefield (Abels-Fink Special Buick 8 cyl.), 100.762 m.p.h.
6. D. Evans (Art Rose Special Studebaker 8 cyl.), 100.425 m.p.h.
7. A. Gulotta (Studebaker Special 8 cyl.), 99.071 m.p.h.
8. R.. Snowberger (Russell Special Studebaker 8 cyl.), 99.011 m.p.h.
9. Z. Myers (Stubebaker Special 8 cyl.), 98.122 m.p.h.
10L. Johnson (Studebaker Special 8 cyl.), 97.287 m.p.h.
11. C. Bergere (Studebaker Special 8 cyl.), 96.5b6 m.p.h.
12. L. C. Comm (Studebaker Special 8 c31.), 96.527 m.p.h.
13. W. Prentice (Jack Carr Special 8 cyl.), 93.244 m.p.h.
14. R. Riganti (Golden Seal Special Chr)-li 8 cyl.), 93.196 m.p.h.