NEWS FROM THE U.S.A.
“WILD BILL” CUMIVIINGS WINS INDIANAPOLIS 500-MILE CLASSIC — THREE DRIVERS ESCAPE DEATH IN TERRIBLE CRACK-UPS—ROSE, DRIVING BRILLIANTLY, IS SECOND. BY Our American Correspondent T. MERIWETHER-SMITH
ATTRACTED by a field of crack racing drivers unsurpassed in the history of the track, thrilled by an entry list of racing machines of practically every known type now racing in the United States, and intensely interested in a rule limiting petrol supply for the 500 miles to only 45 gallons, an enormous crowd of 140,000 spectators attended the Indianapolis Grand Prix of America race on May 30th.
True to predictions of experts, the doughty little 4-cylinder Miller-motored jobs made a runaway of the top positions, finishing in the first four positions in the final reckoning. William “Wild Bill” Cummings, of Indianapolis, abandoning his daredevil recklessness, drove a heady, consistently fast race to pilot his frontwheel-drive, Miller-motored Boyle Products Special into first position and the undying fame that goes with victory in this greatest of American motoring classics.
Mauri Rose, young Hebrew star, on Leon Duray’s 4-cylinder Duray Special, drove an exceedingly brilliant race to trail Cummings at the finish by only 20 odd seconds. Lou Moore, back from an unsuccessful invasion of foreign racing fields, finished third in a Miller four, A.B. Litz was fourth in a similar car, while Joe Russo drove a Due.senberg into fifth place.
Three semi-stock creations finished in the money. Al Miller’s Buick-motored job was sixth, Snowberger’s Studebaker eighth, and Herbert Ardinger’s Graham, tenth.
In the qualifying trials, held several days before the race, Kelly Petillo, in a Miller four, astounded critics by whirling around the dangerous course at an average of 119.329 miles per hour for the 25-miles. This is considered one of the finest pieces of sheer skill and daring ever displayed on the speedway.
Thirty-three cars started the classic at 10 a.m., sharp, on May 30th, with Petillo, Wilbur Shaw and Frank Brisko in the front row, Mauri Rose, Chet Gardner, and Phil Shafer in the second, and the rest of the field, in rows of threes, strung out behind. It was a beautiful, near perfect start.
At the end of the first mad dash around the 2k-mile saucer, Petillo led with Brisko second, and Rose third. Petillo was forced to the pits with faulty oil pressure on his sixth lap, and Brisko shot his four-wheel-drive Miller into the lead. At 50 miles, Brisko still had a narrow lead on Rose, with Ralph Hepburn third, and ” Shorty ” Cantlon, fourth. The average was only 106 m.p.h., compared with 114 in 1933, ample proof that the pilots were wary of the limited petrol supply. At this point in the race, three drivers provided the packed stands with sensational thrills on the slippery south curve. George Bailey, driving a Ford-motored job, lost control of the machine at over 100 m.p.h., skidded to the top of the track, crashed into the outer retaining wall, and landed some twenty-five feet beyond,
where the car skidded, and still upright. Bailey escaped with a broken wrist, while his mechanic was uninjured.
Gene Austein skidded wildly a few moments later, coming to a stop on the track safely, but ” Doc ” Mackenzie, riding fast close behind, glanced off the rear of the Haustein job, crashed into the wall, tail-end, and was out of the race. All participants in this scrape escaped injury. This crash was followed closely by an even more terrible crack-up, as Chet Miller’s Ford-motored car got out of
control in the south curve, slid some hundred feet in a breath-taking skid, smashed the outside wall, and did a neat somersault over to the ground beneath. Miller and his mechanic miraculously escaped.
At 100 miles, Brisko led Rose by one second, with Bill Cummings riding in third position in the Boyle No. 7. On the 66th lap, Al Gordon, West Coast ace, slid a hundred yards along the inside guard rail when a steering knuckle snapped on his Miller.
Rose, amid a thunderous ovation from the stands, passed Brisko for the lead near the zoo miles point. Hepburn had replaced Cummings in third position by a bit of spectacular driving. ” Babe ” Stapp, driving for Litz* in the Stokely Special was attracting acclaim, pulling the job into eight place at this point.
Shafer, after a skid in which he brushed the retaining wall, was replaced by Zeke Meyer in the No. 26 Buick. Winnai, driving Caution’s Miller, brushed the north wall and was out of the race.
After a nip and tuck battle for foo miles, in which Rose, Brisko, and Cummings swapped the lead, Rose was again out in front at 400;miles, with the speed increasing steadily. The average was 104.460, a fraction under 1933.
During the last thrilling century of miles Cummings began a determined bid for leadership, and finally passed Rose in a daring brush on the north curve. He was accorded a tremendous cheer by the spectators. Gradually Cummings opened the gap between his fleet white Miller and the squat black job driven by the courageous Rose. Brisko, relieved by young Rex Mays, saw his victory hopes fade when the four-wheel-drive Miller developed gear trouble, and for many laps could not be shifted into top speed. Cummings drove the last 50 miles with unerring skill and finished under the
checkered flag, amid the thunderous acclaim of 140,000 fans, the 1934 Indianapolis winner. Rose flashed across the line only a few seconds back, but these two cars were laps ahead of the field.
Among the veteran drivers, all given excellent chances of winning the race, but who met with motor troubles during the long grind were Louis Meyer, 1928 and 1933 winner, Ralph Hepburn, who rode for the leaders for over 400 miles, Tony Gulotta, whose front-drive Studebaker was also up in the select circle for considerable time, Al Gordon, Rex Mays, in Frame’s famous Miller-Duesenberg, Johnny Seymour in the ” catfish ” Miller owned by Frame, George Barringer in the Boyle eight, Cantion, Gardner, Sawyer and Dave Evans. Evans, driving the 4-cycle DieselCummins job, was forced out with a broken transmission early in •the race, while his team-mate, the youthful Stubblefield, finished the contest in 12th position. The latter’s machine was a 2-cycle. Experts expressed belief that
these cars could easily exceed Captain George Eyston’s record for oil-burning machines.
None of the 33 starters was forced to give up the race for lack of petrol, as had been anticipated under the new rules. Improvement in carburation and gasoline proved an easy accomplishment in defeating the rule. Fred Frame, the 1932 winner, had a heart-breaking bit of luck on the last day of qualifying trials, a broken steering arm causing his fast front-drive to smash into the wall. He was unhurt but the car was too badly damaged to be repaired in time for the classic. Among the wellknown pilots who failed to qualify were George Connor, Harry Hunt, Jack
Petticord, Ted Horn, Tulio Gulotta, Milt Marion and Williard Prentiss. Babe Stapp qualified the Duray 16-cylinder, two-cycle job, but was ruled out when the machine exceeded the gasOline limit allowed for the 25-mile test. The rotary valve entry failed to qualify.
Peter Kreis, one of the most famous race drivers of the decade, and known for his fine driving at Monza, Italy, several years ago, was killed, with his mechanic, in a terrible crash during the trials. The cause of the accident has never been explained. The car, a Miller-Hartz frontdrive, was cut in half when it hurtled the outer retaining wall. How they finished :
1. Bill Cummings, Boyle front drive. Time, 4h.46m. 05.20s., Average 104.863 m.p.h. 2. Mauri Rose, Duray, 4h. 48m. 32.43s., 102.697
3. Lou Moore, Foreman Axle Shaft, 4h. 52m. 19.53s., 102.625 m.p.h.
4. A. B. Litt, Stokley Foods, 4h. 57m. 46.27s., 100.749 m.p.h.
5. Joe Russo, Duesenberg, bh. Om., 29.21s., 99.893 m.p.h.
6. Al Miller, Shafer Eight, bh. 05m., 18.08s., 98.274 m.p.h.
7. Clif Bergere, Floating Power, bh. 06m. 41.54$., 97.818 m.p.h.
8. Russell Snowberger, Russell Eight, bh. 08m. 20.05s., 97.297 m.p.h.
9. Frank Brisk*, F.W.D., four-wheel drive, 5h. 09m., 57.63$., 97.787 m.p.h.
10. Herbert Ardinger, Lucenti, 6h. 12m. 42.47s., 95.936 m.p.h.
11. Kelly Petillo, Red Lion, bh. 21m. 05.42$., 93.432 m.p.h.
12. H. W. Stubblefield, Cummins Diesel, bh. 38m. 43.73s., 88.566 m.p.h.