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Forty Autos Start in Contest Today

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Pre-WWII Racing Topics:  Indianapolis 500

Forty Autos Start in Contest Today

The Dallas Morning News
May 30, 1911

Memorial Day Auto Races On Indianapolis Speedway Draw Many Thousands.

Burman's New Record

Erratic Bettors Place Wager of Human Life - Cars Tuned Up for Flying Start.

Indianapolis, Ind., May 29. - With all in readiness for tomorrow's 500-mile automobile race at the Indianapolis motor speedway, 50,000 visiting motor fans and most of Indianapolis are vainly attempting tonight to sit quiet and keep cool.

Death Popular Favorite.

Despite there is no regular bookmaking on the big contest, betting soared to a high point and wagers of a thousand varieties were laid.  Death was played a favorite in a number of grim wagers made by the more reckless.  The betting was so erratic that no one driver could be said to rule as a favorite over the field.

Cars Ready for Start.

All of the cars were given their final "tuning up" trials this morning and tonight were guarded by squads of mechanicians from the various factories represented in the great race.

Burman Breaks Record.

Bob Burman, the "speed king," driving his 200-horsepower Blitzen Benz car, this morning established a new slate of speedway records.  He drove the mile in 0:35:35, the kilometer in 0:21:40, the half mile in 0:16:83 and the quarter mile in 0:8:13.

Barney Oldfield, who held the previous mile record of 0:35:63, watched Burman's feat.

The previous record for the kilometer was 0:21:45 and the for half mile 0:17.

Burman's quarter mile record of 0:8:16 is a new one.

Makes Spectacular Drive.

Burman drove his great trial in masterly fashion, under ideal weather conditions.  He got off on his first trial shortly after 10 o'clock, but after driving three laps of the track pulled down because his engine was not working quite right.

Fifteen minutes later he started on his record-smashing drive.  He whirled around one lap, then came thundering down the stretch with right arm raised as a signal to judges and timers that he was ready.

The big white Benz flashed around the brick oval once and the new slate of records had been established.

the timing was done with an electrical timer, which caught Burman at the quarter, half, kilometer and mile distances.

Forty Cars to Start.

There will be forty starters in the 500-mile Memorial Day race.  These six cars, in addition to the thirty-four which qualified last Friday, successfully met the elimination trials today:

Driver-                      Car.
Bert Adams..................McFarlan
Howard Hall....................Velie Charley Bigelow................Mercer W. H. Turner..................Amplex Ralph de Palma................Simplex Ernest Delaney................Cutting

Record Field Start.

With the exception of preliminary tests of ten cars, the morning of the last day before the 500-mile automobile race found everything in readiness for the firing of the starting bombs tomorrow.  In all probability forty-three cars, the largest field in the history of automobile racing, will be lined up for the start.  There were forty-six entries, but two Falcars withdrew before the speed contests Friday, and Van Gorder's Lozier, which was wrecked Saturday, was returned to the factory yesterday to be overhauled.

Go on Flying Start.

Promptly at 10 o'clock Carl G. Fisher, president of the Speedway Company, will take the starters in the 500-mile race around the track one lap, acting as pacemaker and giving the racers a flying start.  The first lap will not exceed forty miles an hour and will not count.  The race, once started, will not be stopped until it is finished, it is understood, no matter what the weather man may decide to do.  If it is raining tomorrow, however, the race may be postponed until Wednesday.

Probably 100,000 Visitors.

There is little doubt that the 100,000 visitors will be well cared for while in the city.  Large numbers are making preparations to start as early as 7 a. m. for the speedway to avoid the crowds at the railway station and the jams of automobiles on the roads.

As a preliminary to the big event, the Indianapolis Automobile Athletic Association has arranged a boxing carnival to entertain the visitors tonight.  The card contains some near chapions and will be put on at the American Association ball park in this city, where there will be accomodations for 15,000.



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