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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Pre-WWII Racing Topics:  Louis Strang, Indianapolis Motor Speedway


The New York Times
December 19, 1909

Daring Driver in Fiat Car Covers Distance Over Indianapolis Speedway in 3:17.70.


Reduces Own Best Time for Track—Christie Clips American Record for Quarter-Mile—Cold Hinders Drivers.

Special to The New York Times.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., Dec. 18.—Several records were again hung up to-day at the newly dedicated motor speedway.  Weather conditions were unfavorable, a stiff, cold wind blew across the track, handicapping both driver and machine, making the results all the more creditable.  Strang smashed one world's and one track record, and Christie reduced one American record.

Louis Strang created new figures for one and five miles, and Walter Christie set a new mark for the quarter mile.  Strang drove a 200 horsepower Fiat car.  In his trial against the track mile record he covered the distance in 0:39.21.  He held the previous record of 0:40.61.  Strang and Christie, with their faces bandaged against the cold, were set upon breaking world's marks.

After covering a short distance a spring on Christies's car broke and he was compelled to withdraw from the trials, leaving Strang to make the attempt alone.  Driving his huge Fiat car at tremendous speed, Strang shot over the line in 0:39.21.  This time was considered remarkably good.  Strang holds the American record for one mile, 0:31.71, made at Atlanta

Before leaving his machine Christie set a new American record for the quarter mile.  The new time is 0:08.38.  Christie and his "freak" racer yesterday ran a quarter of a mile in 0:08.78, setting a new record for the distance.  In to-day's effort he beat this time by nearly half a second, which was at the rate of nearly 110 miles an hour.

Following these records Strang broke the world's record for five miles, flying start.  His time was 3:17.70, caught by the official electric timing machine.

Fred Wagner, the official starter at the trackside with a stopwatch caught Strang's time at 3:17 3-5.  Oldfield, in a Benz car, had held the record for the distance.  He went over the Indianapolis Speedway last Summer in 4:11.30.

The timing machine registered three of Strang's five miles as he made two laps of the two and one-half mile course.  They were 0:40.02, 0:39.36, and 0:39.66.

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