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Sarles, Auto Racer, Is Burned to Death In Kansas City Contest Won by Milton

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Pre-WWII Racing Topics:  Roscoe Sarles

Sarles, Auto Racer, Is Burned to Death In Kansas City Contest Won by Milton

The New York Times
September 18, 1922

KANSAS CITY, Mo., Sept. 17.-Roscoe Sarles of Indianapolis, veteran automobile racer, was burned to death in the 300-mile race dedicating the new Kansas City Speedway today, when his car crashed into the car of Pete de Paolo, and was wrecked.

Sarles's car jumped the top rail at the northeast corner of the speedway and dropped twenty-five feet, pinning him beneath the wreckage.  Sarles, known as the "clown of the races," was driving for Cliff Durant of Los Angeles, who decided at the last minute not to drive.  Pickup, his mechanician, was injured severely.

Four other drivers were injured severely and two slightly in the race, which was won by Tommy Milton of Los Angeles, in a field of seventeen entrants.  Milton's time was 2:46:52:96.  Harry Hartz finished second, time, 2:47:10:28; Frank Elliott, Kansas City, was third, time, 2:49:46:60; Ralph Mulford was fourth, time, 2:50:45:38, and Jerry Wunderlich was fifth, time, 2:55:46:47.

De Paolo and his mechanician, Henning, sustained severe injuries when they attempted to dodge a wheel thrown by Eddie Hearne's car.  Henning was injured about the head and uppoer body.  The extent of De Paolo's injuries had not been determined tonight, but physicians expressed the fear that he might be injured internally.

Joe Thomas and his mechanician were injured in an earlier accident in the race.  The accident occurred shortly after the fifty mile mark was reached, when Jimmy Murphy's car threw a wheel and skidded.  Thomas, who was close in Murphy's rear, was unable to steer around the disabled machine and crashed into it, splitting the frame of Murphy's car.  Thomas sustained an injured leg and physicians thought the member might be broken.  His mechanician received slight injuries.

Eddie Hearne and his mechanician were slightly injured in the next accident of the race, shortly after Sarles's car went over the rail.  The accident was due to the breaking of a front axle on Hearne's car which swerved and turned turtle several times near the point where the second accident occurred.

Late tonight physicians reported that the three mechanicians injured severely had suffered fractured skulls and that there was slight chance for any of them to recover.  Thomas, it was said, suffered a broken leg and possible internal injuries, but it was believed he would recover.

Tommy Milton, the winner, in a Leach car, drove the classic at an average speed of about 108 miles an hour.  Milton won the 500-mile race at Indianapolis in 1921.

The new speedway, costing nearly half a million dollars, was dedicated before the races by the Kansas and Missouri American Legion Departments.  The track is a mile and a quarter around and today's racers circled it 240 times.  The total purse for the race was $30,000, the winner to get $10,000; second, $5,000; third, $3,250, and fourth, $2,750.  Fred Wagner of New York was the official starter.



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