Legends of the Brickyard

February 5, 2014 by

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Yesterday’s announcement by the SportsCar Vintage Racing Association of the inaugural Legends of the Brickyard to be held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway June 4-8 reminded me of the first races held at the historic track.

Originally built in 1909 by four Indianapolis auto buffs, Carl Fisher, James Allison, Arthur Newby and Frank Wheeler, the Speedway’s inaugural races in August, 1909 included three days of racing.   Featured races including the Prest-O-Lite Trophy, a 250 mile event held on the first day of racing, the A & G Trophy race, a 100 mile event held on the second day of racing and the Wheeler-Schebler Trophy, a 300 mile event scheduled for the third day of racing.

The Prest-O-Lite Trophy race was won by Buick driver Bob Burman with an average speed of 53.77 mph.  The second place finisher, Jap Clemons, was eight laps back.

The A & G Trophy race was won by Lewis Strang who set a world’s record for cars with less than 300 cubic inches of displacement.

The Wheeler-Schebler race began with 19 entrants.  The heavy cars punished the track made of crushed rocks and oil.  After several wrecks which included the death of riding mechanic Charles Kellum and two spectators, the race was called.  The leader at the time the race was stopped was Leigh Lynch who had driven 235 miles.  Since the race wasn’t completed, it was deemed to be “no contest” and the Wheeler-Schebler trophy wasn’t awarded.

With the AAA Contest Board threatening there would be no more racing at the track due to the five deaths over the first three days, the four owners decided to resurface the track.   In less than four months, the track was resurfaced with 3,200,000 bricks.  On a bitterly cold December day, the track was reopened with several brave drivers putting on exhibition races.

The SportsCar Vintage Racing Association is planning twelve different classes of races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this June.  They anticipate 600 cars over the three day event.  Races will be held on both the oval as well as the newly refurbished road course.  The featured races include a Formula 1 race as well as an Ovals Legend Exhibition Race.  Those cars participating in the Ovals Legend race must have a documented Brickyard racing history.

February 5, 2014

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