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Findlay man won 1st Indy 500

Findlay man won 1st Indy 500

RAY HARROUN, right, poses with Courier publisher Edwin Heminger in the 1960s. Harroun, the first winner of the Indianapolis 500 race, died in 1968. (Photo courtesy of Hancock Historical Museum)

By The Associated Press
Few knew what to expect when they converged on Pressley Farm that May morning, not even the reporters who arrived at the sprawling banked oval for the first International 500-Mile Sweepstakes Race. Now, 105 years later, The Associated Press is making its original Indy 500 report available.
Using antiquated verbiage — words such as “whirligig” that have long left the lexicon — the dispatch from the “the great 500-mile speed battle” has itself become a part of the race’s rich history.
The meandering narrative, written in the linear style of the time, describes fierce battles among drivers and the first death associated with the famous race. It highlights the modern technology of the cars, the fearless drivers who piloted them, including the first Indy 500 winner, Findlay resident Ray Harroun, and effectively lifts the curtain on “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

INDIANAPOLIS SPEEDWAY, May 30 — Eighty-five thousand spectators saw forty of the fastest motor cars on earth started at 10 o’clock this morning in the great 500-mile speed battle in which one man lost his life and three others were seriously injured.
Johnny Aitkin, in the National, jumped into the lead at the end of the first mile but withdrew after fighting for 325 miles of the contest.
David Bruce Brown in the Fiat held the lead at the end of 100 miles, but his time was well behind the record of Teddy Tetzlaff, which is 1h. 14m. 29s. Spencer Wishart, in the Mercedes, was pushing Brown hard at the end of 125 miles but the Fiat driver held his place. Tire trouble hindered the Mercedes, and Brown continued to gain, only to lose his place later in the race to Harroun, in the Marmon, and Mulford, in the Lozier.

In the first lap the cars strung out all around the course. Aitken, in the National, held the lead, with De Palma in the Simplex second, and Wishart, in the Mercedes, third.
The leaders, pressing the tail-enders of the preceding lap, made the race right at its beginning an enormous and desperate whirligig. The thousands of spectators leaned forward in their seats and yelled wildly as their favorites passed. The great bowl of the speedway was filled with the deafening roar of the explosions of the forty motors as the hooded drivers, bending low over their steering wheels, pushed their engines to the farthest.
At the end of the first 150 miles of the 500-mile automobile race at (word illegible) today, one technician had been killed and a driver perhaps fatally injured. Four of the forty cars that started had been withdrawn because of breakdowns. David Bruce-Brown, driving a Fiat, was leading a long grind that promised to continue until 5:30 o’clock this afternoon.
S.P. Dickson, mechanics for Arthur Greiner of Chicago, driving an Amplex car, lost his life in an upset on the back stretch in the thirteenth mile of the race. Greiner suffered several broken ribs and perhaps concussion of the brain. Surgeons at the field hospital would not make a statement as to the probable outcome of his injuries.
The accident was caused by the throwing of a front tire. The machine skidded to the infield and whirled completely around, tearing off both back wheels. Dickson was thrown against a fence. His body was terribly mangled. Greiner was hurled to the track. An examination at the field hospital, and a report made by the attending physicians, gives Greiner more than a fair chance to recover.

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