Indy 500 1915 Final Post!

This post will wrap up the Indy 500 sections of the scrapbooks, and we'll pick up Ivan's racing career.  In the end, I'm astonished at how many photos from 1915 I finally used - 42 is what I count in the 1915 folder!  Some of these next ones are also quite good, in my opinion.  And even though it really doesn't accomplish much, now that I've been through all of them, I'm changing my mind again.  I think they (Van and Ivan) did pass the camera back and forth.  Toward the end of the photos, I began to notice issues with focus and exposure.  I used to think that these photos were just faded due to age, but now that I've examined them one by one, I can see that's not the case.

Not feeling all that well, today, so I'll be a bit less verbose... maybe.

First off, we have a photo of Jean Porporato of Italy in what I think is a very elegant looking Sunbeam.  Jean did not finish.  In fact, none of the drivers in this post were in the top ten.

George Hill dropped out of the race after 20 laps.

Harry Grant, who was in all three of the races covered in the photos, finished in the money in 1914, but dropped out very close to the end of this race.  The official race results cite "Oil Pan" as the cause of his loss.  As I've mentioned in the past, the star over Harry's photo indicates he died, and it was only later this very year that Harry died qualifying at Astor.  This article gives a good account of the accident, but fails to mention that he died ten days later from his burns.  This may have contributed to Van's decision to keep Ivan out of racing.

This is a fitting time to reiterate some family lore.  The story goes that Ivan was bugging his father, Van Benschotten Wheaton, to let him have a go at Indianapolis.  Van wouldn't consent, citing the danger, and since he held the the bankroll, how could Ivan argue?  A counter-offer was made; if Ivan would give up racing altogether, Van B. would pay for flying lessons instead. Wait until you see the amount of stars over the heads of the pilots in the aviation photographs.

Back to the racing... I mentioned in a previous blog that the Mr. Chevrolet would appear, and here we have his car, a Cornelean.

And this is Mr. Chevrolet, himself!  The GM Heritage Center, has an excellent history of the Chevrolet brand.  Sorry, I promised non-verbose, and the article is very well researched and written.

On these last few photos, I have very little information.  The next one is an interesting departure from the style of the photos, I thought.  It's a bit on the daring side compared to most of the other photos in the collection, walking right up into the cockpit and snapping away.  I've seen this type of boldness in a few other photos that can only be attributed to Ivan.  Some people look downright angry at the presence of a camera.  An interesting point in this photo.  The subject has a nice white collared shirt and tie on, under his racing suit!

Next up, we have Art Klein.  Mr. Klein raced five times at Indy but never made it to the top 10.  In fact, he never finished a race at Indianapolis.

Finally, we have a racer who did not qualify, and I'm going to go out on limb here, and speculate that this is Jack LeCain.  He was disqualified, according to this site, because there were too many Peugeots!  I'm guessing on this, because no car number is given for Mr. LeCain, but it does seem to fit.  Some more research might prove interesting, since I note that his was not the slowest qualifying time for Peugeots.  

I love the composition of this photo, as well.  The subject seems to float in the foreground and the people in the  grandstands seem to melt away behind. The action enters from the right, and the angle of the track and the motion of the men walking alongside suggest that the car is rolling down downhill, and the gentleman behind has his hand on the wheel, which adds interest.  The prominent bricks of the racetrack are well-displayed in this photo, as well, but you can tell they're not perfectly laid.  That lends a bit of tension, which gives your eye something to meander over, (why aren't they perfect?) which keeps some interest in the photograph. Finally, they're both intently looking at something outside of the frame to the left which also adds interest by connecting us with the men, emotionally.  What are they expecting over there?  (I guess I somehow switched out of non-verbose mode)

I'd like to use this previous photo as an opportunity to give a shout out to my excellent photography professor, Dr. Olga Workman.  It wasn't until I took her class at Walden University that I was able to appreciate the interesting compositional elements of some of these photographs.  A big part of this blog is recognizing which photos have merit, and why to include them.  (of course some of them need to be included regardless of their composition)  If I could have justified it, I would have changed majors to photography. Some of my photos for her photography course are here. Thanks, Dr. Workman!

Now, at the end off all the Indy 500 photos is a post card with an airship.  I have seen an airship in the background on photos of this race, and perhaps this is the ship! Stanley was also an Early Bird, and Ivan may have known him at the Curtiss factory, which we'll see before too long.

That's a wrap on the Indy 500 photos, folks!  I'm going to be delayed a bit on the next post a bit while I start researching a bit of Ivan's racing background.  I didn't put in the research effort on the Indy 500 photos since it wasn't directly related to Ivan's life.  However, they are great photos and the blog is, after all, about the collection. 



  1. I suspect Babcock took over his team-mate LeCain's car due to the 3 car/team limit, as Babcock had a slower qualifying speed of 88.9 mph. This speed is not listed in the official qualifying times, while Babcock's official starting position is 12th, despite being officially 10th fastest.

  2. I'm very much looking forward to a book from Racemaker Press on the early Peugeots. You may see some photos from the collection in the book, as well!