Indy 500 1915 post 3

I got an amazing email this week from a gentleman whose name you'd all recognize from the world of auto racing regarding the collection.  I never stopped to think that anyone who was really, seriously involved in racing would be reading this blog, for some reason. A stroke of incredible coincidence brought him here to begin with.  I hope he'll continue to follow the blog.  I'm sure he could educate us all on these photos, but I doubt he has the time. 

It left me feeling a little foolish for my flippant comments on the photos here, though.  I suppose I could have spent a greater amount of time studying the history of the race, in order to give an accurate account of what transpired there.  However, as I've said before, I'm not a historian in the sense that I'm doing a great deal of research on the collection, or on racing.  Honestly, I've been pushing through this section since my real passion is aviation, and it's a bit difficult to "gin up" any enthusiasm.  Even when we're finished with the Indy 500 photos, there are ... (one sec, I'm counting) ... well, only four pages of Ivan's racing career in this scrapbook.  If there are more in another, I'll fill that in later.

Well, enough dawdling!  Let's jump back into the photos.  Let's see, I left off with Howdy Wilcox, so next we have a shot of Eddie O'Donnell.  This is another case where there's just not much doubt about who's in the picture.  Ivan also saved me the trouble of looking up his date of death, but I did find an article claiming Eddie's Dusenberg had the largest engine at the track this year, with 299 cu. inches. 

Ivan followed this photo with a somewhat decent photo of the race itself.  Still, it's difficult (for me) to get too excited about this from a photographic standpoint.  It may shed some light on the race for those who are more knowledgeable, so I'll post it.

The next photo is positioned between a couple of photos of car #22, so I'm going to assume this is Ralph Mulford.  Rather than writing a sentence about an article recommending a book (which I just did, to be clear), I highly recommend this article about Ralph Mulford.  I bring it up since there was some controversy surrounding his second place finish of the race in 1911.

Next up is a photo that I've been chomping at the bit to post!  I just love the action in this photo, and the angle!  The thing that baffles me is the car number.  Who drove car number 40?  This was the mystery driver that I mentioned in the last post.  Well, I did a little digging, and the reason I couldn't find this car in the official race records is that it didn't race.  So, as I've speculated in the past, perhaps more of these photos than I've given credit to were during qualifying attempts.  This is Charles Shambaugh, who failed to qualify, but looked ridiculously cool while doing so.  Here's a post found at OldRacingCars.com:
A mechanic, Shambaugh owned a dealership and workshop in Lafayette, Indiana. He was also a carriage builder and a pioneer of the automobile in the area. He was involved in numerous other projects, including cranes, trucking, construction and airport businesses. Died after a farm accident (June 4, 1940).

These candid photos of the drivers in the scrapbooks are pretty fun, and there are a few of them coming up.  This next one is of Bob Burman, who placed 6th this year, earning $2,200 for his team.  Burman has raced in all previous Indy 500 races, and if I'm reading the stats correctly, this is the first time he's finished in the money, and the last time he raced at Indy.  I figure I should include the photo of him in his car as well, as one follows the other in the scrapbook.

Billy Carlson also finished in the top ten at Indy this year.  He raced twice at Indy, and took 9th place both in 1914 and 1915.  In 1915 he actually did not finish the race, but had a relief driver named Hughie Hughes, according to The Old Motor.

The next two photos are probably the highlight of the Indy photos in the collection to me.  I was a WWI aviation nut from the time I was old enough to hear stories and build model airplanes, and I loved hearing about Eddie Rickenbacker.  I'm not sure when I was aware that he was also a race driver, probably not until many years later.  But when I first went through these photos about ten years ago and started to catalog who was in the collection, I was astonished to find these photos.

Ivan has them out of order, of course.  We have a photo of Rickenbacker out of his car, looking really dejected, out of the race after lap 103.  Next we have a photo of him smiling prior to the race, and one pretty unremarkable photo of him on the track which I'll not include.

Just not enough time to finish up the Indy photos.  Next post will finish that section and we'll spend a bit of time looking at Ivan's racing career in 1915.  Still a few great Indy photos left.  

Thank you all for the "Likes", and "Shares"!  This really helps get the word out to others who might be interested in reading the blog.  The other button that I've added called "Send" lets you send the link to specific folks on your friends list or via email, apparently.  The +1 button will recommend the blog on the Google search engine, which would be very nice, if you're so inclined!  Many, many thanks.

A last minute addition!  David Greenlees' excellent website has been a source of information here, and I've invited him to link photos from the collection.  He has some great articles on racing!  I especially enjoyed "Carl Fischer's World Beater". Go check out The Old Motor.



  1. Kurt,

    Great photo's, thanks for sharing. If you study Rickenbacker's racing career, there is much to learn about his success as a fighter pilot. He was often employed as the "rabbit" in a tortise and hare strategy, with the intent of wearing out the competition so his more famous team mate could win. He pushed many engines to failure. As a result, he knew more about how hard and how long you could push the state of the art engines of the time then anyone else. In his book, he talks alot about saving the throttle for the battle and it appears to have paid off.

    Your site is inspiring me to get back into the darkroom....


  2. Paul,
    Thanks for posting this! This reminds me of a book I read about the two high scoring pilots of the Pacific theater, WWII. Charles Lindberg was working for an aircraft manufacturer and came over to help pilots get their mixture settings right. His technique was honed while completing his trans Atlantic flight, and it helped them extend the reach of their missions substantially.

    I loved Rickenbacker's autobiography. May be time to reread that!