Indy 500 1915

This may disappoint some of you, but I have to tell it like it is.  There are just too many photos to make it through this in one blog post, and probably more than I'll be able to do in two.  So, we're looking at three posts on the 1915 Indy 500 before we head into the aviation stuff.  I really chafed at this, but there are just too many good photos, and I found myself deciding to pass over good photos in order to make better speed, which I felt was not in line with my mission, here.

I'm going to post these in the order that I found them in, since I'm not the editor of the scrapbooks.  I may not have been so careful in the previous posts, but I'll make sure I'm as true to this as I can be from now on.  This scrapbook actually opens to a giant picture of Ivan standing on a filthy beach with a Curtiss flying boat behind him, for example.  It doesn't really tie in with the racing theme, so I'll present it after the race.  Okay, that is a complete contradiction.  Sigh.

I'm not a racing fan, really.  So I can't really tell you what this board is, but it is the first photo, and it displays the final outcome of the race, with the final elapsed time, and all the finishers posted.  Why it's number one?  Your guess is as good as mine.  Notice the elapsed time of the race is shown at 6 hours, 19 minutes, and 55.9 seconds.  Dan Wheldon finished the race this year (2011) in 2 hours, 56 minutes, 11.7267 minutes.  The cushion vendors cleaned up in 1915, I'll bet.

Scoreboard?  Leaderboard?

Next we start in with the starting grid - cars 1 through 4.  Howdy Wilcox, car #1 - Ralph DePalma, car #2 - Dario Resta, car #3 - and Earl Cooper in car #4.  As you saw on the "whatever board" (I should really find out what that's called), Ralph DePalma wins this race, and there are some great photos of him and his car coming up.

Continuing with the lineup... I think Van/Ivan did much better this year than previous years.  This row contains Gil Anderson in car #5, Jean Porporato in #6, Bob Burman in car #8, and Art Klein in car #9.

Here's Tom Alley in #10, George C. Babcock in #14, Harry Grant in #15, and car #16 which I can't associate a driver with, from my research.  I have another (fabulous) photo of a mystery car in these photos which doesn't show up in some casual research.  If you're a race fan/historian, I'd love to know.

On page 2 of the album is this photo of John DePalma in car 17, Noel Van Raalte in #7, Joe Cooper in #18, and Billy Carlson in #19.

Finally here's a photo of Tom Orr in #21, Ralph Mulford in #22, our flyboy Eddie Rickenbacker in #23, and Johnny Mais in #24.  I do have a photo of the last grid row, but it's pretty blurry.  It has a picture of Louis Chevrolet's car, a Cornelian.  Yeah, that Chevrolet.

Before we get to the really good photos of the race and some of the individual racers, we have an obligatory photo of all the drivers/mechanics...

...and then the race begins!

Ahem.  The race begins!

Now, here's where I'm really tempted to rearrange the photos, so bear with me.  Think about this, too; in the next photo, how the heck did we get over on this side of the track?  Ralph DePalma and Art Klein just behind him in #9 passing the original Pagoda.  According to the official Indianapolis 500 Motor Speedway site:
Original track builder Carl Fisher had a wooden Pagoda erected in 1913 to handle the officials, timers and scorers and media. It burned to the ground the day after the race in 1925, but quickly was replaced by a similar structure for the next race and lasted into the second half of the 20th century.

I'll finish up tonight with this fabulous photo of Ralph DePalma and his mechanic in their car, and obviously prior to the start of the race.  I love this photo!

I'm going back into speculation mode for a minute, too.  The more I think about it, and the more I examine them, the more I'm changing my position on who took these photos.  I assumed that they were taken by Ivan since he was a racer, and they could very well have been, but as I've studied the photos more from a compositional point of view, I believe they were probably taken by Van.  The photos are carefully framed, and mostly very well exposed and focused.  Also, think about this as a father in 1915.  "Here, Son, take my camera and run around and snap photos".  You know what I mean?  You haven't seen it much in this post, but I've copied a few ahead and the way the drivers look at the photographer says something about the photographer, too.  Look at the way DePalma and his mechanic are posed for the camera in the last photo.  Would they pose for a 22-year-old boy like that?


1 comment:

  1. Ivan. Thanks for these phenomenal photos. They answer (perhaps not fully) a question that has bugged me, and appear to prove most official sources wrong. In 1915, cars were numbered for qualifying based on entry order, then renumbered post-qualifying based on starting order, albeit with a few numbering gaps. Alley was car 10, Grant 14 and O'Donnell 15. However in official records two cars ( 7 & 12) are out of order for the start.

    Van Raalte (7) is easily explained. He was supposed to be in the UK testing aero engines for the government, but instead went to Indy under the assumed name of N Graham (wife's maiden name). Perhaps fearful of disqualification for using a false name, and because he had qualified his car poorly, he got Oldfield under questionable pretences to qualify his car for him in 7th place. When his ruse was discovered post-qualifying, he had to start 14th as per his original qual speed.

    The Peugeots fell foul of a 3 cars/manufacturer rule, after privateer Burman's "Burman special" was ruled a Peugeot post-qualifying. This forced the Peugeot factory team to drop one of their 3 cars from the race. Originally this was supposed supposed to be the slowest-qualifying Peugeot (88.9 mph), Babcock's no. 16. LeCain's no 12 Peugeot (qual 89.46 mph) was supposed to run, for which Babcock was the nominated relief driver. Most records show Babcock driving car 12 (LeCain's car), yet starting as per his own qual time in 12th. Your photo appears to show that LeCain's car was withdrawn instead, and Babcock did indeed start 12th in his own no.16 car. Or did Peugeot pull a switcheroo, and get Babcock to race LeCain's faster car using a false number, only to have the records corrected after the race?