Last week's Yours in a Hurry blog was about the history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This week I had the opportunity to see the 2nd annual vintage race sponsored by the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA). My spouse is very knowledgeable about automobiles and we look for opportunities to see classic cars when we travel. For instance, the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum in Fairbanks, Alaska pairs the autos with costumes from the period, which provided ideas for many fashions described in the novel.
A Survivor From 1911
Several autos from the early era were present at Indianapolis, but one which actually participated in the first 1911 race performed this week on the track in the pre-war class. Brian Blain's blue class A National Model 40 with a large number 20 on the sides may have been the slowest in the division, but to me, the most impressive at 104 years old! As such, it was the only auto with a riding mechanic (see photo).
Until the mid-1930's two men rode in the auto—the driver and the mechanic, who often had to hold on for dear life, having no steering wheel to steady him. By the 1930's technology got to the point that he wasn't needed and the extra weight made the auto slower. A single driver was also more aerodynamically correct with only one person's upright body against the wind.
I hope you take the opportunity to experience a SVRA or other vintage auto show. We've been to Watkins Glen several times and hope to see Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin this summer. You may want a quieter look, as at the Concours d’Elegance of America at St. John’s in Michigan. Walk around the venue and you get a real feel for whatever your favorite twentieth century era.
Photos and history courtesy of David Otto
Next Week: Living History in the air at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome