The Indianapolis News/1911/05/30/Crowd of 100,000 at the Speedway
|The Indianapolis News, 30th May, 1911
Crowd of 100,000 at the Speedway
|The Indianapolis News, May 30, 1911; front page|
Grandstands and Bleachers Filled, While Course is Lined with Spectators.
RUSH BEGINS AT DAYLIGHT
Track Guards Comb Inclosure for Fence Climbers---Bleachers Fill Early---Roads Hung With Dust.
[Special to the Indianapolis News]
INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, May 30.—One hundred thousand people saw the five-hundred-mile race at the motor speedway today. This was the estimate placed at noon by the speedway management on the throng in grand stand, bleacher and field.
The entire course was lined with spectators. The big crowds swayed when alarmed by an accident rumor or the swerving of the rapidly moving cars. The crowd rose as one man when Greiner’s car was seen to plunge from the track in the backstretch.
Motor mad America, and not a few mad ones from other shores, began knocking at the outer gates of the speedway at daybreak, and the most wonderful procession of speed devotees ever seen in the middle west began moving in to see forty of the swiftest engines ever built race for money and honor.
The day at the speedway began before the stars went to sleep. Long before light came in the east, Captain W. P. Carpenter, commanding a battalion of speedway guards, marshaled his forces and formed in a line that stretched across the track.
Covered Every Inch.
The men were then commanded to march and comb the grounds of every nonticketed occupant. The soldiers found boys and men who had, during the night, scaled the fences and had hidden in treetops in order to see the big race. Not a few of the stowaways in the branches produced admission dollars and were permitted to remain. Others sorrowfully marched to the gates, but not until they were offering to bet with the guards that they would be in again—and without pay. Many a sympathetic automobilist carried longing youngsters into the speedway inclosure this morning.
The rush from the city to the race course began with the dawn and when the gates were opened at 6:45 there was a crowd numbering several thousand jammed at the turnstiles. The women berated the men for their roughness when the rush began, but not one of the fair sex dropped out of line to avoid the crush. They stood the jostling and it is an interesting fact that the first person through each of the four turnstiles was a woman, one of them a cripple.
Scramble for Seats.
Men and women ran from the gates to the stands, although it was more than three hours until the race was to start. When the anxious early ones arrived and saw the magnitude of the grand stands and bleachers they were at a loss to choose a seat. They were bewildered, but finally planted themselves in what they regarded as advantageous places.
Automobiles bearing crowds of pennant-waving enthusiasts began kicking up the dust on the highways leading from the city as early as 5 o’clock, and by 6 o’clock all were massed with motor cars. By 7:30 o’clock not less than a thousand automobiles were packed in the reserve fields. Each motorist jockeyed for a point of vantage near the course, so as to be able to see well and use his machines as a grand stand.
Bleachers Full Before Nine.
The north bleachers were filled long before 9 o’clock, and the bleachers at the south turn had held their crowd for an hour. The rush for seats in them beginning from the moment the gates opened, the south bleachers being near the entrance and also affording a splendid view of the start of the race. The grand stands filled more deliberately, the holders of reserved seats feeling secure in their coupons. The grand stands began filling about 7:30. The crowd poured in steadily until the hour for the long grind to begin.
The magnitude of Indianapolis’s undertaking to entertain this throng was apparent to the early crowds that passed out of the city to the speedway on the special trains. Sleeping cars bearing race goers from St. Louis, Chicago and western points were stranded in the outer yards, and the occupants of the sleepers were compelled to walk a long distance to reach street cars. Girls in summary gowns, white shoes and bright hats tripped down the track. Most of them were good natured and laughed at the prattle of the passengers on the special trains.
“Drill, sweetheart, drill,” shouted one joker at a silken hosed track walker, and she jovially juggled her white parasol in imitation of a drum major.
CRUSH AT UNION STATION
Thousands Rush to Get Places on the Speedway Trains.
With a special train leaving for the Indianapolis motor speedway every ten minutes, with fifteen special trains from various directions arriving at frequent intervals, and with the regular trains coming in behind their schedules, the union station employees had a complex problem today in handling the passenger traffic. It was believed early that a new record for the number of persons entering and leaving the station in one day was being established.
It would have been a physical impossibility for the regular union station force to handle the situation. Railroad men---men from the railroad offices, from clerks to master mechanics, gave up all thoughts of a holiday and were pressed into service at the station.
Early in the morning Jackson place, the train sheds and South Illinois street, from Jackson place to the train sheds, were filled with a surging mass of humanity. The first speedway trains, which began running at 6:30 a.m. and which ran every half hour to 8 o’clock, were well filled. After 8 o’clock the speedway trains, leaving every ten minutes, were not only filled, but were crowded to the limit.
Couldn't Sell Tickets Fast Enough.
A number of special ticket booths for the sale of tickets for the trip to the speedway were opened in South Illinois street. Several special ticket booths also were placed in the union station general waiting room. Every booth ticket agent had the time of his life, handing out tickets and making change. Some persons slipped through the gates and boarded trains, paying their fares on the trains.
Fearful of failing to get on board because of the dense throngs around the steps of every car, occasionally somebody tried to clamber into a train through an open side window. In most instances these efforts were thwarted by station employes and trainmen. One attempt which was successful attracted considerable attention.
Woman Boards Car by Window.
A woman was the central figure in this stirring little incident. Two men started to hoist her from the platform through the window. A man who had succeeded in getting inside among the first, saw the woman’s head appear at the window and went to her assistance. There was so rapid lifting and pulling, and through the window she went. Unfortunately, in the strenuous activity she lost a shoe, this article of footwear caromed from a man’s head under the car. A wail for the slipper was sent up from its owner, but her friends feared to dive under the train to get it. A trainmen “fished” the shoe from beneath the train, and as the train pulled out, a woman’s face, beside which was a hand that clasped a slipper, smiled thanks at all who had been mixed in the episode.
While thousands were boarding speedway trains, other thousands were coming into the city on regular and special trains. Many did not leave the train sheds, going from the train on which they had entered the city direct to a train bound for the speedway.
Released by Regiments
It was a problem to know just how many people to let through the gates for a speedway train. It was intended that about one thousand one hundred persons should board each train, and when it was believed that number had gone through, the gates were closed.
It was evident that many anticipated a food famine at the speedway, for hundreds carried lunch boxes. The largest crowds for the speedway were handled between 8 o’clock and 10 o’clock, but the trains were comfortably filled several hours after the big five-hundred-mile race started.