Chapter 26 of Fine Line is entitled The Race Is On. Fine Line is the sequel to Woodcutter’s Revival. Both historical fiction books, written by Jerry Slauter, are set at the beginning of the final phase of the of the Industrial Revolution.
Due to the running of the Indianapolis 500, the reviews of Fine Line are skipping a few chapters. The regular order of reviews will be returned after Memorial Day weekend.
Some of the characters decide to attend the inaugural running of the Indianapolis in 1911, on Tuesday, May 30th. Editor-in-Chief, Richard and Daryl attend to record the event in story and pictures. Michael and Stewart decide to accompany them for the novelty of the event.
Michael is also concerned about Stewart’s mental well-being after some difficult legal and personal situations in his life. Besides, Michael has to drive since he is the only member of the group with a Tin Lizzy.
After they attend the race, Editor Richard writes a summary of the event and Daryl publishes some photographs. The following excerpt is the article, dated, Thursday, June 1, 1911:
WISHES AND BRAVADO ARE NO MATCH FOR EXPERIENCE AND INVENTION
The inaugural running of the Indianapolis 500 was held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this past Memorial Day. By the end of the day, 6 hours and 42 minutes after the start, crowd favorite, Ray Harroun sailed his yellow Marmot “Wasp” across the finish line. His prize money was $14,250, $10,000 plus accessory money for first place. Second place earned $5,000; third place $3,000; on down to $500 through tenth place.
With an event drawing the interest of an estimated 100,000 spectators from all over the nation and the world; 40 drivers; 23 automobile or automobile accessory manufacturers; 4 track owners; and, untold political municipalities and principalities, there was controversy. Ralph Mulford claimed to be the winner. The track owners entertained the controversy for a few days, changing the finishing order several times, but never taking Harroun out of first place. Carl Fisher finally declared the controversy was over and the finish posted by Wednesday evening would stand.
What were some of the other controversies? As this reporter observed and interviewed drivers, mechanics, car owners and track owners, some other concerns surfaced. Marmon built the “Wasp” specifically for the race. Other drivers drove modified family cars to the track and raced them. The Marmon was built like the fuselage of an airplane with a tail protruding out the back. They called this concept “aerodynamics.”
Harroun also placed four small metal rods on his car that held a mirror. With his mirror, he did not need a ride along mechanic to watch behind his car. This greatly reduced the weight of the car, allowing it to go further and faster with less fuel. By using the velocimeter (of which all drivers had access), he calculated the speed that would save his tires the greatest amount of wear, thus reducing “pit stops.” For the race, the car engines were restricted to 600 cubic inches of displacement. Most of the cars used a 4 cylinder arrangement. Harroun’s Marmon “Wasp” used 6 cylinders.
By pushing men and machines to their limits, new advances in industry and invention will develop, thus saving lives and resources. This reporter believes the car is here to stay. We have to learn to live with it. Sure there will be controversies with any new and great event. I hope the race is continued in future years. Also, let drivers, car owners and fans who disagree with “manufactured” race cars competing with “stock” passenger cars, hold separate speed events or endurance challenges in the future.
Jerry is a retired school teacher who loves to spend time with his family, including children and grandchildren. He published Woodcutter’s Revival in 2012 and plans to release the sequel, Fine Line, in 2014. He likes to travel and speak about writing and the topics of his writing and research. He works in his wood, leather and metal shops at home. Writing aligns well with his passion of reading and research. Jerry is available to speak in schools and churches or conferences and seminars.