Before turning his attention to plans for the 1913 race, which was destined to attract the first important invasion of the Speedway by European cars and drivers, Mr. and Mrs. Fisher left Indianapolis in mid-June to inspect a winter home Carl had purchased sight unseen in Miami, Florida. John Levi, associated with Fisher in the construction of speedboats for almost three years, had persuaded Carl to spend a few days in Florida the previous winter, and the possibilities of developing the Biscayne Bay area as a vacation spot offered a new challenge to the Speedway president. While Mrs. Fisher occupied herself with furnishing and redecorating, Fisher and Levi explored the surrounding territory by boat.
It was during one of these trips that Carl made the acquaintance of John Collins, who was growing avocados along the edge of a mangrove swamp on the long peninsula across the bay from Miami. They met frequently during the next few days, and by the time Fisher boarded the train for the return trip to Indianapolis he had obtained title to a sizable portion of the swamp in exchange for $50,000 to be used for completion of "Collins's Folly," a bridge to the mainland. Levi was left behind to take charge of the reclaiming project, which would result in the creation of Miami Beach at an ultimate cost of many millions of dollars. Until 1915, the area was known officially as Altonia and Alton Beach. Florida natives persisted in calling it Miami Beach, however, and that name eventually prevailed.
Carl urged his Speedway associates to join him in the undertaking, but found them too involved in their individual businesses to invest time or money elsewhere. Even Allison declined the opportunity, temporarily.
"I've got enough responsibilities right here in Indianapolis," Jim declared. "We can't wait any longer to build a new Prest-O-Lite plant if we expect to keep abreast of the demand for our product and I imagine I'm the one who'll have to see that the job gets done if you are going to be running back and forth between here and Florida.
"We need a modern building with at least 150,000 square feet of floor space. I've already asked Lem Trotter to look for a suitable site."
"What's the matter with that tract across the road from the race track?" asked Fisher. "It's outside Indianapolis, and we won't have to worry about any silly city ordinances. We can save a lot of money, too, by running a railroad spur right into the plant."
With characteristic vision and enthusiasm, Fisher quickly pictured the new structure as the nucleus of a great industrial center, "the nation's first completely motorized community without a single horse permitted on the streets," and as headquarters for his varied interests.
To discuss next year's race a meeting was arranged the following day. Fisher outlined plans for a new grandstand on the southwest turn as well as the construction of a special stand for officials and press representatives.
"I hate to say it," declared Newby, "but I think we had better go along with what we already have for a year or two and see what develops. You're the first to hear this: the National company is getting out of the racing business entirely, and I know two or three other companies are considering the same step."
"You can't do that," shouted the hot-tempered Wheeler. "You've got too much of an investment in the Speedway, personally, to take your cars out of the picture."
"My personal feelings don't count in this case. The stockholders believe it is best for National to rest on its laurels—just as Marmon did after winning last year—and there isn't a thing I can do about it.
"As far as the future of the Speedway is concerned," he added, "there is a definite trend in the industry toward smaller engines. If we reduce maximum piston displacement about 25 per cent, from 600 inches to 450, we may attract some manufacturers who have not been represented in our previous races. But National definitely is out, along with Marmon and Buick. Although it may be true that nothing stimulates sales as much as a successful racing team, you can't blame a company for being reluctant to risk a reputation it has spent considerable money establishing."
"I'll go along with the idea of reducing the size of the engines," said Fisher. "But I'm convinced the sale of automobiles never will reach the volume it should until good roads make it possible for motorists to really enjoy their cars. If state and federal governments had started to build roads the year we built the Speedway, the demand for cars would be at least ten times as great today. A coast-to-coast highway would be worth every penny of its cost to the automotive industry in the form of increased sales."
"It would take millions of dollars," said Newby, "and they haven't got that kind of money to spend on such a project."
"I'll bet it wouldn't take nearly as much money as you think," said Fisher. "If the automobile manufacturers would get the project started, every little town between New York and San Francisco would want to be included on the route. Each community would be willing to help finance the road in its own area."
"Maybe we can get some of the manufacturers together here at race time and find out what they think of the idea," said Newby.
"Why wait until then?" asked Fisher. "We've all been twiddling our thumbs too long already. Apparently the politicians aren't going to get the job done and I've got a feeling the only thing necessary is for someone to start the ball rolling. We need a press agent for the Speedway on a year-round basis, and he can help us sell the idea of an ocean-to-ocean highway at the same time."
Automobile men from all parts of the nation responded to Fisher's personal invitation to attend a mid-September meeting in the Hoosier capital for the formation of the Highway Association. It resulted in immediate pledges of more than a million dollars in cash and laid the groundwork for such important material contributions as two and a half million dollars' worth of cement from the Association of American Portland Cement Manufacturers.
With the Florida and highway projects both requiring a great deal of his attention, Fisher unburdened himself of many race details. He persuaded Sedwick, the 1912 AAA Contest Board representative, to serve as contest director and sent him to Europe in an effort to interest the automobile manufacturers of England, France, Germany and Italy in the "500."
Paul R. Martin was appointed publicity director for the Speedway, with the understanding he also would serve as press agent for the Highway Association.
In line with Newby's suggestion, engines for the 1913 race were limited to a maximum of 450 cubic inches, and the construction of additional grandstand seats was postponed for another year.
The separate press and judges stands near the starting line on the inside of the track were torn down to make room for a five-story control center and press box similar in design to a Japanese pagoda. The ground floor would house concession stands as well as telegraph and telephone facilities, with the other floors available for press representatives, timers and scorers, race officials and special guests. A second tunnel under the track near the head of the main straightaway was constructed.
The results of Sedwick's trip to Europe, meanwhile, indicated the 1913 event would blossom into a full-scale international classic. The Sunbeam factory in England announced that its new car, which Dario Resta had driven to a 50-mile record of 92.96 miles an hour at Brooklands on September 9, would be shipped to Indianapolis in the spring for the use of Albert Guyot, veteran French driver and aviator. The Brooklands track was a closed-course, pear-shaped concrete speedway, 470 yards longer than the Indianapolis oval, with much steeper banks suitable for greater speed. It was built in 1907 near London, but was abandoned after World War II to make room for a large-scale real estate development.
From France came word that Peugeot would be represented by two cars with engines of revolutionary design. Italy and Germany also expressed interest.
Jules Goux—slender, well-groomed, restless, twenty-five-year-old son of the superintendent in charge of the Peugeot factory—captained the French group by virtue of the skill and daring he had displayed in competition on the Continent. His teammate was a good-natured, boisterous, powerfully built Italian veteran, Paul Zuccarelli. Charles Faroux, prominent gentleman-sportsman from Paris, served as their adviser and unofficial team manager.
Vincenzo Trucco, another Italian with considerable racing experience, brought a three-car Isotta entry to Indianapolis. Harry Grant and Teddy Tetzlaff were to drive the other two cars.
Theodore Pillette of Belgium, an amateur driver of known ability, entered a Mercedes Knight from Germany and R. F. L. Crossman of England accompanied Guyot as mechanic and relief driver on the Sunbeam.
Ready to meet the European challenge were three-car teams representing the Stutz, Case, Mason and Mercer factories, and ten other individual American entrants. The Mason cars all were powered by engines designed by the Duesenberg brothers, Fred and Augie. Ralph DePalma, Howdy Wilcox, Spencer Wishart, Charlie Merz, Louis Disbrow, Bob Burman, Gil Anderson, and Caleb Bragg headed the group of capable drivers assigned to the American cars. Ralph Mulford had the wheel of another Mercedes.
Ernest Henry of Switzerland had designed a revolutionary engine for the Peugeots with double overhead camshafts, multiple inclined valves (four per cylinder) and hemispherical combustion chambers. Goux had served notice that the cars had the speed to win at Indianapolis by setting a new record of more than 106 miles an hour during a nonstop 100-mile run against the clock at Brooklands on April 12.
They may be fast enough, conceded the Americans, but considerable doubt was expressed concerning their ability to go the full 500 miles. The Stutz and Mercer cars, particularly, were believed to have much greater stamina.
European drivers had considerable difficulty finding the groove on their early practice laps and stubbornly refused offers of help made by their more experienced rivals. Apparently they were fearful that the American offers were prompted by ulterior motives and would eventually work to their disadvantage.
Goux was the one member of the foreign group who realized how hopeless his chances of victory were without at least some American know-how. After a few days of practice, he sought out Fisher and asked him to recommend a trustworthy and experienced member of the local racing fraternity to serve as a technical adviser.
"What's your chief trouble?" asked Fisher.
"Tires," said Goux. "Our cars are no heavier than most of the others here at the Speedway, but when we run through the turns at racing speed they wear out in eight or ten laps. Your American drivers are not having that trouble, so it is reasonable to believe I am doing something wrong. If you know someone I can trust, I would welcome his help."
"Johnny Aitken knows as much about what it takes to win this race as any man in the world, and I'm sure Art Newby can persuade him to help you," said Fisher. "I'll bring him over to your garage later today and you can make your own deal with him."
With the National cars out of competition, Aitken was glad to be back in the racing picture, and he was quick to analyze the problem.
"You're going into the turns too high and too fast," he explained. "If you'll make arrangements to get some Firestone tires tomorrow, we'll install Hartford shock absorbers and work out a driving pattern which will give you much more mileage without reducing your average speed."
With Johnny's coaching, Goux mastered the turns in a single day. The American veteran was so impressed by the driving skill of the little Frenchman that he volunteered his services to the Peugeot team for race day.
"Your cars have plenty of speed," he said. "It shouldn't be necessary to run them wide open at any time in order to stay with the leaders. If you'll follow instructions and let me manage your pit, I think you can win."
Convinced of Aitken's sincerity, although their association had been of only brief duration, Goux accepted instantly.
A blazing sun, which promised temperatures in the neighborhood of 90 degrees before the race had progressed very far, greeted the participants as they rolled their cars to their positions on Memorial Day.
Burman's odd-looking green and white Keeton—regarded by Goux as his most dangerous rival, aside from the Stutz and Mercer teams—was the last contender to make its appearance on the track. The unusual lines of this car, with its sloping hood, were made possible by placing the radiator behind the engine. The Keeton crew had worked frantically throughout the early morning hours to replace a cracked steering arm discovered during a final inspection made by members of the AAA technical committee.
With the starting field lined up in rows of four, six brass bands played the national anthems of France, Germany, Italy and England, climaxed by "The Star-Spangled Banner." An aerial bomb exploded high above the infield and the track was cleared of everyone except the actual participants and their crews. Only five minutes remained before the big event would get under way.
Herbert (Red) Lime, one of Aitken's associates at the National company, checked the equipment in the Peugeot pit to make sure everything was in its proper place, and Johnny once more reviewed the basic "plan of battle" with the French drivers.
"Because of the heat, your tires will wear out faster than on your practice laps," Aitken reminded them. "If you'll be content to stay close to the leaders without fighting for first place during the early part of the race, you'll have a much better chance of being out in front at the finish. That's all that matters and we'll keep—"
Goux interrupted him with a torrent of French and pointed to the table in front of the Pagoda, where three beautiful silver trophies glistened in the sun alongside the L. Strauss and Company10 award for the winner. The Remy, Prest-O-Lite and Wheeler-Schebler trophies, withdrawn from competition when the Speedway management abandoned its 1909-10 programs of shorter races in favor of the annual "500" in 1911, had been brought out of retirement a few days earlier to give the contestants in the international field additional incentive for leading at the 200-, 300- and 400-mile marks, respectively.
"He agrees that the principal objective is to win the race," translated Faroux. "But he says it also would be a wonderful accomplishment if the Peugeot team could take all of the prizes back to France."
"There still will be plenty of time to think about that after you've completed the first hundred miles," declared Aitken. "As I was about to say, we'll use the blackboard to keep you informed of your position at all times, telling you when to increase your speed and when to take it easy. Have confidence in us."
Further discussion was cut off by the signal for all participants to start their engines. The pace lap was completed in perfect formation. Bragg, who had drawn the pole position at the drivers' meeting on Wednesday night, forged to the front when the starting flag dropped.
Bob Evans's Mason, Guyot's Sunbeam, R. C. Liesaw's Anel, Don Herr's Stutz, Harry Grant's Isotta, and Goux trailed the yellow Mercer in that order through the first turn.
Evans, charging after the leader at a speed of almost 90 miles an hour, passed him on the second lap and both cars widened the gap steadily in front of the second flight headed by Guyot. Unable to resist the competitive urge to take up the chase at full throttle, Goux advanced to third place and closed in on the front-runners.
The terrific pace, however, already was beginning to take its toll. Evans blew a right rear tire at the start of the fourth lap. Bragg suffered the same misfortune less than a minute later on the north turn. Goux, elated at the opportunity to grab the No. 1 spot so early, smiled and waved to his crew as he surged into the lead while his crippled rivals were approaching their respective pits.
"Now maybe he'll settle down and take things a little easier if he isn't pushed too hard from behind," muttered Aitken, who was reluctant to give him a SLOW sign so early in the race. Instead, Goux continued to increase his advantage approximately 100 yards a lap over Willie Haupt, whose Mason had moved into second place by passing both Grant and Guyot as Herr went out of the battle with clutch trouble. DePalma and Burman also were charging up through the field.
With a lead of more than a quarter mile, the little Frenchman finally began to ease the pressure on his throttle at the 20-mile mark, reducing his speed to 82.5 miles an hour.
"That's still too fast," declared Aitken. "Tell him to slow down even more."
Goux frowned with annoyance when he saw the RETARDEZ command on the blackboard, but followed instruction. The damage already had been done, however, and his Peugeot came limping out of the north turn on his 15th lap with its right rear tire torn to shreds.
"I won't have time to discuss the situation with him through an interpreter," said Aitken to Faroux. "But if he expects to win this race you must convince him he should not run faster than eighty miles an hour until we give him the GO sign."
While Lime's helpers changed the right rear tire, Aitken inspected the other tires and ordered fresh rubber on the left rear also. The work required almost two minutes and Faroux had ample time to relay Aitken's instructions. But Goux, brushing aside a cup of cold water, seemed to be doing most of the talking. When the Peugeot was rolling again, Aitken asked Faroux what Jules had said.
"He told me it's terribly hot out on the track," said Faroux. "And that we must have a bottle or two of chilled wine ready for him on his next pit stop."
"Forget about the wine," exclaimed Aitken. "What I want to know is whether or not he's going to follow our instructions. He can have all of the wine he wants after the race is over."
"From now on he will do as you say," replied Faroux, "but we must find the wine for him if we want him to do his best."
Faroux directed one of his compatriots to the north end of Grandstand A, where sat 40 members of the Alliance Française. They had made the trip from Pittsburgh and New York to watch the Peugeot team win.
Twenty minutes later, Faroux's friend was back with a bucketful of ice from which protruded the necks of six half bottles of champagne. "They said to tell you, if this isn't enough wine to assure victory, they'll be glad to provide more."
The Peugeot fortunes, meanwhile, had been handed a severe setback when Zucarrelli's car coasted into the pits after only 18 laps with a burned main bearing.
"Push it back to the garage," ordered Faroux.
"Wait a minute," said Aitken. "Let it stand here, with no one working on it, until Goux has a chance to see it. We can be pushing it through the pit gate as he comes around again. That should make him realize he is now carrying all of the hopes for a Peugeot victory on his own shoulders and cause him to drive a little more conservatively."
Goux's pit stop had dropped him from first to 12th position, and there was little satisfaction to be derived from the fact that DePalma, Grant, Bill Endicott, and John Jenkins already had joined Herr and Zucarrelli on the side lines with mechanical trouble. Burman was the new leader, with Joe Nikrent of the Case team and veterans Mulford, Guyot, Anderson, Tetzlaff, Bragg, and Disbrow in close pursuit.
Goux trailed the first-place car by 2 minutes and 15 seconds, according to information given him on the board by his crew after Zucarrelli's car had been returned to its garage. Only by calling on all his will power was he able to curb the natural urge to charge forward at full throttle. The task of running as close as possible to 80 miles an hour, without exceeding that figure at any time, also was a difficult one because he had nothing except his tachometer11 and his own judgment of pace to rely on.
Only twice, however, was it necessary for Aitken to flash the RETARDEZ sign. On both occasions Goux showed his annoyance but complied immediately, and the strategy soon began to show results. At 32 laps (80 miles) he was fifth. A few minutes later Anderson and Guyot both stopped for new rubber. Goux moved into second place, overtaking Mulford, who had maintained a steady 75-mile-an-hour pace from the start to conserve his tires.
When Burman also was forced to stop for tires after 55 laps, his crew performed flawlessly to finish the work before Goux could forge to the front. Burman's engine, however, refused to start. It was 27 minutes later—after the tedious task of replacing the carburetor had been completed—before Burman was running again; and Goux was the leader. Anderson and Mulford appeared to be Goux's only serious challengers; and they were too far back to close the gap entirely when the Frenchman stopped for two right tires after 150 miles (60 laps). Smiling and expressing his thanks, Goux drank two bottles of champagne while the work was being done.
He enjoyed a lead of 1 minute and 49 seconds as he clinched the Remy trophy at 200 miles. Thirty minutes later, however, he needed new rubber on both rear wheels and dropped to third place. Then, with a full fuel tank and refreshed by another bottle of wine, he resumed the battle for the lead. The task of overtaking Mulford was accomplished quickly. Anderson made the fourth of his six pit stops for tires after 255 miles (102 laps), and Goux was in front again in time to claim the 300-mile Prest-O-Lite trophy.
The need for a right front tire brought the Frenchman to his pit for the last time—and for his fourth bottle of wine—after 310 miles (124 laps). Anderson led by 23 seconds after this work had been completed. Then Aitken, using binoculars to check the tire wear on the Stutz as well as on the Peugeot, decided the time was ripe for Goux to make his winning move. Unless Anderson was forced to stop for tires very soon, Johnny believed the Stutz driver might be able to go the remaining distance on a single change of rubber.
"Give him the GO sign," ordered Aitken.
With a wave of acknowledgment, Goux jumped his lap speed immediately to 85 miles an hour. Increasing the pressure on his throttle steadily, he moved up to slightly better than 90 miles an hour with no objection from his pit. Ten laps at an average of 88.8 miles an hour put him right on the leader's tail and the Peugeot moved out in front on the 136th lap.
With the realization that he must replace his worn tires before trying to match the Frenchman's speed, the tiring Anderson pulled into the pits on his next trip around the course. He needed fuel and oil, in addition to fresh rubber; and it was almost four minutes before the white car was rolling again with Earl Cooper at the wheel.
"It's in the bag now," shouted Aitken. "Give Jules the SLOW sign again. They'll have to run at least four seconds a lap faster than he does in order to catch him, and they can't possibly go the remaining distance at that speed without another stop for tires."
The final challenge, however, never materialized. A broken crankshaft put the Stutz out of the running before Cooper could whittle more than a few seconds off the Peugeot's lead. That left Merz in another Stutz and DePalma, Wishart's relief driver at the wheel of a Mercer, as Goux's nearest rivals—13 minutes behind.
The Frenchman coasted home at 75 miles an hour and vaulted from the cockpit. One by one, his associates embraced him and kissed both of his oil-smeared cheeks.
Because of the language barrier, it was several minutes before Goux realized the cameramen were clamoring for him to resume his position behind the wheel. When he finally understood, he reached for a clean rag to wipe the dirt and grime from his face. One of the photographers snatched it from his grasp and handed him another bottle of champagne instead.
With a smile, he climbed back into the car, and the camera shutters clicked. Then, holding the empty bottle high, he said: "Sans le bon vin, je ne serais pas été en état de faire la victoire."12
With the completion of another successful 500-mile race, Fisher shifted his attention immediately to the highway project. He organized a group of automotive industry leaders and race drivers, whom he named the Trail Blazers, to select a suitable route through the comparatively unknown country between the Mississippi River and the Pacific coast.13
They chugged out of the Hoosier capital on the morning of July 1 for a memorable trip which was to require almost a month. The rugged terrain and unbridged rivers presented many new problems. Some of his friends and associates started a subtle movement to christen the proposed road the Carl Fisher Highway, but the Speedway president was quick to show his displeasure.
"This highway soon will be recognized as a symbol of the wonderful era of rapid transportation which still is ahead of us," he declared. "It should be named after some great American, like Abraham Lincoln."
This suggestion won instant acceptance.
The work of the Trail Blazers in obtaining support for the project was extremely effective in the thinly populated areas. The eventual success of the Lincoln Highway was assured by early fall, when state officials of Nevada and Colorado announced their willingness to build some of the most difficult and costly stretches of the road through the mountains. It was 15 years later, however, before the gigantic task finally was pronounced finished with the help of federal funds. The final touch was provided by the Boy Scouts of America, who placed 3,000 concrete markers along the route.
Preparations for the 1914 race moved smoothly and swiftly when Fisher returned to Indianapolis. Plans were approved for more seats with the erection of Grandstand E on the southwest turn and Grandstand F on the main straightaway. A third tunnel was constructed under the track, near the southeast corner of the grounds. A starter's bridge was built in the form of a narrow catwalk spanning the track 20 feet above the start-and-finish line.
W. F. Bradley, European correspondent for Motor Age magazine, was persuaded to represent the Speedway in an effort to stimulate the entry of more foreign cars. An even dozen was included among the 45 nominations when entries closed in April.
Goux, hopeful of repeating his 1913 triumph, took a great deal of pleasure out of introducing his Peugeot teammates—Georges Boillot and Arthur Duray—to such American delicacies as pie a la mode and ice cream sodas. Guyot returned at the head of a two-car Delage entry with René Thomas, prominent French aviator and motorcycle racer, as his fellow driver. The other all-European entries were Josef Christiaens's Excelsior, Jean Chassagne's Sunbeam, and Ernst Friedrich's Bugatti. A second Sunbeam was assigned to Harry Grant. Tom Gilhooley was chosen as driver of the lone Isotta, and Germany was represented by two Mercedes in the capable hands of DePalma and Mulford. All of the 12 except Gilhooley qualified for one of the 30 starting positions, and he was admitted to the starting lineup as the first alternate on race day when DePalma withdrew because of last-minute mechanical trouble.
America's hopes centered on a three-car Stutz team consisting of Earl Cooper, Gil Anderson, and Barney Oldfield, who was back in good standing with the American Automobile Association after a long suspension for unsanctioned barnstorming. Caleb Bragg and Spencer Wishart formed the Mercer team. Louis Disbrow was Bob Burman's associate on the Burman Specials. After missing the 1913 race, Joe Dawson returned to the Speedway with a privately owned Marmon. Howdy Wilcox, in the line-up for the fourth straight year, was at the wheel of a Gray Fox.
The only other American cars conceded even an outside chance of winning were the new Maxwells and Duesenbergs (Fred and Augie Duesenberg had started their own company earlier in the year and had built two cars). Rickenbacker, also back in good standing with the AAA Contest Board after a year's suspension, served as team captain with Willie Haupt of the 1913 Mason contingent in the other Dusie.
Harroun, firmly established as one of the nation's top automotive engineers, directed operation of the Maxwells. He had contracted to design and build for the Maxwell company two cars capable of breaking the Speedway's one-lap record of 93 miles an hour. Payment for his services depended upon fulfillment of that stipulation, and considerable interest was focused on their performance in the time trials starting May 25. He had patented a new type of carburetor designed for kerosene instead of gasoline, and installed it on the car assigned to Willie Carlson. Teddy Tetzlaff, a veteran of all three 500-mile classics and winner of second place in 1912, was chosen for the other car.
Tetzlaff was the third fastest qualifier for a starting position, with a speed of 96.75 miles an hour. Carlson carried out the provisions of Harroun's contract by averaging 93.5 miles an hour. But the Peugeot team established itself as a heavy favorite when Goux qualified at 98.3 and Boillot at 99.85—so close to the magic 100 mph figure.
Starting positions were determined by the luck of the draw, however, and none of the fast cars except Tetzlaff's Maxwell gained spots in the first two rows.
There was some grumbling among the other drivers when DePalma's vacated position in the fifth row was made available to Gilhooley. As a newcomer at the Speedway, he already had gained the reputation of being wild and unpredictable. Officials had warned him during practice to pay attention to faster cars overtaking him and give them more racing room. But the leaders had completed little more than 100 miles when Gilhooley spun in the groove on the southwest turn, because of a tire failure, as Wilcox and Dawson were closing in on him from behind.
Wilcox roared by, safely, on the inside. As Dawson headed for an open space between the spinning green car and the outer wall, Gilhooley's mechanic, Lino Bonini, was thrown from his seat, directly in Dawson's path. To avoid him, Dawson swerved sharply toward the infield and struck a pile of sand at the edge of the track. The car overturned, pinning Dawson and mechanic Vern Barnes in the wreckage with severe injuries.
Long before the 250-mile mark was reached, the only question was which of the French cars would win. Wishart made one determined challenge, threatening the leaders momentarily with a sudden burst of speed. But a broken camshaft sent his Mercer to the side lines with approximately 200 miles to go. Thomas, Duray, Boillot, and Guyot were running in that order, with Oldfield, the leading American contender, 15 miles off the pace.
Duray's "baby" Peugeot, so-named because its piston displacement was only 183 cubic inches, couldn't close the gap. Boillot's 345-inch Peugeot moved to within three seconds of Thomas as spectators resigned themselves to an all-French finish. A cracked frame ended that threat, however, and Thomas won easily by a margin of 10 miles over Duray with a new race record of 6:03:45 for an average speed of 82.47 mph. Guyot was third and Goux fourth. Oldfield, first American to finish, still had almost 30 miles to go as the French winner received the checkered flag. Thomas stopped at his pit to accept the congratulations of his jubilant associates with virtually no display of emotion. His attitude was that he'd had a job to do, and he'd done it—so what?
Almost overlooked by most spectators was the accomplishment of Carlson's Maxwell, which completed the full 500 miles on 30 gallons of kerosene priced at 6 cents a gallon and finished ninth. It was the most economical high-speed performance in automotive history.