Continuing this months series of blogs celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 today’s photograph by Ed Arnaudin was taken in 1964 and shows the most famous of the Delage Y’s which, in the hands of Rene Thomas, won the 4th running of the Indy 500 in 1914.
Designed by Arthur Michelat four Y models are thought to have been built between 1913 and 1914 at the Delage factory on Boulevard de Verdun in Courbevoie in NW Paris.
This one was fitted with a 113 hp, 4 cylinder 4.5 litre 275 cui motor, featuring 4 valves per cylinder, was connected to a 5 speed gearbox making it one of the most advanced racing cars of it’s time.
In 1913 Paul Bablot drove the pictured vehicle to victory in the, latter of two, French Grand Prix held at Le Mans.
With support from British journalist in Paris WF Bradley, the Indianapolis 500 attracted the first foreign entries in 1913 which in 1914 included two Delage Y’s, the 2nd Delage driven by Albert Guyot placed 3rd in the race.
Rene Thomas prior to winning the Indianapolis 500 at his first attempt is also known for surviving the worlds first mid air collision near Milan in 1910 after his Antoinette monoplane ‘fell’ onto the Farman biplane of Captain Bertram Dickson who was not so lucky.
Thomas went on to record a land speed record of 143 mph in 1924 at Arpajon south of Paris aboard another Delage. Amazingly after a full life of risk taking Rene Thomas died aged 89 in 1975.
The story goes that as this winning car was being loaded on to a ship to return to France it was purchased and ultimately remained in the USA. The car was later ‘found’ by Edgar L. Roy a founding member of the Vintage Sports Car Club of America and restored by him prior to the car finding it’s way to the IMS Hall of Fame Museum.
My thanks to Steve Arnaudin for sending me the scan of his Dad’s photo and to E.B. of The Nostalgia Forum for identifying this vehicle.
I hope you have enjoyed today’s 1914 edition of ‘Getting a lil psycho on tyres’ and that you’ll join me again tomorrow for a look at a 1915 White Squadron Stutz. Don’t for get to come back now !