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1911 Inter-State Indy 500 Racer "Best in Class" at Amelia Island

Updated: Jan 29, 2019

After having previously won "Second in Class" at the 2001 Pebble Beach Concours D'Elegance, Charles Bronson brings his 1911 Inter-State "Bulldog" 50 Indy 500 Racer to the 2010 Amelia Island Concours and receives "Best in Class - Race Cars Pre-War".

The Inter-State Automobile Company was founded in 1908 by Thomas F. Hart of Muncie, Indiana. Hart seems to have been a bit of a promoter, which was not a bad talent to have in the early days of the automobile. Even the name of the company was something of a publicity stunt - the result of a contest organized by Mr. Hart.

Not one to be shy about the qualities of his product, Hart declared that the Inter-State was "the best automobile made in America", although, he admitted "not everyone knows yet."

A medium priced assembled car, the Inter-State was more successful then most, and the car was actually quite good. Power came from one of two four-cylinder engines, one rated at 40bhp, and the other, as fitted to the "Bulldog", rated at 50bhp.

At the time, 50 bhp was an exceptional achievement, and it may have been the need to promote its 50bhp accomplishment that led to the decision to enter a car in a race to held on a new 2.5 mile circuit built on the edge of town. It was, of course, the inaugural running of the Indianapolis 500.

Exit of the Indianapolis 500 Miles 1911. In the first row: Louis Strang (Case-Wisconsin No. 1), Ralph DePalma (Simplex No. 2), Harry Endicott (Inter-State No. 3) and Johnny Aitken (National No. 4).

It is interesting that the length of the race was chosen by the organizers to result in a six-hour event, then considered the ideal length for a motor-sports event. Forty entries signed up for that first race, including Hart's Inter-State. wearing race number three, it was driven by Harry Endicott, finishing in 16th place. The race was won by Ray Harroun, driving a Marmon.

The pace car leaves the track with cars raced by Ralph DePalma (Simplex No. 2), Harry Endicott (Inter-State No. 3) and Johnny Aitken (National No. 4) passing by

In Endicott's account of the race in an article dated June 1, 1911, he states that he was forced to stop 11 times for tires, and twice for oil and gasoline, and on one of those stops the carburetor was adjusted, but no other mechanical troubles were encountered - an impressive performance, indeed.

The entry list reads like a who's who of early automobile manufacturing. Marques present at the first race included Pope-Hartford, Simplex, Stutz, Case, Mercedes, Knox, Fiat, Alco, National, McFarlan, Marmon, Lozier, Mercer, and Benz - often several of each.

According to a July,20, 1911 account in Motor Age, the Inter-State won two big races at the Kansas City meet. Later, on August 3, 1911, Harry Endicott, drove the Inter-State in two races in Galveston Texas, and in the 50 mile free-for-all race he finished third behind two Nationals. On Aug. 5 in the main event, Endicott finished third in a non-stock car race with a time of two hours, 44 minutes, and 15 seconds - winning a $100 prize. Endicott would drive again in the 1912 race, but that would turn out to be his last Indy 500 as he was killed on September 5, 1913.

Charles and Debbie Bronson with daughter Torey accepting "Second in Class" at the 2001 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance

Very little is known of the car's intervening history, but several years ago the car was discovered by noted California restorer Stu Laidlaw. He Purchased the car on behalf of Mr. W. Kemper of the UK and undertook a major restoration on his behalf. Upon completion, the car was used on several tours before being acquired by Charles Bronson in the late 1990's. In 2000, Charles drove the car in the California Classic Rally, a trip of approximately 800 miles, during which it performed commendably. In 2001 Charles entered it in the Pebble Beach Concours D'Elegance where it received "Second in Class", which was followed up by "Best in Class - Race Cars Pre-War" at the 2010 Amelia Island Concours.


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