The 1914 Indy 500 winning Delage


The 1913 Delage type Y with Rene Thomas at the wheel (photo credit: Artimus Images)

Here's another car owned by our friend Edgar Roy. Dad had gone off to college when Ed acquired this car, and I didn't realize he'd restored the car until recently. This spectacular car is none other than the 1913 French GP and 1914 Indy 500 winner - a 1913 Delage, type Y factory works racer. Louis Delage (1874-1947) left Renault to open his own company in 1905. Always passionate about racing, Delage hired a new engineer in 1910 - Arthur Michelat, a Angers graduate (France's Army Heavy Artillery School). Michelat is credited with designing the type Y racers of 1913. The cars (4 type Y racers are though to have been built) are equipped with a 4-valves per cylinder, 4-cylinder engine producing roughly 130hp. 

Delage was in a battle with Peugeot for French racing supremacy (Bugatti was just coming on the seen in 1914) and the French Grand Prix held at Le Mans was their focus. Peugeot had won in 1912, and Delage's answer for 1913 was the type Y. Delage would campaign three cars (driven by Bablot, Guyot, and Duray) and in the second race at Le Mans in August 1913, Bablot would bring home the victory for Delage - arguably their most important victory up to that point in time. The Delage team for the French GP was managed by W.F. Bradley, and Englishman who was the European correspondent for Automotive Industries - a leading trade journal at the time. Bradley was well connected and the same year Charles Sedwick, events manager for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, appointed Bradley their European representative.  The Automobile of October 31, 1912 notes "Mr. Sedwick sails about November 1 for Europe, where he will discuss the May race meet with the most prominent European manufacturers."  The Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Sedwick) knew that they needed to attract the top European teams in order for the "500" to truly be considered a world class event. With the help of Bradley, Sedwick was able to bring the Peugeot and Delage cars to the 1914 event. 

The 1914 Indianapolis 500 was a star studded event with Duray moving over to drive for Peugeot (the other Peugeot being driven by Goux). Rene Thomas and Albert Guyot would drive for Delage and hometown favorites Oldfield, Wishart, and Rickenbacker would drive for Stutz, Mercer, and Duesenberg respectively. With W.F. Bradley as team manager yet again, the number 16 Delage driven by Thomas would win the event. 

The Horseless Age, June 3, 1914

The history of this important race car is a bit thin from this point forward. It is said that Bradley sold the car in New York after the race (rather than shipping the car back to France). Did he sell both cars? Whom was the winning race car sold too? The type Y doesn't seem to have been raced in 1915 in any significant US race as Delage brought over a new group of cars that competed throughout the country. The next references I can find are mentions of the car after being restored by Ed Roy. Roy seems to have refurbished the car around 1960 and is seen showing the car over the next few years. Road & Track (Vol 13) of 1961 reports ""This 1913 Delage, one of three brought privately to the 1914 Indianapolis race by W. F. Bradley, had long pushrods actuated by camshafts ... at the hands of its present owner, Edgar L. Roy, President of the Vintage Sports Car Club of America." In 1965, Roy would win the Alfred Poole Trophy (donated by Peter Helck) with the Delage - awarded to the best restored foreign car by the VMCCA. Somehow the car found it's way to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum (Roy parted with the car prior to his passing - most likely in the late 1960s or early 1970s) and I can't think of a more fitting home for this car.


A postcard of the 1913 Delage after Ed Roy restored it (photo credit: Mark Dionne)

1914 Indy winner at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum (photo credit: dieselpunks.org)

The Horseless Age, June 3, 1914



2 comments:

  1. per v60, Dec 1980 SIA, Roy donated the Delage to the Indy Museum, and, in
    1964, for the 50th Anniversary of the Race, the winning driver, Rene Thomas, who had provided parts and intelligence for Roy's superior
    restoration, came over from France and made a circuit of the track in that
    Delage, with Edgar Roy riding in the mechanic's seat--must have been a thrill, for both of them...Besides being a co-founder of the Vintage Sports Car Club, Edgar also helped found the Lars Anderson Museum in Brookline, MA.
    About 1989, I videotaped a joint interview with Edgar and a pioneer member of the HCCA in Brookline?. The tape was donated to the Lars Anderson
    museum, at the time, but has so far not been found...Dennis McCargar,
    Tujunga, CA 818-353-9318

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  2. Dennis - thanks for your insight and contributions. I had the pleasure of meeting Ed as a child and seeing his scale Simplex models that he created.

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