Then came the track once more. The usual excitement prevailed. Those in the stands wanted to be in the pits and those in the pits wanted to be in the stands. Those by the pit gate wanted passes.
One bit of news floated over the mike and was followed by a buzz of conversation in the stands. Ludlow would not ride. Various entries were too late to comply with the rules for the occasion which stipulated that a machine must be registered in the name of the rider at least twenty days prior to the event, and his was one.
Al Fergoda, the A.M.A. referee for district 36 was everywhere. In his wake there were several flurries of wrenches as special heads were taken off and machines restored to a more virgin Class C condition. Numbers were drawn for position. Riders began to don their regalia. And finally came the line-up.
Thirty-six entries were given positions in lines of four. At the signal they dropped in their clutches and belched toward the corner. So much speculation had taken place that there were many in the stands who no doubt expected a pile-up in the first turn, right from a standing , start. In fact there may have been a few on the track who expected the same thing. Anyhow, some of the riders picked up speed with every revolution while some chose a more conservative speed from the drop of the flag.
The result was a strung out field in the first lap. By the beginning of the second lap not over ten riders were in the first bunch. That ten was however composed of speed merchants of the first water. They were setting a pace that certainly looked a bit snappier than a “fifty.”
It took several laps before the crowd got straight on the numbers of the riders. Then it was found that in the lead were such men as Cordy Milne, the night speedway national champ; Sam Arena, already famed for his riding in long distance Class C events; “Windy” Lindstrom of hill and track fame on the West Coast; Burton Albrecht, and among others, Sal Gotto.
The representation of machines was fairly even. For instance Cordy was on an Indian and Arena was on a Harley-Davidson. Albrecht was on an Indian and “Windy” was on a Harley-Davidson.
One thing was evident in those early stages. The fast boys were out there “busting the breeze” with almost complete disregard for pace or anything else in the way of team work. It was just a plain case of wide open and every man for himself. Pits were frantically clicking watches and handing out signals. But for the most part the leaders didn’t seem to think they should look at the pits until around the end of a hundred miles when it would be time for gas. The day waxed warmer, the motors looked hot and every pit was flashing “Oil.”
Before long the pits began to do business. Not from among the ranks of the leaders but from among the laggards. A few machines had already been lapped and it became evident that their lack of speed was trouble rather than conservatism. Stops were made and tinkering was done and more laps were lost, some of them never to be regained.