Jeffkins next appearance in a racing car was on the brick surfaced track at Indianapolis for the first running of the 500 mile race during May 1911. Interest in the race had been building for more than six months with the Speedway publicity agents spreading the word throughout the United States and Europe. Attracted by the huge prize fund of more than $25,000, entries had been arriving for months, helped along by the fact that the starting positions were determined by the order of entry receipt.

Jeffkins and Howard Hall were nominated to drive for the two car team entered by the small Velie Motor Company from Illinois. These cars were stripped production models with 334ci four cylinder motors – amongst the smallest in the field. In qualifying the Jeffkins entry suffered mechanical problems and was withdrawn from the race. Jeffkins later attempted to qualify a Cole but it failed to make the speed. With the Velie team reduced to a single entry it was decided to pair Jeffkins with Hall in the remaining car.

The historic first Indianapolis 500 which attracted over 80,000 fans was won by Ray Harroun in the Marmon ‘Wasp’ in a time of 6hours 42minutes and 8 seconds and earned him prizemoney of $10,000 and a place in history. The Hall/Jeffkins Velie while never a factor in the race performed creditably for its size and power and finished in 17th place in a field of 40 cars. (8)

Just over a week later, on 6th June, a three car Velie team returned to their home state of Illinois to compete in the 5th Annual Algonquin hillclimb. A newspaper article lists a field of 64 starters but detailed results have not been located. The outright winner was Eddie Hearn in a 120hp Benz. Jeffkins own publicity made claims of him establishing a new class record for the hill. (9)

The interest of the motor industry and racing fans now turned towards the Elgin National road races in Illinois on 25th and 26th August. The triangular eight and a half mile course had benefitted from major improvements since the 1910 event, which included widening of the straight sections to an average of 54ft, straightening many of the corners and the setting back of telegraph poles.

Four events were scheduled over the two day meeting: Saturday’s races were over distances of 200 miles, 170 miles and 135 miles. Sunday’s race was a 300 miler.
Jeffkins was again a member of the Velie team which had nominated to contest the 200 mile Illinois Trophy race for cars with engines between 301 and 400 ci capacity. Prizemoney of $2000 was on offer.

The three races on Saturday were run concurrently with the total field of 18 cars starting the three tiered races at 30 second intervals with the cars flagged off when the leaders had covered their allotted distance.
By starting time some 70,000 spectators had gathered at the best vantage points around the course.

The event was uneventful and in the Illinois Trophy race the two Mercers of Don Herr and teammate Charles Merz set the pace from the start and were never challenged. Jeffkins Velie suffered ignition problems and was forced to pit several times while his teammate Stickney was delayed for four laps to repair a leaking oil tank. The finishing places when the race was flagged at the 24 lap mark after 3 hours and 5 minutes were the two Mercers – just one minute apart followed by Jeffkins in third place. (10)

Cincinnati, Ohio two weeks later was the next race meeting on Jeffkins schedule and for this event he was driving the single entry for the Ohio based Schacht factory. As with the Elgin races, two events – a 150 mile and a 200 mile race were run concurrently. The results show that Jeffkins retired on the eighth lap with a ‘wrecked car’. (11)

It would appear that shortly after the Cincinnati race Jeffkins moved from Iowa to the West coast as his future motor racing activities would be mainly in California. His next recorded appearance was in the third running of the Santa Monica road races on 14th October. The familiar format of a number of races run concurrently was again employed with Jeffkins in a Schacht entered in the Medium class which was scheduled to run for 151 miles.

The races commenced at 8.30am with newspapers claiming 100,000 spectators lining the 8 ½ mile course. The first group away was the dozen entries in the 202 mile free for all followed by the other classes at 30 second intervals. After 2 hours and 12 minutes the finish flag was shown to the leaders of the Medium group with first and second places taken by the two Marmon team cars of Bruce Keene and Joe Nikrent at an average speed of 68mph. Jeffkins was placed eighth. (12)

One week later Jeffkins claimed that he competed on the Los Angeles Motordrome board track at Playa Del Ray and set new class records for the ten and twenty-five mile distance. The ‘Oakland Tribune’ of 24th October 1911 carries a brief report of this meeting but only the outright race winners are mentioned. (13)

RUPERT JEFFKINS....continued..