Cobe Cup Race

The 1909 Cobe Cup Race predates the Indianapolis 500.

My passion is auto racing. I heard that there was a Grand-Prix style road race in Indiana that predates the Indy 500. Are you familiar with any such race and where I could obtain information about it?

The rumor about a road race in Indiana that predates the Indianapolis 500 is correct. The 395-mile Cobe Cup race on July 19, 1909, predates the first racing program at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway by a month, and the first Indianapolis 500 by two years.

The race course was 23.27 miles per lap and wound through Crown Point, Lowell, and
Cedar Lake, Indiana. The race was staged by The Chicago Automobile Club in an attempt to create a western Vanderbilt Cup type race. The race may not have been a financial success, but it was an exciting event. The event had an international flavor with a Fiat entry in addition to the American-factory entries of Apperson, Buick, Locomobile, Knox and Stoddard-Dayton. Louis Chevrolet took the lead on the fourth lap and won the race with 65 seconds to spare while driving as part of the Buick racing team.

Louis Chevrolet in 1909 Cobe Cup racer

Louis Chevrolet in his Buick at 1909 Cobe Cup
The following year the Cobe Cup race moved to Indianapolis, and somnolent quiet returned to the Lake County countryside.

The Cobe Cup was named for Ira M. Cobe from The Chicago Automobile Club.

This information is excerpted from Speed Age Magazine and the book The Louis Chevrolet Memorial, published by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, that might be available from Internet antiquarian booksellers.

I hope this helps.

Thanks for your question.

Back to: Ask Dennis to answer your questions about Indiana automotive history.


Leave a Reply