0/0/1888 - 12/11/1928
Earl raced at Indy three times, finishing 2nd in 1927. He was eaten by sharks in the sinking of the SS Vestris the following year. Earl DeVore died 93 years ago, he was 40
Born Francis Devore in Macksville, Kansas, Earl first raced in AAA in 1912 racing a Buick at Santa Monica. He switched to a National for the races at Tacoma in July that year and took a second and two thirds.
It was 1916 before he raced again, driving a Duesenberg in Chicago and at Sheepshead Bay finishing 7th and 5th respecively. His sporadic competition appearances continued and it was not until well after the end on WWI that he raced again.
It was 1922 on the board track in Beverly Hills where he drove a Frontenac but retired with bearing failure. He also attempted to qualify a Delage for the same race but was too slow.
After a three year break he returned to the tracks in earnest in 1925. In May he qualified for the Indy 500 in 13th spot, finishing 14th in his Miller. At two weeks later he crossed the line in 8th and continued to improve at Rockingham with a 4th place finish. He finsihed 8th on the board oval at Laurel in July but the rest of his season was beset with mechanical problems and a crash at Laurel on October.
In 1926 he raced exclusively on board tracks driving a Miller. He took his only AAA win that year crossing taking the chequered flag at Laurel. He had five other top ten finishes.
1927 saw Earl once again race on board tracks, though he did race in the Indy 500 finishing second behind George Souders. He didn't win any races in 1927 however in his 11 startes he finished in the top ten 9 times.
He appeared in 1928 with a stunning chrome plated Miller called the Chromolite Special. Unfortunatley he crashed at Indy hitting the wall in turn one after 161 laps. He only raced four more times finishing with a fifth at Rockingham in October.
Earl and Norm Batten decided to race in Argentina over the winter season, they took along at least one Miller race car and set sail from New York to Buenos Aires on the SS Vestris on November 10th. The Vestris was in very poor condition and heavily overloaded. About a day out of New York the ship ran into a severe storm and developed a starboard list. This worsened as first the cargo and then the coal bunkers shifted. An SOS was sent out on November 12th some 200 miles off Hampton Roads and the ship was abandoned.
At 14.00 hrs she fell on her side and sank. Earl saved his son, Billy, and his wife while Norm supported his wife until help was almost at hand. Norn sadly drowned but his wife survived. Devore Sr. also died, eaten by a shark, after his cries of help were ignored by seamen in a nearby lifeboat.
Some 112 of the 325 onboard were lost. The survivors were picked up by, amongst others, United States Lines' American Shipper and Norddeutscher Lloyd's Berlin. Adverse press publicity and public outcry led to the collapse of bookings and the closure of the service.
To read more about he sinking of the SS Vestris, click the link below.