Cyrus Patschke

6/7/1889 - 6/5/1951

Cyrus Patschke
Cyrus Patschke is one of only three relief drivers that drove a winning car in the Indianapolis 500. In the first running of the 500 in 1911 he shared the winning Marmon with Ray Harroun. Cyrus Patschke died 71 years ago, he was 62

Cyrus Patschke was born and lived his whole life in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. He was a mechanic and in the very early days of auto racing he was a well known racing driver and a close friend of Barney Olefield and Eddie Rickenbacher.

In June 1908 he drove an Acme at Jamaica, Long Island, in the Gasoline Cars races, winning both the two mile and the one mile events. Then in the September at Fairmount Park, Philadelphia he came second to George Robertson's Locomobile in the 195 mile Founders Day Trophy once again driving the Acme. He completed the race in a time of 4:14:54. In October he entered the Brighton Beach 24 Hour race. Driving with C.B. Rogers their Acme went out after 11 hours.

The next year, 1909, he won the Brighton Beach 24 hour race with Ralph Mulford in a Lozier and returned the next year to win again with Al Poole in a Stearns-Six. He was due to compete in the AAA race on the road course at Lowell in the Acme that year but did not arrive.

In 1911 Indianapolis decided to run a 500 mile race. Marmon had entered two single seat Wasps for Ray Harroun and Joe Dawson. As there was no provision for a riding mechanic, for the first time a rear view mirror was installed. Near the halfway point in the race, Harroun turned the wheel over to Patschke, who drove relief for about 100 miles all the time working his way through the field. Harroun returned for the final stint with the car in the lead and went on to win the very first Indianapolis 500 in a time of 6 hours, 42 minutes, at an average speed of 74.602 mph.

The real winner of the first 1911 Indy 500 has always often been a subject of debate. Not whether Cyrus should be credited alongside Harroun but rather was it Harroun at all or Ralph Mulford in a Lozier? All three independant scoring systems failed during the race and Mulford always felt that he had been credited with one lap too few. In any even the AAA declared Harroun the winner and Cyrus, who also did a stint in relief for Dawson in the other Wasp, was pretty much forgotten.

Cyrus never raced at Indianapolis again. In October that year he raced a Marmon in the Dick Ferris Trophy on a road course in Santa Monica in a AAA sanctioned event where he finished second behind Harvey Herrick and he raced a couple of times more that year but failed to finish either event.

He also scored a third at Sioux City, Iowa on July 14, 1914, won by friend Eddie Rickenbacker. The 300-mile event ran on a 2-mile track.

In 1914 he finished 3rd on the 2 mile dirt oval at Sioux City, again driving a Marmon, in a 300 mile race won by Eddie Rickenbacker.

Cyrus only competed in 11 major races scoring 3 wins, a second and 2 thirds.

In later years, Cyrus Patschke was also a motorcycle racer and ran an auto parts shop and an 'Overland and Will Knight' dealership at 1101 Cumberland Street in his home town of Lebanon.

Cyrus Patschke is one of three relief drivers in the history of the Indy 500 to have helped the winning car to the finish line. The other two were Joe Boyer and Mauri Rose. Both of them are listed in the official Speedway accounts and their likenesses are found on the BorgWarner Trophy. Cyrus has been overlooked.

Patschke died in Lebanon, PA., on May 6th 1951.


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