“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Garfield Park in Indianapolis in Marion County, Indiana — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

“Cannon Ball” Baker

“Cannon Ball” Baker Marker, side one image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, October 20, 2018
1. “Cannon Ball” Baker Marker, side one
Inscription.  Pioneering motorcyclist and racecar driver Erwin G. Baker (born 1882) moved to Indianapolis circa 1893. He won one of the first motorcycle races at the newly opened Speedway, 1909, and raced in 1922 Indy 500. Baker set numerous speed and distance records during his career, often on unpaved roads. Nicknamed “Cannon Ball” after record-breaking transcontinental run in 1914.

Baker lived here across from Garfield Park by 1926. Many automobile and racing companies asked him to promote their brands, as the public associated his name with professional integrity and nostalgia for early racing. NASCAR named him its first commissioner at its 1947 founding meeting: served until death, 1960. Later inducted into several motorsports halls of fame.
Erected 2017 by Indiana Historical Bureau, Garfield Park Neighbors Association and Friends of Garfield Park. (Marker Number 40.2017.3.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Roads & VehiclesSports. A significant historical date for this entry is May 14, 1914.
Location. 39° 44.035′ N, 86° 
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8.669′ W. Marker is in Indianapolis, Indiana, in Marion County. It is in Garfield Park. Marker is at the intersection of South Garfield Drive and East Garfield Drive, on the right when traveling north on South Garfield Drive. Marker is not in Garfield Park, but in the residential neighborhood overlooking Garfield Park’s Conservatory Drive. You can reach it from East Raymond Street or from Shelby Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 902 E Garfield Dr, Indianapolis IN 46203, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Leedy Manufacturing Company (approx. 0.9 miles away); Bates-Hendricks House (approx. one mile away); The Chevrolet Brothers (approx. 1.2 miles away); Hook's Drug Stores (approx. 1.3 miles away); 28th Regiment USCT (approx. 1.6 miles away); Holy Rosary - Danish Church Historic District (approx. 1.7 miles away); John Muir in Indianapolis (approx. 1.9 miles away); Calvin Fletcher (approx. 1.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Indianapolis.
Also see . . .
1. Indiana Historical Bureau entry for this marker. This page contains annotations for the text used on this marker. Excerpt: “Baker began setting records in the early twentieth century, a period before paved roads or highway numbering became standard as a result of the spread of the Good Roads Movement. While Baker often intentionally
“Cannon Ball” Baker Marker, side two image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, October 20, 2018
2. “Cannon Ball” Baker Marker, side two
sought out demanding primitive mountain roads or desert paths in order to prove the efficiency of the vehicle he was promoting, even the roads of his flat and even home state would have presented a challenge. In 1912, the South Bend Tribune reported that Indiana roads were mostly bad, hindering and isolating rural residents and farmers. A 1914 article explained that the State of Indiana took no responsibility for its roads and noted that the question of a state highway department was hotly debated. Lobbying by bicycle organizations and automobile touring clubs, improvements in automobile technology, the increasing affordability of mass-produced automobiles, the transportation needs of farmers, and the free rural mail delivery efforts all contributed to the construction of new and improved roads across the country in the first few decades of the twentieth century.” (Submitted on January 1, 2019.) 

2. Wikipedia Entry. “His best-remembered drive was a 1933 New York City to Los Angeles trek in a Graham-Paige model 57 Blue Streak 8, setting a 53.5 hour record that stood for nearly 40 years. This drive inspired the later Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, better known as the ‘Cannonball Run,’ which itself inspired at least five movies and a television series. In 1941, he
Edwin “CannonBall” Baker After Completing his Transcontinental Journey image. Click for full size.
Unknown photographer via Wikipedia Commons, 1912
3. Edwin “CannonBall” Baker After Completing his Transcontinental Journey
He is shown with his Indian motorcycle in New York.
drove a new Crosley Covered Wagon across the nation in a troublefree 6,517-mile run to prove the economy and reliability characteristics of Crosley automobiles. Other record and near-record transcontinental trips were made in Model T Fords, Chrysler Imperials, Marmons, Falcon-Knights and Columbia Tigers, among others.” (Submitted on January 1, 2019.) 

3. Indiana’s Daredevil Racer: Erwin “Cannon Ball” Baker and his 1914 Transcontinental Motor. “On May 14, 1914, Hoosier speedster Erwin G. Baker arrived in New York City after driving over 3,000 miles across the country on his Indian motorcycle. Baker’s run from San Diego to New York City in eleven and a half days not only broke the previous transcontinental record set by Volney E. Davis in 1911, it shattered it by almost nine days.” (Submitted on January 1, 2019.) 
“Cannon Ball” Baker Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, October 20, 2018
4. “Cannon Ball” Baker Marker
“Cannon Ball” Baker Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, October 20, 2018
5. “Cannon Ball” Baker Marker
Cannonball Baker on Transcontinental Run, 1923 image. Click for full size.
Original photograph in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Image Collection, 1923
6. Cannonball Baker on Transcontinental Run, 1923
Cannonball Baker races along behind the wheel of an Oldsmobile Six during one of his many transcontinental runs from New York to Los Angeles.
Credits. This page was last revised on February 4, 2023. It was originally submitted on December 31, 2018, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio. This page has been viewed 318 times since then and 57 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on December 31, 2018, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.   3. submitted on January 1, 2019, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.   4, 5, 6. submitted on January 2, 2019, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.

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May. 30, 2023