This remarkable photograph has a misleading label on the back. It says “Claude Bracey, 1928 Amsterdam Olympics” and that’s almost right.
That is indeed Claude Bracey breaking the tape at the far left. Bracey was Rice’s first real track star and he did run in Amsterdam, the first Rice athlete to compete in the Olympics. But as someone who lived many years in Chicago I knew at a glance that the race we see above was run in Soldier Field. It turns out that it was the 1928 NCAA track championships and Bracey won both the 100 yard dash (9.6 seconds) and the 220 (20.9). Soldier Field itself was only a couple of years old.
Later this week I’ll explain where this image came from and show some more pictures from what is turning out to be a really wonderful new collection.
Bonus: I’m declaring Summer Hours. Don’t worry unless I’m gone for at least three days with no explanation.
Who is on the other end with what appears to be the same uniform?
Wiki lists the finals as:
1. Claude Bracey, Rice Institute 9.3
2. George Simpson, Ohio St.
3. Wes Foster, Washington St.
4. George Hester, Michigan
5. Arthur Engle, Iowa St.
6. Hermansen, Northwestern
1. Claude Bracey, Rice Institute 20.9
2. George Simpson, Ohio State
3. H.L. Henson, Michigan State
4. Arthur Engle, Iowa St.
5. Root, Chicago
6. Lambacher, Ohio Wesleyan
The photos shows a Notre Dame runner. Is this the finish of a heat race?
I think the judges made a mistake – Jack Elder, a junior at Notre Dame, is, I believe, the athlete between Bracey and Simpson, and I suspect he should have been listed as 4th, an it’s definitely Weichert in lane 1, and the estimated times behind Bracey’s 9.6 would be 9.7, 9.8, 9.8 , 9.9, 9.9
I had the same thought about the runner in lane 1. It certainly appears to be another Rice competitor. Are there any athletic department records that might shed light on this?
I think the stripe on the guy’s shirt in lane 1 is lighter than Bracey’s. In color it would probably be more obvious.
Ernest Weichert is mentioned in several Threshers and the 1929 Campanile (p. 268: http://www.e-yearbook.com/yearbooks/Rice_University_Campanile_Yearbook/1929/Page_268.html) as being the Owl’s second-best sprinter to Bracey. They finished 1-2 in both the 100- and 220-yard races the SWC meet. I can’t see the Campanile photo well enough to see if Ernest might be the lane-1 competitor in the photo above, but a check of the actual book may help.
I haven’t seen any list of Rice sprinters who competed that 1928 NCAA meet. Also, note that there are seven racers in the photo, but only the top six are listed in the results (http://usctrackandfield.com/1928_results.pdf). It does look like “Ohio” (State?) and “Washington State” are 2nd & 3rd in the photo, which is consistent with the final results. But maybe it was a semi-final heat? I haven’t found any accounts of any of the earlier heats.
the 1928 Olympic Trials took place on June 6-7 in Cambridge, Mass. It sounded like quite an ordeal for the sprinters: All four rounds of races — from prelims to finals — were held within four hours of the first day (from 3:30-7:30p.m), “the last race in piecing cold and windy conditions.” (https://www.usatf.org/statistics/champions/OlympicTrials/HistoryOfTheOlympicTrials.pdf): The winner was a high school student from Glendale, Calif., Frank Wykoff, who went on to win Olympic gold medals with as a member for three U.S. 4×100-meter relay teams (1928-leadoff, 1932-anchor and 1932-anchor). In Amsterdam, Wykoff finished 4th in the 100. (Bracey won two preliminary heats but finished 5th in his semifinal (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athletics_at_the_1928_Summer_Olympics_%E2%80%93_Men%27s_100_metres).
Another unusual event in Bracey’s life: In a game of bridge (in which Weichert also participated), Claude dealt a “perfect” hand of 13 hearts to classmate Stuart Lamkin. It made the front page of the April 6, 1928, Thresher (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth230105/m1/1/zoom/)
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I am the grand cousin of Claude Odell Bracey Jr., my mother’s side. I have done some research on him and hearing about the bridge game made think of how his life was a series of good and bad hands. He was gifted with tremendous speed, but missed the finals in Amsterdam in 1928. He ran his fastest time ever–a 9.2–just three weeks before the trials in 1932 Long Beach, where he had to bow out because of appendicitis attack the night before the final, where he would have likely made the team. For some reason (does anyone know?) he left Rice before getting his degree and became an oil field worker? Was it the great depression? The lure of money on Raccoon Bend discovery in 1928? It must have killed him to know that just 2 generations earlier, his great grandfather had owned 400 acres sitting on top of that same salt dome. And then there is the accidental death or suicide in Buckeye Arizona. How did he end up there in a Mica mine if he was an Oil Field Worker? Was he sold a dry hole?
Any knowledge would be appreciated.
Jack — I found a couple of articles in Sept. 24, 1940, editions of two Arizona newspapers that said Claude Bracey was killed by an accidental gunshot to his temple, possibly when a rifle fell off a shelf in his bathroom in Buckeye, Ariz.
He was said to have been a plumber employed by the Harold Goodman Sheet Metal Works in Buckeye.
It said “The Braceys have resided about a year, coming here from Texas.”
The coroner rules the shooting to be accidental and that an inquest was not required.
Here’s a link to the longer of them (Arizona Republic, p16), which gave quite a few other details: https://www.newspapers.com/image/116845605
I’ll be happy to send you copies of both, if you’re not a subscriber to newspapers -dot- com. If you’d like them, email me at mikeross2 -at- prodigy -dot- net.
I also found a remembrance on page 4 of the Oct. 18, 1940, edition of the Rice student newspaper (The Thresher), which said that Bracey “had been living in Arizona, where he owned a mica mine for the past several years.”
It did not say why or when he left Rice without getting his degree.
I hope this helps some. I’ll post here any additional information I find.
— Mike Ross
Also, Robert James Meaux of Humble, Tex., found quite a bit of information about Claude for this article published in 2019: https://www.ourtribune.com/life-2/our-humble-history-by-robert-meaux/22853-our-humble-history-the-fastest-man-from-humble.html
You might consider contacting him, in case he knows some additional info that he didn’t include in the article … or that readers told him after this article appeared.