Jump to content

Teddy Tetzlaff

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Teddy Tetzlaff
BornTheodore Herbert Tetzlaff
(1883-02-05)February 5, 1883
Orange, California, U.S.
DiedDecember 8, 1929(1929-12-08) (aged 46)
Artesia, California, U.S.
Champ Car career
20 races run over 6 years
First race1909 Dick Ferris Trophy (Santa Monica)
Last race1915 San Francisco 100
First win1912 Dick Ferris Trophy (Santa Monica)
Last win1912 Montamarathon Trophy (Tacoma)
Wins Podiums Poles
3 4 0

Theodore Herbert Tetzlaff (February 5, 1883 – December 8, 1929) was an American racing driver[1] active in the formative years of auto racing. He competed in the first four Indianapolis 500s, with a highest finish of second in 1912.[2] He earned the nickname "Terrible Teddy" due to his rough treatment of his vehicles. His wide-open throttle racing style would variously win a race, blow up his engine or cause him to crash.[3] As auto racing strategies evolved from the early "go as fast as you can and see if you can stay on the track," Tetzlaff's success in the sport waned.


Tetzlaff was born in Orange, California, on February 5, 1883.[1]

Speed records[edit]

On March 19, 1911, as Lozier ads claimed, a stock 49-horsepower (37 kW) model piloted by Tetzlaff set a world record for 100 miles (160 km) at 1:14:29.[4]

In 1914 the Moross Amusement Company of Ernest Moross engaged Tetzlaff to campaign the 300-horsepower (220 kW) Benz, naming it "Blitzen Benz 2." He broke the world land speed record mark by running 142.85 miles per hour (229.89 km/h) on the Bonneville Salt Flats at Salduro, Utah, on August 12.[5][6]

Motion pictures[edit]

Around 1912 Tetzlaff began appearing as himself in several silent motion pictures produced by comedy pioneer Mack Sennett. He even appeared in one Sennett film The Speed Kings (1913) alongside fellow racing driver Barney Oldfield. He later became an assistant to actor Wallace Reid on Reid's car racing movies. His son Ted Tetzlaff was a noted Hollywood cinematographer.


Tetzlaff died in an assisted living facility in Artesia, California, on December 8, 1929, as a result of long-term effects of a spinal injury incurred during the 1911 Los Angeles to Phoenix race when his car hit a bump and overturned with Tetzlaff's head striking the ground. Having recovered quickly, he resumed his racing career and was later engaged in the auto service industry but had to retire as his health deteriorated.[7]




Tetzlaff Peak in Utah has borne his name since 1960.[8][9] The mountain is located near Bonneville Salt Flats where he set the land speed record in 1914.

Motorsports career results[edit]

Indianapolis 500 results[edit]



  1. ^ a b "Teddy Tetzlaff". ChampCarStats.com. Archived from the original on 2021-08-19.
  2. ^ Davidson, Donald; Shaffer, Rick (December 1, 2006). Autocourse Official History of the Indianapolis 500 (1st ed.). Silverstone, Northamptonshire: Crash Media Group. p. 323. ISBN 978-1-905334-20-9.
  3. ^ Dick, Robert (2005). Mercedes and Auto Racing in the Belle Epoque, 1895–1915. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. p. 249. ISBN 978-0-7864-1889-3.
  4. ^ Clymer, Floyd (1950). Treasury of Early American Automobiles, 1877–1925. New York City: McGraw–Hill. p. 111.
  5. ^ "Tetzlaff sets new speed record". Automobile Trade Journal. Vol. 19. Chilton Company. 1914. p. 93.
  6. ^ Osberger, Madeleine; Cohen, Steve (1996). "Touring: Great Salt Lake". Adventure Guide to Utah. Edison, New Jersey: Hunter Publishing. p. 47. ISBN 978-1-55650-726-7.
  7. ^ "Tetzlaff, ex-racer, succumbs". Los Angeles Times. December 9, 1929. Archived from the original on 2023-05-16 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ "Tetzlaff Peak". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey, United States Department of the Interior. December 31, 1979. Retrieved 2023-05-20.
  9. ^ Huegel, Tony (December 21, 2006). "Great Basin Region: Tour 2: Silver Island Mountains". Utah Byways: 65 of Utah's Best Backcountry Drives (3rd ed.). Berkeley, California: Wilderness Press. p. 26. ISBN 978-0-89997-424-8.
  10. ^ "Teddy Tetzlaff Indianapolis 500 stats". IndianapolisMotorSpeedway.com. Archived from the original on 2019-07-01.

External links[edit]