Teddy Tetzlaff


Theodore Herbert "Teddy" Tetzlaff (February 5, 1883 – December 8, 1929) was an American racecar driver active in the formative years of auto racing. He competed in the first four Indianapolis 500s, with a highest finish of second in 1912.[1] 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.[2] As auto racing strategies evolved from the early "go as fast as you can and see if you can stay on the track," his early dominance of the sport waned.

Teddy Tetzlaff
Teddy Tetzlaff (1883–1929).png
BornTheodore Herbert Tetzlaff
(1883-02-05)February 5, 1883
Orange, California, U.S.
Nickname"Terrible Teddy"
DiedDecember 8, 1929(1929-12-08) (aged 46)
Artesia, California, U.S.
Cause of deathAfter-effects of racing injury


Teddy Tetzlaff was born in Orange, California on February 5, 1883.

Speed recordsEdit

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.[3]

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 142.8 miles per hour (229.8 km/h) on the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Motion picturesEdit

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.[4]

Indianapolis 500 resultsEdit





  1. ^ Davidson, Donald; Schaffer, Rick (2006). Autocourse Official History of the Indianapolis 500. London: Crash Media Group. p. 323. ISBN 978-1-905334-20-9.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ Clymer, Floyd (1950). Treasury of Early American Automobiles, 1877–1925. New York City: McGraw–Hill. p. 111.
  4. ^ "Tetzlaff, ex-racer, succumbs". Los Angeles Times. December 9, 1929. Archived from the original on December 28, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ "Teddy Tetzlaff Indianapolis 500 stats". IndianapolisMotorSpeedway.com. Archived from the original on July 1, 2019.

External linksEdit

  • Pictures of Teddy Tetzlaff by James Walter Collinge 1. picture in a Fiat, 3.,4.,9. in a Lozier and last in a Fiat S74.
  • Photo of Teddy Tetzlaff at devianart
  • Photo of Teddy Tetzlaff at oldracingcars
  • Teddy Tetzlaff at IMDb