Rear View Mirror
Volume 7, No.6
- Don Capps
- March 29, 2010
- RVM Vol 7, No 6 (PDF format, 508k)
“Pity the poor Historian!” – Denis Jenkinson | Research is endlessly seductive, writing is hard work. – Barbara Tuchman
Automobile Racing History and History
or Case History and Casey and Clio Has a Corollary: Part II
The Jackets Corollary: It is practically impossible to kill a myth
once it has become widespread and reprinted in other books all over the world1
The Jackets Corollary is really a blinding flash of the obvious. Although it is derived from a case that related to military history, a discipline within history which suffers many of the problems that afflict automobile racing history, it seems to state one of the more serious problems with which historians must wrestle in automobile racing history. Once errors get disseminated into a variety of sources, primarily books, there is a tendency for these errors to take on a life of their own and continue to pop up years after they have been challenged and corrected.
Casey (and Case History) at the Battlements
The major basic – if not fundamental – difference between the card-carrying historians and the others involved in automobile racing history – the storytellers, the Enthusiasts, the journalists, the writers, as well as whomever else you might wish to name – comes down to this one thing: references.
Simply stated, it is the tools of the historian’s trade, footnotes, bibliographies, citing sources used, all of which allow others to follow the same trail as the historian, even if that results in different interpretations of the material, that separates the card-carrying historian from his brethren and sisters who may enjoy reading history – or what may appear to be history, but not the sausage-making aspects of the historian’s craft. Harsh, perhaps, but also a reflection of the reality that faces automobile racing history.
Although genealogists deal with history in the sense that they use documents of historical importance – census data, city books, pension rolls, muster rosters, and other data dealing with vital statistics – in their work, they are not historians. Indeed, they are often the bane of historians for a litany of reasons, not the least of which is the misuse of many documents as well as the destruction and theft of those documents in some – thankfully relatively rare – cases which denies their use to others. As well-intended as genealogists may be, as occasionally useful as they might be on rare occasions, they are, in general, simply genealogists and not historians.
So, too, is the case of automobile racing Enthusiasts when it comes to history. Just as sleeping in the garage will no more make you a car,2 neither will sleeping in the history section make you a historian. Indeed, even possessing a degree in history does not make one a historian – although it certainly helps, of course. This is not to say that an Enthusiast cannot also be a historian or vice versa, but there needs to be a distance, a coolness, an attempt at objectivity that a historian must assume which can be quite at odds with the way an Enthusiast approaches his or her sport, automobile racing in this case.
The history of automobile racing is so inconsequential that it almost cries out and begs for the attention of historians. That this history of automobile racing has been largely left in the hands of non-academic or non-card-carrying historians has led to the situation where what we know is less than what it would appear to be in most instances. That there are few writers who have transitioned to being historians – or at the very least “history-minded,” which is usually good enough given the usual lack of interest in the wiles of Clio – means that what is brought into view is usually the low-hanging fruit, the obvious.
It is often a surprise to discover how much that is of actual importance to historians as they attempt to decipher, interpret, and sort out the Zeitgeist or context of events, is often regarded as pit chatter or even gossip or simply referred to obliquely and then forgotten or ignored. A meeting to discuss such-and-such a matter, such as safety or starting money, might be referred to in a race report, but then there is no further reference to it. Nor does it appear in other places within that magazine or others. Yet, while the consequences of that meeting may directly influence the running of events, the safety of the racing machinery, the financial aspects of automobile racing itself, it is breezily dismissed as mere “politics,” the anathema of Enthusiasts.
The result is that far less of the story, the history, is told than should or could be. It creates gaps or lapses in the chronicle which are usually ignored, the race reports and technical analyses of the racing machinery being quite sufficient to satiate the Enthusiast. Driver and constructor articles tend to border on hagiography rather than studied consideration of the subject. That is unless the objective of the piece is a “hatchet” job, something not entirely unheard of within the world of automobile racing literature.
A good writer who is history-minded can often be more effective in presenting the history of some aspect of automobile racing than the historian who is not such a good writer, few card-carrying historians, academic or otherwise, being noted for the brilliance of their writing. This is, however, a discussion for another day.
Within the realm of Clio, the narrative form is pretty much in the academic doghouse in recent years, being relegated to the background as other ways to explore and interpret the past have come into – and out of – vogue. What follows are a few brief thoughts on the approaches to writing and recording automobile racing history.3 The empiricists still have a foothold with the profession, of course, since it is unlikely that any card-carrying historian would reject that approach as a means of conducting research. Looking into the past of automobile racing does tend to lend itself to the empirical model, of course.
I have often wondered as to the Marxist aspects of writing the history of automobile racing. There certainly exist elements within automotive history to which one could see how there could be interpretations that would lend to themselves to Marxist historical theories, but racing does seem to spring immediately to mind as one of those areas or elements. And, yet, if one does contemplate some of the various economic issues related to automobile racing, there are some possibilities where a clever Marxist historian could have a field day. For some reason, the British seem to provide the more obvious examples that spring to mind when history as interpreted through Marxism is considered.
When it comes to psychohistory, an area of historical inquiry for which we can thank Sigmund Freud, automobile racing would seem to be a rich vein to mine for material. One need only to read some of the autobiographies, biographies, and various interviews to see psychohistory – or at least some form of it – at work. Traditionally psychohistory concerns itself with psychoanalysis, but this particular discipline seems to have expanded and broadened its purview in recent years so as to examine psychological factors outside of psychoanalysis. This not an obvious form of history as it applies to automobile racing, but it might be more prevalent than one would assume at first glance.
While the Annales school would appear to have made its way into automotive history, it also seems to have drifted close to automobile racing history. The Annales school promoted what we usually refer to as the “interdisciplinary” approach, that is examining and considering factors other than political or diplomatic issues when the past is considered. This approach is useful when attempting to establish context and the existence of multiple variants, but there is a tendency for the quantification and the enumeration to often distract the historian and this presentation of data overwhelm any interpretations or observations that may be offered to the reader. If one has ever had to read the two volumes of the landmark work of the Annales school, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Phillip II,4 you would readily understand some of the strengths and limitations of the approach, especially with regard to using this as the sole lens through which to gaze upon the history of automobile racing.
I am wondering when it will become apparent that what is written about several topics in automobile racing history skirts over into the area of historical sociology. While sociology tends to not be thought of in any relation to history these days, about a century ago when the move to create chairs and then departments to consider issues of socialization, it was an outgrowth of the work of various historians who were examining the interactions of individuals and groups in a historical contexts. Historical sociology could lend itself to the examination of change and how different groups dealt with it and what were the factors that influenced one group and either did not affect another group or that there were additional factors and influences at work.
Within the field of automotive history are a number who are practitioners of quantitative history, which includes the approach known as Cliometrics. It might be a Blinding Flash of the Obvious to suggest that this is the discipline which firmly believes that “if it is not a number, it is not important.” Indeed, there are elements of automotive history, to include automobile racing, which readily lend themselves this type of an approach. It would be not much of a stretch to suggest that the interest expressed by many in the statistics and data associated with the history of automobile racing could be lumped into this field of inquiry.
Oral history has become one means for historians and chroniclers to record and pass along the words and observations of those discussing the past. In the realm of sports history, The Glory of Their Times,5 an oral history told in the words of baseball players who played in the early Twentieth Century, is probably the most successful and the best known. Lawrence S. “Larry” Ritter, a professor of economics at New York University, used a bulky, unwieldy reel-to-reel tape recorder to record the recollections of dozens of these players over a five year period, covering about 75,000 miles in his quest. Editing the conversations so as to provide them with a flow that one would expect if that same conversation took place around a table in a bar or the kitchen table in a home, the book became an mainstay of the sports history world, still in print and on the bookshelves of stores over four decades later.6
True, oral history is long-established form of history and one used with great success in the United States decades before the Ritter book, especially in the recording of the recollections of former slaves by the staff of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington. However, the Ritter book was the first successful use of this form in the sports history genre. Needless to say, Ritter spawned a number of imitators, Vrooom!: Conversations with the Grand Prix champions by Peter Manso being one of the more notable ones in the automobile racing world.7
While the oral history form is very good for providing a feel for the tenor of the times and often provides details that are often not obvious to even the most skilled historian, it must be approached with some caution. It is not just a case of memory being fallible, it is also that an oral history interview can only provide one person’s views of the past and, a factor often overlooked, it takes places after the events have happened are may be shaped by subsequent events or related factors, skewing the recollections of the person recording his or her memories. This is not to belittle oral history or suggest that the use of oral history should be avoided, only that oral history must be used with caution and is most effective when used in conjunction with other sources.
At this point, it would be another case of pointing to the obvious, but as can be seen the way in which history actually gets written or recorded is often done so with a blending and mixing of disciplines with the ways in which history, the past, is examined. Which, of course, brings us to the humble form which was mentioned at the beginning: the narrative.
For all of its dents and worn parts, the narrative is still an effective form of communicating history to the reader. It is not a surprise to find that most of the books on military history written in recent decades used the narrative form. As a staple of the history genre at bookstores, the appeal of military history is often that it provides the reader with a story, an ordered collection of events fashioned in some chronological sense and given to that reader so as to provide a beginning, an exposition or middle, and an end. It is a form as old as history itself.
The narrative, as simple a form as it may be, is not that easy a form when it comes to actually writing the narrative. One may have his or her facts in order, the order of events correct, the characters and events identified, and have all the moving parts in synch, yet the story be as interesting as watching latex paint dry. One of the problems of the narrative form is that it places almost as much emphasis on the ability to tell the story as to relate the history, hence the ability of the non-historians to dominate and, for lack of a better word, control the field of automobile racing history.
And, yet, it is the narrative which best lends itself to the incorporation of the other approaches to history that were discussed above. If automobile racing history is to become more “history-minded,” to become less focused on what the Enthusiast wants to read and more on what needs to be written, then it means that the narrative is the most likely form to accomplish this.
One of the longstanding problems with what has been written as automobile racing history, as mentioned several times and will continue to be mentioned it seems, is that it has tended to be written by Enthusiasts whose enthusiasm tends to blot out any sense of objectivity as well as numb any efforts at scholarship. This is a problem which seems to plague sports history and automotive sports history is no different in that respect.
Make no mistake, the Enthusiast is the backbone of sports, the mainstay of the arts, the bedrock of any pursuit that stirs the passions of mere mortals for the feats of others. It is their enthusiasm and love of a sport or other pursuit that infects others and creates the interest and excitement that we all experience in some form or another. With the rarest of exceptions, they simply do not make very good historians for the sport that they enthuse over. Their love, their passion, their enthusiasm tends to blind them to any notion of objectivity, unfortunately. Biography becomes hagiography and narrative becomes hymn and celebration is too often the result when the Enthusiast assumes the role of scribe.
It must be said, however, that love and enthusiasm should not be an anathema to the historian. Indeed, it is the love and passion for history itself, the scholarship, the discovery process, making sense of the flotsam and jetsam of the past, the connecting of the dots. Enthusiasts tend to look upon scholars in askance when this is mentioned.
An Enthusiast usually has little tolerance for an agnostic and often none for an atheist when it comes to their sport, their passion. That a historian may not be a “fan” of their sport and yet writing about its history is often beyond their comprehension. This was brought to mind by the decision of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) to grant credit to Dorothy Jane Zander Mills, the wife of the late Dr. Harold Seymour, for her work on what is known to baseball researchers and historians as simply “The Trilogy.” Seymour – and his wife – was the first to produce what is accepted as the first scholarly look at the history of baseball. Beginning with Baseball: The Early Years (Oxford) in 1960, Baseball: The Golden Age (Oxford) in 1971, and, finally, Baseball: The People’s Game (Oxford) in 1990, these three books are the beginning point for anyone attempting to write about or delve into the history of baseball.
What makes the contribution of Mills to the history of the game so interesting is this: “She cared nothing for baseball, only the scholarship...” In a telephone interview with The New York Times, Mills stated, “I am still not a fan of baseball. People can’t understand that. I think it’s a good idea to remain above that. You write a lot more objectively about a subject when you’re not in love with it.”8
Thus, we have the situation often arise when an Enthusiast is bewildered that a historian is quite cool and detached about the sport, not sharing the same fire and passion that the Enthusiast does. Instead, the historian questions many of the assumptions held about the past and often provides views very much at odds with what the Enthusiast is used to seeing and hearing about the sport and its past.
There is also a tendency for the Enthusiast to focus on information – that is to say, trivia – and not necessarily knowledge. This is a great part of the reason that box scores and related statistics and race data are such a part of what the Enthusiast tends to be interested in, not necessarily “low-hanging fruit,” but while certainly the sort of objective information that is necessary to develop understanding and knowledge, as those levels of affective learning that Bloom and others would describe as being higher on the scale than the acquisition of information and being able to arrange it in some fashion. That information often seems to be the source of trivia rather than as part of an effort to gain knowledge about a subject or topic.
It might be that the film critic Roger Ebert could have the last word on this – at least for the moment: “The fatal flaw in the concept of trivia is that it mistakes information for knowledge. There is no end to information. Some say the entire universe is made from it, when you get right down to the bottom, under the turtles. There is, alas, quite a shortage of knowledge.”9
Case History: The Curious Case of the 1933 Gran Premio di Tripoli
....or We Were Misinformed?
Captain Louis Renault:What in heaven's name brought you to Casablanca?
Rick Blaine:My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.
Renault: The waters? What waters? We're in the desert.
Blaine:I was misinformed.10
It is a source constant amazement as to just how one man, Alfred Neubauer, in one book, Manner, Frauen und Motoren or Speed Was My Life, could create two of the biggest myths in automobile racing history. In a chapter entitled “Melodrama and Tragedy” in the English language editions, Neubauer spins a yarn about the I Corsa dei Milioni, the VII Gran Premio di Tripoli, which took place on 7 May 1933.
Here is exactly what Neubauer (and his co-writer Harvey Rowe) wrote regarding the race:
It was in 1933 that the giant American airship Akron crashed in the Atlantic with all hands on board. Thirteen years of Prohibition ended in the United States. In Germany the cruiser Admiral Scheer was launched, Goebbels imposed a boycott on Jewish business-men and the first concentration camps were established. And in the Italian colony of Libya Marshal Italo Balbo opened the new racing circuit at Tripoli, the fastest in the world.
Unlike the narrow, twisting course at Monte Carlo, the Tripoli circuit was eight and a quarter miles long. You could keep up a speed of 120 m.p.h. – and break your neck.
The drivers were well aware of this. So too were the authorities. They wanted sensational publicity for Italy, for Mussolini's 'imperium romanum', and especially for Marshal Balbo, the new Governor of Libya, the elegant sportsman who had mapped out a brilliant future for himself.
A national lottery was organised. Months before the race, tickets were already on sale throughout Italy. For the ridiculous sum of eleven lire you stood a chance of becoming a millionaire. Three days before the race thirty lucky tickets were drawn, one for each of the starters. The winning ticket would win seven and a half million lire, about £80,000.
On the eve of the race a stout, bald-headed gentleman called at Achille Varzi's hotel and asked to see him. He was shown up. Varzi was resting on a couch in his private sitting-room, as immaculate as ever, his hair parted in the middle and smoothly brushed. He was wearing a light-blue smoking-jacket and a white silk scarf with a genuine pearl scarf-pin. With him that evening was a beautiful young woman whom I shall ca11 Sophia and who was to play an important part in Varzi's life.
The stranger introduced himself as Enrico Rivio, a timber-merchant from Pisa. He asked to speak to Varzi alone, and Sophia retired to the bedroom. Then Rivio explained why he had come: to ask Varzi to win the race next day.
It's not hard to imagine Varzi's reaction. He was surprised that Signor Rivio should have flown especially from Pisa to Tripoli just to make that request! But there was more to it than that. Rivio had drawn the lottery ticket with the number of Varzi's car. Varzi remarked, not without a certain bitterness, that the most he stood to win from what promised to be a dangerous race was a great deal less than Signor Rivio, the timber-merchant, would get out of it. And that was the point where Rivio put his cards on the table: if Varzi won, he could have half the prize-money. Moreover, he produced a document drawn up by his solicitor to that effect. Varzi thanked him, promised to do what he could and, as soon as Signor Rivio had left the room, telephoned Nuvolari. . . .
On May 7th, 1933, at Tripoli it was nearly 100 degrees in the shade. The hot desert wind, the Ghibli, was blowing across the plain. The new circuit ran like a white ribbon between the palm-groves and the yellow sand. The grandstand was ablaze with colour: Italian officers in their gaudy uniforms, colonial officials, Blackshirts, Arab sheikhs and women in all their tropical finery.
Nearby in a special box sat a very different group, thirty people from all walks of life, each with a scrap of paper that might be worth a fortune. There was a butcher from Milan, a pathetic old lady from Florence, a post-office sorter, a salesman and a student. A down-at-heel baron had somehow attached himself to a rich widow. And there too, of course, was Signor Enrico Rivio, the timber-merchant from Pisa, his bald head beaded with perspiration and pink with excitement.
As Marshal Balbo, resplendent in his uniform, his beard beautifully trimmed, raised the green, white and red flag, the thunder of thirty racing-cars echoed across the desert. And what followed must be unique in the long and varied history of international motor racing.
Three cars led the field from the start: first there was Nuvolari in his red Alfa, then Borzacchini close behind, followed by the ace Campari, who also possessed a sufficiently good tenor voice to sing at the Scala in Milan and had an uncle who was a famous liqueur manufacturer.
Others who got off to a good start were the Frenchman Chiron, Fagioli and Sir Henry Birkin in his green Maserati. The favourite, Achille Varzi, was somewhere in the middle of the field and seemed quite happy to stay there. Among the onlookers some suspected that he might be off form, others that he was simply biding his time. At the end of the fifth lap Campari was leading, with Nuvolari and Birkin second and third. Varzi's blue Bugatti was already fifty-seven seconds behind the leader. Signor Rivio was observed mopping his brow.
In the twelfth lap Campari was nine seconds ahead of Nuvolari. Borzacchini had moved up, and Birkin was lying fourth. There was no sign of Varzi.
Two laps later Campari's engine began to splutter. He stopped at the pits and the mechanics dived under the bonnet like flies. A few moments later Campari eased his bulky figure out of the driving seat, his face purple with rage. But not long after he was seen in the canteen with a bottle of Chianti in front of him and his fury seemed to have passed.
On the twentieth lap Nuvolari was still in the lead, with Borzacchini on his tail and Chiron and Birkin not far behind. There were another ten laps to go, and Varzi now put on a spurt. By the twenty-fifth lap he had moved up to third place, and Chiron and Birkin had dropped back. But suddenly the engine of Varzi's blue Bugatti began to make ominous noises. Two cylinders went dead. The car was slowing down.
One can well imagine Varzi's feelings. This was something he had not reckoned with. To stop for a change of plugs would mean losing three or four minutes-and the race. He decided to keep going. But what agonies Signor Rivio must have suffered!
At the end of the twenty-sixth lap the crowd were shouting Nuvolari's name, and the flying devil from Mantua looked like lapping Varzi. Then on the twenty-seventh lap Borzacchini was seen to be looking back anxiously, as if he was afraid Varzi might pass him. And yet Borzacchini was not driving full out, and Varzi's car was obviously limping along.
What happened next was still more extraordinary. Borzacchini cut one of the curves so close that his front wheel hit one of the empty oil-drums at the edge of the track. The drum sailed through the air, the car skidded and Borzacchini, without any difficulty, brought it to a standstill. A few moments later he trundled into the pits with one tyre blown. But he seemed singularly unconcerned at having to retire. Nuvolari entered on the last lap thirty seconds ahead of Varzi.
With a mile and a half to go the crowd noticed that Nuvolari was also throwing anxious glances over his shoulder. They cheered him on wildly. When his red Alta appeared at the beginning of the home straight they went mad with excitement. But the shouting quickly died away when they saw the red Alfa slow down and stop only a few hundred yards from the finish. Nuvolari climbed out of the car and stood in the middle of the track, wringing his hands: 'No petrol,' he howled. 'No petrol.'
Mechanics rushed out of the pits with petrol-cans and emptied them into the tank. While they were doing so two cars came in sight round the bend, Varzi's and Chiron's. Both were crawling. And the bewilderment and suspense were indescribable as Nuvolari joined in this fantastic slow-motion finish. Varzi won literally by a tyre's breadth from Nuvolari, with Birkin third. In the general excitement it had been forgotten that Chiron was one whole lap behind.
Varzi, bathed in perspiration and completely exhausted, was lifted out of his car and carried shoulder-high to receive his prize. Among the first to congratulate him on his victory was a stout, bald-headed gentleman whom nobody knew – Signor Rivio.
That evening, as Varzi, Nuvolari and Borzacchini sat in their hotel drinking the most expensive champagne, the rumours began to gain ground. Where they originated no one will ever know, but in a remarkably short time there was talk of a rigged lottery and a racing scandal in the newspaper offices and the racing headquarters.
The following morning the supreme sport authority in Tripoli met in special session. The President opened the proceedings with a direct charge that certain drivers had agreed before the race that Varzi should win. One of his colleagues asked who the 'certain drivers' were. The President named Varzi, Nuvolari and Borzacchini as the main culprits, with Campari and Chiron as strong suspects, and he demanded that all these drivers should be immediately disqualified and have their licences withdrawn.
There was a long, uneasy silence. To disqualify these five drivers, the finest in Europe, really meant disqualifying international motor racing. The proposal was not even put to the vote. The drivers in question were merely given a warning. But from then on new and stricter regulations were introduced. The thirty lottery tickets were to be drawn in future five minutes before the start of the race when the drivers were already in their cars.
Twenty-five years later Canestrini, who by settling the feud between Varzi and Nuvolari had unwittingly prepared the ground for this coup, found that it was perfectly legal and helped to stimulate motor-racing! My own view is that, technicalities aside, any chance to increase the earnings from such a dangerous profession is worth taking. Good luck to them! 11
As with Rick Blaine, however, we seem to be misinformed.
With surprisingly little variation, this story has been making the rounds in automobile magazines – and even books – for over four decades. The list includes such as magazines as Automobile Quarterly, Autosport, Car and Driver, Ford Times, Motor Sport, Road & Track, Sports Car Graphic, Vintage Racecar Journal, as well as the book Power and Glory; there are others, of course, but this is a representative sampling of where the articles appeared. The articles were written by such noted authors as William Court, Charles Fox, Richard Garrett, Mark Hughes, Robert Newman, Chris Nixon, Charles Proche, Joe Saward, Rob Walker, and Eoin Young, to name, as they, but a few. It should be noted that the authors are all writing in English.
The problem is simple: how do you weigh the version provided by Neubauer against this contemporary account from Motor Sport?
The Grand Prix of Tripoli, organised for the first time since 1930, was this year marked by a titanic struggle between Varzi (Bugatti) and Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo). The two had met at Monaco when Varzi just won, and the race at Tripoli was in the nature of a 'return'.
Additional interest was given to the race this year by a sweepstake, organised on the lines of the Irish sweepstake with the exception that there was only one 'unit'. Altogether, a sum of 15 million lire was subscribed, the first prize being over three million, (second one) million and the third being over 800,000 lira.
Judging by the colossal crowd which lined the course at the start, the future of the Grand Prix of Tripoli is assured. The scene at the start was a most impressive one, and a few minutes after three o'clock Marshall Badoglio, Governor of Tripoli, gave the signal to start. The cars were lined up in rows of four, and an initial lead was gained by Gazzabini (Alfa Romeo). His lead was short-lived, however, for a group of faster cars soon enveloped him, and to the joy of the few Englishmen present, it was seen that Sir Henry Birkin had forged his way to the head of the bunch of bright red cars.
Although the Mellaha circuit measures 13 kilometres, it is tremendously fast, and in a very short time the cars appeared once more at the end of their first lap. Birkin, handling his new Maserati –with consummate skill, was in the lead, followed by a howling pack composed of Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo), Campari (Maserati), Varzi Bugatti), Fagioli (Maserati), Borzacchini (Alfa Romeo), Biondetti (BM) Zehender (Maserati), Premoli (B.M.), Hartmann (Bugatti), Castelbarco (Alfa Romeo) and a straggling group of slower machines.
Birkin continued to give a masterly display of driving, and held his lead for four laps. Then the veteran Campari put his foot down well and truly, passed the astonished Nuvolari, and on the fifth lap took the lead from the Englishman. As the cars came past the pits Campari (Maserati) led, having covered 65.5 kilometres in 22 min. 58 sec.; Birkin (Maserati) was second, 9 sec. behind; Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo) was 5 sec. later than Birkin, and he was followed by Varzi (Bugatti), Zehender (Maserati) and Fagioli (Maserati).
Some idea of the speed at which the race was being run can be gauged by the fact that Campari, who led at the end of 10 laps, had covered the 131 kilometres at an average of roughly 107 m.p.h. Nuvolari had by this time got ahead of Birkin, but the English driver was courageously sticking to his guns and was only a few yards behind.
On the 14th lap Campari pulled into the pits in order to refuel, he was joined by Fagioli. This stop gave Nuvolari the lead, half-distance the order was:
Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo), 1h 9m
Birkin (Maserati), 1h 9m 10s
Varzi (Bugatti), 1h 9m 19s
Campari (Maserati), 2 minutes later.
Zehender (Maserati), 2 minutes later.
Sir Henry Birkin's chances of victory were spoiled by his having to refuel on the 16th lap, and although this operation was carried out the usual rapid manner, both Campari and Zehender had slipped by when he got going again. Then Campari had to stop again to replenish his oil tank which had come loose in its seating. After 15 minutes delay while much rope was used to lash the tank securely, Campari started once more, but after a few laps he retired.
At 20 laps Nuvolari still led, but Varzi was now right on his tail. The Bugatti driver was giving a model display of cool driving, appearing obvious of the existence of other competitors, and concentrating on his polished handling of his own car.
On the 25th lap a shout went up when it was seen that Varzi had gained the lead. Nuvolari had evidently had a setback, for he was 20 seconds behind. On the next lap he drove like a demon and caught up the Bugatti. Nearer and nearer drew the red Alfa Romeo, each lap cutting down the French car's lead by a few feet. The crowd were wild with excitement, and a terrific roar was heard when, at the end of the 29th lap, Nuvolari came by the stands in the lead. As they disappeared on the last lap the spectators could hardly contain themselves, and craned their necks to see the cars come into sight for the finish. From a distance the two cars looked level, and they roared towards the finishing line almost abreast. But the blue car was slightly ahead and to the sound of a tremendous cheer Varzi crossed the line barely a length ahead of his rival.
Henry Birkin gave a magnificent performance in finishing third and, but for his pit stop, would have been nearer the leaders then his time indicated. Zehender had the misfortune to retire on his last lap.
1st : Varzi (Bugatti) 2h 19m 51 1/10 s -168.598 k.p.t
2nd: Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo) 2h 19m 51 2/10 s
3rd: Sir H. Birkin (Maserati) 2h 21m 23s
4th Battilana (unspecified) 2h 21m 57s
5th Taruffi (Alfa Romeo).
6th Balestrero (Alfa Romeo).
7th Ghersi (Bugatti).
8th Battaglia (unspecified) 4 laps
9th Hartmann (Bugatti) 4 laps
10th Castelbarco (Alfa Romeo) 4 laps
11th Matrullo (Maserati) 5 laps
12th Cucinotta (Talbot) 5 laps
13th Barbieri (Maserati) 6 laps
The first three cars all used Dunlop tyres.
There is also this contemporary account of the race:
There is no doubt that Nuvolari's failure to win this race did not diminish his fame in any way. In fact, one could say that Nuvolari was morally the victor as he was in the lead from the fifteenth lap, setting a cracking pace, until he had to stop at his pit for almost a minute; when he re-started he was nearly a minute behind Varzi who had meanwhile assumed the lead. This disadvantage was soon totally quashed by Nuvolari and, in an unforgettable pursuit which lasted for seven laps, the Mantuan reached the finishing line only one fifth of a second behind the winner.12
Here is yet another contemporary account of the race at Tripoli:
Nuvolari was duly beaten in this race by Varzi but many people, without knowing the reason, did not really believe in this defeat. On the one hand, it is ridiculous to think that the two drivers had agreed a "fiddle" yet, on the other it is true that the two drivers (and Borzacchini, who retired) had made a pact with three holders of their [lottery] tickets. It would have not mattered who had finished first. Nuvolari stopped to refuel on the 23rd lap and Varzi assumed the lead; from then on, he was vehemently pursued by Nuvolari. At the beginning of the last lap Nuvolari was hard on Varzi's heels; the two appeared on the finishing straight almost at the same time, first Nuvolari, then Varzi… only a few hundred meters to go and Varzi accelerated irresistibly to get ahead of Nuvolari by half a length! Wild and lengthy applause from the excited crowd greeted both the victor and the vanquished.13
Comparing these race reports quickly points out some obvious variances with the tale as related by Neubauer. The finish of the race described in all three reports in bears no relation to the cars crawling to the finish line, Nuvolari meekly following Varzi home after a last lap stop for fuel, a key element in the legend. It is only in the report found in L'Auto Italiana that we begin to sense that something may have indeed been up, but what exactly? What happened in Tripoli?
The real story starts with the Italian colony of Libya – or Tripolitania – in North Africa. The colony is looking for sources of income to offset the balance of payments from Rome. Likewise, the Fascist government is also looking for ways to promote the colony. Rome is looking for ways to entice people to visit and then – hopefully – settle in Libya. Tourists are not being attracted in numbers as large as desired, much less immigrants. So far, the results have not been encouraging.
With motor racing a popular sport among the Italians, seemingly regardless of where they were located, in 1926 a racing circuit is constructed on the outskirts of Tripoli, the capital of the colony. From 1925 until 1930, races are held which, despite some early moderate success, quickly become financial flops. The 1929 race is held only due to direct intervention of the governor, Emilio de Bono. Governor de Bono managed to persuade sponsors to back the event and the race went ahead. However, the last race held in Tripoli, 1930, was a financial disaster with the deadly combination of a small field – only 12 cars on the grid, racing over a long 26.2 kilometer circuit, a small crowd, and the death of a very popular driver – Gastone Brilli Peri, the previous year's winner – resulting in the organizers being unable to hold a race the following two years.
Undaunted by all this, in 1932 the president of the local auto club in Tripoli, Egidio Sforzini, organizes another attempt at hosting a race in the Tripoli. This time it is to be an "European" type circuit, one built for the sole purpose of racing much like Montlhery, AVUS, or the even the Nurburgring. The circuit will be built outside Tripoli in the suburb of Mellaha. However, funding is tight and what there is available is due only to the Fascist government pouring money into a fair promoting tourism and settlement of the colony. The money for the new circuit is allocated only as a side attraction to entertain the expected tourists.
Meanwhile, there is an Italian journalist who is musing upon both the new Mellaha circuit and the very popular Irish Sweepstakes. Using the Irish Sweepstakes as the starting point, the journalist thinks that rather than creating a lottery based upon selling chances to be selected as the lucky holder of the ticket for the winning horse and thus win the jackpot, Giovanni Canestrini thinks the same scheme can be applied to a motor race. Canestrini is the editor of La Gazzetta dello Sport, one of the most popular sporting papers in Italy. His opinions and ideas carry considerable weight in the Italian sporting world. Egidio Sforzini, is approached by Canestrini with the scheme for a sweepstakes – a lottery – in conjunction with a race being scheduled for the Spring of 1933.
The lottery will supply the much needed money for the new circuit, fill the coffers of the Automobile Club di Tripoli, as well as provide both enormous publicity for Libya and large crowds for the race. Canestrini is offering Sforzini an idea that is simply too good to resist. It must be kept in mind that the Mille Miglia was another scheme that Canestrini masterminded and successfully brought to fruition. Sforzini envisions a truly modern racing circuit, one that will use lights for the start, a photo-electric timing system, and generous facilities for both the participants and the spectators. This took money, more than being allocated by the government in Rome.
Sforzini is enthusiastic over the idea as laid out by Canestrini and readily agrees to the plan.
Canestrini then takes the idea to Governor Emilio de Bono, who is an old acquaintance from prior to The Great War. Bono, soon to be the Colonial Minister in the government, is willing to entertain any notions that might help develop the prospects of Libya. De Bono is also enthusiastic over the scheme and lends his support to the Automobile Club's – Canestrini's – plan. This now sets the wheels into motion to bring the idea to fruition. The appropriate agencies pass the idea onward and upward until where it finally reaches Mussolini. Mussolini reviews the sweepstakes scheme and personally approves it.
On 13 August 1932, aboard the Royal Yacht ('Nave Reale') Savoia, Royal Decree 1147 is signed by King Vittorio Emanuele III authorizing the lottery. The lottery tickets will be sold for 12 lire and the proceeds will be used to fund promotion of Libya as bankroll the race. When de Bono departs to accept his new position in the Fascist Government, the new governor, Pietro Badoglio, is briefed on the scheme and lends his endorsement to the lottery as well.
The Lotteri dei Milioni and the Corsa dei Milioni are now off and running. The first lottery tickets go on sell during October 1932. The last date for selling the tickets is set for 16 April 1933. It is still somewhat unclear as to exactly how much the lottery actually raised. Whatever the amount was, it was a huge amount of money for the time in Italy, especially with the effects of the Great Depression now being felt, even in Italy. To the best of our knowledge, the lottery "cleared" (to use Canestrini's term) at least 15,000,000 lire. That is an astounding number of 12 lire lottery tickets.
According to Canestrini, the breakout of the money was allocated this way: 1,200,000 lire to the AC di Tripoli for its expenses; 550,000 lire for starting and prize money; and, 6,000,000 lire to the winners holding the tickets of the top three finishers - win, place, show - in the race. First place was worth 3,000,000 lire, second place 2,000,000 lire, and third place 1,000,000 lire. These are not small numbers in 1933. As the Poet once wrote, "Gold drives a man to dream…."
And, the prize money for the race – at least a sizable chunk of the 550,000 lire mentioned by Canestrini –was very, very generous. In most cases, the prize money for a race during this time was relatively small, usually being paid only for the top several positions, with the "real" money paid out by the organizers being in the form of starting or appearance money. In this case, the prize money was enough to guarantee that there was some very serious money to be made by finishing well in the Corsa dei Milioni. Needless to say, nearly all the top teams, especially all the major Italian ones, were there.
When you add up the numbers given by Canestrini, it comes out to 7,750,000 lire. This is slightly over half of what was claimed to be collected by the sale of the tickets. What happened to it? While Canestrini or anyone else does not mention it specifically, the remainder was apparently both the money used to promote the Libyan colony and "overhead." This latter category might be a polite way of saying that given the tenor of the times, some of it went into the pockets of some of the big shots in the Fascist government.
The counter-foils of the lottery tickets were sent to Tripoli for the drawing several days after the last ticket was sold. The drawing itself was held on Saturday, 29 April 1933, eight days prior to the race. The drawing was supervised by the governor, Pietro Badoglio. Each of the 30 entrants in the race – including Giuseppe Bianchi who was to apparently withdraw after the drawing took place – had a ticket drawn and assigned to that entry for the race. After the assignment of the tickets to their entries, the ticket holder was notified by a telegram from the organizers. There is sufficient time to ponder the wealth that awaited the winner of the lottery. There is also plenty of time to seriously consider various means to narrow the odds.
The drawing was, as mentioned, held on a Saturday which happened to be the day prior to the running of the Gran Premio di Alessandria. The attention centered on the Tripoli race a week later was blamed for the relatively poor entry by the organizers of the Alessandria race. Plus, there was the fact that Varzi was not allowed to participate in the race! Although he arrived at the circuit and was allowed to practice, his entry had arrived too late and he was, therefore, denied a spot on the grid. Needless to say, this did nothing to improve his disposition since not starting the event literally denied him his starting money. On Sunday, Nuvolari won the event from Carlo Trossi and Antonio Brivio.
Now we get to the interesting part. In an account recorded by Aldo Santini in his biography of Nuvolari, Santini uses notes taken from his interviews with Varzi to reconstruct the events surrounding the Tripoli race. Since Varzi had nothing to gain from being untruthful, there is a strong tendency to take him very much at his word. In addition, we also have what Canestrini says along with additional information from Nuvolari biographer Johnny Lurani.
At some point on the same day of the drawing, Nuvolari apparently contacted Canestrini about a meeting as both were in Alessandria for the race. Canestrini and Nuvolari met, but also present were Varzi and Borzacchini. Later, Canestrini would claim that the topic of the meeting was solely the discussion of travel plans to the Tripoli race the following weekend. Varzi, however, said that the only topic discussed was the race the next weekend in Tripoli and the lottery. Although Santini states that also present were the ticket holders of the of the Nuvolari, Varzi, and Borzacchini entries in the race, given the circumstances, this is not thought to be the case.
Obviously there is some confusion here. It is possible that Canestrini was being evasive. Canestrini was not universally revered. His habit of writing a race report while sitting in his comfortable office at the newspaper when he was supposedly at the event was known to many of the other journalists and eventually to his readers. Canestrini stated that he was unaware of the "true" meaning of Nuvolari pointing his finger at him while on the grid at Alessandria telling him to remember the meeting the next day in Rome. He states that his assumption was that the meeting was to discuss the travel plans for the following weekend. He then goes on to say that Varzi set him straight. Canestrini states that Varzi informed him that the meeting as to discuss the lottery, not the travel plans for the race.
The three drivers – Nuvolari, Varzi, and Borzacchini, the three ticket holders, and Canestrini did indeed meet, but the meeting was in Rome early in the week following the drawing, on Monday evening. The site was the Massimo D'Azeglio – near the Termini station, one of several hotels owned by fellow racing driver Ettore Bettoja, who also served as the host for the meeting. Canestrini states that he was asked to be present for the meeting to ensure that there was a neutral party who could arrange the terms so as to avoid any conflict with the regulations. In some accounts, Bettoja is named as the lawyer or notary who brokered the agreement. While Bettoja was indeed present, he was acting only as the host and simply provided the room for the meeting.
Johnny Lurani supports that Canestrini was indeed the mediator who negotiated the agreement between the holders of the tickets. What is rather murky is how the three ticket holders got together. It is entirely possible that Nuvolari may have spoken to Canestrini in Alessandria to make the arrangements. Canestrini is quiet on any such notions.
Valerio Moretti gives the name of the holder of the lottery ticket for Nuvolari as Alberto Donati, of Cellino Attanasio, Teramo. The man who drew the ticket for Varzi is usually given as Enrico Rivio from Pisa – largely on the strength of the Neubauer account of the race. However, Moretti gives his name as Arduino Sampoli from Castelnuovo Beradegna, Siena. The holder of Borzacchini's ticket is given as Alessandro Rosina from Piacenza. It with these three men and the three drivers that Canestrini negotiated the agreement.
Again, as Varzi recounts, the meeting was held to discuss the very specific topic of how, "to find a formula which did not contravene the sporting rules," specifically how to divide the lottery money among what became known as The Six. This was scarcely a secret meeting. The 15 May 1933 issue of Moteri, Aero, Cicli e Sport reported not only that the meeting had taken place, but that someone had approached Piero Ghersi with an offer of 1,000,000 lire if he won the race. Others have Henry “Tim” Birkin being offered either 70,000 or 100,000 lira by his ticket holder if he won the race.
According to Moretti, The Six – as some were to call them – formed a syndicate which pooled the prize money from the lottery and which would be split equally among them, as long as one of the three drivers won the race. The idea is generally credited to Donati. The drivers would receive half of the winnings of the syndicate, again to be split equally among those involved. And they also, something to remember, got to keep any of the prize money they won as well.
Once the parties agreed to the arrangement they had discussed, it was also agreed that it should be put in writing. Apparently Canestrini wrote up the agreement and had it signed by all the participants. Once more according to Canestrini, once the agreement was signed by The Six, a notary reviewed and then notarized the document. In any case, the manager of the local branch of the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro was summoned and given the document to either notarize – according to some accounts – or to hold until the appropriate moment. The agreement was then deposited in the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro for safekeeping.
The important outcome of the meeting was that there was to be no pre-arrangement in the document as to the outcome of the race. Canestrini and Lurani both make a deliberate point of stating this. There was no flipping of a coin or any discussion about who should win. What was decided was that regardless of whether Nuvolari, Varzi or Borzacchini won the race, the jackpot was to be split evenly among The Six. As long as one of the three drivers won the race, each member of the syndicate would receive approximately 500,000 lire – regardless of who finished first. Add another 333,000 lire if one of the three drivers also finished in second. With an additional 166,000 lire or so should they swept the top three positions, each member of the syndicate would win tidy 1,000,000 lire. This was a good haul for one race in 1933. Even just taking the top two positions would reap a significant windfall for all involved: approximately 833,000 lire for each person, plus for the drivers any prize monies they earned.
Even before the meeting, the sporting papers were printing reports – which, interestingly, are nearly identical in content – about the purpose and probable outcome of the meeting. That is, all except one: La Gazzetta dello Sport. And the absence of such reports was remarkable, since its motor sports editor was none other than – guess who? – Giovanni Canestrini! Indeed, La Gazzetta is alone among the sporting journals of the day in being strangely quiet about the entire affair.
Canestrini was similarly quiet about any remuneration that he may have received as a result of his role in this affair. While it is never clearly stated, apparently Canestrini did not do this solely out of his love for the sport. Moretti quotes Lurani as mentioning that one – or perhaps all of the trustees – presenting a Fiat Balilla to Canestrini as a token of their gratitude.
Interestingly enough, the whole thing was quite legal, even if somewhat questionable in terms of judgment. One point made very clear later on was that Nuvolari's entrant, Enzo Ferrari of Scuderia Ferrari, was not a party to the proceedings. Indeed, on 15 May, Ferrari – according to Moretti – had Nuvolari issue a statement making it clear that "…the Scuderia Ferrari was extraneous to the agreement with the ticket-holder paired with his name." Whether Ferrari was upset with the financial arrangements being made without his involvement or on moral grounds is somewhat unclear, but one senses it was the former.
So finally, The Six arrive in Tripoli for the race. Many of the other drivers in the race were quite unhappy about the "arrangement" and they were quite vocal about it. Campari and Fagioli were said to be especially hostile to both Varzi and Nuvolari. Both made it clear that they were determined to win the race and ruin it for the "conspirators" and the "coalition." Birkin may also among those whose speed may not have entirely due to simply trying harder, pour le sport. Canestrini mentions Birkin as being among those who wanted to win the race to upset the apple cart.
It is interesting to note that Lurani points out that both Campari and Gazzabini were turned down in attempts to make similar deals with their ticket holders. Campari and Birkin then entered into a personal agreement to foil the efforts of the "conspirators." Gazzabini was also very unpleasant towards Varzi and Nuvolari, heaping scorn on them and making threats.
According to Canestrini, Varzi responded by saying, "Do whatever you like, I will drive my own race." Nuvolari in particular seemed to be impressed by the vehemence directed at Varzi, Borzacchini and himself. In an effort to calm matters down, Nuvolari promised the other drivers to play "50/50." Canestrini goes on to record with the answer Nuvolari gave when asked by Varzi as to how he could make such a promise, "It is quite simple: since you can't make 50/50 with everyone it is evident that I will share with nobody."
Lurani does not mention the coin toss to decide the winner. However, as usual, it is Canestrini who supplies the story. Varzi was said to be quite aware that Campari and several others were counting on the often heated rivalry between himself and Nuvolari to result in the both of them taking each other out of the race. According to Canestrini, Varzi approached him on the morning of the race about his concerns that Nuvolari might forget about the money and re-heat the always smoldering feud and cause them to lose all that money.
In the Canestrini version of things, Varzi and Canestrini then went to see Nuvolari and this concern was laid out and discussed. Nuvolari said he understood and proposed that Canestrini toss a coin and that the winner would be the one to cross the line first. The agreement with the ticket holders – and the money – was far more important than the victory itself. Varzi agreed to the solution. Canestrini tossed the coin and Varzi won. Nuvolari then agreed to honor the arrangement. Borzacchini apparently was never consulted about the coin toss or any finishing instructions as far as we know.
Keep in mind, however, that this is the Canestrini version of things, there not being any collaborating evidence to verify the coin toss even being done, much less it being done to determine the finishing order. Which, on the whole was quite presumptuous to begin with since there were no guarantees as to the final order including either Varzi or Nuvolari.
The twenty-nine – not thirty as often noted – entries lined up on the grid in the order determined by the drawing of ballots, which also determined the race numbers. For some reason, Borzacchini and Cazzangia lined up out of numerical sequence. Once the grid was formed, Governor Badoglio pressed the button to activate the starting lights.
When the starting lights came on, Carlo Cazzangia took off like a rocket in his Alfa Romeo 8C-2300 grabbing the immediate lead. However, as the field came around to complete its first lap, Birkin was leading the race. Birkin was followed by Nuvolari, Giuseppe Campari (works Maserati 8C-3000), Goffredo Zehender (Raymond Sommer-entered Maserati 8CM) who started from the fifth row, pole-sitter Premoli, and the rest of the pack. When the field came round the next time, it was led by Campari who had passed both Nuvolari and Birkin and was starting to already draw out a small cushion. On this lap Luigi Fagioli peeled off and pitted his Maserati 8CM for a plug change. Varzi was nursing his Bugatti along on seven cylinders due to the mechanics topping off the engine with oil at the last minute and while doing so overfilling the sump, a not uncommon problem with the Bugatti. The experienced Varzi realized that once the oil level was reduced, it would start running on all eight cylinders.
Just short of the halfway point, after 14 laps, Campari pitted. His oil tank was coming adrift and causing problems with lubricating the engine. After several quick, frantic attempts to bolt it in place, the offending tank was finally secured in place with rope found in the pits. However, after several more laps Campari was forced back into the pits to deal once more with the offending part. Yet another attempt to make further repairs was halted once it became apparent that the lack of oil had produced a death rattle in the engine of the Maserati. Campari did not give up easily. His efforts to win would seem stirred by his anger towards Varzi and Nuvolari.
On the same lap that Campari originally pitted, so did Birkin. Birkin pitted his Maserati to refuel. The stop was utterly routine, the only drama being Birkin accidentally getting a burn on his arm from the exhaust pipe, an all too common occurrence and an occupational hazard in those days. As noted, it was done quickly and with a minimal fuss. Neither Canestrini nor the report in Motor Sport mention anything out of the ordinary about his pit stop.
When Campari pitted, Nuvolari swept into the lead. Varzi and Zehender were now in second and third places, with Birkin now in fourth and going very well, showing no apparent ill effects from the burn suffered during his pit stop. After 23 laps, Nuvolari roared into the pits for the modern equivalent of a "splash-and-go." The pit stop itself took only 20 seconds, quite a remarkable time when it is realized that most pit stops of the day were measured in minutes. However, it cost him a total of about a minute entering, stopping, and then leaving the pits. The Varzi Bugatti, as it turned out, was fitted with an additional fuel tank with Varzi planning to avoid a pit stop and run the race non-stop.
Nuvolari screamed out of the pits roaring after Varzi. Over the last several laps of the race, Nuvolari carved big chunks of time off the lead that Varzi had built up. Some of the time was gained when Varzi experienced difficulties switching to the spare tank. Canestrini wrote that he stationed himself on the Tagiura Curve not only to keep an eye on Varzi and Nuvolari, but also signal to them to remember the agreement. As Varzi struggled with his fuel tank switch, Nuvolari finally managed to not only catch Varzi, but actually pass him. Nuvolari, under the clear impression that the deal was off since Varzi was apparently in trouble – assuming that there actually was such a deal, of course, had the bit in his teeth and going for it. Canestrini mentions that the drivers were shouting and making gestures at each other, but neither one was slowing down and neither were they paying any attention to his futile efforts to get them to slow down. They entered the last lap almost dead even and stayed that way well into the lap.
On the last part of the last lap Nuvolari was almost literally side-by-side with Varzi. Going into the last turn before the finishing straight, however, the advantage lay with Varzi. His Bugatti could still both out-brake and out-accelerate the Nuvolari Alfa Romeo. And Varzi was using all the road making his Bugatti as wide as he could make it. Despite the frantic efforts of Nuvolari to pass him before last turn, Varzi braked later into the corner and then tucked in behind, at the last second rushed away from Nuvolari, using the slipstream to assist him over the last few hundred meters. At the finish line Varzi was a scant 0.2 seconds ahead of the Flying Mantuan after Nuvolari's heroic effort to catch the Bugatti simply fell short. Had there been a 31st lap, the finish could have easily been reversed.
In his book, Moretti has Nuvolari – in a "crisis of conscience" – lifting his foot and allowing Varzi to pass for the win. It seems difficult to accept this judgment. As even Canestrini points out, Varzi and Nuvolari were racing and ignoring any outside influences to moderate their speed and keep in mind the "deal" that had been made. The two drivers had engaged in a series of close battles on the track over the past several seasons and while they were apparently civil to each off the track, they went at it hammer and tongs while on the track. Keep in mind that it did not matter financially who won, only that one or the other did indeed win the event. While Varzi may have won, it was not a gift from Nuvolari.
Birkin was to die on 22 June 1933, from what most initially thought was as the result from the burn he received. Apparently the Englishman neglected to have the burn attended to or it was later to become infected for another reason. In June, Birkin was hospitalized with his health in serious danger. Although most accounts attribute his subsequent death solely to his burn turning septic, there is reason to believe that while it played the major role, something else was a contributing cause. During the Great War, Birkin served in the Middle East and fell ill – as did many others – with malaria. It is now thought that Birkin suffered an untimely relapse of the disease and in a weakened condition from the apparently untreated burn, died. Had he not suffered the burn, or had it been properly attended to, it is thought that he could have survived the relapse and returned to racing. It must be noted that while the burn may have played a role, Birkin may have been in danger regardless.
While there was much grumbling and grousing by the other drivers and ticket-holders, "The Six" and Canestrini had acted within the rules as well as the law. Even Lurani makes that point very clear. All those within the syndicate made a tidy profit from the affair and got on with life. Within a few months the storm and the dark clouds that hung over the actions of the syndicate dissipated. One factor was the death of both Borzacchini – whose joy at the financial windfall was "a pleasure to witness" according to Lurani – and Campari at Monza that Fall. Another factor was that the Fascist government silenced criticism of the plan and quietly took steps to ensure that there would not be a repeat of 1933.
When the next Corsa dei Milioni was run in 1934, Marshal Italo Balbo was now the Governor of Libya. And he did make one small change in the procures as to when the tickets from the lottery were drawn: 30 minutes prior to the start when the cars were already on the grid and the race was about to start.
Sforzini suffered at the hands of the many critics as to what had happened. In 1936, he was replaced as President of the Automobile Club del Tripoli by Ottorino Giannantonio. Sforzini was then forced to return to Italy and allowed to fade into obscurity. He was forgotten by those within the racing community with one exception: Canestrini. After his death in February 1956, Canestrini – still editor at La Gazzetta dello Sport all those years later – published an obituary for his friend Sforzini.
This is scarcely the sordid tale that Neubauer spun and the many others then parroted. Indeed, it is a much more complex and nuanced story, a far more complicated tale than the one created by Neubauer, to say nothing of being much more ambiguous. It is a far more interesting and fascinating story and casts new light on the principal players involved in the arrangement. It also opens many new doors to explore….
Let me give credit where credit is due, especially since this is also a part of the story. The first voice that may have openly expressed doubt as to the Neubauer version of Tripoli 1933 was Bill Boddy in the September 1969 issue of Motor Sport. In “The Lottery Grand Prix, What Really Happened at Tripoli in 1933? The Editor Poses Another Motor Racing Question,”14 Boddy uses an article by Eoin Young and the mention of Tripoli in a book by Richard Garrett, both following the story line that the race was “rigged,” to launch a questioning of whether this could have been the case, reproducing the report of the race printed in the magazine in its June 1933 issue.
Boddy clearly casts doubt on the accepted story and wonders how the Neubauer version – as well as the re-telling by Young and Garrett – could be at such odds with what was reported in the contemporary report. There were responses to the article in the form of letters to the editor in the November issue, one from Johnny Lurani and the other from J.F. Cohen. Both cast doubt on the Neubauer version of Tripoli while making one wonder what else there was to the story.15
It was this article which piqued my interest in the Tripoli affair in the early 1970s. However, there were other things I was doing and I never gave it very much thought, other than to consider the Neubauer version very much open to question. Not until much later, 1992, did the story once again surface and in a very dramatic fashion.
In a coda to the 1933 season in A Record of Grand Prix and Voiturette Racing, Volume 3: 1932 – 1936, Betty Sheldon went Bill Boddy one better and laid out the results of the research that she had conducted into the Tripoli race. It was as if a thunderbolt had hit. Putting what Sheldon had found together with the thoughts of Bill Boddy, it became very clear that the Neubauer tale was little more than a cock-and-bull dinner story that he had devised for the entertainment of his readers. The thought was that the myth would now be laid to rest since what actually happened was now openly available.
What was dismaying was to find that the Neubauer-inspired myth continued to prosper and grow as if the research conducted by Sheldon and Boddy had never occurred. Once one knew what to look for, the story began to unfold and make sense. With the assistance of the scholars at The Nostalgia Forum on the Atlas F1 Web site, an earlier article on Tripoli was refined and later used by Christopher Hilton in his 1993 biography of Tazio Nuvolari.
Perhaps it is finally time to finally put the old myth to rest and properly give credit to Betty Sheldon and Bill Boddy for helping solve this mystery.16 In addition, give credit as well to Christopher Hilton for putting it print as well as being open-minded enough to look at the story from another view, one that was at odds with everything else he had read, and then accept it and print it.
However, let us examine two articles on the Tripoli race that were published at about the same time that the research that resulted in the above was being conducted. In other words, the two articles theoretically had access to the same materials, yet yielded entirely different results.
The first article, written by Mark Hughes, appeared in the January 2000 issue of Motor Sport.17 Given that scarcely thirty years prior to the article appearing in the same magazine that Bill Boddy questioned the Neubauer version of the race, the Hughes article is simply a regurgitation of what appeared almost exactly forty years earlier in 1960. All the familiar elements are in place – Rivio, Chiron, the characters in the special box for the lottery ticket holders (“....butcher from Milan, a frail old lady from Florence, a post office sorter, a salesman, a student.”), Varzi’s misfiring Bugatti causing Rivio much anxiety, the various delays in the pits, as well as Borzacchini in second place at the halfway point – a miracle considering that he had retired on the second lap with gearbox problems, with Borzacchini performing a major miracle by clouting a marker drum and bursting a tire on lap twenty-seven (although one must give Hughes credit for stating that the reason for retirement was given as “transmission”), Campari at the same point in the race stopping for a check of his suspension and retiring due to a “loose oil tank,” while Nuvolari pitted for fuel so as to allow Varzi to catch up and take the lead, then the Varzi Bugatti sputtering and slowing down until fuel from the reserve tank began to flow which allowed Nuvolari to catch up and pass Varzi, but Nuvolari then stopped once more for fuel as he entered the finishing straight, allowing Varzi to sweep by for the victory as Nuvolari gently crossed the finish line in second, with Chiron also in the mix of things at the finish.
All this was complete rubbish,18 of course, being even more so because it apparently never entered Hughes mind to search the archives at Motor Sport for anything on the race. I never received even a squeak from the editor, Andrew Frankel at the time, when I wrote him to politely point out what a load of bad history this article was. That Motor Sport had published an article on the Tripoli race meant that it would be a very long time before another article on the race would ever appear.
Not long after the Hughes article appeared in Motor Sport, an article on the Tripoli races appeared in Vintage Racecar Journal & Market Report and written by Robert Newman.19 Although the article was intended to cover the entire span of the Tripoli races, the centerpiece of the article was the 1933 race, of course. Newman has the drawing three days prior to the race, allowing Rivio – again – to fly to Libya to contact Varzi and make a deal to split the winnings if he could arrange to guarantee the result with the assistance of several of his friends. Newman refers to the events on race day as a “ham-fisted little drama.”
Once more the drama involves Varzi aboard a spluttering Bugatti in the closing stages, Borzacchini hitting an oil drum in the late stages and shredding a tire being forced to retire, Nuvolari in the lead on the last lap then stopping a few hundred yards away from the finish line to refuel, the task taking just long enough for the misfiring Bugatti of Varzi to pass Nuvolari for the lead, but the Alfa Romeo of Nuvolari taking station behind Varzi for second place as Varzi crossed the finish line for the victory.
Once again, complete rubbish, yet another retelling of the Neubauer story with a few elements of writer’s license used in the retelling of the tale. As in the case of the Hughes story, I contacted Vintage Racecar Journal & Market Report and pointed out, politely of course, that the article was scarcely an accurate portrayal of the race as it happened, simply another story lifted from Herr Neubauer. This time I did a response from the author. I had pointed out the article that I had written for Leif Snellman for his site, The Golden Era of Grand Prix Racing, on the Tripoli race.20 Newman’s response was that although he had come across something like the tale I was supporting, in his opinion the weight of the evidence was behind what he wrote in the article. Plus, he said that the article I wrote was “self-referential” and, therefore, did not provide a valid counter-argument to what he had written.
That Newman provided no references in his article nor any in his response in support of the version of the events as he related them, the question must be asked as to exactly what evidence that he found which supported the Neubauer version, which was exactly what Newman provided in his article. Needless to say, even all these years later I would be quite interested to see what those sources were. Given that the article was written with plenty of time for Newman to avail himself of the same materials that I was, the question is why did he persist on using the Neubauer story without even mentioning that there might be alternative version of what happened.
I am curious as to what Newman thinks of what Christopher Hilton wrote regarding the race in the biography of Nuvolari that appeared in 1993. Does he discount what Hilton wrote? Is Vintage Racecar Journal & Market Report willing to finally publish a rebuttal to the Newman article?
Lest it seem that I am be singling out Newman and Hughes – which I am, of course – for any special criticism, they are simply examples of there being readily available information on the topic they chose to write about which was not consulted and which their editors were obviously unaware. In general, Newman does a credible job when it comes to his articles, but his audience is composed largely of those interested in historic racing, not racing history, which are two entirely different things.
Newman is a good writer and a mainstay of Vintage Racecar. He does have a wide-ranging interest in automobile racing history and often selects topics not within the mainstream which seem to get covered more than necessary considering that little new is ever generated. Likewise, Hughes is also a good writer, less inclined to write about history than Newman which is not surprising given his journalistic focus, the current Formula One scene.
For the record, the earliest Tripoli story based upon the Neubauer tale that I have found, although there might be others, of course, was written by Charles G. Proche and appeared in the February 1964 issue of Sports Car Graphic.21
Case History: John Glenn Printz and the Struggle for the Past
The A.A.A. Catastrophe: Arthur Means, Val Haresnape, Russ Catlin, and Bob Russo
No major sport has been so poorly chronicled, documented and recorded as
“big time” American automobile racing. Very little information on it
is readily available and much of what is easily obtainable is grossly accurate,
incomplete and misleading in substance. It is very easy, for instance, to collect
five times the amount of material or data on the Indianapolis 500 alone as compared
to the remaining portions of a given season’s Championship activity…. By way
of contrast to the American National Championship events, the European
Grand Prix races generally have been given very detailed coverage since their birth in 1906.22
|John Glenn Printz|
The situation regarding National Championship racing is very strange
with regard to the available information on the various races.
It may be fairly said that for every 999 words written about the Indianapolis 500 race,
none are written on any of the other races in the Championship..23
Here is an excellent illustration as to what the American automobile racing historian is up against:
American National Champions24
The AAA Years
|1902||Harry Harkness||1903||Barney Oldfield|
|1904||George Heath||1905||Victor Hemery|
|1906||Joe Tracy||1907||Eddie Bald|
|1908||Louis Strang||1909||George Robertson|
|1910||Ray Harroun||1911||Ralph Mulford|
|1912||Ralph DePalma||1913||Earl Cooper|
|1914||Ralph DePalma||1915||Earl Cooper|
|1916||Dario Resta||1917||Earl Cooper|
|1918||Ralph Mulford||1919||Howard Wilcox|
|1920||Tommy Milton||1921||Tommy Milton|
|1922||Jimmy Murphy||1923||Eddie Hearne|
|1924||Jimmy Murphy||1925||Peter DePaolo|
|1926||Harry Hartz||1927||Peter DePaolo|
|1928||Louis Meyer||1929||Louis Meyer|
|1930||Billy Arnold||1931||Louis Schneider|
|1932||Bob Carey||1933||Louis Meyer|
|1934||Bill Cummings||1935||Kelly Petillo|
|1936||Mauri Rose||1937||Wilbur Shaw|
|1938||Floyd Roberts||1939||Wilbur Shaw|
|1940||Rex Mays||1941||Rex Mays|
|1942||No Racing - WWII||1943||No Racing - WWII|
|1944||No Racing - WWII||1945||No Racing - WWII|
|1946||Ted Horn||1947||Ted Horn|
|1948||Ted Horn||1949||Johnny Parsons|
|1950||Henry Banks||1951||Tony Bettenhausen, Sr.|
|1952||Chuck Stevenson||1953||Sam Hanks|
|1954||Jimmy Bryan||1955||Bob Sweikert|
This listing can be found a section named, ironically, “Auto Racing History,” which is part of the Deep Throttle site.25 Another site which carries race and season summaries for the AAA national championship events from 1909 onward which was developed and produced by Phil Harms, is Motorsport.com,26 which still provides the results used as source material for those interested in the American Automobile Association (A.A.A.) national championship.27 Once again, one can find a wealth on the A.A.A. national championship at the site Rumbledrome.com.28 This sort of listing can also appears, in various forms, in the United States Auto Club (USAC) yearbooks and many other publications that still sit on bookshelves all over the world. This listing is still accepted by many writers within the automobile racing community as being an accurate listing of the national champions.
Studying the list carefully, along with having a good knowledge of the AAA national championship, it quickly becomes apparent that the list should look something like this:
|1905||Barney Oldfield||1916||Dario Resta|
|1920||Gaston Chevrolet||1921||Tommy Milton|
|1922||Jimmy Murphy||1923||Eddie Hearne|
|1924||Jimmy Murphy||1925||Peter DePaolo|
|1926||Harry Hartz||1927||Peter DePaolo|
|1928||Louis Meyer||1929||Louis Meyer|
|1930||Billy Arnold||1931||Louis Schneider|
|1932||Bob Carey||1933||Louis Meyer|
|1934||Bill Cummings||1935||Kelly Petillo|
|1936||Mauri Rose||1937||Wilbur Shaw|
|1938||Floyd Roberts||1939||Wilbur Shaw|
|1940||Rex Mays||1941||Rex Mays|
|1946||Ted Horn||1947||Ted Horn|
|1948||Ted Horn||1949||Johnny Parsons|
|1950||Henry Banks||1951||Tony Bettenhausen, Sr.|
|1952||Chuck Stevenson||1953||Sam Hanks|
|1954||Jimmy Bryan||1955||Bob Sweikert|
While some may quibble about the about the inclusion of the 1905 A.A.A. National Motor Car Championship, it did exist, it did happen, and to the very best of our knowledge Barney Oldfield was the champion.29
The question becomes, of course, why does the second list differ from the first list?
For many year, few (if any) questioned the first list. It was a given, being printed – sometimes beginning with 1909 it must be noted – in programs, books, magazines, when and wherever the A.A.A. national championship was mentioned. As pointed out, this first list is still being used as a reference and still appears in many places. However, it is the second list that reflects the reality of the national champion and not the first. It is also the reason for no little unrest and strife with the ranks of those who consider the past of this type of racing.
Beginning with the Eighties, John Glenn Printz published a series of articles that turned the history national championship upside down.30 Printz created a genuine tectonic shock among those in the American automobile racing history community, especially among the Enthusiasts. That, however, was nothing to the tremors and aftershocks that ran – and continue to run – through the small community of American automobile racing historians.
The articles provide a different perspective on the A.A.A. national championship, one that was at variance with what had been assumed to be the story – and history – of this championship. It must be mentioned at this point that the lot of the automobile racing historian over three decades ago was dramatically different than it is from that of today. There was no internet or World Wide Web to tap into, no digital libraries from which to access and download documents, no email with which to inquire about or share data. It was generally serendipity that would bring kindred souls together.
Information was contained in books, annuals, magazines (or serials), and newspapers, information which had to be dug out the old-fashioned way: by the dint of hard, painful research. It was a godsend if information was provided by someone on a topic near and dear to one’s heart, adding that bit of information to the other bits and tidbits that had been collected. Having information such as a complete listing of race data for a series was unusual and more often than not, a personal goal that was fraught with frustration and despair, such data being nearly impossible to assemble for nearly everyone outside a very select few.
In other words, even the most informed automobile racing history of the day was woefully informed by today’s standards and his collection of race data often sketchy and incomplete, gaps being the rule not the exception. It was into this world that John Glenn Printz arrived with literally a bang. The way in which many would approach and think about the A.A.A. national championship would never be the same. This also has the secondary effect of having the whole notion of what had been considered the history of automobile racing looked at with a new frame of reference, there being less willingness on the part of those now beginning to delve deeper into the history of automobile racing to accept what had been once taken as givens, concepts that had not been challenged.
What Printz laid out was quite a different narrative from that which even those few fortunate souls with access to the often-mentioned but rarely-seen articles31 that Russ Catlin wrote for Speed Age, generally accepted as being the only “real” work of history done regarding the A.A.A. national championship, were familiar with. The history of the A.A.A. national championship turned out to be as complicated and involved as a whodunit.
Setting aside the short-lived A.A.A. National Motor Car Championship of 1905, the first season of the A.A.A. national championship was 1916, not 1909 or 1902. However, the convention that 1909 was the first season of the A.A.A. national championship also coincided with 1909 being the first season that the A.A.A. Contest Board was empowered by the manufacturers, through the Motor Contest Association (MCA), to be the sanctioning body for American automobile racing.
What Printz made clear was that the confusion as to when the A.A.A. national championship actually began was in great part due to the Contest Board itself. For reasons that will probably never be clear, but in the 1926-1928 timeframe, two members of the Contest Board itself, Arthur Means and Val Haresnape, undertook a look at the past of the national championship and then, in the 8 February 1929 issue of the Official Bulletin of the Contest Board,32 provided names of national champions for the 1909-1915 and 1917-1919 seasons.
The problem apparently began when Means, once more for reasons not clear, compiled a list of revised points standings for the 1920 national championship. This done in the November 1926 timeframe. Means added five additional events to the five events which comprised the national championship that season. By doing so, the points standings as calculated by Means changed the national champion for that season from Gaston Chevrolet to Tommy Milton. A copy of Means’ tabulations for the 1920 exists, showing how he added events, allocated points based upon finishing positions in the additional events, and the new points total indicated that using the ten events rather than the actual five, that the champion would have been Milton.
Haresnape may have been, as Printz suggests, impressed by the work that Means did on the 1920 season and may have suggested that Means conduct a study with the objective of providing champions for the seasons that the Contest Board had been in operation, that is, from 1909 onward to 1919, with the exception of the 1916 season which had a national champion. Whatever the reasons behind it being done, Means apparently determined the events to be used and then calculated points for each participant in a scoring position, totaling the points to determine a national championship for that season, with the results being provided as an enclosure entitled “Record of Champion Drivers 1909-1928 incl.”.33
The explanation for the “Special Bulletin on Champion Drivers,” written by Haresnape in his capacity as Secretary of the Contest Board is interesting and lends credence to Printz’s suggestion, not made entirely in jest, that Means and Haresnape may have had too much time on their hands.
We have just completed at headquarters a study of the racing record of each champion driver for the year in which he achieved the championship. It is attached as of undoubted interest to the many racing fans who receive this bulletin.
Careful study will disclose many interesting angles. You will be able to bring back the abandon and determination of DePalma in ’12, or Resta in ’16, when each either finished first in every race or was forced out. You will catch again the high wave of success of Cooper in ’17, Murphy in ’22 and DePaolo in ’25, all of whom won a majority of firsts out of their total starts. Against this can be contrasted the consistency disclosed in Hearne’s winning in ’23 and Hartz in ’26.
This is but one of the educational and service studies that will be distributed by the Contest Board during the current year.
It is interesting to note that Chevrolet is listed as the national champion for 1920. There is a copy of this same chart with Chevrolet’s name scratched out and Milton’s replacing it. Although Milton was listed as the 1920 national champion by the A.A.A. for several seasons, at some point in the early Thirties Chevrolet was once again listed as the champion for the 1920 season.
As Printz points out, once this listing as released and given the implied, if not explicit endorsement of the Contest Board, then the non-concurrent champions began to assume the status of “official” national champions. What must be noted is that there is, at least to the best of our knowledge, no contemporary listing of the specific events that Means and Haresnape used to determine the national champions for the seasons in question.
For whatever reasons, by the late-Forties, scarcely two decades later, the origins of the retrospective national championships seemed lost in the haze of the past. It was in the period immediately following the Second World War the Russ Catlin enters the picture. An oddity among sportswriters of the day in that he was not only interested in automobile racing but an actually a fan, Catlin was hired by the Contest Board to handle their press relations and publicity.
At some point during this time, Printz suggests that Catlin began rummaging through the A.A.A. archives. Apparently, around 1950 Catlin found among the other material in the files the notes used by Means and Haresnape to create the 1909 to 1915 and 1917 to 1919 national championships. It may have been that Catlin thought these to be genuine national championships, the detail somehow lost through time.
What is known is that in the late-Forties and early-Fifties that Catlin was writing a history of the A.A.A. national championship, apparently with the support and encouragement of Bob Russo of Speed Age magazine. Russ Catlin’s “The History of AAA National Championship Racing” was announced in the November 1954 issue of Speed Age.34 It is the listing of events and point standing at that Catlin provided this Speed Age series that has been the backbone of the history of the early years of A.A.A. national championship racing since then.
It must be noted that during his time associated with the A.A.A. Contest Board that Catlin, recognized by others as the leading historian on A.A.A. national championship racing in the opinion of Printz, also took an activist position regarding his “discoveries.” Catlin introduced a proposal that the retrospective champions concocted by Means and Haresnape be declared the “official” A.A.A. national champions for those seasons. In doing so, Catlin changed the 1909 “national champion” from Bert Dingley, Means’ choice, to George Robertson and “restored” Tommy Milton to his 1920 national championship. The A.A.A. Contest Board went along with the Catlin proposal and revised its own history.
In addition, with the fiftieth anniversary of the A.A.A. approaching in 1952, Catlin apparently then decided to provide “national champions” for each of the seasons preceding 1909, meaning that there were now “national champions” for the 1902 to 1908 seasons as well. This listing was published in the program for the 1952 “International 500 Mile Sweepstakes” race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in an article entitled “Auto Racing’s Golden Jubilee.” As Printz points out, even Catlin – listed as the “Director of the AAA Contest News Bureau” – stated that these “national champions” were “unofficial.” There is the interesting omission by Catlin of the actual A.A.A. national champion for 1905, Barney Oldfield, the “champion” being – as in 1904 – the winner of the Vanderbilt Cup race.
In 1958, the Catlin listing of “national champions” was incorporated by the publicity director of the United States Auto Club (USAC), Charlie Brockman, into the 1958 edition of the USAC yearbook. In 1973, this information was provided by USAC official Dick Jordan to Carl Hungness for use in the first edition of the Hungness series of annuals on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway event.
As the Jackets Corollary reminds us, once this sort of information finds its way into books and magazines and is accepted as fact, then there is no end of difficulties in changing it, or even challenging it. Printz does note that neither Brockman nor Jordan had any reason to question the information that Catlin had developed and presented. Neither was a historian. In addition, it was Catlin who was generally – if not universally – accepted as the foremost authority on the history of national championship racing.
In the short story, “Silver Blaze,” written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as part of the Sherlock Holmes series of stories, the following conversation, led by Dr. Watson, takes place regarding how Holmes was able to determine that the killer of Colonel Ross's racehorse was the owner of the stable dog:
Colonel Ross still wore an expression which showed the poor opinion which he had formed of my companion's ability, but I saw by the inspector's face that his attention had been keenly aroused.
"You consider that to be important?" he asked.
"Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"
"To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
"The dog did nothing in the night-time."
"That was the curious incident," remarked Sherlock Holmes.
Indeed, that is the “curious incident” regarding this revision of automobile racing history: Why nothing was said or done prior to the appearance of Printz and McMaken upon the scene in the early Eighties. That the changes created by Means, Haresnape, and Catlin did not elicit some form of public discussion that was recorded for posterity is one of the oddities of this entire matter. Even into the Seventies, to say nothing of the Fifties and Sixties, there were those who were involved with the races as either participants or officials still around who could recall the contemporary events. As of yet, there is nothing of note on the record as far as dissenting voices are concerned.
There was, however, still the written record in the form of contemporary newspapers, magazines, and automotive journals.
If one reads the chapters in the Catlin’s “The History of AAA National Championship Racing,” it will be noted that Catlin is constantly “hedging his bets,” so to speak, when it comes to stating that so-and-so was the A.A.A. national champion that season. However, the tables with the points standings and the reference to a driver as the national champion for that season tends to draw attention from such shadings of fact.
That there were magazines which selected their “driver of the year,” obviously played some sort of role in this entire matter of retrospective national champions. Printz twice provides a listing of the drivers picked by The Motor Age as their driver of the year, the selections being rather interesting when compared to the Means and Catlin lists:35
1909 Bert Dingley
1910 Ralph Mulford
1911 Harvey Herrick
1912 Ralph DePalma
1913 Earl Cooper
1914 Ralph DePalma
1915 Earl Cooper
1919 Eddie Hearne
It should be noted that Printz has Earl Cooper as The Motor Age selection for 1915. Although Earl Cooper was selected as the champion driver for that season, it was by The Horseless Age and through use of the “Mason Point System,” with The Motor Age selection actually being Gil Anderson. In addition, C.G. Sinsabaugh, who had made the selections for the first several years that The Motor Age did so, picked Dario Resta while writing for MoToR magazine.36
As one can begin to tell with just one season, 1915, opinions regarding who was the “champion driver” for that season could – and did – vary quite a bit. To assume that Harvey Herrick was a consensus or widely accepted choice for the 1912 “champion driver” would be a mistake since that was scarcely the case, Ralph De Palma being the choice of several others, including Arthur Means, of course.37
Printz laid out many of his points regarding the confused nature of the “national championship” in 1985,38 enumerating the problems with the retroactive championships devised by Means and then supported by Catlin. Printz listed the following items as reasons to view with askance these championships even for those willing to accept them:
1. Many important A.A.A. races were not included in the championship seasons. Examples are: all of the 1910 events at Playa del Rey; the 1910 Fairmount Park races in Philadelphia; the 1909 and 1910 events held at the Atlanta Motordrome; three one hundred mile events held at the Chicago and Sheepshead Bay speedways; and, the fifty mile event held at Beverly Hills on 28 February 1920.
2. On the other hand, many minor events were included in these championship seasons. Examples include: two events run at Riverhead in September 1909 which had only one and two participants respectively; an event held at Milwaukee in 1912 with only three starters; nine events in 1918 with no more than four participants and none longer than fifty miles.
3. In most seasons, events using various A.A.A. formulae based upon piston displacement, retail price, type of chassis – stock or otherwise, were all counted as “national championship” events, with classes within events being judged as separate, point-awarding events. This resulted in points being awarded to winners of classes with only one finisher on the same basis as the overall winner.
4. On top of everything else, many of the scores were added up incorrectly.
This latter point brings us back to Russ Catlin. It is assumed that Catlin found the worksheets developed by Means and then reviewed/approved by Haresnape. Apparently, Means made computational errors when adding scores and determining “championship” standings. In one particular case, 1909, Printz suggests that Catlin discovered an error which meant that the “real” 1909 national “champion” was actually George Robertson and not Bert Dingley as Means had determined. Catlin then got the Contest Board to change the “champion” for the 1909 season from Dingley to Robertson.
What has not been discovered, at least to the best of our knowledge, are the worksheets and scoring sheets that Means used to determine his retrospective national champions. It must be assumed that Catlin had access to these and used them as the basis for the events included in the chapters written for his “The History of AAA National Championship Racing” which appeared in Speed Age.
What caused Printz considerable heartburn was that Catlin, like Means some years before, changed the results of an actual national championship season, 1920, and created a new national champion, Tommy Milton, to replace the actual national champion for that season, Gaston Chevrolet. Unlike the worksheets for the retroactively awarded championships, the worksheet used by Means was discovered in the files of material relating to the A.A.A. Contest Board.
Even before the publication of the wealth of material the John Glenn Printz and Ken McMaken had collected in the 1985 edition of the Cart Media Guide, their masterpiece, storm clouds were already brewing in the form of those who took exception to what Gordon Kirby had been publishing of the work of Printz and McMaken and its obvious rebuttal of the work of Russ Catlin. One of the leaders and more vocal critics of the work of Printz and McMaken was the journalist Bob Russo, the former editor of Speed Age and a great friend of Catlin’s.
Whereas Printz had been painstaking examining the contemporary newspaper accounts and sifting and sorting through everything he could find on the subject, others had been content to simply accept whatever Catlin offered in his articles on national championship racing. What Printz began to discover was that much – perhaps most – of what Catlin providing was not quite being supported by the evidence being generated by examining the contemporary sources. Indeed, it was the failure to discover any evidence supporting the national championships that Catlin had written about that led Printz to his conclusions regarding the actual state of things in the early days of A.A.A. automobile racing.
Through the usual serendipitous means, Printz and McMaken managed to meet and pool the finding of their research, McMaken having assembled box scores for all of the A.A.A. national championship events, which in the Seventies was a rarity in and of itself, this having eluded Printz despite all his efforts. Once that the two had assembled their materials, It became clear that the real story, the actual history of A.A.A. national championship racing was often at odds with what was being told by Catlin and accepted by others.
It is this puzzling and apparent lack of inquisitiveness on the part of so many others that makes the effort by Printz and McMaken so noteworthy. That Gordon Kirby got wind of this effort and made the space available in the CART annuals that he edited is little short of an amazing story in and of itself. That Kirby did so is one of those small, seemingly random acts that sets off a chain of events in which the consequences could scarcely be foreseen, much less predicted.
That Catlin’s “The History of AAA National Championship Racing” comes to an abrupt end with chapter nine, which covered the 1917 season, continues to be something of a mystery. It was said that Speed Age dropped the series due to reader interest, which may or may not be true. Another of the contributors to the articles appearing in the Kirby annuals, James O’Keefe, obtained a typewritten copy of chapter 14, which covered the 1922 season. O’Keefe sent this to Printz in 1982. It is unknown of any of the other chapters still survive.39
The position of Catlin in the pantheon of figures of automobile racing journalism is still in evidence, the Aflac Motorsports Journalism Awards of Excellence being named the Russ Catlin Award. That Catlin was perceived to be under attack, did not sit well with various members of press corps. While it is unknown as to exactly how Catlin may have considered the articles being written by Printz and McMaken, Printz suggests that Catlin may well have had some concerns about them.
Printz suggests that at some point Catlin began to realize that what Means had produced were really only “studies” done for Haresnape and not actual championships to official efforts to establish such championships. Printz also suggests that Catlin realized that changing the 1920 champion from Chevrolet to Milton was an error. However, if Catlin did realize that this was error this is nothing to indicate that any effort was made to correct it, unlike the Dingley – Robertson “correction.” It may also have been evident to Catlin that at some point this house of cards could all come apart should a sharp-eyed historian conduct research into this history that Catlin had established and begin asking questions based upon why the contemporary sources often differed with what was being accepted per Catlin.
Printz notes that Catlin tended to heap almost excessive amounts of praise on Means and Haresnape, while at the same time cautioning against giving much credibility to the contemporary accounts, which suggests to Printz a certain wariness that seems at odds with how a noted “historian” might view the latter, particularly given the problems associated with the former.
When it became known in late 1984, as mentioned, that Printz and McMaken were going to provide an entire section in the 1985 CART Media Guide on the history of national championship racing, Bob Russo approached the officials at CART and stated that the material that was being provided contained incorrect statistical data and gross errors of fact. After several discussions with the CART officials regarding the inaccuracies of the Printz/McMaken materials, Russo thought that a deal had been brokered in which the offending material would not be published in the media guide. This would be the end of that.
However, the editor of the media guide, Jan Shaffer, printed the data provided by Printz and McMaken. In doing so, Shaffer lost his job as the director of communications. In addition, CART also tried to get the fee paid to Printz and McMaken for the material returned for provided material which was inaccurate and misleading. CART officials then turned the material that had been provided by Printz and McMaken over to Russo so that he could “correct” the mistakes and ensure the historical material published in the next edition the media guide, the 1986 edition, would be historically accurate. Of course, that presented a problem for Russo since the factual errors were those of his friend Catlin and not those of Printz and McMaken.
Faced with the problem of “correcting” the material, Russo simply eliminated any of the commentary accompanying the material, dropped the non-championship events, and pared it all down to the absolute minimum so what was left consisted only of statistical data, no explanations, no clue as to what the asterisks means. The mention of the discovery of the 1905 A.A.A. national championship mentioned by McMaken was eliminated; this was an amazing find and it was summarily dismissed before any further discussion could be held. It would be another two decades before the 1905 national championship would be “rediscovered.” Sadly, the original material that McMaken may have had to present has never been provided. Russo also changed the 1920 national champion from Gaston Chevrolet to Tommy Milton. In what was an irony of no small consequence, Russo left the names of Printz and McMaken on the byline in may have been an attempt to legitimize the changes made to the material.
Not long after taking control of the historical material in the CART media guide from Printz and McMaken, Russo wrote an article on the 1920 national championship for Indy Car Racing magazine.40 Russo begins the article by posing this question: “Who was really the 1920 AAA National Champion?” With what must be seen as unintentional irony, Russo then writes that ever since the change was made in 1951 to remove Gaston Chevrolet and replace him with Tommy Milton as the 1920 national champion, “racing historians and others interested in tracing the history of America’s oldest and most prestigious motorsports title have been seeking a logical answer to that question.”41
Russo asks, “Why, then, after 30 years, was there a sudden unexplained change to Milton?” He then cites that, “One researcher” – John Glenn Printz – “suggests that it involved a ‘tampering with history,’ carried out by two AAA Contest Board officials who ‘took it upon themselves to delete Chevrolet and declare Milton champion,’ during a review of Contest Board records in the mid-1920s.”42 That this is more or less a part of the reason and that the role of Russ Catlin is not mentioned until later is an interesting omission on the part of Russo.
What follows is an extraordinary statement: “The truth is that Milton, based upon the points formula in use at the time, actually did win the title.”43
Russo then explains that the error was not discovered until six years later, when no official action was taken, but it was left to Russ Catlin, the director of the AAA News Bureau, to correct that mistake, getting the Contest Board to declare Milton as the rightful champion in 1951. “And it simply did so without any embarrassing explanations.” In the next paragraph, Russo states the following: “If Chevrolet had not been fatally injured in that closing race of the 1920 season, there probably would never have been any controversy.”44
The explanation to all this, according to Russo, is that the chairman of the A.A.A. Contest Board at the time, Richard Kennerdell, “was known as a man who sometimes vacillated in his decisions.”45 Russo cites the 1916 Grand Prize of the Automobile Club of America held at Santa Monica and the situation which resulted when first Johnny Aitken and then Dario Resta, the two who were competing for the 1916 national championship, retired from the race. Aitken then took over the Peugeot of race leader Howard “Howdy” Wilcox when Wilcox pitted. Aitken then won the event, but this relief driving effort did not result in Aitken receiving any points towards the championship. This left Resta with a lead of 660 points over Aitken. With the one hundred-fifty mile event at Ascot Part on 30 November offering only six hundred points, the championship was Resta’s.
The reason that Aitken was not awarded any points, according to Russo, was that Kennerdell had stated that should Aitken win the race, then all the championship points – which would have been 1,000 in this case – would be credited to Aitken. Word filtered through the pits as to what Kennerdell had said regarding the points and Resta then began making a deal to be the relief driver for Earl Cooper in the Stutz then in second place. Hearing this, Kennerdell then reversed himself and neither Aitken nor Resta gained any points from the event.
Russo states that Kennerdell, “had had his fingers burned, and from that time on, the embarrassed chairman avoided public comment on championship points whenever possible.”47
According to Russo, the original 1920 national championship schedule contained nine events, the first being a 25-mile event held on 28 February at the newly-opened Los Angeles Speedway in Beverly Hills, which was won by Jimmy Murphy in a Duesenberg. This was followed by three 50-mile sprint events at the Beverly Hill track in April, the winners being: Art Klein, Peugeot; Tommy Milton, Duesenberg; and, Jimmy Murphy, Duesenberg. This meant that with the next event being the five hundred mile event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Murphy had a 300 point lead over Milton in the championship standings.
The victory of Gaston Chevrolet in the five hundred mile event, which awarded 1,000 points for the win, was enough to vault Chevrolet into the championship lead ahead of Murphy and Milton. The next event on the championship calendar, according to Russo, was the 225-mile event held at the Uniontown track in June, Milton winning the event, allowing him to close to within one hundred points of Chevrolet, who did not finish, with Murphy’s second place leaving him only twenty-five points behind Milton.
According to Russo, Kennerdell had not released the championship standings. Russo states that Detroit newspaperman Eddie Edenburn, one of the few to cover automobile racing on a routine basis, wrote Kennerdell requesting the current standings and the status of the next championship to be held at Tacoma. In Russo’s account, Edenburn did not receive a direct reply, but Kennerdell did issue a press release just a few days prior to the Tacoma event, which was held on 5 July, stating that it would be a championship round.
Winning Tacoma and the 400 points for the victory, placed Milton in the championship lead since Chevrolet earned only fifteen points for his seventh place finish. The next event was the Elgin road race on 28 August, Ralph De Palma winning with Milton and Murphy second and third, respectively, Chevrolet in eighth place. This left two events on the championship calendar, a road race at Fresno and the finale at Beverly Hills on Thanksgiving Day. Russo states that, “Kennerdell was still quiet on the points standings...” which were Milton leading with 1,985 points, Murphy following with 1,325 points, and then Chevrolet with 1,075 points.48
Milton’s victory at Fresno, with Murphy in third place, and Chevrolet finishing fourth meant that, in Russo’s words, “the latter was definitely trailing in points going into Beverly Hills on Nov. 25, Thanksgiving Day. Only no one knew it, thanks to Kennerdell’s silence.”49 Russo states that Chevrolet’s death, “was big news in most newspapers the next morning.” And, “Many referred to Chevrolet as ‘champion,’ a word that must have made Kennerdell shudder since he knew that the championship really belonged to Milton. Still, he kept his silence, allowing most to conclude that Chevrolet was indeed the champion.”50
At this point, Russo has Edenburn realizing that something was amiss and requesting an official list of the championship standings from Kennerdell. At this point Kennerdell supposedly admits to Edenburn that both Milton and Murphy had scored more points than Chevrolet. Russo suggests that, “Kennerdell had problem, and knew it. To reverse public opinion at that point and deny Chevrolet the title might well place the prestige of the Contest Board in jeopardy and cast a shadow over all of racing.”51
The solution that Kennerdell used, once again according to Russo, was to direct that all the events less than two hundred and fifty miles to be non-championship events, meaning that no points would be awarded. Russo has Milton wondering why, “he received the medal for second place.”52 Without the consent or approval of the Contest Board, this change by Kennerdell meant that the championship would then go to Chevrolet. However, given that Kennerdell had announced that the July event at Tacoma, a 223-mile race, as part of the national championship, this meant that Kennerdell had, Russo suggests, a problem.
Russo has Edenburn publishing the final championship standings, as provided by Kennerdell and dropping four events, in a December 1920 issue of the Detroit News:
|Gaston Chevrolet||1,000 points|
Eight additional drivers were also listed. Russo also provides the following from Edenburn: “What disposition will be made of the title will be decided this in New York this week at a meeting of the AAA Contest Board called by Chairman Richard Kennerdell who has returned from Los Angeles where he attended the season’s last event.”53
Russo states that, “Kennerdell’s decision to eliminate five events never held water with the board. In the first place, he didn’t have the authority without a majority vote of the board. Additionally, his office had issued sanctions 1169, 1167, 1181, and 1188 to Beverly Hills, Uniontown and Fresno as Championship events.” Russo adds that, “Unfortunately, since all this happened in December, after the season had ended, no one really thought about it any longer. The bungles was swept under the rug and forgotten – that is, until 1926, when the efficient Hal Haresnape was serving as the Contest Board’s executive secretary.”54
Russo then recounts how Haresnape, being a “stickler for detail,” had the staff “reconstructing” the championship seasons that point, Arthur Means being the person doing much of the work. Discovering the “error” regarding the 1920 national championship, Haresnape had it brought to the attention of the Contest Board. The board approved the revised standings and also recognized a listing of national champions extending back to 1909. However, despite the action of the board to recognize Milton as the 1920 national champion, Chevrolet continued to be recognized as the national champion for the 1920 season.55
Russo then mentions that at Russ Catlin’s urging in 1951, “the Contest Board did vote to recognize Milton as the 1920 champion. They also recognized George Robertson as the 1909 title holder....” Russo then closes with this: “But there was never a clear explanation made, just a sudden change in print that has confused so many.”56
Reading more as if it were the outline for a suspense novel with the unraveling of a conspiracy driving the plot, it is also difficult to tell just how much of this article was Russo and how much was Catlin. When made aware of the Russo article, Printz composed a two-part rebuttal, tackling the Russo conspiracy theory head-on.57
Printz began his rebuttal this way:
I believe Bob Russo’s article on the 1920 AAA National Championship season which appeared in the January 1987 ICR (Vol. IV, No. 4) is totally mistaken in its main contention and has no basis, in fact, either in real history and/or the surviving relevant evidence. Russo has wrongly reconstructed the happenings of 1920 as well as later developments. Cause is confused with effect, the thesis is backward, upside down and fiction has been accepted as fact. Richard Kennerdell, then the chairman of the AAA Contest Board, never altered the driver point standings or the number of AAA National Championship races held in 1920 after the running of the Los Angeles (Beverly Hills) 250 of Nov. 25, 1920. Russo, it appears, accepted mythology created by others.58
Printz then builds the case against Russo – and Catlin – step by step by step.
The 1920 season for the national championship consisted of five – not nine, ten or eleven – events:
|28 February||Los Angles Speedway, Beverly Hills, 250 miles|
|31 May||Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 500 miles|
|5 July||Tacoma Speedway, 223 miles|
|28 August||Elgin Road Race, 251 miles|
|25 November||Los Angles Speedway, Beverly Hills, 250 miles59|
The top ten in the 1920 nationals champion points standings:
|Gaston Chevrolet||1,030 points60|
Printz asserts that, “he (Kennerdell) did anything as bold or as entirely absurd as, immediately after the running of the Beverly Hills 250, making a complete alteration of the AAA national points standings and the Championship points earned by each driver. The contention that Kennerdell did so is totally untrue and is supported by no evidence whatsoever. Nor was there any controversy in late 1920 or early 1921, about who was the 1920 AAA National Driving Champion. Everyone knew it was the deceased Gaston Chevrolet. Chevrolet’s point total of 1,030 going into the Beverly Hills event had not been surpassed by the competing pilots, including Tommy Milton.”61
Printz then questions how the tale that Russo relates never found its way into the press. After all, Printz reasons, certainly the arbitrary changing of which events counted towards the championship and the points standings would have drawn the attention of the promoters, teams, and the drivers involved. There is also the rather inconvenient fact that the standings of the national championship entering the final round at Beverly Hills were printed in the race program – as well in the Los Angeles Times in September.62
Printz then turns his attention to Arthur Means, the secretary of the Contest Board in 1920, second only to the chairman, Kennerdell. Printz suggests that Means could have had differences of opinion with Kennerdell, one of them being the 1920 season, which had several events which could have easily been included in the championship, the two Uniontown events and the Fresno event being the obvious choices.
The arrival at the Contest Board of a new chairman, Eddie Rickenbacker,63 and a new executive secretary, Val Haresnape, may have provided Means a way to re-look or re-examine the 1920 season. Haresnape wanted information regarding past seasons of A.A.A. racing and Means, as secretary, would provide that information. Printz suggests that recordkeeping at the Contest Board, especially under Kennerdell, was somewhat lax and haphazard. Although Printz states that, “no annual statistics of any real import seem to have been tabulated or kept,” this turns out to not be the case.64 However, whatever the case may have been, Means used whatever records were at his disposal and provided Haresnape with a listing of national champions dating to 1909, the year that the A.A.A. Contest Board began operating under the Motor Contest Association.
As Printz suggests, the work that Means conducted was riddled with arithmetic errors and the selection of events for inclusion in a season’s championship often arbitrary and confusing. Printz adds, “The fact that the drivers did not, in all cases, get the full total points to which they were entitled was to bother and haunt one later researcher to his dying day.”65 The person being referred to is, of course, Russ Catlin.
What is clear is that until Means, apparently in the November 1926 timeframe, revised and recalculated the 1920 season standings, that any claim for Milton as the 1920 national championship did not exist. While the claim for Milton as the 1920 national champion proved to be short-lived, Chevrolet was restored to his rightful place in 1929, the work conducted by Means was to create a problem later on when Catlin discovered it about 1950.
In the second part of his rebuttal, Printz opens with this volley:
Let’s focus on the most credulous racing historian America ever produced, indeed the greatest mythologer of them all, Russ Catlin. Catlin added to the mythology, gave it its canonical status and form and furthered the erroneous story of the 1920 championship. Why, Catlin’s contributions are still gospel today. Even the 1986 CART Media Guide has succumbed to it over the more correct 1985 CART Media Guide.66
Here is what Printz suggests as the role that Catlin played in the mythology that he helped create:
About 1950, Catlin came across the Val Haresnape-Arthur Means 1909-1915 and 1917-1920 point charts in the Contest Board files. What a find! Here were the original point standings for all the earliest seasons of AAA National Championship racing and none of it had ever been published. Why, this priceless and precious data could be the nucleus around which a detailed narrative of AAA racing 1909 to 1920 could be based.
II was here, though, that Catlin made a tragic mistake, a quick conclusion that would haunt him for the remainder of his life (about 34 more years). Despite the obvious fact that all these 1909-1915 and 1917-1920 charts were in the same handwriting, on exactly the same kind of ledger paper and of the same exact format (obviously all put together at one time, in one place by the same person), Catlin jumped to the unsupported and unwarranted conclusion that the information had been concurrent and contemporary with the season involved. That is to say, the 1909 chart had been put together in 1909, the 1915 reckoning had been made in 1915, the 1919 table had been compiled in 1919, etc.
Catlin died still firmly and fervently believing the recorded data and figures were contemporaneous with each year. Catlin never knew or realized that Means, back in 1926-27, had hastily assembled the charts using rather dubious methods and materials. Never was an opinion more erroneous or more incorrect than Catlin's guess.67
Printz then adds this regarding the 1920 national championship:
It was therefore entirely natural for Catlin to further assume, when he came across Means' 1920 reckoning (actually put together in November 1926), that it dated from (you guessed it) 1920! Tommy Milton, according to this old and mysterious 1920 points chart, was the 1920 AAA National Champion with 2,095 points based on 11 events; it was not Gaston Chevrolet, who, in five races, had collected 1,030 points. So how could one solve this great mystery and the great paradox of where this 11-race compilation came from? Catlin worked on the problem and in his accustomed manner eventually arrived at the false solution that Richard Kennerdell, well known for his eccentric behavior, must have somehow overturned and wholly overthrown the original (and correct) schedule for the '20 AAA Championship season.
The thesis Bob Russo presents is not his own but rather that of Russ Catlin. It was first presented, as far as I know, in Automobile Quarterly (Vol. 20, No.4, 1982, pages 408-413) in a Catlin-penned article entitled, "54 Bittersweet Years of the AAA Contest Board."68
What probably happened is this: Catlin, at first, knew only about the five genuine 1920 Championship contests and then came across Means' 1920 11•race Championship schedule in the AAA archives. That there had existed other Indy Car-type races in 1920 was a revelation to Catlin. He investigated and discovered that, indeed, these other events had been actually held and were no myth. Catlin then jumped to the wrong conclusion that somebody had both subtracted and eliminated them from the original 11-race 1920 Championship schedule.
Quickly checking a late 1920 newspaper or motor journal, Catlin further discovered that, indeed, Gaston Chevrolet was killed on Nov. 25, 1920, and crowned the 1920 AAA National Driving Champion on the basis of just five contests. Catlin later checked the L.A. newspapers, misread them in haste, and came up with the conclusion that the L.A. papers wished to make the 1920 Indianapolis 500 victor a martyred "champion." And Kennerdell, a weak personality, went along with the suggestion. That six races might have been added later to the genuine five-event 1920 Championship listing (as was actually the case) never entered Catlin's mind.
Then Catlin got the AAA in 1951 to rectify the grave injustice that Chairman Kennerdell had done to Milton in late 1920 and that year (I951) the AAA Contest Board apparently made Milton the 1920 AAA National Champion instead of Gaston Chevrolet, the true and rightful titlist. It was not a case of correcting an injustice, as Catlin thought and believed, but rather an example of one overly self-righteous and inept man changing an official AAA record because he simply did not know what he was doing.
No, it was not Kennerdell who messed up the 1920 statistics by altering them. He is completely innocent. The true culprit here was Catlin himself.
Catlin, in his vain attempt to find at least one contemporary allusion to the "big bungle", quotes Eddie Edenburn in the Detroit News (Dec. 5,1920, Part IV, page 1) to this effect: "What disposition will be made of the title will be decided in New York this week at a meeting of the AAA Contest Board, called by Chairman Richard Kennerdell, who has returned from Los Angeles, where he attended the season's last event." But here again, as with Means' memo, Catlin completely misinterprets and misreads his source. Edenburn is not making an enigmatic reference as to whom is to be the 1920 AAA titlist (Chevrolet or Milton?), but is only alluding to the provisions, as yet totally unsettled, as to the "disposition" of the AAA Driving Title in the upcoming 1921 season.
No one could have been too happy. The AAA National Driving Championship had just been revived in 1920and contested for the first time since 1916 (its only previous year). And, too, the just newly-crowned 1920 Champion, Gaston Chevrolet, was dead. It is in this context that the quotation was made.69
And, then concludes with this:
The Kennerdell swindle of late 1920 was Catlin's greatest tall tale, no doubt about it. Russo now has told it again in a very superb form and it certainly deserved to be published, but as American folklore, not as history.
But apart from the specific debate itself about what actually took place in 1920, is to find truth. Everyone, even CART (CART Media Guide, 1986, page 216) accepts Milton as being the 1920 AAA National Driving Champion. This should be a clear warning that mythology can be, and is, being created right under our very noses, even in these literate times. "Perspective" Indy Car Racing called Russo's article. Perspective it certainly is, but a totally false one. The experts, who are supposed to know, are sometimes the dumbest ones of all.
Russo takes credit (although his solution is really that of Catlin) for solving an historical problem that has vexed racing experts for 60 years and he concludes triumphantly that he has straightened out the confusion. May I now venture to assert with all the conviction I can muster that Russo is still totally confused and has solved no mysteries?70
At this point, after the publication of the article, Printz essentially disappears from the scene for a number of years, leaving behind a somewhat bewildered group of fledgling automobile racing historians. However, Printz had provided the azimuth for others to follow. Although it was a slow and often frustrating process, others started to finally to tackle the problems that Means, Haresnape, Catlin, and Russo had created.
Although there are still those who cling to the fictions, the mythology, that Catlin created and which is still found in books and magazines – and on the internet, of course – despite the pioneering work of John Glenn Printz and Ken McMaken and the others assisted them, such as James O’Keefe, the tide seems to be finally turning against mythology and the struggle for the past is slowly turning in the favor of those fighting for the establishment of the truth.
That automobile racing historians and scholars can now access information that was once very difficult to impossible to obtain, information that was located only in university or private libraries often far from where they lived has been a major factor in this struggle. That one can now access the January 1921 issue of MoToR magazine and read a contemporary account of the 1921 season71 makes it difficult to those clinging to the Caitlin mythology to continue to do so, although there are those who seem capable of rationalizing even that which is demonstratively false.
Let us return to Printz for a moment:
The nonsense about Catlin making George Robertson the 1909 AAA National Champion, instead of Bert Dingley, was another example of exactly the same thing. Catlin, in both his ignorance and his folly, never knew why Dingley was considered to be the 1909 champion of American motor racing. Again, all Catlin knew was that the 1909 chart he had found in the AAA archive, awarded the most Championship points to Robertson. Catlin was quite proud of this change.
Actually, the reason why Dingley was considered to be the 1909 U.S. Driving Champion was because Motor Age, then the leading American automotive journal, had nominated him as such (Motor Age, Nov. 25, 1909, page 3). It was tentative to be sure, but he definitely got the nod back in the pre-1916 era when no AAA Driving Title existed, either officially or unofficially. The whole idea of an annual U.S. Driving Champion started with Motor Age, whose staff during the years 1909 to 1915, used to nominate drivers on its own. Means' 1909 reckoning, created in 1926-27, had only a remote relationship to the Motor Age selections. Catlin, however, never knew about the Motor Age selections of 1909 to 1915.72
This brings us back to a point that is often overlooked or even ignored, that is there is still not something which can be considered “The History of AAA National Championship Racing,” certainly not in book form. While there are a few resources in printed form, usually media guides, that contain race data and statistical information on A.A.A. national championship racing, as well as that for later championship series created by sanctioning bodies that followed, the United States Auto Club (USAC) – including the Gold Crown Champion, Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART), the Indy Racing League (IRL) and IndyCar Series (ICS), the Champ Car World Series (CCWS), and even the short-lived Championship Racing League (CRL) of 1980.
There are a number of sites on the internet, of course, with this information, but just as many of the sources in print are incorrect, it is not different for the information in cyber form. Indeed, one of the pioneering efforts73 in providing national championship box scores is still found on the internet, even though its early A.A.A. national championship data conforms to that of the now discredited Catlin mythological retroactive national championships. That Phil Harms continued to accept the existence and even the legitimacy of those championships was always something of a mystery, considering that he accepted that there was validity in what Printz had presented in refuting the existence of those championships.
That there is the lack of even a “record book” remotely similar in form and content – to say nothing of the quality of content – to what the Formula One Register created in its A Record of Grand Prix and Voiturette Racing volumes speaks very loudly as to where the study of American national championship racing is at the moment. Unless there is some radical change in the direction of the publishing houses, it is unlikely the box scores of national championship races that were created by Ken McMaken will ever see the light of day. Ken Wallen has provided valuable additions to the bookshelves of automobile racing historians with books on the board tracks and their era, as well as books covering the National Championship Trail in the Fifties and Sixties.
It must also be pointed out that just as there is not a replacement for the late Al Bochroch’s book on the history of American automobile racing,75 nor anything that quite approaches it despite the many shortcomings of the original.
It is very rare for an individual to turn a niche in history topsy-turvy, but that is exactly what John Glenn Printz has done. By approaching the subject as a historian, by asking questions and doing the hard grunt work of poring through the many pages of material to find just those relative few, those pearls in the library oyster, which help to begin connecting the dots and following them where they led and not where he wanted them to go, Printz opened the eyes of many to the fact that what they had long thought of as history was, in actuality, nothing more than an elaborate mythology.
Rules of the Game / La règle du jeu
The “rules of the game” of automobile racing are too often merely glanced at and rarely given any more thought than necessary by Enthusiasts. The rules and regulations of automobile racing are an interesting field of study all on their own. Here are several sets of “rules of the game” reflecting different types of contests in the first years of automotive competition.
1896: New York
An early example of the contest rules for an event on Decoration Day, a “motor carriage contest” sponsored by Cosmopolitan magazine through the street of New York City. The rules were published in the April issue of The Horseless Age.75
Regulations for the Cosmopolitan Motor Carriage Contest, May 30, 1896.
Gen. Nelson A. Miles, U. S. Army; Brig.-Gen. Wm. P. Craighill, Chief of Engineers, U. S. A ; H. Walter Webb, Vice-President New York Central Railway, John Jacob Astor, Esq.
The route will be from the New York office of the Cosmopolitan magazine, on City Hall Park, to the Cosmopolitan Building at Irvington and return.
III .— ENTRIES.
All carriages must be entered at the New York office of the Cosmopolitan not later than 9 o'clock on the morning of the 30th of May. IV.—START AND POSITION.
Carriages must be in City Hall Park, ready to take the position assigned by the marshal, not later than 9.30 a, m. Those who have made entries on or before 6 p. m. of May 28 will be assigned numbers by lot, which numbers will indicate position in line.
V.—DISCRETION OF JUDGES.
First: The judges shall have power, should the weather be unusually severe, to postpone the contest to the following day.
Second: The prize or prizes shall be awarded at the will of the judges.
Third: The judges shall have power to determine what for the purposes of this contest shall constitute a horseless carriage, and exclude from the contest any vehicle which does not seem to come properly under that term.
VI.—NUMBER OF PASSENGERS.
Each carriage must carry at least one passenger in addition to the driver. This passen-ger may be selected by the judges.
VII.—ROUTE, SPEED AND STOPS.
First: The horseless carriages shall move from City Hall Park as soon after 9.30 a. m. as the order shall be given by the judges. Second: They shall take position according to number, those entering after numbers have been allotted being assigned at the rear of the procession by the marshal.
Third: The procession shall move up Broadway to Twenty-third Street, and thence along Fifth Avenue to the Fifty-ninth Street entrance to Central Park, at the rate of 2 1/2 miles per hour.
Fourth: At the entrance to the Park the contest for speed will be begun and continued through the Park over the route indicated to Lenox Avenue, and thence through 125th Street to Washington Bridge, where carriages will be timed and stopped. Upon the arrival of the judges they will again be started, following the route along the country roadway through Riverdale, Yonkers, Hastings, Dobbs Ferry, to the Ardsley Country Club, at Irvington.
Fifth: The judges will take a special car at Washington Bridge, extended by courtesy of Vice-President Webb, and proceed by the Hudson River Railway to the Ardsley Country Club at Irvington.
As the carriages pass the gates of the Park they will be timed again at Washington Bridge and again at the Country Club. Upon their return trip they will be timed at the Fifty-ninth Street entrance of the Park, and from that point they will proceed at 2 1/2 miles per hour to the New York office of the Cosmopolitan magazine.
When the carriages have reached the Country Club at Irvington they will be inspected and tested under the direction of the judges.
The “race” itself was held as scheduled on Decoration Day. There were six participants in the event:
No. 1. Duryea wagon, driven by J. Frank Duryea, with David Walker as umpire.
No. 2. Duryea wagon, driven by Chas. E. Duryea. with E. P. Ingersoll as umpire.
No. 3. Duryea wagon, driven by E. B. Meekins, with Joseph Sachs as umpire.
No. 4. Duryea wagon, driven by Henry Wells, with Mr. Dennison as umpire.
No. 5. Roger wagon, driven by T. W. Brander, with H. Mueller, Jr., as umpire.
No. 6. Dr. Booth's wagon, driven by W. Lee Crouch, with Mr. Braun as umpire.
The Duryea wagon of the Duryea Motor Wagon Company which won the Thanksgiving “race” in Chicago was present, but exhibited and not used in the race. All four of the Duryea wagons were new 1896 models. The Roger wagon was produced by the Roger American Mechanical Carriage Company. The Booth wagon was that of Dr. Carlos C. Booth, of Youngstown, Ohio.
Only three of the wagons reached the Ardsley Country Club as planned, the No. 1 and No. 2 Duryea wagons and the Rogers wagon. Duryea wagon No. 4 had a collision with a bicyclist at 125th Street, the rider being slightly injured and the bicycle damaged. The cyclist made a complaint against the driver of the No. 4 wagon and Wells was arrested and the wagon taken to a nearby livery stable, effectively removing this entry from the competition. At 175th Street, the No. 3 Duryea wagon sprang a leak and was delayed while repairs were made. In addition to these dramas, the Rogers wagon had struck a pedestrian at 23rd Street, but neither seemed to suffer any damage.
The driveway to the Ardsley Country Club was covered with unrolled broken stone, which the wagons were not capable of negotiating. The Booth wagon lagged behind from the beginning of the event due to mechanical problems. The return to City Hall was filled with trials and tribulations for the wagons, only the No. 1 wagon arriving at City Hall with relatively few problems. The No. 2 Duryea was delayed by a heavy rain shower and placed under a shed for about half an hour, finally arriving about ninety minutes after the No. 1 wagon. The No. 3 wagon lost a wheel while traveling though Yonkers, the wagon crashing with the passengers being thrown out, but without suffering injuries, the wagon now being out of the race. The Rogers wagon, suffering from a number of mechanical problems, did not reach City Hall until the next morning, having spent the night undergoing repairs at Dobbs’ Ferry. The Booth wagon finally reached Yonkers, but the combination of mechanical ills and bad “gasolene” caused Crouch to finally abandon the event.76
The prize money for the event, $3,000, offered by the editor of Cosmopolitan magazine, John Brisben Walker, was awarded to the Duryea Motor Wagon Company.77
1896: Rhode Island State Fair, Narragansett Trotting Park, Cranston
Here are the rules of what must be consider the prototype for the modern racing event, the “Providence Race” which was probably the first true automobile racing event in the United States, if not the world. The familiar elements are there: the massed start of all the entrants, the closed circuit – a horse racing track in this case, and the bickering and squabbling among those involved. The rules are as printed as a letter to editor in the July issue of The Horseless Age.78
To the Inventors, Makers and Owners of Motor Carriages.
DEAR SIR :—Given herewith are the official rules and conditions adopted by the Rhode Island State Fair Association for the governance of its race and exhibition of motor or horseless carriages, to be held at its 76th annual fair, Sept. 7, 3, 9, 10, 11, 1896.
These rules are the result of long and careful consideration of the project, and are, we trust, sufficiently comprehensive of the best interests of the motor carriage and equitable in opportunity to all possible contestants.
We hope that the responsive interest of the inventors, makers and owners of these vehicles will be such as to afford a practical and satisfactory demonstration of the present status and prospects of the motor carriage and your personal co-operation with us as a visitor, contestant or exhibitor is earnestly desired.
Trusting that you will give us to the best of your ability your support in our race and exhibition, we remain,
Truly yours, RHODE ISLAND STATE PAIR ASSOCIATION.
AVM. HANRAHAN, Assistant Secretary.
Official Rules of the Rhode Island Race and Exhibition.
25-MILE RACE. $5,000.00 DIVIDED.
Entrance fee $100 per carriage, payable August 10. No conditional entries accepted.
The race to be five (5) heats, of rive (5) miles each day of the Fair, Sept. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 1896.
Ten (10) carriages to enter and five (5) to start, or no race.
Vehicles must be able to show a rate of speed equal to 15 miles an hour to compete in the race.
Vehicles must carry one person in addition to the driver. (Weight carried must be 165 pounds.)
Only vehicles propelled by other than animal power allowed to compete.
Vehicles not limited in number, but no one owner can enter more than one carriage and start in the race. If the starters number 10 or more, for reasons of safety, the carriages may be divided into classes and started in two or more divisions.
Division of the race purse will be in the following proportion to the winners of the race, 50, 25, 15 and 10 per cent, of $3,000.00; 1st, $1,500.to ; 2d, $750.00 : 3d, $450.00 ; 4th, 9306.00.
To the vehicle winning the greatest number out of five heats 1st money, etc., etc., but all vehicles must stay in throughout the five heats.
Distance waived, but those vehicles which do not cover the course with an average speed of 15 miles an hour will be disqualified.
Each vehicle will be required to carry its number in large figures ; other printed matter not permitted.
Contestants will be required to conform to such rules and regulations as may be made by the association, particularly in regard to their position on the track. All legal responsibility is thrown upon the contestants, the association declining to assume any whatsoever.
In case that less than five carriages shall respond to the call of the starting judge the race shall be declared off, and to those answering the call and who are ready with their vehicles, their entrance fees paid in shall be refunded. With 10 or more entries received the association will open in addition to the speed contest, prizes to be competed for as an exhibition, judging to be made on points of manageability, etc., etc., for $2,000 divided as follows:
First prize, $1,000 and the association's gold medal and diploma.
Second prize, $500 and the association's silver medal and diploma.
Third prize, $300 and the association's bronze medal and diploma.
Fourth prize, S200 and the association's diploma.
In the exhibitive competition the following percentage scale of points shall be made the basis of awards:
Speed 40 per cent. Cost 10 per cent.
Control 20 " " Maintenance.. 5 " "
Simplicity. . . . 10 " " Appearance... 10 " "
Vehicles may compete, if desired, in both racing and exhibition.
Entries will close Aug. 10, 1896. Entry blanks will be furnished on application.
RHODE ISLAND STATE FAIR ASSOCIATION.
What is interesting is that there was no report on the race carried in The Horseless Age.
The following contest rules are taken from the 18 June 1902 issue of The Horseless Age79 for The Chicago Automobile Club's One-Hundred Mile Endurance Contest to be held on 12 July 1902. This information was issued by the Chicago Automobile Club when it announced the contest. The event would be held on Saturday, 12 July 1902 and would be a one hundred-mile non-stop endurance contest, the sort of typical event that many of the automobile clubs held at this time. The endurance run would begin at the clubhouse of the Chicago Automobile Club at 243 Michigan avenue, then run north to Waukegan, then over the Des Plaines River road and returning south over the Sheridan road to the clubhouse without stopping. The road would be marked by red arrows placed along the route by the club. The stated object of the contest was reliability and endurance, "not speed,"
The editorial comments are those of the Horseless Age editor who abridged the contest rules in the original publication.
RULES AND REGULATIONS (ABRIDGED).
I. It will be assumed that every contestant is acquainted with the rules of the contest, and by entering therein he agrees to abide by said rules. The entry of a vehicle implies an agreement that he will abide in detail by these rules and regulations, and that the decision of the committee shall be final, and further, that the committees shall be the sole judges as to the interpretation of these rules and their decision shall be final and executory.
I I . — L I M I T TO NUMBER OF VEHICLES.
The contest will be open to all classes of self-propelled vehicles made in the United States or abroad, so constructed that at least two passengers are carried, seated side by side; but no manufacturer, agent or private owner shall be allowed to enter more than three vehicles in any one class. Entry blanks will be forwarded by the secretary upon request.
The time for receiving entries will expire at 6 p. m., July 7, 1902; but an extended time limit entry may be had until 12 m.. on Wednesday, July 9, by paying an additional entrance fee of $5. All entries must be accompanied by the following information in full: Weight of vehicle, including fuel, supplies and equipment; water capacity; gasoline capacity; name of manufacturer; place of manufacture; make and size of tires; number of passengers the vehicle is 10 carry; motor power; rated horse power of the motor; number of cylinders, bore and number of revolutions at normal speed. For electric vehicles, weight of battery, number of cells and ampere hour capacity,
The entrance fee will be $10 for each vehicle, which shall accompany the application for entry. The entrance fee for the extended time limit will be $15, which shall be paid to the secretary at the time the application is made. It is understood that each person making an entry agrees that in the event that the vehicle is disqualified or fails to take part in the contest, the entrance fee shall be retained by the club. It is further agreed that the club shall have the right to refuse an entry, without stating any reason.
Vehicles shall be classified as follows:
Class A. Gasoline vehicles to complete the 100-mile course without a stop.
Class B. Steam vehicles will be divided into two sections, as follows:
SECTION I. Steam vehicles to complete the 100 miles without stopping.
SECTION II. Steam vehicles to complete the 100-mile course with four stops. The first to be at Wheeling; the second to be at Libertyville; the third to be at Waukegan; the fourth to be at Highland Park (or any place where it is necessary for steam vehicles of this class to add water or gasoline), where gasoline and water may be taken on board the vehicle, and also lubricated but not adjusted or repaired in any way while it is standing still.
Class C. Electric vehicles will be divided into three sections, as follows:
SECTION I. Electric vehicles to complete the 100-mile course without stopping.
SECTION II. Electric vehicles to complete the 100-mile course with one stop at Waukegan, where batteries may be replaced, but the vehicle not adjusted or repaired in any way while it is standing still.
SECTION III. It is understood that entrants of electric vehicles shall provide their own batteries and have same at above designated points with attendants to place same in car.
[Not clear; evidently there are only two sections for electrics.—ED.]
(o) Every vehicle shall carry an official observer, who will be provided by the club. The official observers who serve at the club's solicitation shall have preference over those who volunteer their services. Assignment of observers will be made by the committee on Saturday morning, July 12, and it will be the intention of the committee to assign observers to cars controlled by motive power with which they are most familiar, that is at the observer's request: if he desires to be assigned to a steam car the committee will act accordingly; so with electric and gasoline cars. It must be distinctly understood that the official observers in each car must occupy the seat with the driver.
[•Here follow the duties of observers, which are the same as in the 100-mile contest of the A. C. A.— ED.]
There will be no restraint as to the operators of vehicles, but no change of operators will be permitted after the start is made. The club will provide luncheon for the operators and the official observers and also drinking water.
Vehicles shall carry at least two passengers, one of which shall be the official observer appointed by the club. The official observer must sit beside the operator.
[Same rules as in the Long Island contest.— ED.]
(a) An average speed of 8 miles per hour (exclusive of involuntary stops mentioned in Rule IX) must be maintained over the whole course to render a vehicle eligible for a certificate, twelve and one half hours being required in which to cover the entire course.
(b) The maximum speed limit shall be I5 miles per hour and the minimum speed limit shall be 8 miles per hour.
(c) To prevent excessive speed, vehicles shall not be permitted to arrive at and pass the control points before the expiration of the time set forth in the following schedule, and to better enable the drivers to keep the car within the speed limits, the 100-mile course will be divided into six controls, at a distance of 15 miles apart. Between each control, at 5 and 10 miles respectively, will appear a white banner. The control point itself will be designated by a red banner. With this system it will enable the observer as well as the driver to control the speed, so as not to pass the control points sooner than the specified time. Itinerary worked out for these controls will be as follows: Starting from the clubhouse the time for the first control shall be 1 hour 15 minutes; from the first control to the second control, 1 hour; from the second control to the third control, 1 hour; from the third control to the fourth control, 1 hour; from the fourth control to the fifth control, 1 hour; from the fifth control to the sixth control, 1 hour, and from the sixth control to the finish, which will be only 10 miles, 1 hour, making a total of 7 hours 15 minutes for the entire course, which time must not be exceeded by any car. In case of a speed more than this, or in case of a car finishing before this specified time, by such act it disqualifies itself.
(d) Detours to avoid arriving at the control point before time will be counted as stops.
[The usual road rules.— ED.]
[The system worked out by the Long Island Club will be used.— ED.]
The operator of each vehicle shall be provided with two official numbers, which shall be placed conspicuously on the car, one in front and one on the rear. Each official observer will be provided with a distinct badge bearing a corresponding number, which must be worn on the left sleeve. Numbers on the car and on the observer must be conspicuous at all times and must not be covered up or removed at any time under penalty of disqualification.
XIV.—STARTING OF CONTEST.
All the steam and gasoline vehicles entered for the contest must report not later than 7:30 a. m. on Saturday morning, July 12, at clubhouse, 243 Michigan avenue, where the gasoline and water tanks will be examined by the different representatives and any shortage replaced, so that all such tanks shall have their full capacity at the time of starting. The vehicles will then line up on Michigan avenue, No. I car taking its place at the starting point on the east side of the avenue, No. 2 next, and so on, each car must occupy a consecutive place extending south on Michigan avenue. A suitable numbered place will be marked on the avenue for each car, so that as soon as a car reports it can at once and without delay proceed to its allotted place on the avenue, and must face north. The start will be made at 9 a. m. sharp.
XV.—GASOLINE AND WATER CONSUMPTION.
Every vehicle driven by an explosive motor will have its water tank and gasoline tank filled at the time of the start. On the return of such vehicles at the finish in Chicago, the gasoline tank will be refilled and the amount of gasoline required for such purpose accurately measured and recorded. Every vehicle driven by steam shall at the start have the gasoline and water tank filled full. (Section II.—Steam vehicles.) At Wheeling the water and gasoline tank will be filled full and a record kept of same; same at Libertyville, same at Waukegan and same at Highland Park. On finishing the run at Chicago the water and gasoline tanks will again be filled full and a record kept of the same. This governs steam vehicles of any class.
(b) SECTION II. The club will furnish the necessary gasoline and water required .to fill tanks at the points above mentioned, and will have a corps of assistants to quickly do the filling so that no unnecessary time will be lost to the driver. By this method an accurate record will be kept and the amount of gasoline used by vehicles driven by an explosive engine and the amount of gasoline used by vehicles driven by steam.
Any one desiring to enter a protest must deposit with the committee $10 and same will be returned by the club if the protest is not sustained. He must submit his protest in writing before 11 p. m. of the day of the contest, when it will be considered by the committees at the earliest possible moment and decision rendered.
XVII.—FINISHING OF THE CONTEST.
As soon as a car has crossed the tape at the finish it shall immediately proceed to the marked place which it occupied at the start on Michigan avenue and remain until dismissed by the committee. No attention whatever shall be given the car after returning to its designated place. This rule is absolute and will be enforced.
Savannah: March 1908
Here are the rules for the three events that the Savannah Automobile Club held on 18 and 19 March 1908, the major event being for the Savannah Challenge Trophy.
These events are known as Stock Chassis Speed Endurance Contests, open to standard stock car chassis equipped with racing bodies. Conditions governing are as follows:
1.—Stock Chassis: To permit of entry under these rules the chassis shall be a standard chassis for the car in the class In which It Is entered. Chassis to be eligible shall be so constructed and complete that, without any changes whatsoever. It can, by adding the necessary parts, be assembled into a complete car of its kind. Said car shall be subject to sale at the list price, and orders for any number of exact duplicates shall be accepted at Its list price.
2.—Eligibility: Cars eligible for entry must be the product of a recognized motor car manufacturer, who, during the period of one year prior to February 1. 1908, shall have built not less than fifty cars of all models, of which not less than 10 per cent, shall have been manufactured of any model entered, and details of construction must conform to those of the regular stock chassis of the same model or models.
3.—Stripping: The chassis may be stripped of lamps, lamp brackets, mud guards, guard Irons, running board, Irons and steps, but must carry the regular stock hood. The loss of the hood during the race shall have the effect of disqualifying the car.
4.—Examination: Every car entered In these contests shall be subject to a detailed examination by a committee of three members of the Technical Board of the American Automobile Association, for the purpose of seeing that no evasions of these rules have been attempted. This examination shall be at headquarters on the course not later than three days prior to starting in a contest, and If It Is found that evasions have been made or attempted, the car shall be disqualified and shall not be allowed to start. There shall be no appeal from the decision of the committee, and entry fee shall be forfeited, and manufacturer and driver shall be barred from future events for such period as the Racing Board may decide.
5.—Regular Equipment: Location of engine, transmission, and dash, and location and capacity of gasoline tank and oiler shall be as per regular equipment.
6.—Steering Column: Location and angle of steering wheel shall be standard, using standard steering column, gear wheel, and all steering connections.
7.—Tires: Kind of tires to be used are optional with the entrant, except diameter of wheels, which shall be standard.
8.—Speed Qualifications: Any car to qualify for entry under these rules must show that It is able to make one mile over a substantially straight measured course, under official observation, at the rate of 45 miles per hour. A car may run in either direction on this measured mile. Each entrant Is to be given ample opportunity to qualify, but must do so In not to exceed four trials. The officials mentioned In Article 4 are to decide whether the car Is eligible for entry or not. Entry fee Is to be forfeited In case the car falls to qualify In this trial.
9.—Tread: The tread of cars In any contest held under these rules will be that regularly employed as standard by the manufacturer entering the car.
10.—Exhaust: Cars shall have a horizontal exhaust pointing backwards and having its rear end sufficiently high to prevent throwing up dust. Should the entrant elect to direct the exhaust through the side of the hood, he Is to be given this option.
11.—Weight: No limit.
12.—Shock Absorbers: The entrant has privilege of using same.
13.—Ratio of Gear: No restriction.
14.—Change of Driver: The driver or mechanician (or both) of a car may be changed, If necessary, during the contest.
15.—Repairs and Adjustments: All repairs and adjustments, including tire replacements, are to be made on running time, and by the occupants of the car.
16.—Extra Parts: No extra parts are to be carried on cars, except tires.
17.—Supplies: Gasoline, oil. and water are to be provided by each contestant, the location of whose replenishing station or stations will be designated by the Race Committee, or subject to Its approval. Filling of gasoline and oil tanks by outside help will be permissible.
19.—Event No. 1.—No car shall be entered which has a greater maximum piston displacement than 575 cubic Inches. Distance of this race shall be 20 laps of the 18-mile course, or approximately 360 miles. The entry fee shall be $500 for one car and $250 for an additional car nominated by the same entrant. Any manufacturer may enter two cars.
20.—Event No. 2.—No car shall be entered which has a greater maximum piston displacement than 375 cubic inches. Distance of this race shall be 15 circuits of the 10-mile course. The entry fee shall be $100. and each manufacturer may enter two cars.
21.—Event No. 3.—Open to cars with a greater maximum piston displacement than 575 cubic Inches. Distance of this race shall be 15 circuits of the 10-mile course. The entry fee shall be $100. And each manufacturer may enter two cars.
22.—Date for Closing of Entries: March 1. 1908.
23.—Right to Reject: The committee reserves the right to reject without assigning a reason.
24.—Protests: Any protest must be made in writing to the referee and accompanied by a fee of $50. which will be returned if the protest is sustained. Such protest. If for violation of rules during the race, must be made within 12 hours of the alleged violation. Protest regarding an entry must be made not later than 24 hours before the start of the race.
25.—Manufacturer's Sanction: No entry shall be accepted In the name of any other than the bona fide manufacturer of the car without the written sanction of the manufacturer thereof, and his statement acknowledging familiarity with the conditions governing the contest and his assumption of all responsibility for failure on the part of the entrant or his representative to fully comply with the said rules.
26.—A. A. A. Racing Rules: Except as hereinbefore specified, the races will be governed by the regular rules of the Racing Board of the American Automobile Association.80
A Digest of the 1910 A.A.A. Contest Rules81
The early February 1910, Contest Board of the American Automobile Association (A.A.A.), with the approval of the Board of Directors of the A.A.A. and the Manufacturers' Contest Association (M.C.A.), announced a number of amendments to the Contest Rules for the 1910 season. What follows is a digest of the Contest Rules that went into effect that season, many of the changes reflecting the relationship of the A.A.A. Contest Board with the M.C.A., the 1910 season being the first full year that the two organizations would be working together.
The changes to the Contest Rules were considered of significant enough interest that several of the leading automotive journals of the day, The Automobile, Motor Age, and The Horseless Age, all gave the amendments extensive coverage. The definition of “stock car” being more narrowly defined was one of the major points of the changes. The minimum number of cars produced necessary for eligibility in 1909, twenty-five, was now changed to reflect the total number of that model produced.
Stock Car — "A motor car, the complete description of which, upon the official blank provided for the purpose, has been filed with the main office of the Technical Committee of the Contest Board a t least 30 days prior to the date of the contest entered, the quantity production of which bears to the total yearly production of Its manufacturer the ratio set forth in the following table, and which is on sale through the regular selling representatives of the manufacturer."
Official blanks for stock car description may be obtained from the chairman of the Contest Board. 437 Fifth avenue. New York City.
Computation in connection with the following table shall be based upon a period of time from July 1 to June 30 the following year.
In computing the annual output of a manufacturer, no account shall be taken of his production of taxicabs, delivery wagons or other vehicles designed for commercial use.
At the discretion of the Contest Board any competitor may be required to file a bond of $5,000 that the entry made by him is a bona fide stock car within the meaning of this definition:
|Total Output.||Percentage.||Number of Same Model.|
|10,000 or more||4.5% equaling||450 minimum|
|8,000 to 9,999||5.0% equaling||400 minimum|
|6,000 to 7,999||6.0% equaling||300 minimum|
|4,000 to 5,999||7.0% equaling||280 minimum|
|2,000 to 3,999||8.0% equaling||160 minimum|
|1,000 to 1,999||9.0% equaling||90 minimum|
|500 to 999||10.0% equaling||50 minimum|
|250 to 499||16.0% equaling||40 minimum|
|100 to 249||30.0% equaling||30 minimum|
|50 to 99||50.0% equaling||25 minimum|
Explanation — Percentages are calculated on actual total output. For example: If the total annual output of a manufacturer Is 2,500 cars , at least 8 per cent, of said output, or 200 cars, must be of the same model in order to constitute such model a stock ear under this definition. The required percentage of output shall in every case be in accordance with the above table and in no event shall it be fewer than 25 cars.
Promoters would be provided with a listing of the cars approved by the Contest Board as well as the technical specifications.
Different bodywork, e.g., touring car, tonneau, runabout, on the same chassis did not constitute a new model. Tops, windshields, and extra tires could be removed, but the car had to be otherwise as offered for sale to the public.
Stripped Stock Chassis – “A motor car chassis which, except for the options listed below, can, by adding the necessary parts, be assembled into a complete stock car.”
The options permitted:
Change of steering post angle.
Length and angle of change-gear, brake and other control levers.
Change of driving gear ratio, wheel diameters excepted.
Length of clutch, brake, accelerator and other pedals.
Tire and rim equipment.
Style of dash (see dash requirements), seat and body equipment.
Form, volume and location of fuel and oil tanks – system employed in either case must remain unchanged.
Exhaust header and exhaust pipe (except as directed in Rule 69).
Use of shock absorbers.
Winding of springs.
Dash Requirements – The only alteration permissible in the dash of a stripped stock chassis is that its contour may be made to conform to that of the bonnet; no perforations in the dash will be permitted; standard stock car dash equipment must be carried.
Lubrication – Where a reserve oil supply is provided, a pipe connection with hand-pump may be employed to transfer lubricant to the standard oil receptacle regularly supplied by the manufacturer with the car, but in no instance will it be permitted to connect a reserve oil supply directly to the parts to be lubricated unless such connection may be standard lubrication under the stock definition.
Additional Parts to Chassis – Dash, seat, body, tank or other permissible equipment shall be of substantial and safe construction within the approval of the technical committee of the contest board.
Rule 69. Motor Exhaust – The exhaust must he conducted outside of the bonnet and so directed as not to raise dust.
Rule 70. Loss of Bonnet — The bonnet must be carried throughout a contest. If the bonnet becomes detached or lost from a car, the driver shall be required to bring his car to a stop in the shortest possible distance consistent with safety and remain at a standstill until the bonnet has been recovered and replaced.
In a road race he shall not pass the judge's stand until the bonnet has been so recovered and replaced.
In contests on tracks and speedways, a bonnet lost in one lap may be recovered in the next succeeding lap.
Bona Fide Status of Stock Car — It is the intention of the rules relating to stock car and stock chassis competitions that such competitions shall be restricted to those cars Identical in specification, material and design with the manufacturer's product which Is manufactured in quantity and is offered for sale and sold in a bona fide manner to the public through the regular selling agencies of the manufacturer.
Evasion of Stock Car Definition — In the event of evasion on the part of entrants of the spirit of the stock car or stock chassis definition concerning points not definitely stated In these rules, the Contest Board shall have full power to render such decision as it may deem for the welfare of the sport and Industry.
Technical Committee — In any case where it may be necessary to establish the status of any car alleged to be a stock car under the definition contained in these rules, the Technical Committee of the Contest Board shall have the right to visit the factory of the manufacturer of such car, who shall be required to submit to the committee such evidence as It may require to verify the allegation on which the stock status of the car is based.
The Technical Committee shall also have power to take possession of any competing car at the finish of its competition in any contest and make such examination thereof as may be necessary to establish its stock status.
Class A. Price Classification — The numbering of the divisions in this class has been reversed, division 1A being made the lowest priced cars and seven divisions are provided In this class. Instead of six as heretofore:
Class A – Open to any gasoline motor car other than motor cars with solid tires, wheels 36 inches in diameter and over, which complies win the definition stock car, this class to be run in the following divisions:
Division 1A $800 and under
Division 2A $801 to $1,200
Division 3A $1,201 to $1,600
Division 4A $1,601 to $2,000
Division 5A $2,001 to $3,000
Division 6A $3,001 to $4,000
Division 7A $4,000 and over
Extra or optional equipment, listed In the manufacturer's catalog as such, used upon a car competing under price classification, must have its list price added to the list price of the ear. and this total price shall determine the classification of the car. No extra equipment shall be permitted other than that listed as such In the manufacturer's catalog.
No car shall compete in any class above that to which its price entitles it
Class B. Piston Displacement and Minimum Weight Stock Cars — The numbering of the divisions in this class has been reversed, division 1B being made the smallest piston displacement, 160 cubic inches and under, and a sixth division has been added for the larger cars. It should also be noted that in this piston displacement class it is intended that cars should compete at their normal minimum chassis weights, the adding or attaching of any dead weight to the car as ballast to enable it to compete in any other division than that to which Its normal chassis weights entitle it, being prohibited.
To meet this prohibition against ballast, the minimum chassis weights have been reduced 100 pounds in each of the six divisions.
Class B – Open to any chassis of a gasoline car which is in accordance with the definition of a stock chassis; to be governed by the following table of piston displacement and minimum chassis weights
|Piston displacement||Minimum weight|
|Division.||in cubic Inches.||in pounds.|
|1B||160 and under||1,100|
|2B||161 to 230||1,400|
|3B||231 to 300||1,700|
|4B||301 to 450||2,000|
|5B||451 to 600||2,300|
|6B||601 to 750||2,500|
No car shall compete In any class above that to which Its weight entitles it.
No dead weight of any description shall be added to a car or attached thereto in any manner as ballast.
Class C. Piston Displacement Without Minimum Weight Restrictions or Stock Car Qualifications — This class has been added to afford an opportunity for competition between motors of approximately equal size, six divisions being provided according to piston displacement but without stock car qualification or minimum weight restrictions.
This class might be considered the experimental or development class.
Class C — Open to any gasoline car or chassis made by a factory which has during the 12 months prior to the date of contest produced at least 50 motor cars, not necessarily of the same model.
Eligible for entry under the piston displacement limitations of class B, but without minimum weight restrictions.
|Division.||in cubic inches.|
|1C||160 and under|
|2C||161 to 230|
|3C||231 to 300|
|4C||301 to 450|
|5C||451 to 600|
|6C||601 to 750|
No car shall compete in any class above that to which its piston displacement entitles It.
The other classes are amended as follows:
Class D — Open to any gasoline car which complies with the definition of a motor car without restriction as to piston displacement, weight, price or quantity produced. There may not he more than two events under class D upon a day's program without special permission of the Contest Board.
Class E — Special events other than those above specified held in connection with any motor car meet or contest, and approved by the Contest Beard of which there may not be more than three upon a day's program without special permission of the Contest Board.
Class F — Open to gasoline stock cars of the high-wheeled, solid-tired buggy type, diameter of wheels 36 Inches or over. Entries subject to price limitations of class A. There may not be more than two events under class F upon a day's program without special permission of the Contest Board.
Class G — Open to electric stock cars only. Subject to the price limitations of class A.
Class H — Open to commercial cars, cabs and trucks. Division limitations to he obtained from the Contest Board.
Match Races — Matches may be held as contests of any kind covered by any of these rules and may be run under any of the classes or divisions.
GENERAL AND SPECIAL RULES
The contest rules have been rearranged and classified into: (a) General rules applicable to all contests, and (b) special rules for each of the various forms of contests as follows: Special rules for road races. Special rules for track races. Special rules for long distance track and 24-hour track races. Special rules for hill-climbs. Special rules for reliability contests and tours.
First — Provisions have been made (or the appointment by the Contest Board of the referee for every contest, from a selected list of men of undoubted standing, familiarity with and ability to administer the contest rules, located in very locality where contests will be held and known to the promoting clubs and associations in those localities.
Second — To the further end of establishing and maintaining the strict compliance of all entrants with the stock car requirements of the rules, a technical committee is provided, of which the associate member of the A. A. A. Technical Committee in the district where the contest is held, shall be chairman, together with such other technical members as the promoter may appoint, to technically inspect all cars offered for competition and to prevent the entrance of other than bona fide stock cars.
Third — The third element to complete the organization of the Contest Board is found in the official representative of the board previously provided for, who will be in attendance at every contest to co-operate with the referee and the Technical Committee in the strict enforcement of all the Contest Board rules.
Entries — The promoter Is prohibited, under pain of disqualification, from advertising the proposed competition of any entrant in a contest until his entry has been actually made. The promoter is also required to secure a signed entry blank and entry fee from a proposed entrant, in order to bring such entrant within the jurisdiction of the Contest Board's discipline in case of his failure to appear.
Supplementary Regulations — In order that the governmental functions and supervision of the Contest Board may extend to every form of contest, a promoter desiring to make regulations for some particular form of contest not included in the published rules of the Contest Board, may do so upon submitting such supplementary regulations to and receiving the approval of the Contest Board.
Certified Trials — To put the stamp of authenticity upon any special form of road trial or test of an individual motor car or accessory, the maker, owner, agent or dealer may secure from the Contest Board an official sanction for such trial, which will be carried on under the supervision of a representative of the Contest Board under the general rules and the special rules of the board in such case provided.
Advertising — To prevent the holding of contests which could not, In any way. redound to the benefit of the sport and industry, the following rule has been adopted, "Any owner, manufacturer, dealer, agent or driver taking part in or directly connected with any contest otherwise than under these rules, and obtaining extensive advertising therefrom, shall be deemed to be guilty of a breach of these rules."
Records — To prevent the indiscriminate advertising and improper comparison or performances or alleged records, all claims for records must be made to the Contest Board within 10 days of their accomplishment and no record shall be advertised until accepted and allowed by the Contest Board. The board may reject any claim which in its opinion would not promote the best Interests of the sport.
No claim for a record at a distance under 1 mile and up to 5 miles will be allowed unless taken with a recording automatic timing device and the actual recorded evidence submitted.
Provision Is made for a register if records to be kept by the Contest Board.
Racing Drivers' Register — All racing drivers are required to register with the Contest Board and receive a registration card, such registration expiring on December 31 of each year. A detailed record of each driver's participation in contests throughout the year will be kept. Drivers are required to exhibit their registration cards to the referee on demand at any meeting.
An unregistered driver may not compete in any sanctioned event.
This was the first year that drivers were required to have registration card issued by the Contest Board in order to participate in events sanctioned by the A.A.A. Contest Board.
Amateur Definition — The definition of an amateur is amended by adding an additional restriction so that "no one who is actively engaged in the motor car or accessory industry" may compete as an amateur.
Amateur Drivers' Register — For the protection of the amateur driver and to afford bona fide amateur competition, an amateur drivers' register has been established, requiring annual registration with the issuance of a registration card by the Contest Board.
An unregistered amateur may not compete in sanctioned events.
Amateur Entries – An amateur shall neither enter for nor drive in any contest a car which is the property of any person or corporation actively engaged in the motor- car or accessory Industry,
Powers of Referee — For the safety of all concerned, the referee's powers have been broadened, as follows:
He shall prohibit any driver- or mechanic from entering or continuing in any contest who, in his opinion, is physically unfit.
He shall have the right to stop a race before its scheduled termination if emergency demand such action, and In such a case no award shall be made.
He may order the postponement of an event for any reason which, in his judgment, after consultation with the promoter and representative of the Contest Board, may be valid.
At his request, a driver or mechanic must furnish a physician's certificate as to his physical and optical fitness to enter a race, or may he required to submit to a test to determine such fitness.
The following provision has also been added to the duties of the referee:
"The referee may disqualify any driver, mechanic, entrant or entrant's representative who shows discourtesy toward any official."
Delivery of Prizes – In the event of a protest, or an appeal to the Contest Board from the decision of the referee, no prizes shall be delivered until an official decision is rendered.
Promoter's Liability — Promoters are required to use every precaution in the proper preparation of the track or course and the proper safeguarding of same during practice or the running of a contest, and shall he held responsible for any accidents resulting from their negligence in these matters.
Unadulterated Fuel Supply – Stringent regulations are provided for the testing of contestants gasoline and to insure the use of a standard and unadulterated fuel supply. Disqualification of the owner, entrant, driver and car, or all of them, is the penalty.
SPECIAL RULES FOR ROAD RACES
The protection of the public and of the contestants being the paramount consideration in the running of a road race, the following rules have been adopted:
Permits to Use Road — Before official sanction will be granted for a road race, hill-climb or speed trial, or any other competition on the public highway, a promoter shall first obtain the properly authorized permission of any and all local authorities for the use of such highway and shall file the original or a certified copy of such permission with the Contest Board.
Safeguarding Public and Contestants – A promoter must also furnish evidence satisfactory of the contest board that he has taken every possible precaution to safeguard the general public and the contestants, including the proper preparation of the roadway, and especially for the prevention of dust, the policing of the course, closing of the highways, and erecting fences where needed, and shall file with the contest board the original or a certified copy of any and all contracts and agreements made or entered into by him for the accomplishment of such safeguards.
Repairs and Adjustments – All mechanical repairs and adjustments must be made exclusively by the crew of a car.
Repair Pits and Attendants – There shall be located at the start and finish line one repair pit for each car started, not less than 15 feet long and 8 feet wide. Each contestant shall be entitled to have three attendants, two of whom shall be permitted to make replacement of gasoline, oil and water and replacement or replenishment of tires, or crank the motor, when the contestant’s car is at a standstill at its pit, but all attendants shall in no case make any mechanical repairs or adjustments to the car or assist in any manner in such repairs and adjustments.
Spare parts, tools, etc., may be laid on the shelf or ledge in front of the pit, and pit attendants, while in the pit, but not otherwise, may hand same to the driver or mechanic.
A violation of this rule shall disqualify the car.
Fraud – Any attempt at fraud in the evasion of the definition of stock car and stock chassis and status of the car, on the part of an entrant, shall disqualify the car, the driver and the entrant.
In addition to the foregoing, there is provided a complete set of rules for the running of a road race, including weighing in and weighing out requirements; signal code for contestants; International road symbols for marking the course; road regulations; special duties of officials, etc.
SPECIAL RULES FOR TRACK RACES
Tracks are divided into three classes, viz.:
One-half mile, 1 mile, 2 miles or over, specially constructed speedways.
Tracks Must Be Licensed – Tracks will be inspected by a representative of the contest board and if arrangement of fences, buildings, ditches, provision for laying the dust and other safeguards meet the requirements of the contest board, they will be licensed, such licenses expiring on December 31 of each year.
Licenses will not be issued to tracks which from the nature of their surfaces or turns, whether on account of dust, roughness, fencing or otherwise, may be considered dangerous.
Track Meeting Limited to 3 Days – No sanction will be granted for a track contest of more than 3 days’ duration.
One-Half Mile Track – No record will be allowed which is made on a track less than 1 mile in length.
Driving Reverse Way of Track – Any contestant who drives the reverse way of a track shall be immediately disqualified, suspended and reported to the contest board. The referee has no alternative in this regards.
LONG-DISTANCE RACE RULES
Change of Drivers – No driver shall be permitted to drive or have charge of a car for more than 3 consecutive hours. After the expiration of such 3-hour period he shall not again be permitted to drive until he has taken at least 1 hour’s rest. No 24-hour race shall be permitted in a ½-mile track.
Repairs and Replacements – Repairs and replacements are restricted to the part or parts actually damaged. No complete essembled unit, such as rear construction, transmission gear case, motor, clutch, etc., can be totally replaced unless damaged in all its parts. When one or more parts of an assembled unit are damaged, such damaged parts only may be replaced.
Other rules added are:
Adequate code of signals to contestants.
Restriction of repairs and adjustments to a car on the track to those which can be made by the driver and mechanic and only such as will enable the car to run to the pit or paddock.
In the case of total disability on the track, a car may be towed to the pit or paddock by a car approved by the referee.
Technical inspection during a race of any car which may be considered unsafe.
Stopping and restarting of race not to be announced in advance.
No work to be allowed on a car during any intermission.
SPECIAL RULES FOR HILL-CLIMBS
Provisions previously cited to permits to use the public roads and evidence of safeguarding public and contestants must be complied with before sanction will be issued.
Length and Grade – The promoter must file with the contest board 10 days before the running of hill climbing contest a surveyor’s certificate of the length of the hill to be climbed and a profile showing the greatest percentage of grade at any point and the average grade for the total distance. These figures must be stated in the entry blank.
Calendar for Proposed A.A.A. Events 191082
Here is a listing of the proposed calendar of events being considered by the A.A.A. Contest Board in early 1910.
Philadelphia, Century Motor Club, -- .
Philadelphia, Quaker City Motor Club, April 15.
Denver to Mexico — Flag to Flag — G. A. Wahlgreen, May 1.
Hartford, Auto. Club of Hartford, May 1.
Harrisburg, Motor Club of Harrisburg, May 2 to 7.
Norristown, Norristown Auto Club, May 18.
Fort Worth, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, May 22.
Detroit, Detroit Auto Dealers' Association, May 25.
National (Glidden) Tour, A. A. A., June 15-30.
Denver, Denver Motor Club, June.
New York to Seattle, M. R. Guggenheim, July 4.
Philadelphia to Wildwood, North Wildwood Auto Club, July 2.
Minneapolis-Tribune, Minneapolis Auto Club, August 1.
Munsey Tour, Frank A. Munsey Company, August 15.
Minneapolis, Minnesota State Auto Association, August 31.
Philadelphia to Wildwood, North Wildwood Auto Club, September 3.
Cleveland, Cleveland Auto Club, September.
Kansas City, Auto Club of Kansas City, September.
Louisville, Louisville Auto Club, October 8.
Chicago, Chicago Motor Club, October 15.
Denver, Denver Motor Club, October.
Worcester, Worcester Auto Club, October.
Denver, Denver Motor Club, May 30.
Riverhead, Motor Contest Association, June 1.
Cobe, Chicago Auto Club, June 25.
Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Auto Club, middle July.
Denver, Denver Motor Club, September 5.
Lowell, Lowell Auto Club, September 5.
Vanderbilt, Motor Cups Holding Company, October 1.
Fairmount Park, Quaker City Motor Club, October 8.
Savannah, Savannah Auto Club, -- .
Atlanta, Atlanta Journal, February 22.
Kansas City, Auto Club of Kansas City, April.
Bridgeport, Auto Club of Bridgeport, May 30.
Wilkes-Barre, Wilkes-Barre Auto Club, June 11.
Worcester, Worcester Auto Club, June 4.
Cleveland, Cleveland Auto Club, June.
Ossining, Upper Westchester Auto Club, June 18.
Plainfield, Plainfield Auto Club, July 11.
Richfield, Richfield Springs Auto Club, middle July.
Algonquin-Chicago, Chicago Motor Club, middle August.
Denver, Denver Motor Club, November.
Minneapolis, Minneapolis Auto Club, -- .
St. Paul, Auto Club of St. Paul, -- .
New Orleans, New Orleans Auto Club, February 5 and 6.
Montgomery (Ala.) Auto Association, February 12 or April 30.
Birmingham, Birmingham Police Relief Association, April 27.
Atlanta, Atlanta Auto Association, May 5, 6 and 7.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway, May 29, 30 and 31.
Boston, Bay State Auto Association, May 30.
Brighton Beach, Motor Racing Association, May 30.
Philadelphia, Quaker City Motor Club, June 4.
Columbus, Columbus Auto Club, June 14.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway, July 1, 2 and 4.
Dallas, Dallas Auto Club, July 4.
Cheyenne (Wyo.) Motor Club, July 4.
St. Paul (Minn.) State Automobile Association, July 4.
Wildwood, Motor Club of Wildwood, July 4.
Wildwood, North Wildwood Auto Club, July 4.
Wildwood, North Wildwood Auto Club, August 6.
Cheyenne (Wyo.) Motor Club, August 17.
Cheyenne (Wyo.) Motor Club, September 5.
Wildwood, Motor Club of Wildwood, September 5.
Wildwood, North Wildwood Auto Club, September 5.
Galveston, Galveston Cotton Carnival, July.
Kansas City, Auto Club of Kansas City, July 23.
Philadelphia, Quaker City Motor Club, August 6.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway, August 12 and 13.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway, September 2, 3 and 5.
Minneapolis State Fair, Auto Clubs of Minneapolis and St. Paul, September 5 and 10.
Providence, Rhode Island Motor Club, September 9 and 10.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway, October 7 and 8.
Dallas, Dallas Auto Club, October 25.
Atlanta, Atlanta Auto Association, November 15.
New Orleans, New Orleans Auto Club, November 5. and 6.
San Antonio, San Antonio Auto Club, November 6, 9, 13.
Santa Rosa, May 9.
Portland Rose Carnival, Portland Auto Club, June 11.
Santa Monica, Licensed Motor Car Dealers' Association of Los Angeles, July 4.
Mt. Baldy, September 10.
San Francisco-Portola, Auto Club of California, October 23.
Los Angeles-Phoenix, Maricopa Auto Club, November 24.
Altadena, Licensed Motor Car Dealers' Association, Los Angeles, February 22.
Mile High Hill Climb, Redlands Mile High Hill Climb Association, November 24.
Los Angeles (Cal.) Motor Racing Association, January 9.
Los Angeles (Cal.) Motor Racing Association, February 12, 13.
Los Angeles (Cal.) Motor Racing Association, March 12, 13.
Los Angeles (Cal.) Motordrome Company, April 8, 9, 10.
Los Angeles (Cal.) Motordrome Company, April 13.
Los Angeles (Cal.) Motordrome Company, April 15, 16, 17.
Los Angeles Cal.) Motordrome Company, twenty-four hour, April 30, May 1.
Santa Rosa, Santa Rosa Auto Association, May 15 (16).
Los Angeles (Cal.) Motordrome Company, May 29, 30, 31.
Los Angeles (Cal.) Motordrome Company, July 2, 3, 4.
Los Angeles (Cal.) Motordrome Company, Labor Day.
Seattle, M. R. Guggenheim, September 10, 11 and 12.
Spokane, Spokane Interstate Fair, —.
Circuit Case History:
Giant’s Despair Hill Climb, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, 190983
The 1909 running of the Giant’s Despair Hill Climb was held on 31 May, a Monday, Decoration Day falling on a Sunday that year. The event was organized by the Wilkes-Barre Automobile Club under a sanction issued by and using the rules of the Contest Board of the American Automobile Club. The 1909 event was the fourth running of the hill climb.
The course itself was only a bit over one mile (5,700 feet or 1.08 miles) long, but very steep, having an elevation change of approximately 666 feet. The course was divided into roughly three sections, the first being a straight of 1,750 feet to the Devil’s Elbow, the grade beginning at eleven percent and rising to fifteen percent at one point. The next section extended from Devil’s Elbow to the grandstand, a distance of 2,000 feet, featuring several challenging – dangerous – corners, including the esses at Mountain Lodge followed by the curve at the grandstand. The final section is a straight from the grandstand to the finish line, the grade being as high as 22 percent before dropping to ten percent 200 feet from the finish. The course record, set in 1908, was 1 min 41 2/5 sec.
The course was in fine shape, the weather warm and dry. Twelve events were originally scheduled, but a thirteenth event, an invitational free-for-all, was added by the organizing club at the last minute. A major problem with the event was the lack of crowd control, several incidents that could have resulted in serious injuries or even death somehow being avoid. Although the exact numbers for the crowd were never established, the estimate of more fifty thousand may not be far from the truth.
The first event began at approximately 9:40 a.m., the starter, Fred Wagner, waving off the first car to attempt to set a time on the hill.
Event 1 / Open to gasoline stock cars selling for $850 or less.
Two cars entered, but the Mitchell scratched.
2 min 38 1/5 sec / Maxwell, Maxwell-Briscoe Company, William Sickenger, Ajax tires
Event 2 / Open to gasoline stock cars selling from $851 to and including $1,250.
A walkover for Chevrolet there being no other entries in the event.
2 min 34 2/5 sec / Buick, Buick Motor Company, Louis Chevrolet, Michelin tires
Event 3 / Open to gasoline stock cars selling from $1,251 to and including $2,000.
Chevrolet tangled with the fencing at the grandstand and crashed.
2 min 11 4/5 sec / Oakland, Oakland Motor Car Company, Howard Bauer, Dunlop tires
Did not complete run / Buick, Buick Motor Company, Louis Chevrolet
Event 4 / Hollenback Trophy, Open to gasoline stock cars selling from $2,001 to and including $3,000.
This was the first event to see fast times begin to be set on the course.
1 min 57 3/5 sec / Knox, Knox Automobile Company, Fred Belcher, Fisk tires
2 min 00 sec / Matheson, Matheson Automobile Company, Charles L. Basle
2 min 03 3/5 sec / Stoddard-Dayton, Dayton Motor Car Company, Carl Wright
2 min 04 4/5 sec / Matheson, Matheson Automobile Company, Charles L. Basle
2 min 11 1/5 sec / National, National Motor Vehicle Company, John Aitken
2 min 33 sec / Knox, Robert Johnson, Robert Johnson
Event 5 / Open to gasoline stock cars selling from $3,001 to and including $4,000.
This was the first appearance of the Stoddard in the East.
1 min 50 1/5 sec / Stoddard-Dayton, Dayton Motor Car Company, Bert Miller, Michelin tires
2 min 10 1/5 sec / American Roadster, L.G. Vogel, Willie Haupt
Event 6 / Open to four-cylinder gasoline stock cars selling for $4,000 or over.
The American Traveler entered for the event scratched resulting in a walkover.
1 min 48 3/5 sec / Simplex, Simplex Automobile Company, Wm. Watson, Michelin tires
Event 7 / Open to six-cylinder gasoline stock cars selling for $3,000 or over.
Two late entries meant that this event was held.
1 min 48 sec / National, National Motor Vehicle Company, Charles C. Merz, Michelin tires
2 min 04 1/5 sec / Oldsmobile, Olds Motor Works, Tom Berger
Event 8 / Free for all; open to cars of all types and motive power.
This was the main event of the day. The Benz of Bruce Brown broke the existing record, 1 min 38 2/5 sec, but Larzalere, a last minute replacement for Len Zengle only two days prior to the event, could not match the speed of the Benz. Zengle had broken the bones in his right hand and was unable to drive, which meant that Bruce Brown did not have quite the opposition he had expected. In addition, the timing apparatus failed in the first run of the Fiat of De Palma, requiring a second run during which he had a tire burst. De Palma was given a third attempt, but came up short of the time set by the Chadwick.
1 min 31 3/5 sec / Benz, Jesse Froelick, David Bruce Brown, Michelin tires
1 min 36 sec / Chadwick, Lee S. Chadwick, H.B. Larzalere
1 min 36 3/5 sec / Fiat, Fiat Automobile Company, Ralph De Palma
1 min 38 sec / Knox, Knox Automobile Company, Albert Dennison
1 min 45 sec / National, National Motor Vehicle Company, Charles C. Merz
1 min 46 2/5 sec / Stoddard-Dayton, Dayton Motor Car Company, Miller
1 min 47 2/5 sec / Simplex, Simplex Automobile Company, Wm. Watson
3 min 03 sec / Babcock Electric, Lewis G. Vogel, Fred Peck
Event 9 / Open to gasoline stock chassis with piston displacement of 451 cubic inches and not to exceed 600. Minimum weight of car 2,400 pounds.
1 min 40 4/5 sec / Knox, Knox Automobile Company, Albert Dennison, Fisk tires
1 min 47 3/5 sec / National, National Motor Vehicle Company, Charles C. Merz
1 min 48 sec / Stoddard-Dayton, Dayton Motor Car Company, Bert Miller
Event 10 / Open to gasoline stock chassis with piston displacement of 301 cubic inches and not to exceed 450. Minimum weight of car 2,100 pounds.
2 min 01 sec / Stoddard-Dayton, Dayton Motor Car Company, Carl Wright, Goodrich tires
2 min 03 4/5 sec / National, National Motor Vehicle Company, John Aitken
2 min 11 sec / Matheson, Matheson Automobile Company, Charles L. Basle
2 min 18 sec / Knox, Knox Automobile Company, Fred Belcher
2 min 23 4/5 sec / Knox, Robert Johnson, Robert Johnson
Event 11 / Open to cars owned by members of the Quaker City Motor Club only.
1 min 40 1/5 sec / Knox, Knox Automobile Company, A.L. Dennison, Fisk tires
2 min 02 3/5 sec / Oldsmobile, W.T. Taylor, Tom Berger
2 min 07 3/5 sec / American Roadster, L.G. Vogel, Willie Haupt
2 min 26 1/5 sec / Knox, Knox Automobile Company, Fred Belcher
Event 12 / Open to cars owned by members of the Wilkes-Barre Automobile Club only.
2 min 21 sec / Knox, Robert Johnson, Robert Johnson, Firestone tires
2 min 26 sec / Oldsmobile, Wm. S. Lee, Edward Hobblett
2 min 34 2/5 sec / Buick, C.D. Davis, Ed Wilkie
3 min 18 sec / Regal, W.C. Moore, W.C. Moore
4 min 32 2/5 sec / Middleby, G.T. Van Kirk, E. Hume
Event 13 / Invitational Free-for-All
This was an unannounced addition to the event, with a purse of $150 to first and $50 to second. The tie between Dennison and De Palma was decided by a coin toss.
1 min 35 4/5 sec / Chadwick, Lee S. Chadwick, H.B. Larzalere, Michelin tires
1 min 40 1/5 sec / Knox, Knox Automobile Company, Albert Dennison
1 min 40 1/5 sec / Fiat, Fiat Automobile Company, Ralph De Palma
1 min 48 4/5 sec / National, National Motor Vehicle Company, Charles C. Merz
1 min 58 sec / Matheson, Matheson Automobile Company, Charles L. Basle
1 min 55 2/5 sec / Corbin, Corbin Motor Vehicle Company, J. Swan
In Volume 7 Number 2, the article on the 1946 A.A.A. national championship, the following was provided:
5 October / Winston-Salem, Forsythe County Fairgrounds, 10 miles
Hank Rogers or Tommy Hinnershitz
The winner was Tommy Hinnershitz in the No. 5 car entered by Ted Horn Enterprises according to the payout sheets. Why or how this error came about is something of a mystery, but somehow typical of the situation regarding that season.
- “It is practically impossible to kill a myth of this kind once it has become widespread and perhaps reprinted in other books all over the world.” As quoted in Richard J. Evans, Lying About Hitler: History, Holocaust, and the David Irving Trial, New York: Basic Books, 2001, p. 169. Jackets, a former RAF Squadron Leader, was the formerly Chief of the Air Ministry Historical Branch of the Ministry of Defence;
- My thanks to Garrison Keillor of A Prairie Home Companion for this analogy.
- This brief discussion is drawn primarily from Anna Green and Kathleen Troup, The Houses of History: A Critical Reader in Twentieth-Century History and Theory, New York: New York University Press, 1999. Other books that were used include: Marc Bloch, The Historians’ Craft, New York: Vintage Books, 1953; Edward Hallett Carr, What Is History?, New York: Vintage Books, 1961; Sam Wineburg, Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2001; Richard J. Evans, In Defense of History, New York: W.W. Norton, 1999; Barbara W. Tuchman, Practicing History: Selected Essays, Ballantine Books, 1982; David Hackett Fischer, Historians’ Fallacies, New York: Harper Perennial, 1970; John Lewis Gaddis, The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past, New York: Oxford University Press, 2002; David Glassberg, Sense of History: The Place of the Past in American Life, Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2001; Peter Novick, That Noble Dream: The “Objectivity Question” and the American Historical Profession, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988.
- Fernand Braudel, translated by Siân Reynolds, La Mediterranee et Le Monde Onde Mediterraneen a L'Epoque de Philippe II, 1949 and 1975.
- Lawrence S. Ritter, The Glory of Their Times: The Story of the Early Days of Baseball Told by the Men Who Played It, Macmillan, 1966.
- In his obituary written by Richard Goldstein in the issue of the New York Times which appeared on 17 February 2004, an interview with Ritter in 2002 had Ritter making this observation about the modern game: “I don’t like the players, I don’t like the umpires, I don’t like the owners. But I love the game.”
- Peter Manso, Vrooom!: Conversations with the Grand Prix champions, Funk & Wagnalls, 1969.
- Alan Schwarz, “Straightening the Record,” The New York Times, 6 March 2010.
- Roger Ebert, “The Plague of Movie Trivia,” Roger Ebert’s Journal, 30 August 2009.
- Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, and Howard Koch, screenplay, Casablanca, 1942.
- Alfred Neubauer and Harvey T. Rowe, translated by Stewart Thompson and Charles Meisl, Speed Was My Life, London: Barrie and Rockliff, 1960, pp. 44-48.
- Raffaello Guzman, RACI, No. 20, 14 May 1933.
- L'Auto Italiana, No. 14, 20 May 1933.
- William Boddy, The Lottery Grand Prix, What Really Happened at Tripoli in 1933? The Editor Poses Another Motor Racing Question,” Motor Sport, September 1969, pp. 970-971. William Boddy, The Lottery Grand Prix, What Really Happened at Tripoli in 1933? The Editor Poses Another Motor Racing Question,” Motor Sport, September 1969, pp. 970-971.
- In the October 1969 issue in letters to the editor, R. Baillie, R.L. Govett, and Paul Heggie provided responses to the original query. The November 1969 issue had letters from Johnny Lurani and J.F. Cohen after which Boddy then closed the correspondence regarding the race.
- Sources used include: Giovanni Canestrini, Uomini e Motori, Casa Editrice Nuova Massimo, Monza, 1957; Valerio Moretti, Grand Prix Tripoli 1925-1940, Automobilia, 1994, pp. 71-83, 192; Betty Sheldon, “The Race of Millions,” Paul Sheldon with Duncan Rabagliati, Volume 3: 1932 - 1936, A Record of Grand Prix and Voiturette Racing, Esholt, Shipley, West Yorkshire: St. Leonard’s Press, 1992, pp. 129-130; Valerio Moretti, translated by Angela Cherrett, When Nuvolari Raced, Veloce Publishing,1994, p. 168, the two articles on the 1933 Tripoli race. Great credit must be given to Alessandro Silva for his invaluable assistance and help with the translations. This is an article that no one in the magazine business seems to be interested in, written as a response to the several recent – at least at the time – articles on Tripoli. However, then along came Christopher Hilton and much of this was incorporated into his chapter on the Tripoli race, “Honour Among ‘Thieves’, Tripoli 1933,” Christopher Hilton, Nuvolari, Derby: Breedon Books, 2003. The chapter on the Tripoli race, is found on pages 75-87 and the notes for the chapter are on pp. 227-230.
- Mark Hughes, “The Great Grand Prix Swindle!”, Motor Sport, Volume LXXVI No. 1, January 2000, pp. 72-77.
- A term often used by historians for material that they feel falls short of the standards expected for accuracy in providing an account of an event.
- Robert Newman, “Tripoli!”, Vintage Racecar Journal & Market Report, Volume 4, Issue 7, July 2001, pp. 30-33, 46-48.
- Leif Snellman's The Golden Era of Grand Prix Racing
- Charles G. Proche, “The Grand Payola of Tripoli,” Sports Car Graphic, Volume 3 No. 10, February 1964, p. 45.
The first North African race, held in the mid-Twenties, had not much to offer in the way of prize money to the winner. Rumor had it that First Prize was "a very beautiful native girl," Second was "a very-beautiful native girl" and Third “a native girl." Things changed when port minded Marshal Italo Balbo became Governor of Lybia (sic). The Italian Government invested large sums of money to build an eight-mile circuit near Tripoli, which was perhaps the most lavish and certainly the fastest Course in the world. Situated among palm trees, it contained permanent pit, big covered grandstand and well kept lawn with flowers and water fountains. Although Balbo did not plan it that way, the Tripoli Grand Prix not only became known as the "Race of the Millions," but it also resulted in the greatest scandal in racing history. As a matter of fact, it nearly caused a lifetime suspension of the five best European drivers.
A local dentist' idea of staging a National Lottery in connection with this race was adopted and millions of lottery ticket, at a price of 11 lire, were being old all over Italy, the winner to collect seven-and-a-half million lire. Several weeks before the race a number of lottery tickets, corresponding with the total number of race entries, were to be drawn. Thus, if there were 30 drivers, 30 lucky winners were invited for an eight-day all-expense paid trip to Tripoli and the Grand Prix. Three days before the race, these 30 ticket holders were given, by drawing, the number of the car, each hoping that the car bearing his number, would win. In this way, the winning car would bring a fortune to one of the ticket holder .
There were 30 car on the starting grid in 1933. A Marshal Balbo dropped the starting flag, the Alfas of Nuvolari, Borzacchini and Campari took the lead, followed by Chiron, Fagioli and Sir Henry Birkin, with the favorite of the race, Achille Varzi, staying at the end of the pack. A few laps later, Campari took the lead ahead of Nuvolari, Varzi staying one minute behind. Then Campari retired with a supposedly malfunctioning engine. When Varzi's Bugatti, lying Third, began to mi fire and Nuvolari wax about to lap him, Borzacchini, in second place at the moment, inexplicably slowed down giving the definite impression that he was waiting for Varzi to catch him. The crowds were unhappy watching these "manoeuvres", especially when Borzacchini carelessly hit a drum near the edge of the course and retired -smiling - with a damaged wheel.
The real climax came at the end of the race, when Nuvolari, constantly looking over his shoulder, topped within sight of the finish line and indicated that hi tank was empty. Contrary to his normal reaction to such things, he didn't appear to be up et at all. His mechanics re-fuelled his Alfa, but by the time he finally got under way, Varzi had already taken the lead with his misfiring Bugatti, and finished a yard or so ahead of him. The race was obviously rigged. The Press demanded an explanation.
The enquiry revealed that the night before the race Varzi was approached in his hotel room by a man whose ticket carried the number of Varzi's car. He offered to give Varzi fifty percent of the Lottery Grand Prize money, if Varzi would win. Varzi accepted and immediately contacted his four most formidable opponents, who agreed to let him win in return for a share of the payola.
After much deliberation, the head of the Court of Enquiry accused Varzi, Nuvolari and Borzacchini directly, while Chiron and Campari were named a "suspects". But since the suggested cancellation of their licenses would have meant a complete collapse of the entire racing season, only a strong reprimand was issued. To avoid the repetition of such fraud in the future, the lottery tickets were to be drawn five minute before the Tripoli Grand Prix, when the drivers were already sitting in their cars.
- John Glenn Printz, “A Short History and A Complete Listing of All National Championship Races,” Gordon Kirby, editor, 1983 PPG Indy Car World Series Annual, Harrisburg, North Carolina: Griggs Publishing, 1983, p. 122.
- Paul Sheldon, Formula 1 Register Record Book 1966, Shipley, West Yorkshire: St. Leonards Press, 1990, p. 9.
- Since the appearance of the A.A.A. national championship race data developed by the late Phil Harms in 1999, his material has served as the source for countless other Web sites which deal in such information. Generally, the Harms data was simply reformatted and made available, being accepted at face value and without question.
- “Oldfield is Champion,” Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal, Volume X No. 5, 1 November 1905.
- John Glenn Printz, “The First 50 Years, The PPG Indy Car World Series 1981, Gordon Kirby, editor, Burlington: Competition Images, 1981, pp. 124-136; John Glenn Printz and Ken M. McMaken, “A Listing of Drivers With Five Championship Wins Or More 1909 to 1982 With Historical Commentary,” Official PPG Indy Car World Series Annual 1983, Gordon Kirby, editor, Harrisburg: Griggs Publishing, 1983, pp. 104-107, p. 124; John Glenn Printz, “Brief Comments – U.S. National Driving Title,” Official PPG Indy Car World Series Annual 1984, Gordon Kirby, editor, Harrisburg: Griggs Publishing, 1984, pp. 110-111; John Glenn Printz and Ken M. McMaken, “National Championship/ Indy Car Driver Standings 1909 to 1984,” CART News Media Guide 1985, Jan Shaffer, editor, n.p.: Championship Auto Racing Teams, 1985, pp. 228-292; John Glenn Printz, “A Second Look at the 1920 Season,” Indy Car Racing, Volume V No. 6, 15 January 1988, pp. 10-13;John Glenn Printz, “A Second Look at the 1920 Championship,” Indy Car Racing, Volume V No. 7, 29 January 1988, pp. 12-14. In addition, the following threads at The Nostalgia Forum on Autosport.com has information that Printz has posted which is relevant to this topic: “1946 AAA National Championship”; “American Racing 1894 to 1920”; “1905 Races”; “Bob Russo and the 1920 AAA Championship”; “American Racing: ‘The Golden Age’”; “Indianapolis ‘Junk Formula’”.
- Russ Catlin, “The History of the AAA National Championship Racing: Chapter 1, Robertson or Dingley? 1909,” Speed Age, Volume 8 No. 3, December 1954, pp. 39-46; “The History of the AAA National Championship Racing: Chapter 2, Ray Harroun – ‘The Bedouin,’ 1910,” Speed Age, Volume 8 No. 4, January 1955, pp. 35-42; “The History of the AAA National Championship Racing: Chapter 3, A Popular Champ – Ralph Mulford, 1911,” Speed Age, Volume 8 No. 5, February 1955, pp. 63-70; “The History of the AAA National Championship Racing: Chapter 4, De Palma vs. Tetzlaff, 1912,” Speed Age, Volume 8 No. 6, March 1955, pp. 33-44; “The History of the AAA National Championship Racing: Chapter 5, The Earl of Cooper Arrives, 1913,” Speed Age, Volume 8 No. 7, April 1955, pp. 33-44; “The History of the AAA National Championship Racing: Chapter 6, De Palma Wins Again, 1914,” Speed Age, Volume 8 No. 8, May 1955, pp. 33-44; “The History of the AAA National Championship Racing: Chapter 7, Cooper Takes His Second Crown, 1915,” Speed Age, Volume 8 No. 9, June 1955, pp. 43-58; “The History of the AAA National Championship Racing: Chapter 8, Dario Resta, the Conquering Invader, 1916,” Speed Age, Volume 8 No. 10, pp. 37-48; and, “The History of the AAA National Championship Racing: Chapter 9, The Coming of the War, 1917,” Speed Age, Volume 8 No. 11, pp. 37-48.
- Val Haresnape, “Special Bulletin on Champion Drivers,” Official Bulletin Contest Board of the American Automobile Association, Volume IV No. 6, 8 February 1929, pp. 1-2.
- “Another Speed Age First!” Speed Age, Volume 8 No. 2, November 1954, p. 27.
- John Glenn Printz, “Brief Comments – U.S. National Driving Title,” Official PPG Indy Car World Series Annual 1984, Gordon Kirby, editor, Harrisburg: Griggs Publishing, 1984, p. 111; John Glenn Printz and Ken M. McMaken, “National Championship/ Indy Car Driver Standings 1909 to 1984,” CART News Media Guide 1985, Jan Shaffer, editor, n.p.: Championship Auto Racing Teams, 1985, p. 266.
- Jerome Shaw, “The Racing Champions of 1915,” The Horseless Age, 15 October 1915, pp. 345-358; “Cooper and Stutz Are the Champions of 1915 Racing Season,” Syracuse Herald, 24 October 1915, p. 13 C.G. Sinsabaugh, “Road Honors to Cooper & Stutz,” MoToR, pp. 48-49, 102; “Cooper Best Driver,” New York Times, 12 December 1915, p. S3; “Who Is Champion Speedway Driver?”, Syracuse Herald, 19 December 1915, p.16.
- Reed L. Parker, “West Saves Year in Motor Racing: De Palma is Road King,” Chicago Daily Tribune, 19 December 1912, p. C1.
- John Glenn Printz and Ken M. McMaken, “National Championship/ Indy Car Driver Standings 1909 to 1984,” CART News Media Guide 1985, Jan Shaffer, editor, n.p.: Championship Auto Racing Teams, 1985, pp. 228-230.
- “The Bob Russo/ Russ Catlin Collection” is now in the possession of Joe Freeman, of Boston, the owner of Racemaker Press. The collection is described this way: “Bob Russo and Russ Catlin were two of the best known racing writers and historians both before and after WW II, contributing articles and information to Speed Age, Automobile Quarterly, Open Wheel and numerous other publications. Their combined collection contains a large number of racing photographs, American racing statistics, correspondence, race programs and other materials.”
- Bob Russo, “The 1920 Championship,” Indy Car Racing, Volume IV No. 4, January 1987, pp. 43-45.
- Russo, “1920,” p. 43.
- The contemporary accounts note that Aitken did not receive points for his driver due to the precedence set earlier in the season when Eddie Rickenbacher took over as the relief driver the car started in the event by Pete Henderson. It was ruled at only those starting an event and those designated as relief drivers and not starting in a race would collect points. “Santa Monica’s Record Classics,” The Horseless Age, 1 December 1916, p. 387; “Peugeots Win Road Classics,” The Automobile, 23 November 1916, p. 872; “Wilcox-Aitken Car Winner,” The Automobile, 23 November 1916, pp. 872-873; “Wilcox-Aitken Capture the Grand Prize,” Motor West, 1 December 1916, p. 6. In addition, although the points awarded to the winner of the Ascot Park event should have been six hundred points, that being the number for an event of 150 miles, there were seven hundred points awarded based upon the distance it was increased to, two hundred miles, when it was thought that Resta and/or Aitken might participate.
- Russo, “1920,” p. 44.
- Russo, “1920,” p. 45.
- John Glenn Printz, “A Second Look at the 1920 Season,” Indy Car Racing, Volume V No. 6, 15 January 1988, pp. 10-13; and,John Glenn Printz, “A Second Look at the 1920 Championship,” Indy Car Racing, Volume V No. 7, 29 January 1988, pp. 12-14.
- Printz, ICR, 15 January, p. 10.
- Printz, ICR, 15 January, p. 11.
- Ibid; “Chevrolet Is Still Leader,” Los Angeles Times, 12 September 1920, p. VI 1.
- Formerly Rickenbacher.
- In the collection of the late Phil Harms there was this unexpected surprise: W. Harvey Traband, Jr. and T.B. Shoemaker, “1916 Automobile Contests Including All Official Records,” Issued by the Contest Board of the American Automobile Association, January 1917. Harms never provided any information as to the origin of this booklet or whether there were similar booklets covering other years in his collection, therefore, it is impossible at the moment to determine whether the 1916 booklet was an anomaly or there were a series of such booklets produced which are not available to researchers. It is entirely possible that these booklets and similar materials may also be found in the “Bob Russo/ Catlin Collection” that is in the possession of Joe Freeman.
- Printz, ICR, 15 January, p. 12.
- Printz, ICR, 29 January, p. 12.
- Printz, ICR, 29 January, p. 14.
- H.A. Tarantous, “Another Year of Racing,” MoToR, January 1921, pp. 62-63, 208, 214, 218.
- Printz, ICR, 29 January, p. 12.
- Albert Bochroch, American Automobile Racing: An Illustrated History, New York: Penguin Books, 1977.
- The Horseless Age, April 1896, pp. 30-31.
- “The ‘Cosmopolitan’ Race,” The Horseless Age, June 1896, pp. 12-13.
- “The Duryea Company Get the Prize,” The Horseless Age, July 1896, p. 12.
- The Horseless Age, July 1896, p. 16.
- “The Chicago Automobile Club's One-Hundred Mile Endurance Contest,” The Horseless Age, 18 June 1902, Vol. 9 No. 25, pp. 722-723.
- “Savannah’s Big Stock Car Road Races, March 18-19,” The Automobile, 23 January 1908, p. 103.
- “A.A.A. Racing Board Puts Forth Its Best Effort,” The Automobile, Volume XXII No. 9, 3 March 1910, pages 476-477; “Summary if New Contest Rules,” Motor Age, Volume XVII No. 8, 20 February 1910, pp. 22-24; “Amendments to 1910 A.A.A. Contest Rules,” The Horseless Age, Volume 25 No. 8, 23 February 1910, pp. 303-306.
- “A.A.A. Contest Schedule for 1910,” The Horseless Age, 2 February 1910, page 203.
- “Wilkesbarre Hill Climb,” Motor, May 1909, p. 66; “Records Go In Giant’s Despair Climb,” Motor Age, Volume XV No. 22, 3 June 1909, pp. 1-5, 13; “Wilkes-Barre Hill Climb,” The Horseless Age, 2 June 1909, p. 773; “Wilkesbarre Hill Climb,” Motor, July 1909, p. 68; “Wilkesbarre Hill Climb,” Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal, Volume 14 No. 1, July 1909, pp. 68-69.
- Motor Age, 3 June 1909, p. 14.