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#101 john glenn printz

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 20:25

THIRD LETTER (Page 4)

announced the Contest Board had called a halt to all sanctioned auto racing in support of the war effort. The plain fact was the Contest Board hadn't even met yet but Kennerdell took that as a directive and when his board did meet dropped the problem in their laps. He had already issued championship sanctions for 1917 (always, even when I was there such schedules were drawn a year ahead) and he asked the board for a directive. Clifford Ireland, a board member and at the time a Congressman, answered calling Kennerdell a weak-livered scoundrel for giving in to the Executive Committee plus many other points including the potential lawsuits it could bring in addition to driving promotors car owners into "outlaw" ranks. The board ordered Kennerdell to "stay the course."

Then when we did go to war Kennerdell, hoping to gain lost favor with the Executive committee did write President Wilson AAA was withdrawing from the sport but not until he had issued sanctions through 1919. The President replied, thanked him but DID NOT direct him to do so. As a result the championships ran as scheduled but Kennerdell dared not publicise the results, points or champions. That remained until Harsnape and 1924.

Aw, Ken, I even get mad now when I write about it. To deny Earl Cooper and such great drivers their recognition was simply a miscarriage of justice to me. I got in hot water -- a lot of times -- and I know Jim Lamb had little use for me because I opposed fining drivers for rule infractions but unless for downright cheating points earned by drivers on the field of battle should be retained. I finally took my argument to Pillsbury and I know I won when I pointed out the press could easily charge AAA with manipulating standings with this practice. I say I won, although I never heard, but from that time on never was aq driver fined a point. I will admit my ire came at the inability to balance point standings down through the years due to fines. Some reports and meetings did mention such fines and amounts but only a few. Today we researchers suffer.

Lately I have been reading between the lines in a lot of my experiences. Following the 1920 point fiasco there didn't seem to be further trouble with standings and points. I wondered about that and asked Ted Allen if someone other than the board office handled the points and his answer was evasive. I said I had the feeling Edenburn did it and, as best I remember, he said "Oh, Eddie was a member of the board and of course the board had to approve all points." When I was unpacking one of these old boxes I came across the carbon of a letter Ted had written to Edenburn when Ted was Secretary. The letter dealt with a race called at 85 miles (100-miler) for rain that had relief drivers. Ted pointed out that his (Eddie's) distribution of points was not covered by any of the written rules and to be prepared in case they got complaints.

Relief drivers were another bone of contention. Sometimes they were awarded points and other times not. There didn't seem to be a uniform method of application. Then, too, sometimes drivers used face masks to hide their identity and drove under other names.

Quite frankly, Ken, I don't think AAA CB ever stopped to realize, especially in the early days, that the sport would grow to be a major one and so records of events and history were badly, if ever handled. The big fight, then, was to make it legitimate and keep it out of the hands of the exhibitionists who claimed auto racing was simply entertainment and show business. The exceptions were Harsnape and Means and, of course, when they were secretaries the chairmen were the active heads so their voices carried little weight. I checked the backgrounds of both men but didn't get much on Means whom I believe was secretary twice but Harsnape was quite a story better untold. He was a brillant California engineer who worked for Pillsbury in the building of Beverly Hills (the city, not speedway) but was a perfectionist. A heavy drinker he died of a massive heart attack in 1929 but his work as CB secretary was unimpeachable. His handwriting was small, precise and compact and he kept a personal leger

(End of page 4)

Edited by john glenn printz, 02 January 2013 - 20:39.


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#102 john glenn printz

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 21:32

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book, loose-leaf in which were pasted insertions of race results, both AAA and world-wide events, non-AAA of importance, trivia such as deaths and circumstances and always dates. He included material from the 1800's up until his death and it was a veritable treasure trove of information. The pages were bound between wood covers on telescoped pine with a slide clasp, to open. This I found and kept from the AAA archives but it was so old the clasp had fused and I couldn't open it to copy pages on the Xerox. So, I took it to Al this spring in the hope they could get it open and copied but they wouldn't without ruining it so mailed it back. I never got it!

Oh, what a loss! The loss is to posterity as it was, at best, simply an exhibit for the museum as most of the important information, such as points and championship results were included in other material and worksheets. Much of this old material has been lost, filched or misplaced. 'tis a shame.

As I read over this, Ken, I realize I've been a bit hard on AAA unintentially. My purpose in this letter to you is to encourage your research, not discourage, but to give you background that will enable you to understand many of the puzzling aspects. When I found the AAA CB records (to and including 1949) I felt my work had been done by Harsnape, Means, and Allen so I concentrated on getting the answers to many of the puzzling aspects in the history. Certainly I had great help from Art Pillsbury, -- I spent a week each year at his home -- and he made it possible for me to meet and interview many principles in history. Of course I was very close to Milton -- even remembered in his will -- and Tommy read proof on everything I wrote and, believe me, he was a demanding critic. Ira Vail was another. A born millionaire he had a fetish for knowing where all the bones were buried and why. DePalma was a great confident and, in my opinion, the most gracious person of them all. Yet they survived in a very rough vocation and in a very rough time. There were no pussy cats among them.

The first day I started with AAA Norris Friel told me the day was in the future when AAA would drop the Contest Board. I soon found that was common knowledge and I must say the entire organization treated us like a poor relation. Actually I was an employee of the public relations department with the Contest Board as my assignment. All departments were jealous of the CB because the clipping service showed we drew more national publicity than all the other departments combined. We were simply accepted as part of the family but hardly loved.

Yet, AAA as an organization, I will say was the finest I ever experienced anywhere. All was first class in everything and although the operational heads were paid employees the entire organization was governed by the non-paid Executive Committee which, is to say, the clubs. These people were civic-minded successful businessmen, politicians and such and of a type it was an honor to know. If there was a theme it was integrity and service. Naturally the bickering and trouble in racing fringed on this policy and, although I was quite upset at AAA when they finally abdicated from racing (I was gone then) now, 25 years later, I can see justification. I was on the road more time than in the office but the only time I was called in to explain an expense account it was for not tipping enough! I still belong to this day and have the highest respect for AAA. Incidentially, when I was putting the history of the CB together I felt I needed their help on dates, names and spelling. They responded splendidly. That was a shock because in my day when I asked questions I was told MANY TIMES "That's our business, not the public's!" No, Ken, I can say no bad about AAA itself.

(End of page 5)

Edited by john glenn printz, 03 January 2013 - 13:22.


#103 ensign14

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 22:35

What had happened is this. Kennerdell, the CB chairman then, certainly must stand as the most secretive, inept, conniving yellow-spine chairman in history. He not only failed to release points orb standings during the year but wouldn't allow others to do so. When Chevrolet was killed the press, in the obit, called him the champion off his Indy win but Eddie Edenburn was upset and wired the board office prior to the Tacoma race for the point standings. Kennerdell found he was caught and that Milton was actually leading so he devised a rule that only races of 350 or 400 miles (I forget which) or longer was to count for championship. This did give Chevrolet the title and Edenburn so wrote his year-end column and this rule to the board for approval (in February) it was turned down by the opposition led by Edenburn. So, the problem was plain to Eddie. Should be, as a newsman, bare the fact or, as a sworn-to-secrecy board member say nothing and inasmuch as the new season was underway in California Eddie buried the entire thing.

:eek:

For reference, here is the New York Times article after the fateful race, listing Gaston as champ..

#104 john glenn printz

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 13:36

THIRD LETTER (Page 6)

I do envy your midget activity. I became very fond of them before, during and after the war as big car racing was just about dormant. The CB missed on midgets (in my story) and that was a directive of Ricks. Recently an old midget driver, Gays Biro, was killed in an oldtimers meet and I knew Gays during his active days. Never a winner but he was an exciting driver. I've been to one of these oldtime things and must say I enjoyed it thoroughly.

I didn't date this letter as I knew it would take some time and now I've been almost a week on it. But, just yesterday I received TWO letters in the same mail asking for historical information and material. I guess it will never stop and that pleases me although I'm sorry I can no longer help.

Hope I haven't bored you.

Sincerely,

Russ Catlin
11/8/82

(End of page 6 and the letter)

Edited by john glenn printz, 03 January 2013 - 19:44.


#105 Doug Nye

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 18:33

Simply beyond price... I must say that my impression from this letter is that Catlin was far deeper and more aware than perhaps one would imagine from so much of his output. Thank you again for setting this before us, John.

DCN

#106 Michael Ferner

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 20:03

Many thanks for posting, John - those are really priceless insights into the mind of Russ Catlin, as Doug says, though I am far less impressed by the contents I must say. To me, he comes over as quite a bit naive, and certainly inept as a historian or researcher, at least to a degree. I've read quite a few articles by him that are really good, but he seems to have fallen all too easily for deceptions and myths. Not that I would have wanted to swap places with him, doing all the travel to get to the libraries! I realize how fortunate I am today, having access to so much raw material through the internet. It's certainly far easier today to distill the big picture from the many, many faults that newspaper research entails. But still, if he did that much research, why did he still fall for the Haresnape/Means fake? I can't fathom that!

#107 john glenn printz

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 16:02

A John Le Carre spy novel plot? A Byzantine labyrinth? The Big Con? Russ Catlin is a complete enigma to me. I can't make much sense out of any of it.

I don't understand why Catlin was seemingly reduced down to a single loose leave notebook, penned by Val Haresnape, when he and Friel saved rooms and rooms and boxes and boxes of the genuine Contest Board archives, dating from 1908 to 1949. What ultimately happened to this huge "saved" sewer-rat cache of the AAA Contest Board archives and files? Nobody asks that question. I'm afraid to ask it myself. And nothing is ever said about their total, and seemingly later disappearance after 1950 either. Did the extensive sewer-rat AAA files ever exist? There are no explanations. What happened? Where are they now? Were they all lost and destroyed after they had been saved in 1950? Was it all a con? And even much worst and unbelievably so, Russ Catlin himself was ultimately and apparently reduced down to nothing at all; i.e. absolute zero, as he also eventually lost the treasured and invaluable Haresnape notebook!!! (Consult post 102 above.)

Shades of Sir Edmund Backhouse (1873-1944), the "Hermit of Peking"?; Psuedo-Isidore?; Letter of Aristeas?; Donation of Constantine?; Ossian?; Pilt-Down Man?; Hans Van Meegeran?; Metropolitan Etruscan statuary?; Clifford Irving?; Mark Hoffman?; the Hitler dairies (1983-Konrad Kujau)? ;Bernie Madoff?, Ken Lay?; Andrew Fastow?; Lance Armstrong? etc., etc. I just don't know and I'm supremely puzzled. Nothing really adds up here. I need someone to explain it all to me. What was going on with Catlin and Russo with regard to the sewer-rat AAA files? All ye faithful, please step forward! I'm in need of your enlightenment and knowledge. Members of the AARWBA, step up to the plate!

That the AAA wanted to ditch the Contest Board, as Russ claims, seems to me to be quite valid. After World War one, the AAA lost interest in racing. Even Haresnape in the late twenties accused the AAA top brass of not being interested or supportive of the Contest Board. Haresnape, rumor has it, was an alcoholic and suffered a mental breakdown in early 1930 while directing the AAA Daytona Beach speed trials. Val died on April 24, 1930 in Los Angeles. To Catlin, Kennerdell was always the arch villain and Haresnape the vaunted hero. Maybe Russ got the correct tags reversed somehow.

I love the story (posts 90 & 100 above) Russ tells about Tommy Milton. Russ was assigned to do an article on Milton. Russ informs Milton that he was, indeed, the official AAA National Champion for 1920. Milton didn't know or even suspect that and to show Russ that he was mistaken, Milton drags out his old AAA medal he got for finishing 2nd in the 1920 AAA national point standings. This didn't phase Russ in the least! How naive can a man be? According to Catlin, as always, there was a secret 1920 conspiracy engineered by AAA Chairman, Richard A. Kenderdell, which even Milton himself never had suspected. It was top secret at the time. Catlin discovered the Kennerdell swindle from from his close inspection and perusal of the sewer-rat AAA Contest Board archives, which Russ perserved from 1950 to 1983. (In 1983 or 1984, after Catlin died, the sewer rat AAA archives (supposedly) passed to historian and publicist Bob Russo, the foremost expert on American open wheel racing during the years 1983-1999.) In fact Russo told me that himself in late 1984, i.e. that he owned all the ex-Russ Catlin material. Everyone who had any questions about the AAA or early USAC history went to Russo.) Bob told me himself in 1984 that he had 1920 Contest Board bulletins that showed that the AAA had a ten race Championship schedule up until the November 25, 1920 Beverly Hills 250 mile race before Kennerdell cut the Championship point awarding events down to just five races. When I asked Bob to Xerox a few pages of that material, he replied he could not because his AAA files were in storage and he had boxes and boxes of it. He just didn't know where his 1920 AAA material was. These 1920 AAA Contest Board bulletins were again documents in the presumably large and Catlin saved sewer-rat AAA files. Just idle talk and hot air were all I ever got from PR man Bob Russo, but never any 1920 AAA documentation.

Do you believe that Milton was the tragic and unknowing victim of a secret Kennerdell November 25-26, 1920 swindle? Russ Catlin and Bob Russo did. On what evidence? The sewer-rat files? Consult the thread "BOB RUSSO AND THE 1920 AAA CHAMPIONHIP".

I had not intented to start up the "Catlin question" again. But I came across the two Catlin letters recently and decided to post them as I thought they may be of some interest. I have no more Catlin letters, after the three already posted above, but own two Bob Russo letters addressed to me personally.

Edited by john glenn printz, 27 January 2013 - 20:25.


#108 john glenn printz

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 16:29

HAMLET. What, frighted with false fire!

QUEEN. How fares my lord?

POLONIUS. Give o'er the play.

KING. Give me some light, Away!

ALL. Lights, lights, lights!

(Exeunt all but HAMLET and HORATIO.)

HAMLET. Why, let the stricken deer go weep,
The hart ungalled play,
For some must watch, while some must sleep,
So runs the world away.








#109 Lemnpiper

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 04:55



Mr Printz i have a couple questions perhaps you can answer.


1. Have you had any contact with any family members of Mr Catlin , Russo or even Haresnape to see if any info can be found thru their memories . Also did any other family member take an active role in helping run the AAA.


2. Are there any officials left still alive from the era of the switchover from AAA to USAC?


3 As an added question are there any members of the folks that ran the tracks themselves still involved ( other than the Hulman's) that might have gained access from those releatives that did run the tracks during that era. Even if it only contains ifo pertaining ot just one track.


My main disbelief over this whole issue is the fact that seeminfly all the key info was kept in one area with little or no 2nd copies kept elsewhere even for the beneifits of promotors or track owners in that era. Some 2nd copies have to be out there somewhere , but who might have it may be next to impossible to determine.

#110 john glenn printz

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 13:49

Dear Mr. Lemnpiper:

Question 1. I have never had any contact with any family members of Catlin, Russo, or Haresnape. I never had any contact with Catlin or Haresnape, but did have two long phone conversations with Russo, one in 1982 and the other in late 1985. On both occasions here, Bob was working for the Riverside International Speedway.

Question 2. I don't know of any, but perhaps one or two are still remaining somewhere.

Question 3. Back in the late 1970s and the early 1980s I contacted the people at the Milwaukee Mile about past AAA data, but even at that time they had little information on their past AAA Championship events. I got the impression that I was supplying information to them, rather than the other way around!

In general, too much time has elapsed to clear up many of the questions about the AAA Contest Board, both its history and statistics, but I have tried to do what I can.

And I don't think it is a totally impertinent question of mine to ask if Catlin's story of his rescue (consult posts 90 & 92 above) of a large bulk of AAA Contest Board documentation in 1950 is true or not. Or to ask just what material was saved, if any was. And what survives presently and where it currently resides.

Apparently Bob Russo believed in Catlin's rescue of the old AAA Contest Board files, as he told Jan Shaffer the story in mid-1984. Consult post 7 above.

Sincerely, J.G. Printz

Edited by john glenn printz, 28 January 2013 - 18:42.


#111 john glenn printz

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 15:37

The Catlin-Russo story or fable of the Kennerdell's November 1920 "quick switch", i.e. of Gaston Chevrolet replacing Tommy Milton as the 1920 AAA National Champion, has two minor variants. In the first version, I call it Version A, it is Kennerdell himself acting solely on his own who makes the switch after the immediate death of Gaston Cheverolet on November 25, 1920. In Version B, it was the newsmen (apparently the Los Angeles Times only at first), who immediately after Chevrolet's death proclaimed him the 1920 AAA National Championship in their printed November 26, 1920 newspapers. In both variant stories, the AAA Chairman, Richard Kennderdell made a fake five race point reckoning to legitmatize Gaston as the 1920 AAA Titlist which quickly and subsequently replaced the original ten race 1920 summary which would have named Milton as the Champion. In the Version B, Kennerdell was "forced" into creating the five race reckoning by the false news reports and decided (irrationally) to support the Los Angeles Times and the newsmen's false proclamation, and hence could have made the five race 1920 points chart only on or after November 26, 1920.

Edited by john glenn printz, 22 January 2013 - 13:46.


#112 john glenn printz

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 18:43

Catlin often manufactured his own historical facts and reversed cause and effect. A case in point, is his assertion (See post 92 above) that AAA Chairman Samuel M. Butler originated the point system in 1909 used for its AAA National Championship division. The point system, in actual fact, was put together in the early months of 1916 when Kennerdell was the AAA Contest Board Chairman. Its very first use occurred at the Sheepshead Bay 150 of May 13, 1916., which was also the very first AAA National Championship race. Butler himself was killed on November 1, 1911 in an accident during the Glidden Tour and had nothing to do with the establishment of the official AAA 1916 National Championship Title. That again was the work of Richard Kennerdell.

When Arthur Means in 1926-1928 compiled his AAA point awarding charts for the past seasons of 1909-1915 and 1917-1920, he used the point system then in use for the years 1926-1928. That is the reason why the point system used for the new 1909-1915 and 1917-1920 charts are the same as that used in 1926, 1927, and 1928! Simple cause and effect. But because Russ notices that the 1909 chart uses the same point system as that of 1926, 1927, and 1928, he concludes and opines that Sam Butler must have invented the point system back in 1909, reversing cause and effect. Dumb, dumb, Mr. Catlin. Russ here is only creating new facts to bloster his earlier misreading of history.

Cause and effect are also reversed in his claim of a November 1920 Kennerdell fraud. Here he asserts that the ten race 1920 chart was primary and the originial schedule, whereas it never existed until late November 1926 when Mr. Arthur Means compilied it. However the five race AAA Championship 1920 listing was used throughout the entire year of 1920, and indeed until late 1926, when Means' new ten race chart replaced it during 1927 and 1928 in the Contest Board's record file. Here Russ not only confused cause and effect, but mis-dated the AAA documentation.

Russ Catlin and Bob Russo always stated that the first season or year for the AAA National Championship Title was 1909, whereas in reality it was 1916. Russo got all his incorrect ideas about AAA Championship racing 1909-1920 directly from Catlin and sought actively after Catlin's death in 1983 to maintain them against all comers and the nay-sayers. Bob was totally successful in this endeavor until his own death in 1999, by which time the whole entire mythological Means/Haresnape/Catlin/Russo structure began to fall apart, largely because of the onset of the internet.

Catlin and Russo never accepted the fact that the AAA Contest Board withdrew the National Championhip Driving Title during 1917, 1918, and 1919, because of World War I. Here Catlin was misled by Means, and Russo was in turn misled by Catlin. The first season of AAA Championship racing was 1916. The National Championship AAA Titles of 1909 to 1915, enumerated by Catlin-Russo, are thus bogus, as well as those of 1917-1919. Gaston Chevrolet was the winner of the revived 1920 AAA Title, not Tommy Milton. Both Catlin and Russo know nothing about any of this.

Catlin did not know about Arthur Means' alteration and creation of the AAA's past historical data during 1926-1928 under Val Haresnape, and Russo when he first learned of it, denied it had taken place. And then said nothing further about it later. Here, once more, Russo was taken in by Catlin and in addition by the AAA Contest Board's own faulty record keeping efforts from 1928 on.

Edited by john glenn printz, 27 January 2013 - 20:30.


#113 john glenn printz

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 20:05

So how can we account for and explain the gross and singular ignorance and errors of Mr.Catlin and Mr. Russo about the earliest seasons, i.e. 1909-1920, of the AAA Contest Board and of AAA National Championship racing, i.e 1916 and 1920? Good questions! These questions are similar to Michael Ferner's observation (post 106 above) that he can't understand how Catlin could have done all that work and research, and still fell for the Haresnape/Means fake. And if Catlin and Russo had done a lot of research in the contemporary 1909-1920 U.S. motor journals and newspapers, how is it that they both missed the fact that MOTOR AGE picked the U.S./American motor racing Champions during 1909 to 1915, before the AAA Contest Board decided in 1916 to name one officially, on their own, using a point system? Neither Catlin or Russo ever mentions this important fact! I ask how Catlin could manifest so much ignorance about the years 1909 to 1928 and, at the same time, have as his private and sole collection, the vast AAA collection of documents of the lengendary sewer rat files?

Anyone have any ideas on this question or topic?

It seem to me that there are only about three alternative answers.

1. That Catlin saved and owned the sewer rat AAA files BUT NEVER LOOKED AT OR EXAMINED THEM! or

2. That Catlin took his information from them correctly and repeated what they said BUT THE ENTIRE FILE WAS FAKED! or

3. That no sewer rat files ever existed and that CATLIN'S STORY ABOUT SAVING THEM IS ENTIRELY UNTRUE.

I would regard answers 1 and 2 as completely impossible and so answer 3 seems the only alternative left.

Why not? Nobody ever claimed to have seen the sewer rat files but Catlin and Russo. None of the sewer rat collection seems to be extant currently with never a word of their disappearance since they supposedly were saved back in 1950. Were they ever in existence?

What probably happened was that Russ saved a couple of stray boxes of discarded AAA Contest Board material in 1949 or 1950 and put them in the truck of his car. As an accomplished and noted story teller Russ quickly embellished his tale of saving valuable AAA documents in 1950, during the time period of 1950-1980. So Russ had thirty years to enlarge, edit, embellish, and add quaint details to his narrative. And everyone fell for it, i.e. all the newsmen, AUTOMOBILE QUARTERLY, Bob Russo, and the AAA, USAC, and CART officialdom. It was Catlin's "little white lie" or a "Little-Con", certainly not a "Big Con"! But what a surprize when Catlin died and nothing of any real substance was found. And the reason the Indianapolis Motor Speedway never got anything from Russ's estate was because there was nothing to send.

You know the above is just about what I think actually took place or something very similar to it. The surrealist elements about the rats and the sewer should have tipped everyone off, but to some it only added to the credibility of Catlin's fantastic story. The human mind is a strange animal.

Edited by john glenn printz, 22 January 2013 - 13:50.


#114 Michael Ferner

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 14:28

The human mind is a strange animal.


Indeed!!

As for Catlin, your conclusion appears to be the most probable explanation. There never was a treasure trove of AAA information in that cellar (perhaps only Haresnape's notes?), and it was just a convenient opportunity for Catlin to fabricate "The Legend" which made him the one and ONLY authority on US racing history. A small lie, yes. A pity that it was invented by a small mind, too.

#115 john glenn printz

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 19:38

I will point out that the New York Times' report (found on post 103 above) is typical of what we find in the U.S. newspapers printed on November 26, 1920. Gaston Chevrolet is declared the 1920 AAA National Championship driver with his total points earned being 1030, with Milton in 2nd place, with a total of 930. These are the point totals from the five race AAA chart. But according to both Catlin and Russo this information, given out by the Contest Board on the afternoon of November 25, is fake data, quickly concocted and manufactured by Kennerdell after the death of Chevrolet. Nowhere, do we read, that there is any controversy or a delay reported about these final 1920 Championship point standings in the November 26, 1920 news reports. The reason that there was no controvery or delay in these final results was because the the Beverly Hills 250 of November 25, was the fifth and final Championship event for 1920. But both Catlin and Russo claim it was the 10th Championship event staged for 1920 and that Milton won the 1920 AAA Title with 2095 points.

In 1982 Catlin (on post 99 above) is still maintaining his Kennerdell conspiracy theory 30 years after he got the AAA Contest Board to change the 1920 AAA Titlist officially from G. Chevrolet to Milton in 1951. Russ is totally wrong and all because he mis-dated the information presented on Arthur's Means 1920 AAA chart, put together in reality during November 1926. Here Milton wins the 1920 Championhip a total of 2095 counters. Catlin is totally confused and never ever woke up.

Edited by john glenn printz, 27 January 2013 - 20:33.


#116 Lemnpiper

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 07:29

Anyone have any ideas on this question or topic?

3. That no sewer rat files ever existed and that CATLIN'S STORY ABOUT SAVING THEM IS ENTIRELY UNTRUE.


( Plus once he started lying about saving the files he had boxed himself into a corner where he couldnt reveal he had in fact not saved all that he had claimed if other researchers wanted to see some of what he had.)


What probably happened was that Russ saved a couple of stray boxes of discarded AAA Contest Board material in 1949 or 1950 and put them in the truck of his car.


( What happened to the post 1950 files the AAA generated each year til they got out of racing? If they were saved can we tell how much paperwork was generated each year from those files to approximate how much there would have been for each missing year Catlin claimed to have saved?)


As an accomplished and noted story teller Russ quickly embellished his tale of saving valuable AAA documents in 1950, during the time period of 1950-1980. So Russ had thirty years to enlarge, edit, embellish, and add quaint details to his narrative. And everyone fell for it, i.e. all the newsmen, AUTOMOBILE QUARTERLY, Bob Russo, and the AAA, USAC, and CART officialdom. It was Catlin's "little white lie" or a "Little-Con", certainly not a "Big Con"! But what a surprize when Catlin died and nothing of any real substance was found. And the reason the Indianapolis Motor Speedway never got anything from Russ's estate was because there was nothing to send.


( What amazes me is how the history of the sport ended up seemingly only being cared about by Catlin, while other contempories of his seem to have no interest. At the least i would expect NSSN and Chris Economaki and his staff would have had more interest in the fate of those files in that era.)

You know the above is just about what I think actually took place or something very similar to it. The surrealist elements about the rats and the sewer should have tipped everyone off, but to some it only added to the credibility of Catlin's fantastic story. The human mind is a strange animal.


( Knowledge is Power ,and claiming to be the only source of certain knowledge creates an enviroment of Power that can become very intoxicatiing . And efforts to undo that enviroment by others will not be welcomed , as you yourself found out)



Paul


#117 john glenn printz

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 16:52

It is to be noticed also that the inept AAA Contest Board itself couldn't even keep an accurate listing of its own National Championship winners. For beginning in late 1928 the AAA began issuing lists of their Champions which included the actual historical and legitimate winners (1916 & 1921-1928) PLUS the newly created bogus Titlists (1909-1915 & 1917-1920) taken from Arthur Means' newly created point charts, all put together during 1926-1928. Thereafter it ever remained so, that the true and the false were mixed together in the AAA Contest Board publications. Nobody objected to this pseudo-hybrid combination of the true and questionable in late 1928 when Means and Haresnape were in charge of the Contest Board statistics; and after many printings of it by the AAA this pseudo-hybrid reckoning took on a canonical status of its own. By 1950 no one knew it was, and had been since its origin in 1928, totally misleading for the years 1909-1919, except for 1916 where Dario Resta was given correctly as the 1916 winner. Catlin and Russo were both taken in quite unawares by all this, as was everyone else! But how would they know? Catlin only arrived on the National Championship scene c. 1948-1949, and Russo c. 1950-1951. And each sanctioning body took the false list over later, each in turn, i.e. USAC from the AAA in 1956, and CART from USAC in 1979. Catlin himself solidified portions of the AAA myths in his HISTORY OF AAA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACING, 1909 TO 1917 published in SPEED AGE magazine during 1954 and 1955.

The only exceptions in the new 1928 catalog of AAA Champions were that of the year 1909 where the old MOTOR AGE pick of Bert Dingley was retained, and where Milton was given the 1920 Title in the AAA lists published during 1927 and 1928. It then inexplicably reverted back to Gaston Chevrolet in AAA press releases during 1929. Thereafter Chevrolet remained the official 1920 Champ, up until 1951. But in 1951 Catlin got the AAA to name George Robertson, on the basis of Means' 1909 point chart made in 1927, as the official AAA Champion for 1909 thereby replacing Dingley (See post 92 & 93); and again for a 2nd time, Milton replaced Chevrolet officially for the year 1920, on again the only and sole evidence of Means' 1920 ten event point reckoning. Of course here again Russ Catlin didn't know what he was doing, in either instance. Both of Russ's alterations here were done in the name of a supposed rectification of past injustices, incurred by the AAA's top brass!

Nor was AAA Contest Board consistent about when its National Championship had actually begun. In the pre-1928 lists it was 1916, which is correct. In the new mid-1928 roster and all the later AAA inventories of Champions, the first year became 1909, replacing 1916, which is a total error.

Such was record keeping at the AAA. It was pure lunacy. "These tedious old fools!" HAMLET Act II, Scene II, Line 223.

Edited by john glenn printz, 27 January 2013 - 19:57.


#118 john glenn printz

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 20:32

I first heard the story of Catlin's rescue of the pre-1931 AAA Contest Board files during the 1970s from Bob Laycock, the IMS's press room manager. I may have also heard about it as well from Charles Lytle and Chris Economaki. I had no reason to doubt the story and took it on blind faith, like everyone else. Laycock told me that on Catlin's immediate death, it was in his will, that the saved AAA material would be given and shipped immediately to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (Consult posts 91, 92, & 98 above.) Catlin died in late 1983.

So in May 1984 I entered the IMS press room and went directly to Laycock's office to confirm that the IMS had received the files. I was shocked when Bob told me that the Speedway had heard nothing and had not been contacted. I stood there thinking 'What had gone wrong?' Russ had been dead already for months. I thought everything had been pre-arranged and had been set to go. 'Why didn't the Speedway get the said files?' Laycock himself didn't seem overly concerned about the matter.

Then the terrible thought occurred to me. Perhap the reason that the Speedway never got the files was because they didn't exist. That would explain a lot like Russ' general ignorance about early AAA racing history. I have had those doubts ever since that day in May 1984, so my skepticism expressed in post 113 above is not of recent origin. It goes back 30 years.

Edited by john glenn printz, 23 January 2013 - 13:27.


#119 john glenn printz

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 18:10

Let me cite a Catlin paragraph from post 99 above. It reads:

"Where news accounts lead modern researchers astray (and believe me I can understand this) is news clips from year-end summaries in 1920 stating Chevrolet was the 1920 champion and no champion had been named since 1916. Oh, what a can of worms! How can anyone know otherwise when there was no official AAA comment, retraction or followup? The clips were in the 1920 or 1924 folder I rescued from AAA with hand-written notation by Means that "This is as it should have been." I tell this in my history and just pray AQ doesn't flub the proofs. However, the minutes of the 1924 executive session of the Contest Board carries this notation, "Championship races and point awards back to and including 1909 are now approved with the stipulation that such champions to be known as 'point champions'." I interpreted this as a ploy to save face for Dingley, Chevrolet and the press." Obviously the compilation was done by Harnape and he had converted all points to the method in use that time, i.e. 2 points-per-mile per winner. Point values did change three or four times during history."

What is Catlin talking about here, what is his meaning, and how much of it is true? What do you make of it? It seems a bit confused.

In any case the paragraph demonstrats Russ's constant degradation of using contemporary newspapers and motor journals as source material. Gaston Chevrolet was not the 1920 AAA National Champion, although every 1920 U.S. newspaper and automobile journal says so, without exception. And the fact that the contemporary newspapers and motor journal say that there were no AAA Championship titles during 1917, 1918, and 1919 is to be rejected also. As Russ says, "news accounts lead modern reseachers astry".

The reason Tommy Milton is the AAA 1920 Champion, contrary to all the 1920 contemporary reports, is that Kennerdell released a false set of figures at the last race giving it unjustly to Gaston Chevrolet. So don't believe the news reports! The reason why everyone was of the opinion that there were no AAA National Championships during 1917, 1918, and 1919, was because the AAA neglectfully forgot to issue any points to the press during those years. That's why you can't find anything in the contemporary 1917-1919 source material about the point standings or these titles, i.e. the AAA kept it a secret! But these AAA Championships of 1917-1919 were still a reality! So don't rely on what you read or can't find in the papers. Likewise the reason why the ten race 1920 point standings or a listing of the ten events do not appear anywhere in the surviving source material is because the AAA Contest Board under Kennerdell never released any information about them during the 1920 season. But they were there all right, i.e. the AAA Contest Board knew about them (!) even if the drivers and the general public didn't.

Seems like this type of explanations are all gross oxy-morons and/or no brainers. The Championship events and the seasons were there all right (according to Catlin and Russo) but only half a dozen AAA Contest Board officials knew about them. But in 1924 Harnape (the name is mispelled) decided to come clean and clear up all the past understanding and ignorance about the 1909-1915 and 1917-1920 Championship years. Val finally released the Championship points for those years. Harnape thus cleared up a hitherto obscure past of the AAA racing history and saved U.S. automobile racing history. We now all thank him, most heartily. As Harnape dictated, "Championship races and point awards back to and including 1909 are now approved with the stipulation that such champions to be known as 'point champions'".

This latter statement could not have been issued by the executive session in 1924 (as Catlin states) but rather only in 1927 or 1928, when Means had finished his new AAA point charts for 1909-1915 and 1917-1920. I take the statement to only signify that Means' new reckonings for eleven more AAA National Championship years (1909-1915 and 1917-1919 plus the 1920 switchover from Chevrolet to Milton) will now be combined with the older AAA point Champions from 1916, and 1921-1928. Here Means and Haresnape vitiated the earlier and correct AAA list of National Champions (1916, 1920-1928). Now the rot began, and Means and Haresnape were directly responsible for it.

Of course both Catlin and Russo take the extreme opposite viewpoint! Russo wrote in 1987 talking about Haresnape, "A sickler for detail the former civil engineer put his staff to work reconstructing all championship seasons and the points up to that time. Much of the work was done by Arthur Means who, together with Haresnape, provided what authentic ties we presently have with racing's early history." What!!! Here Russo only echos what Catlin wrote in 1982 (quote), "Like Means, Harsnape was shocked at the condition of, or rather lack of, Contest Board office records. As a result of his putting a force to work to bring these records up to date, there is an authentic record of AAA racing activity until 1930."

Total nonsense I say. It was Means and Haresnape who originated the very first mythological motifs during 1927 and 1928, with their totally new 1909-1915 and 1917-1920 point charts. And again, in their absolute naivete, neither Catlin or Russo ever caught on.

Russo, whose knowledge of pre-1950 AAA Championship history is even less than that of Catlin, apes, copies, and minics Russ's confused viewpoints. What does Russo mean by the phase (quote), "to work reconstructing all championship seasons and the points up to that time."? , It seems that they are claiming that under Kennerdell's negligent leadership all the past AAA records for 1909-1915 and 1917-1919 had been lost. Now in 1926-1928, Haresnape and Means were trying to reconstruct all this lost history. That means that Catlin and Russo thought the 1909-1915 and 1917-1919 seasons had been really contested concurrently, but in truth the AAA offered no Titles at all during those seasons. Catlin's and Russo's contentions' here are totally confused and totally incorrect. Means wasn't "restoring" anything, but rather "creating something new" and never seen before.

And Means' statement "This is as it should have been." signifies to Russ that if the Championship AAA points for 1909-1915 and 1917-1919 seasons had been released at the time they were compiled, as they should have been, then there would have been a general knowledge among the public that there were indeed actual AAA National Championship titles for those years, as was actually the case! Its just nobody knew about it! Compare with my earlier remarks made on post 58 on the thread BOB RUSSO AND THE 1920 AAA CHAMPIONSHIP.

Apparently the AAA Contest Board didn't issue any Championship points publicly during the years 1909 to 1915 at all, but the AAA still kept track of the AAA Championship standings for those seasons. Now, in 1924, Val Harnape decided to release all these back and real but unacknowledged AAA National Titles with the the point charts, which had been dutifully compiled during those years at the Contest Board offices. But then Catlin confuses me still because he also indicates that Val Harnape made the charts, i.e. that is they were not contemporary statistics at all for the seasons covered, but were more recently put together by Harnape! Russ says "Obviously the compilation was done by Harnape." Well what does that mean?

Wrong again! It was Means who compiled the new 1909-1915 and 1917-1920 AAA point charts not Haresnape.

Anyway I'm still trying to make some sense of what Catlin and Russo write but frankly it is very difficult for me. Am I reading Catlin right? Am I reading Russo right? Who knows?

I have no choice. I now nominate the two greatest comedy teams ever to appear in Indy Car racing. My picks are Means and Haresnape for the 1920s, and Catlin and Russo after World War II.

Edited by john glenn printz, 29 January 2013 - 13:39.


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#120 john glenn printz

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 19:41

The reconstruction and writing of history can be difficult and very tricky. The AAA Contest Board's first year of operation was 1909 and its first National Championship driving title was awarded in 1916. Before 1927 and 1928 the AAA's list of the U.S. driving champions always began with 1916 and then jumped to 1920 with Gaston Chevrolet as the 1920 Titlist. This is correct.

However it is possible to find lists of the U.S. automobile racing driver champions, printed before 1927-1928, in various almanacs, annuals and yearbooks which go back to 1909. How can that be? It was all a puzzle to me at first also. But the answer is easy and simple. These lists are not derived from the AAA itself, but are merely a summation of the annual choices made by MOTOR AGE, acting on their own. Many of MOTOR AGE's picks also name the same exact driver which emerges as the year's winner on Arthur Mean's wholly new 1909-1920 AAA point charts made in 1926-1928!

The MOTOR AGE selections for the U.S. racing champion were 1909 Bert Dingley, 1910 Ralph Mulford, and 1911 Harvey Herrick. Means' point chart winners were 1909 George Roberson, 1910 Ray Harroun, and 1911 Ralph Mulford. But for the years 1912 to 1915 the MOTOR AGE picks and Means' champions were exactly the same, i.e. 1912 Ralph DePalma, 1913 Earl Cooper, 1914 Ralph DePalma, and 1915 Earl Cooper. For 1916 the AAA Contest Board gave their new National Championship Title to Dario Resta by a point reckoning, and neither MOTOR AGE made a choice or Arthur Means ever made a chart for that year.

So it is very easy for a sloppy investigator to read these earlier listings and/or a mention of a U.S. champion for a given year: and think that here is precise contemporary evidence or conformation, of the AAA itself having an official National Championship driving title before 1916. But that is a mistake. These earlier listings stem or were taken from MOTOR AGE magazine's picks made during 1909-1915; while the other and later AAA published lists were created by Arthur Means' new point charts made in 1926-1928.

But it is easy to become confused here.

Neither Catlin or Russo did any real research into the AAA's past, before the 1930 season. There were only two possible historical sources anyway. The first was the sewer-rat archive (which didn't exist) and the second was the contemporary 1909-1930 newspapers and U.S. motor journals of which Catlin and Russo were almost totally ignorant. The Catlin-Russo duo thus in fact took "nothing from nothing" but wielded great power and influence because everyone thought that they had the sole, private, and exclusive use of all the AAA's Contest Board back files before 1931. This was the ultimate source, it was supposed by all, of their arcane knowledge and amazing expertise! By using that gag Catlin and Russo held everyone in absolute thrall for half a century, i.e. 1950-1999! In this exact and specific regard, Russo again learned from Catlin.

Edited by john glenn printz, 31 January 2013 - 15:06.


#121 john glenn printz

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 18:05

Russ Catlin's "Magum Opus" is probably his "HISTORY OF AAA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACING 1909 TO 1917" published as a serial in SPEED AGE from December 1954 to August 1955. Russ' history is now in a state of acute physical disintegration because SPEED AGE was then losing money and had printed its magazine on pulp paper. These 1954-1955 issues now are very brittle and are crumpling into dust.

At the time of its publication, the past AAA racing history was a subject in much disarray and of the most opague obscurity. Russ' work seemed to be a great light into the darkness, a very easy fund of information, and real "find" as they say. But the work is a bit confused, even on some of the major issues. I take this to be the confusion in Russ' own mind. For each of the nine seasons covered (1909-1917) Catlin supplies a complete point distribution chart, very prominently printed and displayed, but he gives no comments or any disclaimers about them. Who put them together and just when they were made is never quite discussed. Russ certainly doesn't provide any clear answers, but rather misleads the unwary reader.

So what season or year does Mr. Catlin give as the very first for the AAA National Championship? Among other items for 1909 Russ lists the following (SPEED AGE December 1954, page 9, quote) "4. Establishment of the national circuit (National Championship) contest and selection of a national champion.

5. Hiring of Samuel D. Butler as AAA Contest Board Chairman and the formation of that body."

Now there is nothing anywhere in the 1909 newspapers or automobile journals about the AAA's nomination of a national driving champion for 1909. Nor was Butler the first Chairman of the newly established AAA Contest Board. That honor went to Frank B. Hower, who was chairman throughout most of 1909. Butler replaced Hower in early December 1909. And Butler's middle initial is "M" but Catlin has "D"! Russ also repeats his incorrect idea that Butler was the first AAA Contest Board Chairman in his second letter above (post 92) written in May 1980, 26 years later!

Further confusion is introduced in Catline's SPEED AGE 1909 writeup with the later and following, "In choosing a national champion a donnybrook resulted that has remained to this day. Of the twenty-four championship events, Louis Chevrolet won three, Dingley, Robertson, and Burman. two. However, the value and measurement between each event was great but at the time no mathematical formula had been adopted to separate results. This was to come seven years later and, when some unidentified oracle in the Contest Board applied the yardstick to the 1909 results. Robertson emerged as champion. However, at the close of the season, the periodicals of the day held a voting contest and this Dingley won. A statistical study of both drivers' records shows little to choose between the two. Dingley was then, and still is, popular with the press and his associates."

First off Russ makes a distinction between "championship events" and other AAA races, but no "championship events" existed in 1909. The AAA's first year for "championship races" was 1916. Russ asserts there were 24 AAA championship events for 1909. Actually there were none. Russ opines that the 1909 point chart was composed in 1916 by an "unidentified oracle" when it was in fact first put together or compiled by Arthur Means in 1927. Therefore its real relevance to the actual season or year 1909, is far from obvious. Similarly I know of no vote by "the periodicals of the day" which nominated Bert Dingley as the U.S. 1909 racing champion.

Edited by john glenn printz, 18 February 2013 - 19:44.


#122 Doug Nye

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 21:52

Over all the years I have been reading about racing the name Russ Catlin has been prominent. His work has regularly been rubbished in these threads, and it just occurred to me that I know precious little about Catlin as a man. I am sure some of you out there know far, far more. What's his story? What was he like? What was he about?

DCN


Well...what can I say now? I am - however - glad I asked the question.

DCN

#123 Michael Ferner

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 15:21

I quite agree. The Langhorne 100 of May 3, 1930 is a great mystery. Was it run under the new junk rules or not? A race day program seems to have survived, as a cover of one, is pictured on page 524 of Riggs' LANGHORNE! NO MAN'S LAND. It is said to have been in the Lengenfolder Collection. I would like to see what's on the inside of this program.

Mr. McMaken once told me that he thought the AAA rules might have been "Formula Libre", in this instance. Russ Snowberger's stock block 337 cubic inch Studebaker seems to have been a starter, placing 14th, according to Phil Harms. But the Motor magazine for January 1931 on page 84, which has a box score for this event, does not list Snowberger at all. Thus Russ' two-man vehicle may not have been present. I don't think any of the other machines can be positively identified as junk formula vehicles, except perhaps Wilbur Shaw's "Empire Special". But again was the Empire State Special a single or two seat vehicle in early May? Where there any cars in the May 3 Langhorne 100 whose engine displacement was above 183 cubic inches? Presently I don't know.

If Harms' listing of Snowberger's Studebaker is a miscue, then I would opine that the 1930 Langhorne 100 (May 3) was probably run under a 183 cubic inch limit. This was the standard formula for all the AAA National Championship 100 mile contests staged in 1928 and 1929, held on dirt tracks.

The surviving AAA Contest Board file, preserved at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, begins with the Syracuse 100 run on September 12, 1931. All of 1930 and most of 1931 are missing and/or gone. Most unfortunate.


As mentioned before, newspaper accounts for this particular event are almost unusually poor. The best I had found so far mentioned the finishing order (some omitting Zeke Meyer, however), and a few retirements, mostly Ralph de Palma, but also Frank Farmer, Al Stewart and Billy Winn. Today, I found for the first time Russ Snowberger mentioned in any of the reports, be it a preview or an account of the event: "The Altoona Mirror" of May 5, 1930, closed with the terse statement that "Ralph [sic!] Snowberger was forced out early". According to the "Trenton Sunday Times-Advertiser" of May 4, 1930, there were 18 starters and ten finishers. Phil Harms mentions only fifteen starters and nine finishers, while the "Motor" magazine lists fourteen starters and eleven finishers! Oh, well... :well:

#124 fbarrett

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 20:09

In the early 1950s, Catlin was prominent at the Mobilgas Economy Run, that event then being sanctioned by AAA.

Frank

#125 Doug Nye

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Posted 02 June 2013 - 08:26

Just received from TNF founder and our former Commanding Officer here, Don Capps. He has just examined 'The Catlin Archive' courtesy of our mutual friend and great fellow enthusiast Joe Freeman and his company Racemaker Press:

Dear Doug,

I thought you might be interested in my trip to Boston to spend time doing research at Racemaker Archives with Joe Freeman & Company, notably Sarah Morgan Wu and Jim O'Keefe.

Lest there be any doubt that there is NOT a treasure trove of AAA Contest Board records in the Russ Catlin-Bob Russo collection, I have attached two photographs showing the box -- not the boxes -- that contain the materials that Catlin seems to have purloined -- not rescued -- from the Contest Board records. The Catlin material is mixed in with whatever Bob Russo had as well. As you can see, it is a single box with file folders for the years 1909 to 1955.

Sarah thought that there is a remote possibility that there might be more such material in the basement given that they had obtained the material prior to the move to the current location, but it is strictly that, a possibility. At any rate, on a future visit we might take the time to root around and see what we can find, but the likelihood is close to zero from what I gathered from Joe, Sarah, and Jim.

So, this would seem to cast serious doubt on the legend of the rescue of records from the sewers of Washington, DC.

There are several of the worksheets that Arthur Means created in the material along with the subsequent standings he made. I have attached two photographs of the 1913 worksheet, which is typical of the worksheets that Means used. (I will try to attach Don's photos - with his permission - once I find the time - DCN)

(Back to Don) I did an informal inventory of each of the pertinent file folders I was interested in, these being a listing of the folders with a Means worksheet: 1911, 1912, 1913, 1914, 1915, 1917, 1918, 1919, and 1920. There were no Means worksheets for 1909 or 1910.

There were also drafts of chapters for the book on the national championship that Catlin was writing for the following years: 1910, 1911, 1918, 1919, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, and 1924.

There was an article on the 1920 season that was submitted to the editor of Speed Age in February 1958, "The Unfortunate 1920 Championship Goof," which apparently never got any further given there is no record of it appearing in the magazine.

I have also attached a photograph of the sheet showing the championships Catlin created for the 1902 to 1908 seasons: apparently he managed to fumble 1902 since he changed it from Harry Harkness to Charles Shanks on the sheet.

At any rate, this might be of some help in setting straight the record and answering some of the questions that arose during the Russ Catlin thread.

Best regards,

Don

(DCN)

Edited by Doug Nye, 02 June 2013 - 08:27.


#126 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 02 June 2013 - 21:50

Doug - thanks for your information, much appreciated. :D

#127 carl s

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Posted 02 June 2013 - 22:45

Some further info from Don Capps at TF - see post #47
http://www.trackforu...-of-Ashes/page2

#128 tsrwright

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 04:32

So is there a reliable history of American racing?

#129 Michael Ferner

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 15:07

It's being worked on.

And before you ask, no, I'm not making enigmatic references to one big project of mine (or by anyone else, for that matter), I'm simply refering to the ongoing efforts of Messrs Printz, Capps, Freeman et al. Now that the silly fable of the AAA records is kaputt, procedures will return to normal, i.e. historians will do their research, publish from time to time, and with the passage of same things will become (hopefully) clearer. Whether there will ever be that one, reliable History of American Racing, I very much doubt, but so what. Where is the companion volume of European Racing, for that matter? Relax, open a bottle of beer and chill - nothing has changed.

#130 tsrwright

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 02:36

It's being worked on.

And before you ask, no, I'm not making enigmatic references to one big project of mine (or by anyone else, for that matter), I'm simply refering to the ongoing efforts of Messrs Printz, Capps, Freeman et al. Now that the silly fable of the AAA records is kaputt, procedures will return to normal, i.e. historians will do their research, publish from time to time, and with the passage of same things will become (hopefully) clearer. Whether there will ever be that one, reliable History of American Racing, I very much doubt, but so what. Where is the companion volume of European Racing, for that matter? Relax, open a bottle of beer and chill - nothing has changed.


I was wondering, for example, about the likes of the only general history I have of American racing, American Automobile Racing by Albert R Bochroch, mine being a 1977 Penguin edition.

Michael himself posted this earlier on this thread:

"There are quite a number of fundamental differences in European and US racing history, and it's something that is not at all obvious to "us", certainly not at first sight. I can say for myself that it took me years to really grasp these fundamentals. For one thing, auto racing in the US is a HUGE subject. When I started out researching Indy and the like, I might have guessed that 50 % of all racing, present and past, happened in the US and 50 % in the "rest of the world". By now, I'm convinced that the figures are more like 80 or 90 % for the US, believe it or not! There is just so much racing going on in this country, and has always been, it's a real culture shock!

So you see the big picture really is important. It does rather seem to be ignored these days and it isn't necessarily the sum of all the parts. In the case of America I only have some of the parts in view and I am not even sure if I have them in focus.

I do hope though that 'procedures' will not entirely 'return to normal'. If Catlin had referenced his sources then either he might not have made all those 'mistakes' in the first place or at least they might have become apparent much earlier.

Edited by tsrwright, 04 June 2013 - 02:37.


#131 Michael Ferner

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Posted 13 September 2014 - 15:48

Well, an entry list for the 1930 Langhorne race would be nice, for starters. :)

 
 

I quite agree. The Langhorne 100 of May 3, 1930 is a great mystery. Was it run under the new junk rules or not? A race day program seems to have survived, as a cover of one, is pictured on page 524 of Riggs' LANGHORNE! NO MAN'S LAND. It is said to have been in the Lengenfolder Collection. I would like to see what's on the inside of this program.

Mr. McMaken once told me that he thought the AAA rules might have been "Formula Libre", in this instance. Russ Snowberger's stock block 337 cubic inch Studebaker seems to have been a starter, placing 14th, according to Phil Harms. But the Motor magazine for January 1931 on page 84, which has a box score for this event, does not list Snowberger at all. Thus Russ' two-man vehicle may not have been present. I don't think any of the other machines can be positively identified as junk formula vehicles, except perhaps Wilbur Shaw's "Empire Special". But again was the Empire State Special a single or two seat vehicle in early May? Where there any cars in the May 3 Langhorne 100 whose engine displacement was above 183 cubic inches? Presently I don't know.

If Harms' listing of Snowberger's Studebaker is a miscue, then I would opine that the 1930 Langhorne 100 (May 3) was probably run under a 183 cubic inch limit. This was the standard formula for all the AAA National Championship 100 mile contests staged in 1928 and 1929, held on dirt tracks.

The surviving AAA Contest Board file, preserved at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, begins with the Syracuse 100 run on September 12, 1931. All of 1930 and most of 1931 are missing and/or gone. Most unfortunate.

 
 

As mentioned before, newspaper accounts for this particular event are almost unusually poor. The best I had found so far mentioned the finishing order (some omitting Zeke Meyer, however), and a few retirements, mostly Ralph de Palma, but also Frank Farmer, Al Stewart and Billy Winn. Today, I found for the first time Russ Snowberger mentioned in any of the reports, be it a preview or an account of the event: "The Altoona Mirror" of May 5, 1930, closed with the terse statement that "Ralph [sic!] Snowberger was forced out early". According to the "Trenton Sunday Times-Advertiser" of May 4, 1930, there were 18 starters and ten finishers. Phil Harms mentions only fifteen starters and nine finishers, while the "Motor" magazine lists fourteen starters and eleven finishers! Oh, well... :well:


I finally found a good newspaper source for the 1930 Championship opener at Langhorne, and am slowly digesting the information. In short, there were indeed more than 40 entries, and 19 starters in the race, so the info from the Harms box score is very much fragmentary. Also, some of his car assignments are clearly wrong, although this is not easily rectified - my source identifies some of the entries only by sponsor's names, some of which are not easily "decoded". However, eight of the nine finishers in the race were clearly Millers, and the ninth one probably too. The race was to be proceeded by two days of qualifying, but the Thursday was rained out so that additional trials were held on Saturday morning which, unfortunately, went undocumented. Still, the 17 reported time trials from Friday cover two thirds of the starting field, and I have the fastest Saturday trial from another source, so I am quite happy with that.

As for the technical rules, though not clearly stated, the evidence is that it was indeed a mix of old and new: most of the entries were clearly single seaters, and it was explicitly stated that only one car in the race was manned by two, implying at the same time that some other cars could have carried a mechanician, too. Some of the engines were positively supercharged, while there were also large-displacement power units such as a 360 CID Hisso in the entry, so it seems they used the same rules as most dirt track and non-championship board tracks in 1930.