Jump to content


Photo

American racing: 'The Golden Age'


  • Please log in to reply
181 replies to this topic

#51 MPea3

MPea3
  • Member

  • 2,145 posts
  • Joined: July 01

Posted 05 October 2008 - 21:24

A nice film showing the Daytona board track, even if with motorcycles.

http://vids.myspace....videoid=5561686

Advertisement

#52 fines

fines
  • Member

  • 9,647 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 05 October 2008 - 21:41

Superb find! But I think the Daytona reference is for record runs on the beach, there never was a board track in Florida other than Fulford-by-the-Sea. The footage is from Sheepshead Bay in New York, I recognise the grandstand!

Barb, Cliff was definitely a dirt track driver by profession, but he did very well on the boards, and also the bricks of Indianapolis! It is probably only fair to say: he was a heck of a driver! As for the fatalities, I believe that dirt track racing was generally more dangerous, but the speeds were a lot higher on the boards, typically twice as fast as on dirt!

#53 Searching Cliff

Searching Cliff
  • New Member

  • 17 posts
  • Joined: September 08

Posted 05 October 2008 - 22:31

Afternoon Gentlemen: :wave:

Boyle Valve seemed that way to me, too: a way for Mike Boyle to funnel his ill-gotten gains into legitimate currency. It does seem to me though that the man meant business when it came to racing. Whether for ego, or for love of the sport, he meant to win at Indy. Wasn't he also involved with the all-black races as well? For what it's worth, there's a reference to a fellow by the name of Doc White driving Cliff Woodbury's Premiere in a "Colored" race sometime in September 1924 at Hawthorne. (I am not sure which car this is. I can't find any of his cars called a Premiere anywhere else. As an IMAC driver, I only find him in three cars: Duesenberg, a Frontenac and a Peugeot. Is this another make of car or a named car?)

My mother-in-law remembers Mike Boyle very well. He apparently came over to Cliff's house often -- or at least often enough that she remembers him. This would be in the 1930s as she was born in 1926.

Another question:

How legitimate as a racing organization was IMAC? Since they seemed mostly to be held at county fairs, were these races just entertainment with a fixed outcome or were they legitmate races? Was there a circuit of races a racer stayed with (as in AAA) or was it catch can? Did the promoter buy the IMAC sanction? As for being "outlaw" that name applies just bc they weren't sanctioned by the AAA, yes?

Sorry for all the questions. I feel like if I'm going to write this up, I want the facts right, and you guys are the experts! I don't want to rely entirely on the books I've read bc they do have a lot of mistakes in them. In fact, I have found several myself (believe it or not!)

Mr. Ferner, you seem to have an enormous amount of knowledge, and, if I understand your posts correctly, you're across the pond so somewhat of a locational disadvantage. If I may ask, why do you take such an interest in this period of racing? Maybe I should ask the question of all of you. If I may be so bold, what makes this period of racing so compelling for you?

#54 MPea3

MPea3
  • Member

  • 2,145 posts
  • Joined: July 01

Posted 06 October 2008 - 00:32

Barb, you'll continue to be amazed by Michael. One of the neat things about TNF is how there are a lot of pieces that bring it all together. His knowledge is far reaching though, and his attention to detail is exceptional. There are others too, hopefully they'll check in.

That part of your research that you share with us will be appreciated. While I understand that you're doing this for your family, I hope you'll share what you can. I have to say I'm impressed with your attitude so far. It's all too easy for family members to need to see things through rose colored glasses, and the truth can fall by the wayside.

As far as my own interest, I'd have to say it came from three areas. While my interest in racing began with no regard for its history, books for birthdays and Christmas soon changed that. First, discovering that I shared a surname with the pre WW1 Mercer driver Eddie Pullen drew my interest back to early racing and I wanted more books that dealt with the early days. Second Borgeson's book shifted my interest to the 20's. The Millers especially were so beautiful me. Earning my living in a form of art I suppose I have a tendency to see most everything with form and function and have an appreciation of the artistic merit of the cars of that period.

Third, I cannot stress enough how much TNF has continued to shape and drive my interest in this era. Threads just like this one draw my attention and are the ones that I always check first. I will humbly suggest you spend time wandering through some old threads. While they may not directly address Cliff, they may lend you valuable perspective on the racing and the sport.

Best of luck to you in your research. :)

#55 Searching Cliff

Searching Cliff
  • New Member

  • 17 posts
  • Joined: September 08

Posted 06 October 2008 - 01:05

I recently found Cliff's old Miller (an entire post all together) and the restoration pictures. I was amazed at the absolute beauty of these handmade pieces. There is something in the precision, the sharpness melding with the smoothness of the medium that made me just stare at the pieces. Imagine crafting these small pieces of sculpture and putting them together to build something not only functional, but superior to anything the world had ever seen. Art takes many forms, and these cars are definitely art.

I don't have much ego involved in finding out Cliff's story, although if I find out anything nasty, I'll probably leave it out of the narrative. I do still want the family to talk to me. On the other hand, nothing will go in there that I knew to be false.

I've spent the last few weeks just doing the internet/book/newspaper research. I have read other threads and have cut and pasted some of them into a word document to use as a reference. (In fact, in one of the first threads that I read about a woman insisting that women ran in "real" races at the time, even I knew that the likelihood of that was slim. It also made me realize that, yes, family members could get too wrapped up in what they believed rather than in the truth. That attitude could alienate the very experts she was asking for help. I don't want to do that.)

My goal is not to learn just about Cliff but to be able to put him into the larger context of the racing world, so reading the info on this forum helps a lot. The next bit of time will be devoted to travelling to Cliff's children and copying the items that they each have. I'm going to buy a relatively portable scanner to take with me, along w my laptop. That way, I won't have to take any documents out of where they're kept. Of course, I'll catalogue them as I go. And anything that I find will be definitely shared with the people here. I've learned enough to know that information about this racing era is hard to come by, and every little bit helps someone to add another piece to the puzzle.

What about libraries and historical societies? I've read that the Chicago Historical Society has a lot of pics in their collection which isn't online. I'll be in Chicago and am thinking of going there. Any other suggestions in Chicago?

#56 Buildy

Buildy
  • Member

  • 57 posts
  • Joined: December 07

Posted 06 October 2008 - 03:54

Just wondering if any of you experts knows what happened to the Phil Harms collection of racing photos after his death. Also the Bruce Craig collection which is said to be extensive.
I have no details on how to access these collections,but they may prove valuable to investigate.

Barb,you might also want to talk with Authors Michael Lynch,and Eric Coyne.

I`m not familiar with any auto racing collections in Chicago,others with more knowledge of researching the era will have to advise....



Best,

Tony De Seta

#57 fines

fines
  • Member

  • 9,647 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 06 October 2008 - 08:41

First things first, Barb, it's IMCA, the International Motor Contest Asscoiation! You know, like in the "Village People" song:

It's fun to stay at the I-M-C-A
It's fun to stay at the I-M-C-A


;)

This organisation was established in 1915 and existed until 1977, its involvement in racing only interrupted in the war years 1943 and '44, a record that is only just being broken by the URC (United Racing Club), which is currently in its 61st year of uninterrupted service for motorsports. With such a long history it's a bit difficult to make broad statements about the way it handled its affairs, but the general rule-of-thumb is that it was a mostly entertainment-orientated organisation.

It gets very intricate when discussing the status and "ins and outs" concerning the various sanctioning bodies, but I'll try and give a reader's digest version here: the "mother" of all racing organisations in the USofA was the AAA (American Automobile Association), though it probably wasn't even the first of its kind. Basically, the "Contest Board of the AAA" was a bunch of bureaucrats who thought they had a god-given right to rule all autoracing in the States, but in effect it was half as bad as that sounds: what AAA brought to racing was much more than the notorious "iron fist", it was above all stability! Stability with rules, purses, safety features and record keeping, and it is thanks to the bureaucracy of this organisation, combined with the drawing power of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, that anything like a continuous history of autoracing in the USofA as much as even exists today.

Having said that, the AAA had also a number of bad traits that make life so difficult today for your average motorsport historian, but I still believe it would be infinitely worse if it hadn't been for these bureaucratic one-track minds. Back in the days of the IMCA's gestation though, it was the bureaucracy as much as the aloofness of "the boys in Washington" (HQ of the AAA) that drove many race promoters in the Midwest and the Pacific Coast region insane. All they wanted to do was promote races, make money for themselves and the racers and provide entertainment to the masses - who cared about cubic inches, manufacturer claims and timing inconsistencies!? "The heck with 3-A, we can do it on our own!", was the battle cry for a number of Midwestern Fair Boards in 1914, and over the winter the IMCA was born.

In a lot of ways, IMCA mimicked what AAA had done, but it was always more open. And in no time at all, the real powers that be became the promoters, and there were only very few of them that could do business with the IMCA, a cartel in effect. A local fair board would buy an IMCA sanction, and the promoter(s) would provide a number of cars and drivers, to which a few locals would be added. Lots of drivers had fixed contracts with the promoters, and were on a weekly salary, rather than depending on race winnings.

Most "name drivers" were bound to IMCA promoters that way, and I'm sure Cliff Woodbury was one of them in the late teens. And, there is no doubt that most of these races were "fixed", one way or another. Most of the time, these would only be short sprints anyway, five or ten minutes in duration at the most, interspersed with attempts at breaking some phoney "world records". In the races, drivers would generally be instructed to "keep close company" to each other until the final lap, when those with the stronger engines would leap forwards, often choreographed to a photo finish. The country folk loved it!

It's certainly debatable if this was still motorsports, but it was definitely a good training for up and coming drivers: Tommy Milton, A. J. Foyt and Doug Wolfgang are just a few of the names that were "made" in IMCA competition! I'm sure Cliff was glad when he finally got rid of the dusty county fairs, but in his early days as a racer he must've been proud to be part of the IMCA entourage. As for the "outlaw" tag, at the time it was certainly meant to be derogatory, though over time it was much romanticised: today, the leading dirt track racing organisation (that has, in some ways, taken over the legacy of AAA) is called the "World of Outlaws"...

#58 fines

fines
  • Member

  • 9,647 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 06 October 2008 - 10:51

As for the cars Cliff drove before his time in AAA, I believe only pictures will tell the real story. You mentioned Duesenberg, Frontenac and Peugeot, and that already covers a lot of ground. I would also guess that he drove at least two different Frontenacs! As for the "Premiere", I wonder if that could have been a Premier instead - note the missing "e" at the end! Premier was an Indianapolis based company that went out of business in the early twenties, I believe. In 1916, they built three racing cars for the Indianapolis 500 that are often described as Peugeot copies - could Cliff's Peugeot in reality have been a Premier?

You ask why I am interested in the twenties? Well, I guess Mark (MPea3) put that quite well in his post, it's mostly the beauty of these cars! :love: :love: If you go and buy "The Miller Dynasty", as you appear to be contemplating, and if you have an eye for the aesthetics of engineering, the beauty of things mechanical, you will instantly see it as you turn page for page. It's a feast for the senses! It is Functional Art, pure and simple, and Harry Miller was the godfather of it, all those drivers and mechanics the practioners.

Another aspect for me is the era in itself, and the role the United States played in a largely post-Monroe world. For a European like me, even today, it is a fascinating era, and one that flashes inspiration as well as warning - America was beginning to leap so far ahead of the Old World, it was, and sometimes still is, almost frightening to watch. There was a vivacity and frivolity in the air that was unmatched in Europe or anywhere else in the world, except for perhaps a few very esoteric (and very expensive!) night clubs in Gay Paris! America, or so it seemed to "us", was an open-all-day version of that, accessible to the average guy. It's fun to see how it all began.

I also must say that I'm deeply impressed with your approach! :up: It would be so easy to do this "wrong", yet nobody would even notice if you keep it in the family! Kudos!

#59 fines

fines
  • Member

  • 9,647 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 06 October 2008 - 11:03

Originally posted by Buildy
Just wondering if any of you experts knows what happened to the Phil Harms collection of racing photos after his death. Also the Bruce Craig collection which is said to be extensive.
I have no details on how to access these collections,but they may prove valuable to investigate.

I do wonder that myself, but being so far away from access, the thought was never so pressing to me that I would have started to investigate. I also don't know how to access the CHSC, but like the Harms and Craig collections it appears to be extensive.

Advertisement

#60 Searching Cliff

Searching Cliff
  • New Member

  • 17 posts
  • Joined: September 08

Posted 06 October 2008 - 15:35

All together now!!!
:clap: I M C A :clap:
:clap: I M C A :clap:

Has anyone posted the links to the online pics of the Chicago Historical Society? Many of the pics are from the Elgin road races, some are of the 1928 Indy, there are some that are very early but seem to be of non-racing cars (1908), a few from Crown Point, and some from Speedway Park, among others. I seem to remember seeing the Elgin pics posted here somewhere, but I'm not sure. Would anyone like the links?

All of the pics of the CHS are not online, so I may go there while in Chicago. Let me know if anyone has a particular topic they would like me to poke into while I'm buried deep in the archives.

I'll look into seeing if I can find where those other photo collections reside.

Your post, Mr. Ferner, about America at this time beginning to leap beyond Europe ... There's a theory about that which I find fascinating, and I think it has some elemental truth. The later years of the 19th century and early years of the 20th were years where enormous numbers of immigrants came to the US. Some were forced by hunger, political oppression, pogroms, etc, but many came bc they were looking for a new life and new opportunities. These people had more of a risk taking behavior pattern than those who stayed, and passed on this genetic feature to their children. So, America became the land of the entrepreneur where everything seemed possible, where people could reinvent themselves without regard to the social expectations of their European life, where land was available and cheap, and where other natural resources were in abundance. While Europe initially maintained the status quo, the risk taking gene in big numbers had ferried across the pond, and with it much of the innovative and inventive spirit which characterized the era. The theory probably has some holes in it, but overall it makes some sense.

More later!
:wave:

#61 john glenn printz

john glenn printz
  • Member

  • 661 posts
  • Joined: June 05

Posted 06 October 2008 - 17:33

GEORGE SOUDERS (1900-1976). THE 1927 INDIANAPOLIS 500 WINNER. I had many opportunities to talk to Mr. Souders, but as he actually started in only three genuine AAA Championship ranked contests, I never seemed to have much to question him about. I did however enquire as to why, after having won at Indianapolis in 1927 and placing 3rd there in 1928, he never returned to race at the Speedway again.

Souders replied that in mid-1928 he had had a very bad wreck at Detroit in a dirt track race and had been knocked unconscious for over a month. This incident had scared him so much that he never raced again. This information was entirely new to me at the time and later, when I checked the Detroit 1928 newspapers, I came up with more data. The race in question was at the Michigan State Fairgrounds and was an AAA non-Championship 100 miler held on July 15, 1928. Late in the race Souders car hurled through the inner fence and flipped over a dozen times and was demolished. George had been trying to make up for time lost in a pit stop. Souders was badly mauled and it was thought that he would not live through the night.

However by July 20, George was reported to be much improved and in a semi-conscious state. Souders' statement that he was in a coma for a whole month turned out to be a bit of an exaggeration. Although Souders never mentioned it to me, he emerged from this accident with a badly mangled arm, which appears to be the real reason he had to quit racing. Souders officially announced his retirement from racing in mid-March 1929.

Souders started racing in 1922 and came from Lafayette, IN, but seems to have done most of his racing before 1927, in or near the state of Texas. Souders is said however to have actually begun his racing career at the Tippacanoe, IN, county fairground dirt track. Before 1927 George seems to have also run occasionly at the Roby and Hawthorne tracks, located near Chicago. The only race that I am currently aware of that he ran before 1927 was at the 1/2 mile Douglas, AZ track, held on 25 December 1925. Souders was 5th in a 50 miler staged that day. Souders' pre-1927 racing activity is, at present, in complete obscurity but would be cleared up a bit no doubt, if one were to inspect the 1922-1926 Texas newspapers. George was primarily a dirt track driver and never ever competed in an AAA Championship level board track contest. In 1927, with the exception of Indianapolis, all the AAA National Championship contests were held on board tracks. Those still being used for this purpose were Altoona, Atlantic City, Charlotte, Culver City and Salem-Rockingham.

Hollywood Bill White had purchased a Duesenberg from driver Phil "Red" Shafer and put George in the cockpit for the 1927 Indianapolis 500. Both Souders and White had never entered the 500 before. As a rookie George drove well, without any relief, and scored the second totally unexpected Indy victory in a row. Frank Lockhart had won in 1926, seemingly also coming out of nowhere to win. At the time Souders won Indy, he was enrolled at Purdue University as an undergraduate, majoring in mechanical engineering. George pointed out to me that his win here in 1927, was with the smallest engined machine ever to win an Indianapolis 500, a mere 90.0 cubic inch displacement! With it he led laps 150-200 and averaged 97.545 mph for the 500 miles, which was a new record for the 91 cubic inch class racers.

[Here Phil Shafer was singularly unfortunate for two years in a row, as he sold the upcoming winning Duesenberg (Souders) to Bill White in 1927, and the upcoming winning Miller (Meyer) in 1928 to Alden Sampson II!]

Souders told me that his 1927 Indy winning Duesenberg was not DePaolo's 1925 car, and then concluded his sentence with, "because my car had a 90 cubic inch motor while DePaolo's had a 122." Nobody claims it was the same exact engine that was in both cars, all anyone ever asserted was that the Duesenberg chassis was identical. So, in my opinion, George kind of nullified his own statement.

After George won at Indianapolis, all the AAA tracks wanted him to race at their events, as an added attraction. He ran in a rather makeshift 75 miler at Roby on June 10, arranged by Jack Leech, then the president of the Roby dirt oval. Souders won, with Shorty Cantlon 2nd, John A. "Jack" Petticord 3rd, "Whiz" Sloan 4th, and Louis "Lou" F. Schneider 5th. Souders' winning time was 60 minutes and 41 seconds (c. 75 mph).

Souders was entered for the Altoona 200 of June 11, but burned a piston in practice and could not start. He was also present at Salem on July 4, but didn't compete. June 19 found Souders in a AAA 100 mile race run at Kalamzoo, MI. Fred Frame was the winner, with George finishing 2nd, more than a half a lap behind. Jack Petticord was 3rd and Wilbur Shaw 4th. Frame led all 100 laps and his time was 1 hour, 13 minutes, and 27 seconds.

Meanwhile it transpired on August 9 that George, with his Indy winning Duesenberg, would travel to Europe to compete in the 372.84 mile Italian Grand Prix at Monza (September 4); and possibly also at the 327 mile British Grand Prix on October 1, The British Grand Prix in 1927 was held at the famous Brooklands oval. Probably lucrative appearance money was promised if the 1927 winning Indianapolis car and driver would compete at these races. George failed to finish at Monza and did not start at Brooklands.

George returned to Lafayette, IN on September 27. On October 15 he participated in an AAA semi-official "Dirt Track Championship" held in Detroit. It consisted of three 50 mile heats and was decided on a point system. Cliff Woodbury won the first two heats and Souders the third. The final results posted were 1. Cliff Woodbury, 2. George Souders, 3. Wilbur Shaw, and 4. Charles "Dutch" Bauman.

George also ran in short sprint races using a Miller staged at Ascot on November 28, which were sponsored by ex-driver, Harlan Fengler. Here Souders copped the 25 mile feature. And in a scheduled 100 mile contest at Milwaukee on October 2, George went only 4 laps before motor problems put him out. Because of rain the race was flagged after 56 laps. Lou Schneider was the declared winner, with Roy Goodwin 2nd, and Shorty Cantlon 3rd.

On January 18, 1928 at Ascot, Souders engaged in a largely meaningless three heat match race against the aging Ralph DePalma. Both were using Millers and Souders won all three heats. Then in the 50 lap feature, George won again over the likes of Cliff Bergere, Ralph DePalma, Leon Duray, Fred Frame, and Lou Schneider. Souders clocking here was 24 minutes and 54 4/5 seconds. Again Fengler was the promotor.

For 1928, Souders was at Indianapolis again, still under the aegis of Bill White, but this time with a rear drive Miller. The final result was a good 3rd place finish. Outside of the 1927 and 1928 Indianapolis races, George's only other actual AAA Championship start was at Detroit (June 10, 1928) where he finished 14th, after just completing two laps, because of being hit in the mouth by a rock. Souders' AAA Championship rankings were 3rd in 1927 and 4th in 1928; in both cases all his points were obtained from just the Indianapolis event alone.

After retiring from racing George operated a garage and service station in Lafayette, IN.

Souders was an old man when I knew him and he had been ailing. He had piled up a lot of medical bills, which was a great worry to him. When Tony Hulman heard about all this, Tony said nothing to George himself, but paid them all off. Souders told me how grateful he was to Mr. Hulman for this great service.

That's about all I currently know about George Souders.

P.S. Update of October 11, 2011: Souders is listed as having won a special 25 mile "Lone Star" race, for Texas pilots only, at Dallas on April 11, 1925.

Edited by john glenn printz, 11 October 2011 - 17:38.


#62 Searching Cliff

Searching Cliff
  • New Member

  • 17 posts
  • Joined: September 08

Posted 06 October 2008 - 20:52

Any idea who the racer is here and on what board track? The photo is posted on an eBay auction, and is listed as coming from a photo album. (Don't worry, I know it's not Cliff. I have learned a little bit in the last few weeks!)

http://cgi.ebay.ca/e...bayphotohosting

#63 Buildy

Buildy
  • Member

  • 57 posts
  • Joined: December 07

Posted 07 October 2008 - 12:56

I don`t know who or where,but that is a stock based racer,not AAA Championship car.

They did have some stock type racing on the Atlantic City boards.

I see the seller is from Miami-I`m not sure if they had any stock based racing at Fulford or not.

#64 fines

fines
  • Member

  • 9,647 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 07 October 2008 - 17:10

Mr. Printz, thanks once again for a great story with great insight! I can add a few titbits that I know about George Souders:

According to a 1927 article, he was born George Raymond Souders, and started racing on July 4 in 1922 at Danville in Illinois, driving the car of a temporarily disabled friend from Lafayette. Over the next four or five years, however, he seems mostly to have raced a Chevrolet Special entered (and probably built) by Roberts & Warnick, with what appears to have been an SOHC head on a Chevrolet 490 engine. I have several entries for him between Labor Day 1924 (Hoosier Motor Speedway) and Independence Day 1926 (West Texas Fairgrounds), but very few actual race results, but he appears to have won a 25-miler at Abilene, Texas (July 4, 1925) and a short race at Hobert, Oklahoma in September of that year.

As for his "post-Indy" record, I have him additionally in a Detroit 100-miler on June 5, 1927, retiring with engine failure on lap 42, and I have the Roby race on June 12, a Sunday, which would also make more sense because on June 10 he must've still been at Altoona, practising for the board track race there and, incidentally, suffering another engine failure. But so far, I hadn't had any results for the Roby race, so my thanks to you for the top five! :up: That race had been advertised as a 50-miler, but the time you posted certainly points to it being lengthened to 75 miles.

Before going to Europe, he also finished second to Fred Frame at Kalamazoo, Michigan (June 19), and fourth at Detroit again (July 31), both over 100 miles, and I have three Ascot appearances for him on November 27, December 18 and January 15 (a non-start because of engine failure in addition to the two wins you mentioned). And, contrary to your statement about him never actually starting a board track race, I have him retiring from a 100-miler at Akron, Ohio, on May 13 with the Duesenberg again (engine failure on lap 15). He was also entered, and apparently practised and tried to qualify, for the Championship race at Rockingham Speedway in Salem (NH) on Independence Day, but failed to start in any event.

As for his career ending accident, I did find an article from the end of July (a full two weeks after the crash) that said he was still "semi-conscious", so perhaps he wasn't exaggerating that much? Also, a 1929 article alluded to some sort of mental damage due to the accident, although I'm not at all sure about the credibility of that report! As an aside, the race in which he had that accident appears to have been a rather sedate affair (a hippodrome?) with only two finishers, and it was actually won by a front-drive Miller!!!

#65 fines

fines
  • Member

  • 9,647 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 07 October 2008 - 17:41

Originally posted by john glenn printz
Souders was an old man when I knew him and he had been ailing. He had piled up a lot of medical bills, which was a great worry to him. When Tony Hulman heard about all this, Tony said nothing to George himself, but paid them all off. Souders told me how grateful he was to Mr. Hulman for this great service.

A great reminder of a great man - Tony Hulman! :up:

Originally posted by john glenn printz
Hollywood Bill White had purchased a Duesenberg from driver Phil Shafer and put George in the cockpit for the 1927 Indianapolis 500. Both Souders and White had never entered the 500 before. As a rookie George drove well, without any relief, and scored the second totally unexpected Indy victory in a row. Frank Lockhart had won in 1926, seemingly also coming out of nowhere to win. At the time Souders won Indy, he was enrolled at Purdue University as an undergraduate, majoring in mechanical engineering. George pointed out to me that his win here in 1927, was with the smallest engined machine ever to win an Indianapolis 500, a mere 90.0 cubic inch displacement! With it he led laps 150-200 and averaged 97.545 mph for the 500 miles, which was a new record for the 91 cubic inch class racers.

{Here Phil Shafer was singularly unfortunate for two years in a row, as he sold the upcoming winning Duesenberg (Souders) to Bill White in 1927, and the upcoming winning Miller (Meyer) in 1928 to Alden Sampson II!]

Souders told me that his 1927 Indy winning Duesenberg was not DePaolo's 1925 car, and then concluded his sentence with, "because my car had a 90 cubic inch motor while DePaolo's had a 122." Nobody claims it was the same exact engine that was in both cars, all anyone ever asserted was that the Duesenberg chassis was identical. So, in my opinion, George kind of nullified his own statement.

A few points worthy of discussion: The 1927 Indy 500 was actually not the first for car owner Bill White, who had entered the Durant Special of Harlan Fengler in 1923! In most records these days, this entry appears under the name of Cliff Durant himself, but he was definitely only the sponsor - the car was reported as sold to White already before the race. It was one of the six two-man Miller 183s that Durant had bought in late 1922, with its engine modified to meet the new rules. Two other like cars were sold to Frank Elliott and Leon Duray, while the other three cars were fitted with new Miller 122 engines to run in Grands Prix. "Hollywood Bill" White, so named because he lived in Hollywood (unlike a certain Fiat/Ferrari team manager many decades later ;)), was only 25 years old at the time, and his driver barely 20! Apparently, though, White had been an entrant of the ex-Oldfield Grand Prix Delage/Miller already since 1919!

It would be interesting to know how White and Souders came to be a team. They must have met a couple of times, when the Pacific Coast teams and drivers used to roam the Texas area dirt tracks in the mid-twenties, and it is possible George raced at Ascot as well. However, it was still a somewhat unlikely combination that turned up there at Indy in 1927. Somehow, it looked more like a marriage of convenience, rather than one of love. Perhaps Souders had some local "sponsors" that helped finance the car?

Which leads us to an interesting conundrum: the claim that the White/Souders Duesenberg was the same car that Pete de Paolo had driven "into victory circle" (no such thing in the twenties!) two years earlier. But, was it? Comparing pictures of the winning cars in 1925 and 1927 shows many differences, actually too many for comfort! Granted, mostly minor things like position of hood straps, ventilation louvres and so on, yet between 1925 and 1926 the car had hardly changed at all! If indeed it was the same car, it was most certainly completely rebuilt before Souders drove it!

The claim, by the way, originated in 1927 already, but I wouldn't give it more credence because of that - claims just like that were ten a penny in those days, and interestingly: the concurrent claim, namely that the de Paolo Duesey went to Freddie Winnai instead, is even older! Actually, I had never seen a picture of the Winnai Duesenberg until Robert posted the Laurel photographs earlier in this thread, and even though you can't see very much of the car in the picture, it does look to me even less like the de Paolo car than the 1927 Indy winner! So, where does that leave us?

Let's look at it chronologically: May 30 in 1926 is the date of the last photographic evidence of the de Paolo car that I can be sure of, the day Pete qualified the car at the IMS - of course, he also ran the race there the following day, so we know where the car was until at least June the 1st. Freddie Winnai was first reported in the "former de Paolo Duesenberg" on June 12, at the opening of the new "Philadelphia Speedway" at Langhorne (PA) - yes, the famous "Big O", or "Big Left Turn", or simply "The Horne"! Winnai won a 50-miler that day at 70 miles an hour, not bad for a second division event (remember, this was NMRA!), but hardly the speedfest one connects today with the name of Langhorne - surely, the "Banana Wagon" could have done better?

Then again, the new 1.5-litre Duesenberg engine was a lemon, as evidenced by its Indianapolis performance, but wait a moment: why would Winnai buy a 91 cubic inch racer, when he was competing in a virtually free formula against cars like the former Tommy Milton record Miller, a single-seater with 3000 cc, in the hands of Jimmy Gleason? And also, the inaugural Langhorne event was originally scheduled for May 30 (the day before the Indy 500!), and was only postponed because of rain - although it is not exactly clear if Winnai's Duesey was perhaps a late entry! But, if you add to that the logistics of traveling to Indianapolis to purchase the car, and then towing it back 600 miles to the Pennsylvania/New Jersey border, it becomes quite an unlikely story.

Looking at the Laurel (June 19) picture, I'd say the Winnai car looks very much like a two-seater anyway, and if there was anything of the de Paolo Duesenberg in it, then it was perhaps the original 2-litre engine: that was last used on May 10 in Charlotte, North Carolina, only 400 miles from Philadelphia/Langhorne, and with a much more comfortable time "cushion" to contemplate the deal. As an intermediate conclusion, I believe the odds are very much against Winnai having any further part in the history of the "Banana Wagon"!

So, what happened instead with it? Enter Phil "Red" Shafer, former Duesenberg factory driver and dirt- as well as board-track veteran. When Pete de Paolo sent in his entries for the 1926 Indy 500, he originally nominated himself as the driver for the new Miller 91 he had just purchased, and left the driving assignment for the Duesenberg initially open. By May 24, he had nominated his former Duesenberg team mate Shafer for the job, who had actually already acted as a back-up driver for Pete at the Fresno sprints in April. In the event, de Paolo chose to drive the Duesenberg once more, and Shafer took over the Miller, for reasons that aren't exactly clear to me at the moment. Whatever, in the race "Red" was fighting for the lead until slowed by unspecified troubles, while Pete in the Duesey outlasted him to finish an unremarkable 5th.

At Altoona on June 12, the same date as the Langhorne race further east in the same state, Pete took the Miller and "Red" was a non-starter, but July 5 in New Hampshire both started, and Pete took 3rd, apparently in the old Duesenberg war horse, but interestingly, on the very same day the promoters of a dirt track race at Abilene in Texas believed they had an entry for Shafer, car not specified! This was, by the way, the same race which Lockhart had entered before going to Indianapolis as a provisional relief driver, and the very entry which now stood in his way of starting at Salem! When the Abilene Daily Reporter published the "complete entry list" the day before the race, however, Lockhart was on it (and also Souders, by the way), but Shafer not!

What was the background? A possible scenario would be this: Shafer had entered into a deal to buy the Duesenberg off de Paolo, but Pete had second thoughts about letting the car go, and was perhaps having trouble getting used to the Miller. Reports are slightly confusing, but indications are that de Paolo prefered to drive the Duesey for the rest of the year, although he appears to have tried the Miller from time to time. Shafer may have entered into "preliminary talks" with the Abilene promoters, hoping to have the purchase completed by that time, but when this failed to materialise he opted to drive the unoccupied Miller at Salem instead. This then apparently became a pattern, and "Red" would eventually use the Miller also in dirt track events, winning with it at Kalamazoo on August 15, and finishing third at Syracuse three weeks later.

After that, suddenly nada! Tony Gulotta, a pal of de Paolo's chief mechanic Cotton Henning, took over the ride in Pete's Miller, and Shafer appeared to have retired as a driver, only to reappear three years later, citing unspecified health problems. But, his absence was not complete: while I can't find no trace of him at all anywhere in racing during 1927, he did enter two cars at Indy in 1928, a front-drive Miller for Babe Stapp, and a rear-drive Miller (the former de Paolo car!) for himself. As things worked out, he had to sell the rear-drive (financial or health problems?), but Stapp drove the front-drive for the full season.

As Mr. Printz has already remarked, the Miller he sold went on to win that year's Indy 500 in the hands of Louie Meyer, apparently a piece of history repeating itself, as I didn't know until today that it was Shafer who sold the Duesenberg to Bill White in 1927. Given his health problems, and his involvement in the convoluted history of the de Paolo stable of racing cars the year before, it all makes perfect sense! One question may be permitted, though, what is the source of this piece of information, Mr. Printz? George Souders himself? And: do you have an opinion about the 1925/1927 Duesenberg question?

#66 Buildy

Buildy
  • Member

  • 57 posts
  • Joined: December 07

Posted 07 October 2008 - 17:54

George Souders-any ideas where and when?

The info I was given was 1928-Ascot?

http://www.flickr.co...572989/sizes/o/


This one that was on e-bay said 1928-Ascot-George Souders-Fred Frame.....


http://www.flickr.co...435152/sizes/o/

#67 fines

fines
  • Member

  • 9,647 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 07 October 2008 - 18:12

Originally posted by Buildy
George Souders-any ideas where and when?

The info I was given was 1928-Ascot?

http://www.flickr.co...572989/sizes/o/


This one that was on e-bay said 1928-Ascot-George Souders-Fred Frame.....


http://www.flickr.co...435152/sizes/o/

Yes, both pictures are from Ascot, winter of 1927/8 - one of the three races mentioned by Mr. Printz and me: Nov 27, Dec 18 or Jan 15. The Souders car is the ex-Hartz Miller 91, raced by Fred Comer, Hartz himself, Eddie Hearne, Leon Duray, Ira Vail and David Evans, and apparently still in the Hartz colours. I would love to identify the Frame Miller as it is one of my unsolved mysteries, but the picture is not clear enough! :(

In the second picture, you may notice the added radius rods, so the first one predates the other! Since Souders was a non-starter in the December event, ergo this has to be the Jan 15 (1928) race, which Souders won "by a few feet" from Frame. :)

#68 Buildy

Buildy
  • Member

  • 57 posts
  • Joined: December 07

Posted 07 October 2008 - 18:20

Thank you fines!

#69 Searching Cliff

Searching Cliff
  • New Member

  • 17 posts
  • Joined: September 08

Posted 08 October 2008 - 00:48

Is this relevant to the discussion? From DePaolo's 1935 book Wall Smacker:

“During the latter part of 1926 Bill White, a Hollywood sportsman, had purchased my old Duesenberg. “Hollywood” White, as he was called, had the faculty of picking good drivers, and nominated George Souders to drive his car in this 1927 Indianapolis race. Souders, who was a graduate of Purdue University, had developed into a leading dirt track driver in Abilene, Texas, where White had watched him perform. During his practice trials, prior to the Indianapolis race, he gave all evidence of being a possible winner, even though he was far from being the favorite of the day. After being forced out of the race in the thirty-second lap, I got quite a thrill out of watching my old car driven by Souders in a manner that warmed my heart.”

#70 MPea3

MPea3
  • Member

  • 2,145 posts
  • Joined: July 01

Posted 08 October 2008 - 01:51

Originally posted by fines
I would love to identify the Frame Miller as it is one of my unsolved mysteries, but the picture is not clear enough! :(


Maybe I can contribute something here. Norm Frame, Chuck's son and Fred's great nephew, lives near me and is an acquaintance. I know he still has many old photographs and information and may be able to lend some insight into this.

#71 fredeuce

fredeuce
  • Member

  • 355 posts
  • Joined: May 07

Posted 08 October 2008 - 04:21

Posted Image


Nice pictures of the crowd scene. Obviously straw-boater's were all the rage back then. Kind of quaint but kind of nice too. A baseball hat turned around backwards just doesn't compare.

#72 Searching Cliff

Searching Cliff
  • New Member

  • 17 posts
  • Joined: September 08

Posted 08 October 2008 - 04:34

What race is this photo of?

#73 fredeuce

fredeuce
  • Member

  • 355 posts
  • Joined: May 07

Posted 08 October 2008 - 04:58

The above pic is the first of the selection below.

Originally posted by robert dick
Additional Laurel photos, dated July 11, 1925:

http://memory.loc.go...7400/27445v.jpg
http://memory.loc.go...7400/27446v.jpg
http://memory.loc.go...7400/27447v.jpg
http://memory.loc.go...7400/27448v.jpg
http://memory.loc.go...7400/27449v.jpg



#74 fines

fines
  • Member

  • 9,647 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 08 October 2008 - 09:17

Originally posted by Searching Cliff
Is this relevant to the discussion? From DePaolo's 1935 book Wall Smacker:

“During the latter part of 1926 Bill White, a Hollywood sportsman, had purchased my old Duesenberg. “Hollywood” White, as he was called, had the faculty of picking good drivers, and nominated George Souders to drive his car in this 1927 Indianapolis race. Souders, who was a graduate of Purdue University, had developed into a leading dirt track driver in Abilene, Texas, where White had watched him perform. During his practice trials, prior to the Indianapolis race, he gave all evidence of being a possible winner, even though he was far from being the favorite of the day. After being forced out of the race in the thirty-second lap, I got quite a thrill out of watching my old car driven by Souders in a manner that warmed my heart.”

Barb, thanks for that! Incredible though it seems, the "Wall Smacker" book is still on my wish list. I must get around to buying it!

#75 fines

fines
  • Member

  • 9,647 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 08 October 2008 - 09:58

Originally posted by MPea3


Maybe I can contribute something here. Norm Frame, Chuck's son and Fred's great nephew, lives near me and is an acquaintance. I know he still has many old photographs and information and may be able to lend some insight into this.

Mark, that would be wonderful! But, be advised, this might not be as simply as it seems: Fred drove several different Millers during his career, the time frame (no pun intended etc.) is important!

Here's a rough list of what I know about some of his early "mounts" - would be nice if Norm could supply any further info! :)
  • 1923: a Fronty-Ford, no other info
  • 1924: the #99 "Hooker Special" (Harry Hooker), an Arizona based car (built ca. 1922) with a Model T engine with DOHC Miller head
  • 1925: the Clarence Tarbet 8-cylinder "Miller Special", apparently from California
  • 1926: ???
  • early 1927: a #37 Miller, no further details, possibly still the Tarbet car?
  • mid 1927: the #31 O. B. Dolfinger "Miller Special", a blue Miller 122 with a rebuilt engine, possibly ex-Abell (Kentucky?)
  • late 1927: (the car in the Ascot picture), possibly the same as before, but different # (34?) and apparently darker colour, subsequently used (bought?) by Lou Moore
  • 1928: #27 Bill White Duesenberg, blue/white, the car we have just discussed (de Paolo/Souders) :)
  • early 1929: a Fronty-Ford, maybe a one-off ride (Ascot, CA)
  • Indy 1929: #34 Cooper front-drive, yellow/black, supposedly ex-McDonogh ('27)/Kreis ('28)
  • late 1929 until end of 1930: his own "Miller Special", a (light) green #6, later #20 and then #4, ex-"Locomobile Junior 8"/Mike Boyle (Arnold/Gardner) car, 1926 vintage
  • 1930: #33 "Barney Special" (Barney Kleopfer), California based car (ca. 1926), Fronty engine, probably one-off ride (Phoenix, AZ)
  • 1931: #8 Allen Guiberson 4-cylinder Miller, Texas based car (built 1930), probably one-off (Ascot)
  • 1931: #16 Miller, possibly ex-Boyle (?), possibly owned by Frank Brisko (Wisconsin), one-off (?, Woodbridge, NJ)
Nice shopping list, eh?;)

#76 dilettante

dilettante
  • Member

  • 46 posts
  • Joined: September 06

Posted 08 October 2008 - 10:19

Originally posted by fines

Barb, thanks for that! Incredible though it seems, the "Wall Smacker" book is still on my wish list. I must get around to buying it!

Michael, you can find some copy HERE ... ;)

Jyl

#77 john glenn printz

john glenn printz
  • Member

  • 661 posts
  • Joined: June 05

Posted 08 October 2008 - 12:17

Dear Mr. Ferner;

You certainly have a lot of data and knowledge about AAA racing!!! I have been knocking my head against a concrete wall for over 50 years, trying to reconstruct what happened here during 1902-1955. My interest, as you understand, is only with the AAA Championship division proper however and what led up to it, i.e. 1894-1915.

I wonder what sparked your interest in such an out of the way and obscure subject as AAA racing? In many respects you seem very far out and ahead of myself!

Anyway I have taken the liberty of correcting my text about Souders, in the light of what you say about George's board track activity.

The source about Shafer selling Bill White the Duesenberg, comes from a late-twenties or early thirties newspaper article about Shafer, but I'm not sure I can immediately lay my hands on it. This information did not come from Souders. After DePaolo's testimony in WALL SMACKER, I think it was the same chassis that DePaolo had in 1925, and that Souders used in 1927.

I have complete writeups on the the following AAA Championship seasons; 1925-1926, 1928-1930, 1933 through 1946. The 1933 and 1946 writeups have already been posted here online. I presently regard the AAA seasons of 1947 and 1948 as needing the most work.

And to "Searching Cliff", your posting of Oct. 8, 2008 (Post 69), is certainly relevant here!

Sincerely

P.S. Phil Shafer and Bill White are the two gentlemen above the No. 32 and immediately standing on the left; in Buildy's photo posted on Oct. 8, 2008 (i.e, post no. 79).

#78 Buildy

Buildy
  • Member

  • 57 posts
  • Joined: December 07

Posted 08 October 2008 - 13:04

A couple photos-1928 Indianapolis-George Souders:

http://www.flickr.co...485640/sizes/o/



And his team mate Fred Frame in a Deusy:


http://www.flickr.co...485668/sizes/o/

#79 Buildy

Buildy
  • Member

  • 57 posts
  • Joined: December 07

Posted 08 October 2008 - 13:37

A vintage photo of George Souders the winner at Indy in 1927:


http://www.flickr.co...688659/sizes/o/


And the closeup:

http://www.flickr.co...540692/sizes/o/

Advertisement

#80 Searching Cliff

Searching Cliff
  • New Member

  • 17 posts
  • Joined: September 08

Posted 08 October 2008 - 15:30

Thanks for the link to abe's books, Dilettante. It looks like it has more choices than amazon. Wow, look at the wide discrepancy of the prices for Wall Smacker. Of course, many are collectibles, so that changes the price considerably.

I used amazon.com to get the Wall Smacker book; it was $50 plus $4 shipping. I didn't care much about the condition of the cover, etc. This one is hardback, no dust jacket, and signed by DePaolo. It does have some good information in it, and some photos that I have never seen anywhere before (many are of crashes). There is some individual car history, as Mr. Ferner seems to like, and Mr. De Seta would probably enjoy the photographs. One of the things I liked about the book is that it explains why the mechanics were needed in that second seat, and exactly what they did. If De Paolo is to be believed, they occasionally got out of their seat and climbed over to the engine to fix something as the car was still roaring around the track. As for the writing, let's just say that it's good that De Paolo kept his day job. It also reflects the climate of the era, and has several passages where "colored" people are made fun of for their supposed lack of intelligence, so if everything you read needs to be rated PC then don't shell out the $50.

#81 Buildy

Buildy
  • Member

  • 57 posts
  • Joined: December 07

Posted 08 October 2008 - 15:39

"Mr. De Seta would probably enjoy the photographs."

Indeed! Board track era photos are one of the joys of my life.

#82 Searching Cliff

Searching Cliff
  • New Member

  • 17 posts
  • Joined: September 08

Posted 08 October 2008 - 16:20

Someone asked in a previous post about the Bruce Craig collection and the Phil Harms collection of photos:

Bruce Craig collection is now in the hands of Snyder Video Productions. Lots like they are currently cataloguing the collection. What they've posted already looks more recent then this thread's focus:

http://www.thevintag...bruce/bctoc.htm

This is a review of a book co-written by Phil Harms, Real Road Racing: The Santa Monica Races. There's an email address on the page for Phil, but I have no idea if this is actually him or just the company that published the book.

http://www.deepthrot...ok_review.shtml

I have come across so many photos that are signed by Kirkpartrick from the early years. Does a collection of his exist?

:)

#83 john glenn printz

john glenn printz
  • Member

  • 661 posts
  • Joined: June 05

Posted 08 October 2008 - 17:21

EARLY HOLLYWOOD BILL WHITE. I believe presently that the "White Special" of Bennett Hill (1920) is not connected to Hollywood Bill White. The question of White's early sponsorship of racing cars has come up before. See the thread "1946 AAA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP" posts nos. 95 (Printz) and 155 (Ferner).

I, in my research, could connect William S. White up with racing in 1924, but no further back. In 1924 Bill purchased a Miller 183 for Leon Duray's use at the new Ascot Speedway. Later, the year 1924, seemed to be confirmed as White's first year of sponsorship, by a short biography which appeared just after Souders won the 1927 500.

The source is THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, May 31, 1927, Sports, page 3. The reporter had been talking to Bill White's mother, i.e. Mrs. Rachel White. The article (quote) has the following;

"Mrs. White explains that this year is the first Souders has raced under the management of her son. His previous drivers have been Eddie Hearne, Leon Duray, and Harlan Fengler. The car that won this year was the car that Peter D. Paola drove to victory last year.

White has been in the racing game only three years. He began on the Ascot Speedway where Duray piloted for him."

This also confirms, in its own mistaken way (i.e. not "last year" or "D. Paola" but rather 1925 and DePaolo), that in 1927 Souders was using Peter DePaolo's 1925 Indy winning chassis.

There are references to Bill White's connection with Leon Duray's Miller contained in THE LOS ANGELES TIMES's articles; i. e., (1.) April 9, 1924, page B2, (2.) April 14, 1924, page A8, and (3.) May 4, 1924, page B1.

(I add also the dubious consideration, that IF Hollywood Bill White earned his big money from bootlegging, he would have had no such earnings until long after 1919, and probably 1920 here as well. The "Volstead Act" or "prohibition" was passed on January 29, 1919 and went into actual effect on January 29, 1920. So 1924 fits well here. Compare again with my post no. 95 on the "1946" thread. See also Gene Bannings' SPEEDWAY: HALF A CENTURY OF RACING WITH ART SPARKS, 1983, p. 29.)

#84 B Squared

B Squared
  • Member

  • 3,274 posts
  • Joined: September 08

Posted 08 October 2008 - 18:30

You all probably know this better than I, but I'll pass on Mr. Souders' words. He stated that car owner Bill White is the gentleman that is in line with the number 2 on the hood (hair messed up, sweater) of the winning Duesenberg in Buildy's post #79.

Sorry for being redundant if this is already well known.

Brian

#85 fines

fines
  • Member

  • 9,647 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 08 October 2008 - 21:29

Originally posted by john glenn printz
I wonder what sparked your interest in such an out of the way and obscure subject as AAA racing?

I guess I thrive on difficulty...;) That, or I have a masochistic heart! :lol:

Well, I guess with all the info from this thread, I'm more comfortable now with the Souders/White car being the 1925 winner. The "Wall Smacker" book is not exactly renowned for its accuracy in things historical (and fifty bucks is a mighty lot when it's not exactly rare, either! : ), but the real clincher for me is the info that White bought it from Shafer, especially if it's period info. Still, I wonder why it looked so different... :

As for the early Bill White, you're right, I can't be sure of the 1919/20 Delage - I'm not even sure it's the ex-Oldfield car! But the 1923 "Durant Special" of Harlan Fengler was definitely a Bill White entry, of that I'm sure. I've read it several times, and I will try to locate a source soon. As for the bootlegging connection, that sounds plausible but is still only a supposition, I guess. Also, I don't really know, but could it be that California was already 'dry' before the Volstead Act?

I only recently learned that Bill White was that young - 29 in 1927! From pictures, I always pegged him a little older - maybe because he was a little 'rotund'? :D

#86 fines

fines
  • Member

  • 9,647 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 08 October 2008 - 21:42

Lest I forget:

Thanks, Jean-Yves, for the Abe Books link, and Tony for the pictures! :up: Brian, your info is never redundant - some of us may know, but others surely not!

Barb, thanks for your links to the various photo collections. As for Phil Harms, he sadly died almost four years ago (Gosh! How time flies :()! He was a member of this board, and is sorely missed by all and sundry! The Kirkpatrick collection, I believe, is nowadays owned by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Some of it is online at the official Indy 500 website. And please: it's Michael!;)

#87 Searching Cliff

Searching Cliff
  • New Member

  • 17 posts
  • Joined: September 08

Posted 08 October 2008 - 21:48

http://query.nytimes...6CF&oref=slogin


Seems as if CA voters decided against a resolution to ban liquor in 1914, with an amendment that that the issue not come to a referendum for eight years. Thirty-three states had gone dry at the outbreak of World War I. Wartime Prohibition was enacted in 1919, followed by the Volstead National Prohibition Act year later on January 29, 1920.

#88 fines

fines
  • Member

  • 9,647 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 08 October 2008 - 22:31

Originally posted by Buildy
A vintage photo of George Souders the winner at Indy in 1927:


http://www.flickr.co...688659/sizes/o/


And the closeup:

http://www.flickr.co...540692/sizes/o/

I wonder why the car is touched up in the closeup... :confused:

Actually, having looked at the 1925, '26, '27 & '28 pictures again, I really can't believe it's the same car! : I am torn...

#89 Searching Cliff

Searching Cliff
  • New Member

  • 17 posts
  • Joined: September 08

Posted 08 October 2008 - 23:15

I know I am terribly naive about a lot of this, but I thought that most of the cars evolved over time to fit the requirements of the AAA. Is the problem here that the car changed too drastically too fast?

What constitutes being "the same car"? Is it the engine, the chasis? How much of the original car should remain to keep its status?

Another question: In Peter De Paolo's book, he says he left his uncle's racing team bc Uncle Ralph refused to use Firestone tires. Apparently Barney Oldfield promoted the tires somehow, and there was bad blood between De Palma and Oldfield. According to De Paolo, Uncle Ralph refused to change to the Firestones even though it meant that he continued to lose races in 1922. So when did Ralph eventually give in? The book also said that De Palma ran a French car, the Ballot. I've never heard of this kind of car. Did other racers use this kind of car too?

Geez, I'm sorry for all these questions.

#90 MPea3

MPea3
  • Member

  • 2,145 posts
  • Joined: July 01

Posted 09 October 2008 - 00:48


What constitutes being "the same car"? Is it the engine, the chasis? How much of the original car should remain to keep its status?


Talk about a can of worms...

#91 MPea3

MPea3
  • Member

  • 2,145 posts
  • Joined: July 01

Posted 09 October 2008 - 01:04

I just spent some time on the phone with Norm Frame. he has some written information concerning Fred's early career along with many photographs. Many are marked, but some aren't and he says I'm welcome to scan and publish them here with the hopes that they can be identified. I'll keep pestering him until we can get together, although it may be a week or two.

#92 Buildy

Buildy
  • Member

  • 57 posts
  • Joined: December 07

Posted 09 October 2008 - 05:02

I will wait with baited breath to see these photos!

#93 Buildy

Buildy
  • Member

  • 57 posts
  • Joined: December 07

Posted 09 October 2008 - 05:10

"The book also said that De Palma ran a French car, the Ballot. I've never heard of this kind of car. Did other racers use this kind of car too?"


Well At Indianapolis-Ballot competed in 1919,1920,1921,and 1922.

In 1919 there was a 4 car Ballot team from France.

Two of the four 1919ndy Ballots...

http://www.flickr.co...396670/sizes/o/

http://www.flickr.co...396656/sizes/o/

De Palma started 1st in both 1920-21.
IIRC 1920 was the year on the infamous fire when he was leading-Pete was sent out on to the hood to put out the fire. They ended up 5th......




The 1920 Indianapolis Ralph De Palma Ballot. Goodyear shod. Pete is the riding Mech.

http://www.flickr.co...500773/sizes/o/

Rene Thomas finished 2nd in this Ballot in 1920:

http://www.flickr.co...563357/sizes/o/



This is just a rough account of the Ballot racing exploits,others know the story in much greater detail than I do,I would imagine.

#94 m.tanney

m.tanney
  • Member

  • 341 posts
  • Joined: January 03

Posted 09 October 2008 - 06:00

Originally posted by Searching Cliff
Someone asked in a previous post about the Bruce Craig collection and the Phil Harms collection of photos:

Bruce Craig collection is now in the hands of Snyder Video Productions. Lots like they are currently cataloguing the collection. What they've posted already looks more recent then this thread's focus:

http://www.thevintag...bruce/bctoc.htm

This is a review of a book co-written by Phil Harms, Real Road Racing: The Santa Monica Races. There's an email address on the page for Phil, but I have no idea if this is actually him or just the company that published the book.

http://www.deepthrot...ok_review.shtml

I have come across so many photos that are signed by Kirkpartrick from the early years. Does a collection of his exist?

:)


Dale Snyder managed the Craig collection for Bruce's widow for a while after Bruce's death in 2001. In 2004 the Bruce Craig Collection was acquired by the Collier Museum in Florida. I don't know what the access is like - if there is any access at all. Has anyone tried dealing with the Collier Museum? I don't envy them trying to catalog it. I always had the impression that Bruce's cataloging system was all in his head.

Since Phil Harms' death at the end of 2004, the question of what happened to his collection has been asked on this and other forums. As far as I know, it has never been answered.

I believe that the Kirkpatrick collection (what survived of it) was acquired by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I've dealt with their photo people. They are very helpful and their prices are reasonable.

Mike

#95 fines

fines
  • Member

  • 9,647 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 09 October 2008 - 10:11

As far as I know, Bruce Craig had acquired A LOT of other photo collections before his death, so it's sure to be a daunting task to catalogue, but I doubt there's much in it from the twenties. And his widow, btw, is none other than the first daughter of Tommy Hinnershitz. Died in 2001, another reminder of how time flies! :(

As for Ballot, Tony has already given you the basics. A short-lived manufacturer of sports and racing cars from France, the company emerged from practically nowhere to compete at the 1919 Indy 500 as a sort of "superteam", composed of talented men with good reputations, and the cars were technically quite advanced. Ralph de Palma was the only proponent of the marque on your side of the Atlantic other than at Indy, and he ran first a 5-litre, then a 3-litre Ballot for a couple of years. Biggest success was a win at Elgin in 1920. In Europe, the cars won the 1921 Italian Grand Prix and the 2-litre Targa Florio the following year.

Originally posted by MPea3
I just spent some time on the phone with Norm Frame. he has some written information concerning Fred's early career along with many photographs. Many are marked, but some aren't and he says I'm welcome to scan and publish them here with the hopes that they can be identified. I'll keep pestering him until we can get together, although it may be a week or two.

That sounds mouth-watering! :)

#96 fines

fines
  • Member

  • 9,647 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 09 October 2008 - 10:54

Originally posted by Searching Cliff
I know I am terribly naive about a lot of this, but I thought that most of the cars evolved over time to fit the requirements of the AAA. Is the problem here that the car changed too drastically too fast?

What constitutes being "the same car"? Is it the engine, the chasis? How much of the original car should remain to keep its status?

No, you're absolutely not being naive here, and as Mark has already pointed out, it definitely IS a can of worms, so I don't want to drag this on forever. Just to sum up my thoughts about it, looking at the pictures it's easy to see that the 1925 and 1926 cars are identical, and so are the 1927 and 1928 ones. For those who want to follow the discussion, I don't know where you can find online pictures of the de Paolo Duesenberg (my internet picture finding talents are inexistant! :(), but if you have the "Board Track" book of Dick Wallen, there's a good one of the 1925 car on p368, and a slightly less good one of the 1926 car on p364.

If you now compare those to the ones posted by Tony before, namely http://www.flickr.co...688659/sizes/o/, http://www.flickr.co...540692/sizes/o/ (1927) and http://www.flickr.co...485668/sizes/o/ (1928), you may notice that there are a lot of minor differences. For one thing, even though the engine changed before the 1926 pic, the end position of the exhaust is the same as before, but different in the later two years.

The body of a racing car is composed of four main pieces: the radiator shell, the engine cover, the cowl section and the tail section, and if you look closely you'll notice that all four appear to change between 1926 and '27, but not before or after. There are differences in shape as well as in the number of air vents and the position of the hood straps, and also in the way the upholstery is fastened to the body. Also, take a look at the frame rails, and the position and number of the bolts on it: different between '26 and '27, but not before or after.

All these things are certainly not being unusual, as cars get used and abused on the tracks, but I've seen cars that had been involved in major crashes and changed less during their rebuilts, and the thing is I can't find a single trace of the de Paolo car suffering any crash damage during 1926! Just food for thought.

#97 dilettante

dilettante
  • Member

  • 46 posts
  • Joined: September 06

Posted 09 October 2008 - 12:10

Originally posted by fines
(...) As for Ballot, Tony has already given you the basics. A short-lived manufacturer of sports and racing cars from France, the company emerged from practically nowhere to compete at the 1919 Indy 500 as a sort of "superteam", composed of talented men with good reputations, and the cars were technically quite advanced. Ralph de Palma was the only proponent of the marque on your side of the Atlantic other than at Indy, and he ran first a 5-litre, then a 3-litre Ballot for a couple of years. Biggest success was a win at Elgin in 1920. In Europe, the cars won the 1921 Italian Grand Prix and the 2-litre Targa Florio the following year.


That's right... and more. :)

The "Établissements Ballot" was founded in 1905 by the Ballot's brothers, Édouard* and Maurice in Paris, and produce nautical engines. (*some source give Ernest, but much more give Édouard...).
During the WW1, Ballot produce airplane engines under Hispano licence.

At the end of 1918, the french driver René Thomas convice Ballot to build a car design by Ernest Henry, ex-Peugeot engineer and father of the L3 and L76 Peugeot's engines. Early 1919 and in about 100 days, four cars, 4,9 liters (300 ci) 8 cylinders were build for the Indy 500 with the results we know.
At the 1920 Indy 500, René Thomas and his Ballot 3 liters was involved during practice in a crash with the Frontenac of Arthur Chevrolet. Seriously injured, Arthur never race again...
The Ballot race until 1922 with some of the best french drivers at wheel: René Thomas, Jules Goux, Albert Guyot, Jean Chassagne, Louis Wagner, Paul Bablot... and some strangers like DePalma, Foresti and Masetti.
The Ballot was very good cars but so unlucky... the "french flair" doesn't always work! :p

During 1922, Ballot made a production car, the "2 LS" produce until 1924. In 1923 another one called "2 LT" and a sport version "2 LTS". In 1927 the "RH" with a 6 cylinders 2,8 l. But the selling fall and in 1931 the firm is buying by Hispano-Suiza. The Ballot HS 26 introduce in the "Salon de Paris" 1930 is rename "Hispano Junior" of which the engine was designed by Marc Birkigt.
The Ballot factory definitely close his doors in 1932.

Posted Image

#98 Buildy

Buildy
  • Member

  • 57 posts
  • Joined: December 07

Posted 09 October 2008 - 12:56

Ralph De Palma won at Beverly Hills on the Boards in 1921 in the Ballot:

http://www.champcars...aces/192105.htm


Ralph De Palma and Pete De Paolo in the beautifully turned out Ballot in 1921 at Indy.
Unfortunately their race ended with a broken connecting rod.

http://www.flickr.co...107637/sizes/o/




I also failed to mention that Eddie Hearne finished third at Indy in 1922 in a Ballot-the final year for Ballot at Indianapolis.

Unfortunately, I have no photo of Eddie Hearne in the Ballot.

#99 Buildy

Buildy
  • Member

  • 57 posts
  • Joined: December 07

Posted 09 October 2008 - 14:47

Here is the Bill White Delage at Beverly Hills in 1920 with Bennett Hill behind the wheel....


http://www.flickr.co...253827/sizes/o/

Advertisement

#100 ReWind

ReWind
  • Member

  • 2,413 posts
  • Joined: October 03

Posted 09 October 2008 - 17:59

Originally posted by dilettante
The "Établissements Ballot" was founded in 1905 by the Ballot's brothers, Édouard* and Maurice in Paris, and produce nautical engines. (*some source give Ernest, but much more give Édouard...).

Well, AFAIK Ernest and Édouard were different people because Maurice was Ernest! :drunk:

Full name of Édouard's brother was Gabriel Ernest Maurice Ballot
(b. 11 January 1870 in Angoulême, Cognac; d. 1937 [no exact date or place of death known to me]).