AAA CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS 1928 (cont.-20) The event saw Harry Hartz lead laps 1-2 and 4, and Shafer all the rest. At 50 miles Shafer had almost a full lap on Milton in 2nd, while Murphy ran 3rd. On circuit 84 Milton hit the fence when a steering gear gave way and his Miller overturned, but Tommy emerged unhurt. At 100 miles Shafer had increased his leadership to almost 2 laps over Murphy in 2nd, but then Murphy began a sensational speed show for the next 20 laps which narrowed the gap between himself and Shafer to just a single lap. By lap 135 Murphy was 3/4's of mile behind Shafer, but then he lost control of his Miller on lap 139 and clipped the inside fence. The car spun around three times and crashed into the fence, ripping out 70 feet of railing. The Miller did not overturn but in its motion sideways picked up the wooden side rails so that they penetrated the hood and body of the vehicle. The end of one of the rails struck Murphy in the chest. An ambulance reached an unconscious Murphy and took him to the St. Joseph's Hospital six miles away. Still unconscious, Jimmy was quickly placed on an operating table and immediate preparations were begun to try and save him when his life flickered out. In just 15 days three Indianapolis winners, i.e. Resta 1916, Murphy 1922, and Boyer 1924, had lost their lives in violent race related crashes.
Just five cars were running at the Syracuse finish. The final results (top five) were; 1. Shafer (Duesenberg) 1:54:25.20 or 78.658 mph; 2. Hill (Miller); 3. DePaolo (Duesenberg); 4. Comer (Miller); and 5. Cooper (Miller). The winner drove the entire 150 miles without a stop. Shafer was overlooked in the pre-race track predictions and prognostications, with his running among the likes of Cooper, Hartz, Milton, Murphy, and Vail. But Shafer's many years of competition on dirt ovals gave him an edge here. Murphy obtained no Championship points at Syracuse and his total for the year would now, of course, remain at a static 1595, but Cooper added 30 more to his total. After Syracuse the top five drivers in the AAA Championship point chase read; 1. Murphy 1595; 2. Cooper 680; 3. Comer 580; 4. Fengler 563, and 5. Corum 570.
After his death the mechanic Riley Brett was immediately put in charge of Murphy's remains. Accompanying Jimmy's body by train back to Los Angeles with Brett, were also Comer, DePaolo, Hartz, Hill, McDonough, and Shafer, but not Cooper or Milton. Cooper and Milton remained behind in Syracuse to wind up Jimmy's affairs and to ship Murphy's wrecked Miller back to L. A. Among the non-driver AAA personal who came back with Murphy were Reeves Dutton, Waldo Stein, George Stiel, Fred Wagner, and Ed Wintergast. Murphy's body was shipped from Syracuse on September 17 and arrived in Los Angeles on September 19. A delegation from the Knights of Columbus met the drivers and AAA officials from Syracuse at the Los Angeles railroad station. Murphy never married and had no immediate family. The funeral arrangements were made by his uncle, Judge Martin O'Donnel of Vernon, CA. The value of Murphy's estate was revealed on September 24 when his aunt, Mary O'Donnel, filed the legal papers. Jimmy's estate was worth $87,564 and partly consisted of L. A. real estate holdings, securities, two racing cars, one passenger car, and one airplane.
JIMMY MURPHY. James "Jimmy" Anthony Murphy (1894-1924) was and is one of the greatest U.S. drivers, as he and Tommy Milton dominated the American AAA racing scene in the early 1920s. Murphy's career as a driver was short, covering only six years, i.e. 1919 to 1924. Murphy was the sole pilot to win both the French Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500 during the 1913-1926 era, when simultaneously, the French Grand Prix was Europe's most important motor race and the Indianapolis 500 was the U.S.' foremost event. Such stellar international drivers as G. Bolliot, Boyer, DePalma, Goux, Lautenschlager, Resta, R. Thomas, or Wagner were never able to duplicate Murphy's unique achievement.
Murphy became an orphan when both his parents were killed in the San Francisco earthquake of April 1906. After that he was raised by an uncle, Judge M. Y. O'Donnell of Vernon, CA. Murphy somehow became attached to the Duesenberg racing team in 1916 and acted in the capacity of an all-round helper, grease monkey, and riding mechanic during 1916 to mid-1919. Among the Duesenberg pilots Jimmy rode with were Weighmann, O'Donnell, and Milton. During the war years, 1917 and 1918, Jimmy was employed by the Duesenberg factory, working with airplane motors. In 1919 Murphy rode with O'Donnell at Indy (May 31) and with Milton at Elgin (August 23).
However by 1919 Murphy's ambition was to became a driver in his own right. Milton had befriended Murphy and under Milton's tuterage Jimmy was entered on a Duesenberg team car for the Uniontown 225, to be held on September 1, 1919. Murphy's debut went awry when, during practice, he hit the outside railing and wrecked his car. In the race itself Milton was involved in a fiery accident and was badly burned. With Tommy still in the hospital, Murphy was allowed to start a Duesenberg in the Cincinnati 250 of October 12, 1919. The car's engine soon turned sour and Jimmy finished 11th (out 61 laps) in a starting field of 16. During November 10 to 21, 1919 the Duesenberg team drivers Milton, Murphy, O'Donnell, and Dave Lewis, set a large number of new AAA non-competitive speed records at Sheepshead Bay using the new eight cylinder cars exclusively.
1920 quickly established Murphy as an AAA superstar. The AAA National Driving Title was revived in 1920 and the first of the year's five Championship contests was the big 250 mile inaugual race run on February 28, at the just newly built Los Angeles Speedway (Beverly Hills). The winner was Murphy with an average speed of 103.2 mph. Jimmy's rookie year at Indianapolis was 1920 where he placed 4th behind 1. G. Chevrolet (Frontenac); 2. Rene Thomas (Ballot); and 3. his teammate and mentor Milton (Duesenberg). Murphy made his debut on a dirt surfaced track at Syracuse on September 18. In the 50 mile main event the results were 1. DePalma (Ballot, 73.43 mph); 2. Murphy (Duesenberg); 3. Vail (Frontenac); 4. Hill (Frontenac), and 5. G. Chevrolet (Frontenac).
Jimmy added another major AAA race win to his resume by taking the inaugural contest, a 200 miler, staged at Fresno on October 2. The race however was not included in the 1920 AAA Championship series. Murphy was among the four pilots who still had a mathematical chance, going into the very last 1920 Championship event, to win the AAA National Driving Title. The AAA rankings before the running of the Beverly Hills 250 of November 25, were 1. G. Chevrolet-1030; 2. Milton-930; 3. Murphy-805; and 4. DePalma-605. Although Chevrolet, Milton, and DePalma scored no points in the race, Murphy's 4th place finish gave him only 80 more points, bringing his total to 885, which was not enough to move up or pass either Chevrolet and Milton.
The 1921 AAA Championship season consisted of 20 separate events, of which ten were either 25 or 50 mile sprint races, all held at Beverly Hills on February 27 and April 10. Murphy won just four Championship contests all year: a 25 miler on February 27; 25 and 50 mile races on April 10; and the last Championship race of the year, the San Carlos 250 on December 11. But all of this was of only minor importance compared to his winning of the 321.78 mile French Grand Prix at LeMans on July 25, 1921. This was the first French Grand Prix staged since July 4, 1914, where the Mercedes team finish one-two-three with Lautenschlager, Wagner, and Salzer. Here Goux was 4th (Peugeot) and Resta 5th (Sunbeam).
The Duesenberg team sent four cars to France with two Americans, Joe Boyer and Jimmy Murphy, nominated as their designated U.S. pilots. August Duesenberg accompanied the cars to France, but Fred Duesenberg remained in the U.S. Monsieur Ernest Ballot himself was quite shocked when he saw Augie working on the vehicles as a mechanic, and further by Augie climbing under the cars to adjust something, and by his getting his hands dirty! On July 15, while practising, Murphy crashed his Duesenberg when an escaped horse from an adjoining field stopped in the middle of the roadway. To avoid hitting the horse, Jimmy swerved sharply, and the car then skidded into a ditch. Murphy suffered a bad bruise or two but emerged unhurt from this mishap. Not so fortunate was the Frenchman, Louis Inghibert, who was then riding with Murphy, as Louis broke three ribs. Inghibert had put up some of the Duesenberg entry fee and had been nominated as one of the two French drivers on the team, but his injuries now eliminated him as a possible starter. His Duesenberg car was now taken over by the amateur French sportsman Andre Dubonnet (1887-1980). Inghibert, by the way, was at Indianapolis in 1921,
hoping to get into the 500 but was not able to secure a car.
The 1921 French Grand Prix had 13 starters. The main opposition to the four Duesenbergs (i.e. Boyer, Dubonnet, Guyot, Murphy) was provided mostly by the Ballot and Sunbeam teams. Murphy was the victor with a time of 4:07:11.4 (78.105 mph) followed by 2. DePalma (Ballot) 4:22:10.6; 3. Goux (Ballot); 4. Dubonnet (Duesenberg); and 5. A. Boillot (Sunbeam). Another genuine Grand Prix win on European soil by a U.S. born pilot, would not occur until Phil Hill (1927-2008) won at Monza in the Italian Grand Prix on September 6, 1960 in a Ferrari Dino 246.
Early in 1921 the organizers of the French Grand Prix, the Automobile Club of France, expected between 20 to 30 actual starters. Peugeot would enter four cars. For 1920 Peugeot had built three new 3-litre three cam cars for Indianapolis (A. Boillot, Goux, & Wilcox), but the new design was a fiasco. Peugeot plans for 1921 were to upgrade their 1920 vehicles with new motors and to enter two cars at Indianapolis and four vehicles in the French Grand Prix. The three cam engines were scrapped for 1921. Before the Indianapolis event Wilcox had been named as a possible pilot for Peugeot's upcoming French Grand Prix effort. The two 1921 Indianapolis Peugeots were piloted by Chassagne and Wilcox, but totally failed in the race. With their 1921 racing prospects in complete disarray Peugeot did not enter the 1921 revival of the French Grand Prix and instead withdrew from racing entirely.
This was the end of Peugeot's involvement in major international motor racing until 1994 when they began suppying racing engines to the McLaren Grand Prix team. On March 15 Fiat entered three cars for pilots Pietro Bordino (1887-1928) , Ferdinando Minola (1884-1940) , and Louis Wagner (1882-1960). The Fiat team never arrived at the LeMans site and on July 16 all three cars were officially withdrawn. In America there were tentative plans in early 1921 to send over a Duesenberg team, as well as two of Louis Chevrolet's Frontenacs, but the Frontenac idea died quickly. Other entries were possibly expected from Bugatti, Gregoire, Renault, and Mathis. On July 17 seven English cars were withdrawn, but some of these were later reinstated at the last minute. More than 2 1/2 years after the World War I Armistice Day (i.e. November 11, 1918), most of the European Grand Prix teams seemingly were still not prepared or ready to race.
The first Duesenberg passenger cars rolled off the assembly line in late May/early June 1921 and the two Duesenberg brothers were heavily involved with their new automobile firm and venture. The initiative to send a Duesenberg team to France did not originate from the Duesenberg Motor Company or from Fred or Augie. All the expenses for the team's trip to Europe and its entry fees came from private subscription. Albert Champion, Richard Kennerdell, and even Barney Oldfield were behind this project. Among those involved Albert Champion, the sparkplug ace, was the undoubted main kingpin. With the Duesenberg brothers' main attention now diverted to the automobile business proper in mid-1921, instead of racing, the Duesenberg racing cars were now leased out to select drivers and later even sold outright to some of them. Murphy went this whole route and eventually purchased his French Grand Prix winning Duesenberg and raced it in late 1921 and early 1922.
During 1921 Harry Miller was tying to build a new double overhead cam straight 8 motor to challenge the then dominant Ballot and Duesenberg 8s. Miller worked in conjunction with drivers Elliott, Milton, and Vail on this project. Milton gave this new motor its first win at Tacoma on July 4, 1921. By the end of the 1921 AAA season it was obvious that Miller's new motor was superior to all the other 183 engines. Although Murphy, and his mechanic, Ernest "Ernie" Olson, had contributed nothing to either its design or development, they somehow obtained a copy of it in early 1922. After winning the Fresno 150 run on April 27, 1922 in the Duesenberg, Murphy and Olson replaced the Duesenberg 8 motor in it, with the Miller 183 unit. This created a Miller/Duesenberg hybrid, soon christened the Murphy Special. It is rumored, but quite unprovable, that Fred Duesenberg regarded Murphy's action here as disloyal. However Jimmy and Olson had made the right decision and had done the right thing.
At its first race meet, i.e. Cotati (Santa Rosa) on May 7, 1922, the Miller/Duesenberg won a 100 miler with a record average of 115.339 mph. Murphy led every lap in it but the first. After that it was to Indianapolis where Murphy won the pole position (100.5 mph) and then in the race led laps 1-74 and 122-200. At the finish Murphy and his Miller/Duesenberg No. 35 were almost three minutes ahead of Hartz (Duesenberg) in 2nd. Hearne (Ballot) was 3rd and DePalma (Duesenberg) 4th. It marked the first occasion when the 500 race winner started on the pole. The Miller 8 engine had been in short suppy at Indianapolis in 1922 as only as Durant, Elliott, Milton, and Murphy had them. Ernie Olson (who I actually talked to) always said that his rides with Murphy at LeMans in 1921 and at Indy in 1922, were the two greatest moments in his life.
After Indianapolis, Jimmy won the next two AAA Championship contests, i.e. the Uniontown 225 (June 19) and the Tacoma 250 (July 4). At Cotati (August 6) Jimmy was forced to retire in the 50 miler because of a stripped tire, while in the 100 mile event he placed 3rd. At the big inaugural Kansas City 300 (September 17) the Murphy Special was wrecked, so at the next race, the Fresno 150 (October 1) Murphy had to borrow a car. Meanwhile Cliff Durant was busy putting together his new six Miller car Durant super team and Murphy was enlisted to become it's team captain. It seem to be best option to Jimmy at the time and in mid-October 1922 he signed on. The immediate result was that Murphy won the Beverly Hills 250 (December 3), the last AAA Championship race for 1922, in a Durant Special No. 1 at a 114.604 mph clip.
With all the money, testing, imput, and experience that Milton, Elliott, and Vail put into the new Miller straight 8 183 motor during 1921, it was ironic that they had little success to shout about for themselves using it, in 1922. For it was Jimmy Murphy who truely reaped the benefit from all their efforts. Milton had just three big wins using the design, i.e. the 1921 Tacoma 250 (July 4), the 1922 Beverly Hills 250 (March 5), and the 1922 Kansas City 300 (September 17). And Elliott won both the 50 and 100 mile races staged at Cotati on August 8, 1922, but that was about it. Murphy however won the 1922 AAA Driving Title going away. The final top five and their point totals were 1. Murphy 3420; 2. Milton 1910; 3. Hartz 1788; 4. Elliott 875; and 5. Hill 459.
Murphy drove for the Durant team in all his AAA Championship starts during 1923. Jimmy won the first two 1923 Championship contests, i.e. the Beverly Hills 250 (Feb. 25) and the Fresno 150 (April 26). At Indianapolis (May 30) Jimmy was among the leaders all day, leading circuits 1-2, 6, 11-25, 28-29, and 37, and placed 3rd overall, in what had been a very exhausting day for Murphy. It was noted that the new 122 Millers were ill handling and wore their pilots out. The top AAA point totals after Indianapolis were 1. Murphy 1070; 2. Milton 800; 3. Hartz 520; 4. Hill 350; 5. Hearne 302; and 6. DePalma 140.
On May 31 it was announced that Murphy would travel to Europe to compete in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza on September 9. Jimmy's teammates were to be Argentinean Martin De Alsaga (1901-1982) and Count Louis Zborowski (1895-1924). All three would be driving special two seat 122 cubic inch Millers. Zborowski was the builder/owner of the famous "Chitty Bang Bang" vehicles of which there was four total. The 1923 Indianapolis race was the first AAA Championship event run under the new 122 cubic inch limit and single seat cars were now perfectly legal. From France, Pierre De Viscaya of Spain (1894-1933), decided to enter five Type 30 Bugattis and enlisted four other amateur pilots, i.e. Bertrand De Cystria (1893-1943), De Alsaga, Raoul Riganati (1893-1976), and Zborowski, to fill out his team. They all had high hopes, but none of them had ever been to the Speedway before, and they were all to be quickly disillusioned. Their five Bugatti cars arrived at the Speedway on May 13.
All the Bugatti chauffeurs got worried as soon as they spotted all the new Millers and Packards; and the practice speeds of the U.S. built equipment did nothing to dispel their initial impressions. The time trials had the fastest Millers at 108.17 mph (Milton), 104.05 mph (Murphy), and 103.70 mph (Hartz); while the fastest Packard was 100.42 mph (DePalma). In contrast the quickest Bugatti was Riganati's at 95.30 mph. De Alsaga said (quote), "I do not have the words to express what I think. I would not come to America with these Bugatti cars if I had known how wonderful is the American racing car." Major Olive Gallup, the chief mechanic of the Bugatti squad said, "Since we have seen your wonderful American racing cars we are looking about a bit for some stray horses to put under our bonnets, don't'cher know?". Zborowski was so taken by the Millers that he spent half his time in the Durant garages! "The most beautiful cars we have ever seen!", said both De Cystria and Zborowski. When asked about his Bugatti two days before the 500 Alsaga replied, "Terrible! I wish I could drive an American car."
Zborowski had already signed a contract with Harry Miller before May 23, for Miller to construct a special car for the upcoming Italian Grand Prix, to be run on September 9. In the 500 itself the five Bugattis fared poorly. De Alsaga was the first man out of the race with only six circuits completed, before a con rod broke. He placed 24th. Three other of the Bugattis retired: Riganti (fuel tank leak, 19 laps); Zborowski (broken con rod, 41 laps); and De Viscaya (broken con rod, 166 laps). Only De Cystria's car went the full distance, to finish 9th. Meanwhile four newly built 122 Millers filled the top four finishing positions: i.e. 1. Milton/Wilcox; 2. Hartz; 3. Murphy, and 4. Hearne/Cooper. The winning Miller averaged 90.95 mph, while De Cystria's Bugatti race speed was just 77.84 mph. At the end De Cystria was 57 minutes behind the winning time of 5:29:50.17. The highest placement a Bugatti car had attained during the race was 5th (De Cystria) at the 375 mile mark.
By June 1, De Alsaga had also ordered a new Miller for the Italian Grand Prix, and Jimmy Murphy was now added to the effort as well with a third Miller. All three of these 122 Grand Prix Millers had to be two seaters as the Grand Prix rules still required a riding mechanic. It was noticed too, that this was the first occasion ever, where foreigners had ordered the construction of Grand Prix cars in the U.S.! In order to compete in Europe, Murphy had to miss two AAA Championship events by necessity. These were the Altoona 250 (Sept. 4), and the Fresno 150 (Sept. 29). Jimmy had set sail for Europe on July 24 using the Cunarder ship Aguitania. With him were Ernie Olson and Riley Brett. Screen star Rudolph Valentino (1895-1926) was also on board. Because of Murphy's impending non-appearance at Altoona in September, the AAA Contest Board saw fit on August 23 to dock all of Jimmy's accumulated point total of 1070, gained during 1923. The disqualification notice was signed by Arthur H. Means, Secretary of the AAA Contest Board. The complete effacement of Jimmy's point total of 1070 put the top three AAA ranking drivers as 1. Hearne 802, 2. Milton 800, and 3. Hartz 520.
The 1923 Italian Grand Prix had a total of 14 cars and Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) himself was the race starter. The teams present were Benz, Fiat, Miller, Rolland-Picain, and Voisin. The Benz vehicles (Tropfenwagen) were rear engined, the first ever in Grand Prix racing. The Alfa Romeo entries were withdrawn after Ugo Sivocci (1885-1923) was killed in practice on September 3 in a type P1 Alfa. It was Sivocci who had introduced Enzo Ferrari (1898-1988) to motor racing in 1919. Pietro Bordino (Fiat) led the first 48 laps before he was forced to quit from pure exhaustion. Pietro had begun the event with a badly bruised right arm, which he had obtained from a practice crash, when riding with pilot Enrico Giaccone (Fiat) on August 27. The wreck was caused by a broken rear axle and Giaccone himself was killed. The Fiats were all type 805, had Roots superchargers, and were clearly the class of the field. Murphy in his Miller stayed with them, to the half way mark, and then lost ground.
The victor in this 80 lap, 497.12 mile contest was Carlo Salamano (1890-1969) who averaged 91.037 mph, followed by Felice Nazzaro. Fiats placed 1st and 2nd, while Murphy was 3rd. Ferdinando Minoia (1884-1940) and Franz Horner took 4th and 5th in their Benz vehicles and De Alsaga in his Miller was 6th, but 10 laps behind the winner Salamano at the end. Zborowski, with the third Miller, had retired after 15 laps with lubrication problems. Fiats led every lap and this was the first Grand Prix to be won with a supercharged car. Both Harry Miller and Murphy must have been severly disappointed in the final results, but Miller tried to put the best light on the subject by saying (quote), "Considering the fact that the track was a strange one and that two drivers, Murphy and Alsaga, were pitted against the best that the foreign nations could bring out, I think that third and fifth places were mighty good for our American cars."
Murphy and Olson on September 29 from Havre, France, took the ship La France back to New York City and arrived in the U.S. on October 6. On August 27 at Altoona some AAA drivers voiced their opposition to the Contest Board's elimination of Murphy's 1923 Championship point total and hoped to rescind somehow that decision. The fans too were upset about the matter. The AAA rule under which Jimmy had been caught had been first adopted for the 1923 season and read, "The five drivers leading must appear at subsequent championship events unless excused by the contest board for reasons which preclude the possibility of starting. Such reasons must be in every instance be substantiated by a certificate from a technical representative of the contest board, a reputable physician, lawyer. etc. The penalty for infraction of this condition shall be the loss of accumulated points."
The following petition had been sent to the Contest Board on August 27:
"August 27, 1923. Contest Board. American Automobile Association. New York. N.Y.
Our attention has been drawn to announcements in the daily press that your honorable body has deprived Jimmy Murphy of his points which he won up to the time of his departure for Europe. Since we are annually favored with visits from foreign drivers in our annual event at Indianpolis, we feel honored to have Mr. Murphy return this visit by his presence in Europe. We, the undersigned, would therefore petition your honorable body to restore to Mr. Murphy the points which he has earned so far this season. With the hope that you will grant this petition.
HARRY HARTZ, FRANK ELLIOTT, LEON DURAY, L. L. CORUM, EARL COOPER, B. R. DUTTON, EDDIE HEARNE, FRED COMER, JERRY WONDERLICH, O. P. HAIBE, BENNETT HILL, TOMMY MILTON."
On October 16, Murphy had his points restored by the Chairman of the AAA Contest Board, Joseph Mack of Detroit. The penalty was removed in response to numerous requests from drivers, fans, and various speedway managers. Mack had become the Chairman in late August 1923, in place of William Schimpf. Mack's tenor as Chairman was less than a year and in March 1924 Richard Kennerdell replaced Mack and returned for a second time as the Chairman. While Jimmy was in Europe the old veteran "Grandpa" Eddie Hearne had taken over the National Championship point leadership and Eddie now had 1262 points after a 3rd at the Fresno 150 on Sept. 29. The AAA point standings behind Eddie after Oct. 16 were: 2. Murphy 1070, 3. Hartz 835, 4. Milton 810, and 5. Hill 350. With two big 250 mile Championship races left (Kansas City and Beverly Hills), Murphy could still win the 1923 AAA Title, with his 1070 point total now again intact.
Hearne (1887-1955) had been racing in the big U.S. motor races since the 1908 season. His first major race was a 196 mile light car event run at Savannah, GA on November 25, 1908. The contest had 14 starters and Hearne placed 4th overall in a 18 horsepower Buick. During the years 1909-1912 Hearne drove mostly Benz and Fiat machinery. Eddie's first major win was in a 200 mile "free for all" at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on September 3, 1910. Here he used a 120 horsepower Benz and averaged 75.03 mph. Hearne, with a Fiat, was among the 40 starters at the inaugural 1911 Indianapolis 500 where he wound up 21st, but was still running. Later in 1911 Hearne won at Cincinnati (Sept. 9) in a 200 mile road race using a Fiat and at the ACA's 411.36 mile American Grand Prize (Nov. 30) at Savannah, placed 2nd in a Benz to Bruce Brown's Fiat. Hearne was also a competitor at Indianapolis in 1912 piloting a Case (placed 20th, out at 55 laps, burnt engine bearing). He would not return to the Speedway until 1919. The 1912-1914 seasons saw Eddie slacken his activities and he ran in very few events. During most of 1914-1915 Hearne entered non-AAA outlaw races and went barnstorming in behalf of the J. I. Case Threshing Machine Company, located in Racine, WI. The Case company built passenger cars during the period 1910 to 1927.
A rival and irritant racing organization to the AAA, with regard to dirt track racing, was the International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) formed in Chicago, IL on May 29, 1915. George W. Dickinson, the manager of the Michigan State Fair, was elected the first President of the IMCA. In mid June 1915 Hearne along with 16 other drivers were suspended by the AAA for participating in unsanctioned races. Among these pilots were Arthur Chevrolet, Louis Disbrow, William Endicott, Hughie Hughes, and John Raimey. In 1916, when the AAA initiated its new National Championship Driving Title, Hearne was not involved in any way and did not run in any of the season's 15 AAA point awarding contests. Instead Hearne ran as a big star in the IMCA circuit under the direction of J. Alex Sloan. The other 1916 IMCA "stars" then included George Clark, Louis Disbrow, Bill Endicott, Fred Horey, and John Raimey.
Hearne returned to the AAA ranks in 1917 and drove Duesenbergs. During 1917 Hearne won the 168.75 miler held at Uniontown on Oct. 29 at 93.75 mph and closed out the season by taking a 50 mile dirt race at Ascot, CA on November 29 with a 71.58 mph average. In 1918 Hearne drove both Duesenbergs and Frontenacs. His best 1918 results were 4th in the Sheepshead Bay 100 (June 1) and 3rd in the Uniontown 112.5 (July 18), using Duesenbergs. Eddie had a good AAA season in 1919 when he drove for Cliff Durant in one of Durant's two reconditioned and revamped 1915 Stutz's. Although Hearne won no major events during 1919 he did place 2nd to Durant himself at the 250 mile Santa Monica road race (March 15) and finished 2nd in the Indianapolis 500 (May 31) without any relief whatsoever. Indianapolis, it should be remembered, was the most important motor race staged anywhere in the world in 1919. At the three short milage contests held at Tacoma on July 19 Hearne placed 4th (40 miler), 3rd (60 miler), and 2nd (80 miler). There were however only five starters in each race. And on November 8 at Phoenix AZ, Hearne set a new world's record for 100 miles on a flat 1 mile dirt track of 1:29:09 (67.30 mph). This beat Tom Alley's old mark of 1:31:30 (65.57 mph) recorded at Hamline, MN on October 24, 1914 in a Duesenberg. The finish, top three, at Phoenix were 1. Hearne (Stutz), 2. Sarles (Frontenac), and 3. Durant (Stutz).
The U.S. motor journal MOTOR AGE (i.e. Dec. 25, 1919 issue, pages 7-15 & 34) was impressed by it all and named Eddie as the U.S. Championship pilot for 1919, an opinion generally acknowledged and shared by the rest of the U.S. press. The AAA Contest Board had suspended its National Driving Title for 1917, 1918, and 1919 because of the U.S.' involvement in the World War. Chairman Kennerdell, who had begun the AAA title in 1916, reactivated it beginning in 1920. MOTOR AGE during 1909 to 1915 use to nominate the U.S. Champion Driver annually before the AAA had an official National Title in 1916. After taking 2nd at Indianapolis in 1919, Eddie took 3rd there in 1922 (Ballot) with no relief, and 4th in 1923 (Miller) with relief from Cooper for circuits 88-200. Hearne's final standings in the offically revived AAA Driving Title were 9th in 1920, 3rd in 1921, and 6th in 1922.
During 1920 Eddie piloted one of Durant's 1915 Stutz's at the Beverly Hills opener (Feb. 28), and at Indianapolis drove a Duesenberg for the Duesenberg brothers. This vehicle, No. 31, consisted of a 1919 chassis newly fitted with a 183 straight 8 motor. Hearne placed 6th with no relief and averaged 80.15 mph. After Indy, Eddie had a 183 Duesenberg 8 to race under the sponsorship of the ReVere Motor Car Corporation, located in Logansport, IL. The car ran as the Revere Special and sported a ReVere shaped radiator. With it he took 3rd at Tacoma (July 5), DNS at Elgin (Aug. 29), and at Beverly Hills (Nov. 25) gained another 3rd. In the 1920 non-Championship AAA contests he did not enter at Uniontown (June 19), but placed 3rd at Uniontown (Sept. 6), and 7th at Fresno (Oct. 2) in it. The more sporty ReVere motor cars were powered by the 4 cylinder, high powered, Rochester-Duesenberg engines and the Hearne connection was just advertising for the firm. The ReVere car was manufactured from 1917 to 1926.
Eddie stayed with ReVere as his backer until September 1921 when he switched over to Disteel. Now his Duesenberg was raced as the Disteel-Duesenberg. The name Disteel referred to an all steel made automobile wheel, which was entirely spokeless and had no wire in its design, a novelty in the U.S. at the time. The Disteel had been introduced in 1918 for normal passenger car use and was manufactured by the Detroit Pressed Steel Company, located on Michigan Avenue and Cabot. In 1921 the company had Hearne, among others as Tom Alley in a Frontenac, use them on their AAA Championship racing cars. Other drivers tried them out in 1922, but it didn't last, and everyone soon reverted back to the normal and previous spoked type. The use of the Disteel wheels on expensive U.S. passenger cars seems to have been a brief fad for a time, in the early 1920s.
Eddie had his very first AAA Championship wins in 1921, using the Disteel-Duesenberg. Here he won the Cotati 150 (Aug. 14) and the Beverly Hills 250 (Nov. 29). During 1922 Eddie continued to use the Disteel-Duesenberg until the Los Angeles 250 (Dec. 3), except at Indianapolis where he had a Ballot, but had very little success with the Disteel Duesy. After Hearne elected to run a Ballot at Indianapolis, his Disteel-Duesenberg was assigned to Ira Vail, who ran it in the race. Eddie took a 3rd at Cotati (Aug. 6) in the 50 miler, and earlier, in the Beverly Hills 250 (March 5) placed 5th. After having chauffeured Ballot, Benz, Case, Duesenberg, Fiat, Frontenac, and Stutz machines, Hearne finally got to pilot a Miller vehicle in late 1922, when he joined up with the new Durant team in September. Miller cars had been in rather short supply until Cliff Durant ordered six 183's for use in late 1922 and early 1923. At least six entirely new Miller 122's also were built for the upcoming 1923 Indianapolis 500. 11 of the 24 starters at Indy in 1923 were Millers and rather suddenly the Miller make had become the dominant marque in AAA National Championship racing. It was a revolution of sorts and it would continue for another decade until Miller himself went bankrupt in mid-1933.
In late 1923 Hearne found himself in serious contention for the national AAA driving crown. He had already won the Kansas City 250 (July 4) and the Altoona 200 (September 4). Only five cars were still running at the finish of the Kansas City event but Eddie won by eight laps over its 2nd place finisher, Earl Cooper. At Kansas City in July, Hearne's victory moved him into 2nd place in the AAA standings, while at Altoona (Sept.) he took over the overall point leadership. Harlan Fengler won at Kansas City (Oct. 10) while Hearne took 2nd, half a lap over Murphy in 3rd. Jimmy however had been hampered by tire problems in the early going. The points were now 1522 for Hearne and 1110 for Murphy. So the 1923 AAA Championship, now just between Hearne and Murphy, would be decided at Beverly Hills, the next and last Championship race for the year, on Nov. 29, 1923. Since September 1922, Hearne and Murphy, had been teammates on the Durant team.
At Los Angeles, Bennett Hill won at an average of 112.42 mph, Hearne finished 2nd and Murphy 3rd. So Murphy had to be satisfied with 2nd position in the final 1923 AAA Championship standings. The event was also the last time Murphy drove for the Cliff Durant. Jimmy would become his own car owner in 1924 and race as an independant, all apparently while in very close cahoots with Harry A. Miller. Already in early December 1923 Murphy and Miller were named together as officials in a firm called the Star Transmission Corporation. The new transmission device was the brainstorm of C. M. Stevens who had also designed the famous Ruckstell axle for Ford Model T's. The Ruckstell referred to here was the ex-driver, Glover Edwin Ruckstell (1891-1963), who had raced Mercers in some important U.S. races during 1914-1916.
The final AAA point standings for 1923 were (top six): 1. Hearne 1882, 2 Murphy 1350; 3. Hill 955, 4. Hartz 820, 5. Milton 810, and 6. Fengler 750. Murphy's trip to Europe probably cost him the 1923 AAA crown (who can really say?), but Hearne certainly just didn't back into his 1923 AAA Title win either. Eddie Hearne was always a wealthy man, being the heir of a western U. S. silver mine forture.
PHIL "RED" SHAFER: THE WINNER AT SYRACUSE IN 1924. In 1924 Phil "Red" Shafer (1891-1971) hailed from Fort Worth, Texas where his racing on the dirt tracks earned him the sobriquet of the "Texas Terror". For a decade Phil had toured the Texas Fair circuit. In 1909 he found employment at the Consolidated Wagon and Machine Company of Salt Lake City UT, which was an agent of Buick automobiles. In 1910 Shafer went back to his old home in Des Moines and entered the garage business. Phil's first race occurred in 1911 on dirt, using a modified Ford. During 1914, 1915 and 1916, Phil resided in Des Moines IA and used a Chevrolet Special as his racing mount. From his Des Moines base camp he raced in the states of Iowa, Indiana, and Michigan. Later he moved to the Long Star state and was deemed the dirt racing Champion of the State of Texas.
In the early 1920s Shafer's occupation was that of a manager Fort Worth automobile accessory jobbing house. In 1920 Shafer purchased a Duesenberg which he raced as a private entry. Up to September 1925 Shafer mostly raced Duesenbergs. Shafer's first contact with the AAA's National Championship division was when he acted as a relief driver for the Duesenberg team at Indianapolis in both 1922 and 1923. His first actual start in an AAA Championship race and, also at the same time, on a board speedway, was at the Beverly Hills 250 staged on November 29, 1923. Until his win here at Syracuse, Phil's highest placement in an AAA Championship contest was 4th at Altoona on September 1, 1924, just two weeks before.
END OF THE 1924 AAA SEASON. After the death of Murphy on September 15, the 1924 AAA Championship series had just three contests remaining, i.e., a 150 miler at Fresno and two 250 milers slated to be staged on two newly Jack Prince constructed 1 1/4 mile board tracks located at Charlotte, NC and Culver City, CA. The question was now whether Murphy could hang on and still win the 1924 AAA Title posthumously with his already accumulated 1595 points, or whether someone else might get lucky, catch up, and surpass him.
Edited by john glenn printz, 13 October 2011 - 19:07.