Earl Cooper had gained 260 Championship points at Charlotte and his total was now up to 1240. So the 1924 AAA Driving Title would be decided at the very last Championship race of the year, just as it had been in 1920 and 1923. Comer was now eliminated for contention and Cooper had to win at Culver City, if he was to overtake Murphy's point total of 1595.
The erection of the new Culver City 1 1/4 mile board track was officially announced by A. M. Young on October 6, 1924. The new oval was to be constructed on the same land that then housed a 1 mile horse track, which had also been used for automobile racing. The new Culver City speedway to be built by Jack Prince, with its 45 degree banked turns, was designed to be even faster than the recently opened Charlotte speed oval. Art Pillsbury, the engineer, estimated it would take forty to forty-five days to put the whole structure up. The new track was to both replace and supplant the former Beverly Hills speedway.
The first race scheduled for Culver City was a 250 mile AAA Championship event, to be staged on Thanksgiving Day, i.e. November 27, 1924. However work was still being done on the incompleted Culver City oval on November 24, 1924, as much construction time had been lost due to a week of heavy rain. On late November 23, A. M. Young decided to postpone the race and stage it instead on December 7. This was due to the request of the drivers that just two days of practice time before the event was insufficient time to get ready for the actual race. Tommy Milton said he was ready to go but commented, "Many of the drivers are unfamiliar with the course, which I believe will be the fastest in the world and as a safety measure it would be advisable to postpone the race." The cars and pilots first got to run on the track on November 29, whereby Milton promptly set a new lap record for 1 1/4 ovals of 129.31 mph (34.8 seconds), which upped Bennett Hill's mark of 128 mph recorded at Charlotte in October.
With a whole week to make test-practice runs the drivers now vied with each other in posting ever faster lap speeds. Hartz hit 130.8 mph (34.4 seconds) on December 2, while Fred Comer equaled it on December 3. The Italian ace Pietro Bordino, with his imported red Tipo 805 Fiat, posted a 131.6 (34.2) on December 4, and Hartz got up to 132.3 (34.0) on December 5. Heavy rain cancelled the December 7 race date and now the Culver City 250 was moved up to December 14. But before the event was actually staged, Hartz ran a circuit at 135.5 mph (33.1) on December 13. Such speeds were unprecedented in U. S. Championship racing.
Dr. "Doc" William E. Shattuc (1894-1962) of Kentucky was full fledged medicial doctor who had been a staff physician at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the 1923 and 1924 races. Here the wealthy Shattuc met the reigning AAA pilots and everyone soon engaged in friendly banter and chatter, during the physical examinations and elsewhere. The AAA pilots were always saying to the "Doc" how tough it was to drive the cars, but Shattuc just made fun of it all and laughted at them. Finally someone challenged Shattuc, and told him that if he thought it was all so easy to race, why didn't he go out and buy a car and try it. Actually Shattuc had already gotten the racing bug himself at Indianapolis in 1924. The upshot of it all was that Shattuc did just that in late 1924 and went directly to Harry Miller and purchased a car. Then he entered it in the inaugural Culver City 250 and named himself as its pilot!
It is not clear if Shattuc had had any prior racing experience at all, at this time. In any case Shattuc would have to win the approval of the other AAA drivers, after watching him in practice, if he was actually going to be a starter at the new Culver City track. And if the "Doc" proved to be unfit to drive, he could then nominate instead, an experienced chauffeur to driver his Miller. Shattuc had graduated from the University of Indiana and the Louisville Medical School and then practiced medicine in both Louisville, KY, and Indianapolis, IN. The Doc had come into a large inheritance after the death of his father. There were two catches however. William would have to graduate from a medical school in order to obtain the money, and after that he would still have to wait two full years before he could actually get the money. As soon as Shattuc did acquire the money he purchased a Miller race car from Miller himself in November 1924 for $10,000. At the time Shattuc was married and had two children.
When Jimmy Murphy was killed on September 15, 1924 he was having a new, low slung, rakish looking, front drive racer constructed at Harry Miller's shop which he planned to run in the upcoming Culver City 250. The vehicle was probably the most advanced racing car technologically ever built in the U. S. It even featured inboard brakes. On September 19, in some western U.S. newspapers there appears an odd-duck notice, to the effect that the said car was going to be purchased and presented to Floyd Roberts (1904-1939), a young racer and a would-be pupil of Murphy! What Floyd's connection to Murphy was, I have no idea. Roberts had started racing in late 1923 and had been making a name for himself during 1924, at the local Ascot and Culver City dirt tracks. His car was called the "Grey Essex" and was sponsored by the J. L. Price Hudson and Essex agency of Van Nuys, CA. Floyd would not make it into the AAA Championship division until December 1934, when he relieved Ralph Hepburn in the Mines Field 200 for circuits 68-125.
However it was Cliff Durant who eventually got the car by paying Harry A. Miller a reputed $20,000 for it. Cliff then entered it in the Culver City 250 as the Flint Special. The Flint car was manufactured from 1923 and 1927 by the Flint Automobile Company, and was the middle price line of William C. Durant's 1920s automobile empire or consortium. For Cliff Durant the new Miller front drive was just his lastest toy and he had jolly good time with it, in the Culver City practice sessions, but it threw a rod in practice which destoyed the motor and neither the car or Durant was among the 16 Culver City starters.
Edited by john glenn printz, 25 January 2012 - 14:55.