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1949 AAA National Championship


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#51 john glenn printz

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 19:06

HISTORY OF 1949 AAA CHAMPIONSHIP RACING (cont.-23) 12. Langhorne 100, October 16, 1949. The AAA contingent moved next to Langhorne, PA for the now annual Langhorne Championship 100 miler. Sam Nunis was the promotor of the 1949 contest. It is worth mentioning that of the 14 AAA 1949 season Championship races, only two of them were staged at facilities originally constructed for motor racing, i.e. the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Langhorne Speedway. All the rest were held on old horse racing tracks or, in one instance, on a dirt road leading up to the top of Pikes Peak! With the wipeout of all the board ovals in the late 1920s and early 1930s the AAA Contest Board had been largely improvising to keep an AAA National Championshop Title alive, beginning with the 1928 season. It was all a somewhat odd-ball format for the highest form of American motor racing, although racing automobiles on the already existing U.S. horse tracks went all the way back to the 1890's. During the Depression era (1929-1939) it had become the norm for the AAA Championship division contests excluding, of course, the Indianapolis 500.

The time trials began at 12:45 p.m. and the race at 3 p.m. Grandstand seats were priced from $3.25 to $5.40. Admittance to the infield was $2.20. The top five qualifiers for the 1949 Langhorne 100 were: 1. Paul Russo (Offenhauser/Kurtis) 33.983 seconds or 105.945 mph, 2. Walt Brown (Offenhauser/Kurtis) 34.087, 3. Duke Dinsmore (Offenhauser/Scopa), 4. Johnnie Parsons (Offenhauser/Kurtis), and 5. Neil Carter (Offenhauser/Langley). 17 vehicles started the race. The lap leaders were Brown 1-8, Russo 9-21, and Parsons 22-100. The top five finishers were:

1. Johnnie Parsons (Offenhauser/Kurtis), 1:04:56.22, Kurtis-Kraft No. 12, $1798

2. Neil Carter, (Offenhauser/Langley), 100 laps, Veedol No. 6, $1294

3. Johnny Fedricks (Offenhauser/Snowberger), 100 laps, Auto Shippers No. 21, $719

4. Paul Russo (Offenhauser/Kurtis), 100 laps, Pritchard No. 24, $503

5. Tommy Hinnershitz, (Offenhauser), 100 laps, Pew No. 54, $431

Parson's elapsed time of 1:04:56.22 was a new record for a Langhorne staged 100 mile National Championship race and elipsed Kelly Petillo's old October 13, 1935 clocking of 1:05:17. However Duke Nalon still held the Langhorne 100 mile open wheel record at 1:04:39 (92.786 mph), made on June 24, 1941 in an AAA non-Championship event, and held as part of the AAA 1941 Eastern regional division title. The attendence for 1949 was put at about 18,000.

Parson's 1949 Championship wins were now up to five, and with his two most recents victories at Springfield and Langhorne he had won the 1949 AAA National Driving Title as only two more events, both 100 milers, were left on the AAA schedule. After Langhorne Johnnie's total was 2160, Fohr in 2nd place had 1530, and in 3rd was Holland with 1420. The AAA Championship Trail now moved west to California, where the last two 1949 contests would be held. They both were seemingly added to the AAA National Championship schedule very late in the year.

Edited by john glenn printz, 15 November 2012 - 13:16.


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#52 john glenn printz

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 21:21

HISTORY OF 1949 AAA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACING (cont.-24) 13. Sacramento 100, October 30, 1949. A Championship level 100 miler to be held at the Sacramento State Fairgrounds was announced on October 3, with J. C. Agajanian as its promotor and general manager. This was the first genuine National Championship race to be held in the state of California since the December 24, 1934 Mines Field 200, won by Kelly Petillo in a Sparks/Stevens-Summers car, owned jointly by Art Sparks and Paul Weirick. The Sacramento mile was constructed in 1906.

Troy Ruttman, who drove in the first three 1949 Championship events (i.e. Dallas, Indianapolis, & Milwaukee), had a bad crash at Arlington Downs, in a big car meet held on July 17, 1949. Troy did not return to Championship racing until the last two California races, Sacramento and Del Mar. After Mel Hansen got hurt in early September, Spider Webb took over the Bowes No. 55 dirt car for three straight contests (i.e. Syracuse, Detroit, & Springfield), but now here at Sacramento, Ruttman was the chauffeur for the Bowes No. 55 dirt machine.

The Pat Clancy No. 57 six wheeler had run as such at Detroit, but now had been coverted back to being a normal four wheel vehicle by Wayne Ewing. Jackie Holmes (1920-1995) had driven it at Indianapolis and Milwaukee, while Mack Hellings (1915-1951) used it at Trenton. Jimmy Davies (1929-1966) first rode in it at Syracuse, Detroit, and Springfield. It is not quite clear just when it was reformulated into a four wheeler, but it was somewhere between the Detroit and Sacramento contests.

Fred Agabashian (1913-1989), whose only previous Championship start for 1949, had been at Indianapolis, was now given for the Sacramento chase, the Agajanian No. 98, which Johnny Mantz (1918-1972) had placed 7th at Indy in May. For 1949 Mantz was generally the pilot of Agajanian's No. 98 Champ car but Johnny was now in the eastern U.S. campaigning a sprint car (i.e. the "Agajanian No. 98, Jr.") and so Agabashian subtituted for Mantz here at Sacramento. So far Mantz had had seven Championship 1949 starts in it, with his best placements being 3rd at Dallas (April 24) and a 5th at Milwaukee (June 5).

The fastest five in the Sacramento qualification trials were 1. Agabashian (Offenhauser/Kurtis) 37.57 seconds or 95.8 mph, 2. Ruttman (Offenhauser/Lesvosky) 37.71, 3. Mays (Offenhauser/Kurtis) 38.04, 4. Connor (Offenhauser/Bromme) 38.09, and 5. Brown (Offenhauser/Kurtis) 38.51. The quickest 18 were to start. The trials began at 1:30 p.m. and the race at 3:00 p.m.

The race was totally dominated by Agabashian, who led every circuit except lap 20. Here Rex Mays forged into the lead for one lap, during heavy traffic, and was in front briefly for a lap and a half. Agabashian however quickly got by Mays when the traffic cleared. In just another five laps Fred was in front of Mays by a full straightaway. Agabashian's 50 mile time was 34:10.2. Freddie was really flying and on lap 60, lapped Ruttman who was then riding in 3rd place. After that the Aganjanian pit crew ordered Fred to slow down. The most interesting aspect of the contest was the battle between Ruttman and Connor for 3rd place. Troy was passed by Connor for 3rd, on circuit 28, but lost it to Ruttman on lap 35. Connor was still pressing Ruttman closely on the 72 round, but then George retired with engine and brake problems.

Parsons who started 13th, was up to the 7th position by lap 15. Three circuits later his brakes went out, but he kept going, and had passed Dinsmore for 6th place by lap 30. When Connor retired after 72 circuits, Johnnie moved up to 5th. At 75 laps Parsons passed Walt Brown and took over 4th. At about circuit 85, the car's underpan came loose and began dragging on the track. Johnnie had to slow down and Myron Fohr then moved pass him, to take 4th. The top five finishers at 100 miles were:

1. Fred Agabashian (Offenhauser/Kurtis), 1:11:01.05 or 84.486 mph, Agajanian No. 98

2. Rex Mays (Offenhauser/Kurtis), 100 laps, Wolfe No. 15, 36 seconds behind

3. Troy Ruttman (Offenhauser/Lesvosky), 100 laps, Bowes Seal Fast No. 55

4. Myron Fohr (Offenhauser/Marchese), 100 laps, Marchese No. 2

5. Johnnie Parsons (Offenhauser/Kurtis), 100 laps, Kurtis-Kraft No. 12

Dinsmore was out after 57 laps with an overcooked engine. Bill Holland in Milt Marion's Kurtis, started 9th and ran in 8th for most of the time, before retiring on lap 70 with a broken wheel. The attendance was 12,272. This was J. C. Aganjanian's second Championship win. as Mantz had won with the same exact car at the Milwaukee 100 on August 15, 1948.

As Freddie came off the track several thousand spectators quickly surrounded Agabashian and his car, seeking autographs. "The track as a whole was in good shape, but there were a few rough spots in it.", Fred said. "I went into a slide once and headed for a big hole. However I managed to keep the car sideways and straddle the rut. My brakes went out early in the race. I got caught in the jam and there was nothing I could do when Mays breesed by me. As for future plans nothing is definite now. I may compete in the championship race at Del Mar next Saturday."

Fred Agabashian was a local boy and resided in Albany, CA. He began his racing career in 1932. On June 7, 1938 Fred won a 250 mile stock car contest run at the Oakland Speedway. During the years 1946, 1947, and 1948 Agabashian was the Bay Cities Racing Association (BCRA) champion. Fred's only AAA Championship starts prior to his Sacramento victory were three appearances in the Indianapolis 500, i.e. 1947, 1948, and 1949. Agabashian's best finish so far at Indy was 9th in 1947, when he was a rookie.

Although it would have no effect on who would be the 1949 AAA National Champion (as Fohr was already mathematically eliminated but was in 2nd position in the point totals) Myron added 120 to his total, and Parsons received another 100. After Sacramento Parsons had 2280 and Fohr 1650. Bill Holland was in 3rd with 1420 counters.

On December 19, the California State Fair directors voted to make the National Championship Sacramento 100 mile event, an annual affair. The fair Secretary-Manager, Ned Green, was then authorized to make a deal with Agajanian for a 1950 race.

After Sacramento the AAA Championship circuit would move to Del Mar, CA, to contest the last major race for 1949, at a horse racing facility proper on November 6.

Edited by john glenn printz, 16 November 2012 - 16:32.


#53 ensign14

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 22:18

Neil or Neal Carter? And is he a Lost Talent, given he never made the 500, or was that his day of days?

#54 Michael Ferner

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 22:29

I feel pretty confident that it was 'Neal' - lost talent? Maybe, as far as Indianapolis is concerned, but he had a long and successful career in Midgets. Definitely not a one-trick pony, as he had five top-five finishes in Champ Cars, on five different tracks, and driving four different cars for three different teams. He tried Indy twice, but was replaced both times before qualifying.

#55 john glenn printz

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Posted 07 November 2012 - 15:00

I got to talk to Mr. Carter a couple of times at the Michigan Auto Racing Fan Club's annual old timer's banquet and I asked him why he failed to qualify at Indianapolis in 1952. That year Carter had a new Kurtis car that was very similar to Vukovich's new Fuel Injection Special, owned by Howard Keck. Carter said that the steering box was defective and that it wasn't fixed in time to qualify. It is interesting that Vukovich's new Kurtis roadster failed in the 1952 '500' with steering box trouble, while Bill was leading on lap 192, giving the win to a 22 year old Troy Ruttman. I always wondered if the steering problems on the two new 1952 Kurtis cars were the same. Ruttman, at the 1954 '500', piloted the same vehicle that Carter had in 1952, to a 4th place finish.

Vukovich won with the Fuel Injection Special, his 1952 machine, in both 1953 and 1954. I was present at Indy in 1953, which was the first of my 56 live Indy 500s. The Michigan's "old timers"' banquet used to have generally present Carter, Mauri Rose, Peter DePaolo, Ronney Householder, and Donald Davidson was there at least once.

Edited by john glenn printz, 08 November 2012 - 14:08.


#56 ReWind

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Posted 07 November 2012 - 15:25

I feel pretty confident that it was 'Neal'

Confirmed by his autograph:
Posted Image
Thanks to HelenaRacing


PS. @Michael: Why "was"? He seems to be still alive.

#57 Michael Ferner

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Posted 07 November 2012 - 16:58

Good for him! I didn't check, and obviously when talking of drivers of that era, you don't expect to be using the present tense!

#58 john glenn printz

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 16:26

HISTORY OF 1949 AAA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACING (cont.-25) 14. Del Mar 100, November 6, 1949. The Del Mar horse track was built during 1936 and early 1937 at a cost of $1,000,000. Half of its construction money was provided by Franklin D. Roosevelt's "new deal" WPA works agency. The rest of the money came from the Del Mar Turf Club headed by crooner and film star Harry L. "Bing" Crosby (1903-1977), who had replaced Rudy Vallee (1901-1986) as America's favorite pop artist. Crosby had talked other Hollywood stars and movie moguls into investing money in the scheme, such as Harry Cohn, Howard Hawks, Joe E. Brown, Pat O'Brien, George Raft, etc. Crosby had become interested in thoroughbred racing and had purchased his first race horse in 1935. The Del Mar plant first opened it gates on July 3, 1937. Present that day were Lucille Ball, William Fawley, Oliver Hardy, George Jessel, Chico & Zeppo Marx, Barbara Stanwick, Robert Taylor, and Mrs. Clark Gable!

The official announcement for the holding of an AAA National Championship 100 miler here was made on September 7, 1949. The holding of a genuine AAA National Championship race was a new experiment and venture for Del Mar. The race promotor Babe Stapp said, that if the event was a huge success, he would then stage two such Del Mar races a year. On race day the gates opened at 9 a.m., the qualifying began at 12 noon, and the race itself at 3 p.m. The guaranteed purse was $7500. The top five qualifiers were 1, Jimmy Davies (Offenhauser/Kurtis-Ewing) 37.57 seconds or 95.58 mph, 2. Rex Mays (Offenhauser/Kurtis), 3. Tony Bettenhausen (Meyer-Drake sc/Kurtis), 4. Troy Ruttman (Offenhauser/Lesovsky), and 5. Johnnie Parsons (Offenhauser/Kurtis). There were 18 starters. The paid attendance was put at 13,380 and the official purse became $11,815.

Fred Agabashian was not entered, Bill Holland was not present, and Johnny Mantz was once again the pilot of J.C. Agajanian's No. 98. Mantz was 11th in the lineup. Duke Dinsmore crashed his car in turn one during a qualification lap but escaped serious injury. The pre-race favorites were Mantz, Mays, Parsons, and Ruttman, but Jimmy Davies led all 100 laps. At 10 laps the race order was 1. Davies, 2. Mays, 3. Ruttman, 4. Parsons, and 5. Paul Russo. Davies' time at 10 miles was 41:21 or 87.35 mph.

On lap 13, Rex Mays, while running in 2nd place and chasing the leader Davies, lost control of his car in the south turn. Some said he was hit by Parsons and others said he hit a rut. Whatever, Mays' car skidded into the inside fence and lopped off 13 wooden posts and a furlong marker. The vehicle then went up into the air and rolled over twice, dumping Rex onto the middle of the track. Rex was of the old school and didn't use a seat belt. In an accident Rex believed it was better to be thrown from the car in a vehicle rollover than to be trapped inside. While prone on the track Rex was run over by one or more vehicles, one of which was piloted by Harold "Hal" Cole (1912-1970). Cole was in heavy traffic and couldn't move over. Mays' body had been flung up into the air by one of the hits.

The race was not stopped. The cars were under caution for several laps while Mays was removed from the track. Rex was taken to the Scripps Memorial Hospital located in La Jolla, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Rex had sustained a broken neck. At 30 circuits the order was 1. Davies, 2. Parsons, 3. Ruttman, and 4. Russo. After 36 laps Parsons went into the pits and retired with a slipping clutch and an oil leak. The race leaders at 40 miles were 1. Davies, 2. Russo, 3. Neal Carter, and 4. Mantz. On circuit 51 Russo's car blew a rear tire and Paul lost 1 and 3/4's laps before he got out again.

At 70 miles the top four were, 1. Davies, 2. Ruttman, 3. Mantz, and 4. Lee Wallard. On lap 73 Ruttman ran into trouble with a leaking oil line. White smoke was billowing from his No. 55. Troy pitted and returned to the fray, but was flagged off course after he had competed 80 circuits by the race officials. With Ruttman eliminated the top three became 1. Davies, 2. Mantz, and 3. Wallard. On lap 83 Mantz had to pit for fuel. The final top five order at the finish (100 laps) was;

1. Jimmy Davies (Offenhauser/Kurtis-Ewing), Pat Clancy No. 57, 1:10:17.47, 85.35 mph, NTR

2. Lee Wallard (Offenhauser/Meyer), Iddings No. 6, 100 laps

3. Myron Fohr, (Offenhauser/Marchese), Marchese No. 2, 100 laps

4. Mack Hellings (Offenhauser/Kurtis), Don Lee No. No. 8, 100 laps

5. Paul Russo (Offenhauser/Kurtis), Tuffy's Offy No. 24, 98 laps

James "Jimmy" Richard Davies (1929-1966) victory was a big surprize! Davies, as far as I can tell, began racing in 1946, at the Ash Kan Derby, the same as Troy Ruttman. During 1948 Jimmy competed in the California Roadster Association (CRA) circuit, mostly at the Carrell Speedway located in Gardena, CA. In 1948 Davies raced against quite an array of names, which later became famous, i.e. Manuel Ayulo, Don Freeland, Andy Linden, Jim Rathman, Jim Rigsby, Troy Ruttman, Jack McGrath, and Demsey Wilson! Davies moved into the AAA National Championship ranks in 1949, at the Arlington Downs (Dallas) 100 on April 24, in a Grant Piston Ring Special No. 27. At Dallas he placed 10th out of the 11 starters. For the rest of his 1949 Champ car events, Davies drove the Pat Clancy No. 57, beginning first at Syracuse on September 9. Jim had six AAA Championship starts total for the 1949 season, with a 6th at Detroit being his best placement before his unexpected Del Mar win.

Davies' Del Mar win is asserted to be that of the youngest pilot ever to triumph in an AAA Championship contest. Jim's age was 20 years, 2 months, and 29 days. Davies, like Ruttman in 1949, was using a false birth certificate, i.e. to run in the AAA sanctioned events you had to be at least 21.

Edited by john glenn printz, 20 November 2012 - 16:41.


#59 john glenn printz

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 13:24

HISTORY OF 1949 AAA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACING (cont.-26). The death of Mays was a shock and big, big news. Wilbur Shaw said, "It seems impossible that something like that could have happened to as fine a driver as Rex. It's difficult to believe because Rex knew what he was doing all of the time."

Mel Hansen stated, "I'd call Rex the top driver in the country. He had iron nerves. Nothing scared him. Rex figured that when your number comes up, that's it."

Mauri Rose commented, "Rex was number one. I raced with him for many years. He was a fine man."

T. E. "Pop" Myers, vice-president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway stated, "It took the stuff right out of me when I heard it. Rex knew his stuff. We all admired him for his ability and courage."

Dr. Thomas J. White, the Del Mar track physician, concluded that May's fatal injuries resulted not from the fall from his car, but when his prone body was stuck by other cars. This seemed to be the general conclusion. The San Diego County Coroners Office accepted Mays' death as a racing accident and made no inquest about it.

On November 11, the Del Mar track owners decided not to hold any further motor races, whether motorcycle, stock car, or big car, on their raceway.

Mays was a captain in the air force reserve and flew with the 731st Bomber Squadron. During World War II Rex was stationed at Long Beach, CA with the ferrying command and later served with the overseas serial transport.

Rex Mays' most serious accident before the Del Mar mishap probably occurred at Reading, MA on July 18, 1936, when he was driving for Sparks and Weirick. It was a four car accident involving Vern Orenduff (1910-1984), Harry Angeloni, and Wesley Johnson. Johnson was injured fatally. At first Rex was listed in critical condition but soon recovered. After being hospitalized for two weeks Mays was ready for the Carl Stockholm's Roby (Chicago) races scheduled originally for August 30.

Funeral services for Rex were held on November 11, at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale. Among the pall bearers were Pete Clark, Louie Meyer, Pop Myers, Babe Stapp, Paul Weirick, and Bud Winfield. Others in attendance were Duane Carter, Ralph DePalma, Peter DePaolo, Louis Durant, Joe Garson, Sam Hanks, Mack Hellings, Johnny Mantz, and Duke Nalon. There were 251 floral tributes and one replica of a broken wheel. About 400 persons were present at the service. In early December 1949 Mays' estate was valued at $12,000.

Edited by john glenn printz, 28 November 2012 - 13:21.


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#60 E.B.

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 21:26

While prone on the track Rex was run over by one or more vehicles, one of which was piloted by Harold "Hal" Cole (1912-1970). Cole was in heavy traffic and couldn't move over.


I read an interview with Cole somewhere in which he lamented the fact that could not see Mays on the track because the colour of Rex's overalls were similar to the dusty track surface.

Rightly or wrongly, Bob Schilling's book is notably very critical of Cole, blaming him entirely and without reservation.




#61 Jim Thurman

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 17:28

I read an interview with Cole somewhere in which he lamented the fact that could not see Mays on the track because the colour of Rex's overalls were similar to the dusty track surface.

Rightly or wrongly, Bob Schilling's book is notably very critical of Cole, blaming him entirely and without reservation.

Very disappointed to hear Schilling did that, but one can find much in the way of contemporary reports that are extremely harsh to Cole.

I've always felt Cole was unfairly criticized, even if many of the quotes came from fellow drivers. I got the impression - again, based on what newspaper writers put down - that drivers were more upset with Cole's original comments and denials. But, it seems to have grown from there.

Perhaps Mr. Printz talked to some of these drivers and can shed some light on this subject?

The whole thing reminds me of what would happen nearly a decade later with Ed Elisian. A popular driver dies, someone becomes a scapegoat.

#62 Jim Thurman

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 17:38

James "Jimmy" Richard Davies (1929-1966) victory was a big surprize! Davies, as far as I can tell, began racing in 1946, at the Ash Kan Derby, the same as Troy Ruttman.

Correct. Don Freeland and Joe James also began racing at Ash Kan Derby as did some other drivers who dabbled with Championship racing or went on to success regionally or in other forms of racing: Harry Stockman, George Seeger and future early sports car star Jack McAfee. Jim Rathmann might have raced there too, but I can't confirm that.

#63 E.B.

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 21:11

Very disappointed to hear Schilling did that


I was a little surprised, but then Schilling was at the race and I wasn’t!

I guess part of the issue was simply how admired and loved the victim was, plus the irony of his heroics at Milwaukee the previous year when he deliberately crashed to avoid running over Duke Dinsmore.

The book as a whole is every bit the masterpiece a Wallen fan would expect though, so I hope you aren’t put off!


#64 john glenn printz

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 15:30

I have little information to add about Mays' fatal mishap. Although I talked to six of the Del Mar starters (i.e. Duane & Neal Carter, Connor, Parsons, Russo, and Ruttman), Rex's accident never came up. The Del Mar general track manager, Paul Mannen, in a check after the race, said there was no rut or chuck hole in the accident area. Perhaps Mays just lost control on his own.

Edited by john glenn printz, 26 November 2012 - 15:37.


#65 john glenn printz

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 13:29

HISTORY OF 1949 AAA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACING. (cont.-27) Ted Horn and Rex Mays, like Earl Cooper and Harry Hartz, always sustained their reputations as top flight drivers, even though they never won the Indianapolis 500. Mays' pre-World War II career is covered on the 1946 AAA National Championship thread (posts 93-96, beginning on November 28, 2005), so there is no reason to repeat the information here. But briefly Rex began racing in 1931 and moved up to the AAA National Championship division in 1934, with a start at Indianapolis. During 1935 and 1936 Mays teamed up with car owners Art Sparks and Paul Weirick which resulted in Rex winning the pole at Indianapolis in both 1935 and 1936, and Mays' first AAA National Championship victory, at Goshen, NY in June 1936. For 1937 and 1938 Mays drove for Hollywood Bill White in the bigger U.S. contests.

Rex made quite a stir in the 1937 Vanderbilt Cup (July 5) contest by placing 3rd behind the German onslaught of Bernd Rosemeyer (Auto-Union) in 1st, and Richard "Dick" Seaman (Mercedes-Benz) in 2nd. Mays beat the entire official Alfa Romeo team, i.e. Emilio Gluseppe "Nino" Farina (1906-1966) & Tazio Giorgio Nuvolari (1892-1953), using a year old model Grand Prix Alfa Romeo. Farina, still with Alfa Romeo in 1950, became the first victor of the World Grand Prix Championship, by winning three of the season's seven races, which then also included the Indianapolis 500.

For the year 1940 Mays was hired by Robert M. Bowes, and took over a car used in 1938 and 1939 at Indianapolis by the now retired Louis Meyer. The next three consecutive AAA Championship seasons (1940, 1941, & 1946) saw Mays at the height of his racing career and success. In both 1940 and 1941 Rex won the AAA National Championship Driving Title, and took 2nd place at the Speedway. In 1946 Mays won three (Langhorne, Indianapolis Fairgrounds, & Milwaukee) of the years' six AAA Championship level contests. Mays stayed with the Bowes Seal Fast team until 1949.

But there wasn't a whole lot to brag about during 1947 and 1948, as Rex's winning the pole position at Indianapolis 1948, his fourth Indy pole, was just about the only positive result. Mays garnered only one top three Championship division finish in 1947 and 1948. It occurred at Milwaukee (June 8, 1947) and Rex on this occasion used an old "little six" model Sparks/Adams owned by Bob Flavell, but built originally for Joel Thorne back in 1938. It was, of course, not a Bowes Seal Fast entry.

Mays' situation took an upswing for 1949. Mays, at Indy, was teamed up with Duke Nalon on the powerful Novi cars, and each looked like a very probable winner. For the rest of the 1949 Championship schedule Mays drove a KK2000 owned by Erwin Wolfe. Before the Del Mar race Rex said, "My Wolfe Special handles well on dirt. In fact, we finished one-two-three in every race we competed this summer that trouble did not force us out of." Before the Del Mar 100 Rex had placed 2nd at Dallas (April 24), Springfield (June 20 & Sept. 25), and Sacramento (Oct. 30), with a third at Milwaukee (August 28).

Mays made twelve Indianapolis 500 starts, and led laps in nine of them, for a grand total of 266. Rex however was running at the finish in only three of them, i.e. he was 2nd in 1940 and 1941, and 6th in 1947. Mays also won the Indy pole in 1935, 1936, 1940, and 1948. Rex's National Championship victories totaled eight, all 100 milers on one mile dirt ovals. In the post-World War II AAA National Championship standings Rex's results were 1946-5th, 1947-5th, 1948-13th, and 1949-6th.

Edited by john glenn printz, 06 December 2012 - 16:23.


#66 john glenn printz

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 16:27

HISTORY OF 1949 AAA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACING (cont.-28). The 1949 Championship season was a big, big year, as its 14 separate events was the largest number since the 24 staged back in 1926, when everything except Indianapolis was run on the board ovals. 1949's total competitive milage totaled up to 1812.42, the highest since 1926 which had a whopping 3200. Still, after World War II, the AAA National Championship, except for the Indianapolis 500, circuit seemed largely humdrum and moribund. The general public knew nothing of it and paid it little or no attention.

1949 was followed by the 1950s and the 1960s, two fabulous decades of U.S. National Championship racing. In the early 1950s developed what was then known as the "State Fair Circuit". Each season would begin with the Indianapolis 500 and then moved to a series of Championship 100 milers, often staged in conjunction with a State Fair. In 1949 the Syracuse 100 and Detroit 100 were examples of AAA Championship contests run during a State Fair. The idea was undoubtedly a ploy to increase the attendance and the money intake at the races. At a State Fair festival there was already present a large number of people conveniently located near the track, who normally would not attend an automobile race, but on a whimy might decide to witness the famous Indianapolis drivers battle in the 100 mile contest, put on the Fair's schedule of events. So the Championship teams would compete at Indy in May and spend the summer going seemingly from one fair to another.

A peculiar aspect of the Championship dirt races arose in the early 1950s, with the advent of more and more entries and cars. The order of which of the drivers went out to qualify was largely arbitrary, i.e. taken by the draw of the hat. A top pilot might find himself at the end of the qualifying listing, while quite contrarily, a poor driver might be placed at the top or near the top. During the qualifications the track surface would sometimes deteriorate quickly, making it hard for the later and better drivers in the qualifing line, to post a time fast enough to make the actual starting lineup.

There were no less than 22 deaths due to motor racing in the U.S. during 1949. Three of these were directly from the AAA's National Championship division, i.e. Metzler (Indianapolis) June 3; Bill Sheffler (Trenton) June 28; and Rex Mays (Del Mar) Nov. 6. Three other Champ car pilots perished in 1949, i.e. Leslie "Les" Anderson (b. 1910) on July 10 at Portland; Tommy Mattson (b. 1914) on July 23 at Salem; and Edward "Ed" Haddad (b. 1911) on Oct. 20 at Gilmore Stadium.

Edited by john glenn printz, 10 December 2012 - 20:35.


#67 john glenn printz

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 13:34

HISTORY OF 1949 AAA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACING (cont.-29) There were fifty-five individuals who obtained points in the 1949 AAA National Championship. The final listing was: 1. Johnnie Parsons 2280, 2. Myron Fohr 1790, 3. Bill Holland 1420, 4. Walt Brown 1281, 5. George Connor 1200, 6. Rex Mays 1030, 7. Paul Russo 920, 8. Lee Wallard 760, 9. Johnny Mantz 660, 10. Emil Andres 512, 11. Joie Chitwood 500, 12. Tony Bettenhausen 466, 13. Mack Hellings 440, 14. Jimmy Jackson 400, 15. Mel Hansen 376, 16. Duane Carter 350, 17. Ralph Pratt 330, 18. Spider Webb 330, 19. Jimmy Davies 330, 20. Duke Dinsmore 254, 21. Troy Ruttman 250, 22. Neal Carter 240, 23. Bayless Leverett 206, 24. Al Rogers 200, 25. Fred Agabashian 200, 26. Charles Van Acker 180, 27. Louis Unser 160, 28. Norm Houser 150, 29. Charles Bryant 140, 30. Johnny Fredricks 140, 31. Mike Salay 130, 32. Johnny McDowell 124, 33. Jackie Holmes 120, 34. George Hammond 120, 35. Chuck Stevenson 120, 36. Milt Fankhouser 120, 37. Tommy Hinnershitz 117, 38. Frank Burany 100, 39. Jim Rathmann 100, 40. Phil Shafer 80, 41. Hugh Thomas 60, 42. George Fonder 60, 43. Cal Niday 60, 44. Jack McGrath 50, 45. J. C. Shoemaker 50, 46. Russ Snowberger 40, 47. Herb Byers 30, 48. Buster Hammond 20, 49. Hank Rogers 20, 50. Billy McGee 17, 51. Otis Stine 14, 52. Billy DeVore 10, 53. Walter Killinger 10, 54. Mark Light 10, and 55. Hal Cole 3.

In late December 1949 Louis Meyer reflected, "Parsons already has arrived as a heady driver in one year of competition. He has the finest equipment. But he won't have exactly smooth sailing to another championship. Remember we have another youngster who's coming along awfully fast-Troy Ruttman. In his last few championship races I believe he arrived too-he smoothed out amazingly over his early season driving."

Miscellaneous Ramblings for 1949. Lora Lawrence "Slim" Corum (b. 1899), the 1924 Indianapolis 500 co-winner with Joe Boyer, was found hanged on March 7, 1949, in a garage at the rear of his home. It was ruled a suicide. Corum had been in ill health for several months. Corum began his AAA Championship racing career at Indianapolis in 1922 with a Frontenac. He went 169 laps before mechanical problems put him out. In the 1923 "500" Lora placed 5th overall in a Fronty-Ford thereby beating the Bugatti, Duesenberg, Mercedes, and Packard team entries! The first four finishers were all Millers. In 1924 Lora was on the Duesenberg team at Indy and drove the No. 15 for the first 109 circuits. He was then replaced by hot shoe Joe Boyer who went on to win. After 1924 Corum's career quickly faded. His last Indianapolis start was in 1933 with a Studebaker. Corum started 18th and finished 12th. Lora's last try at the Speedway was in 1935 with the Miller-Ford team but he did not qualify.

Ernest "Ernie" A. Moross, the 1909-1910 Director of Contests at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, died on April 16, 1949 at age 75. Ernie resigned from his job at the Speedway on July 20, 1910. Moross had worked with Barney Oldfield as a publicity agent both before and after his job with the Speedway. Ernie had started Oldfield on his barnstorming career in 1903 and had managed Barney's career until early 1909 when Moross began working for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May 1909. Moross resided in Detroit MI during 1910 and had tried to get a two mile board speedway constructed there as well as in Chicago and New York.

From 1911 to 1913 he had a travelling racing entourage which was a direct precursor to the International Motor Contest Association (IMCA). During 1914 Moross had been the manager of the Maxwell racing team when its drivers consisted of Billy Carlson, Hughie Hughes, and Teddy Tetzlaff. The IMCA was organized on March 29, 1915 in Chicago. George W. Dickson, who was the manager of the Michigan State Fair, served as its first president. Moross and J. Alex Sloan worked together under the IMCA in 1915. At this time, c. 1914 and 1915, many State Fair managers were disgruntled with their negotiations with the AAA Contest Board for motor racing events, and Dickson, Moross, and Sloan saw an opportunity here to form a new rival racing organization.

That's about all I've got presently for 1949. THE END.

Edited by john glenn printz, 14 December 2012 - 16:43.


#68 Michael Ferner

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 19:46

:clap: Thanks, John, for another riveting read! :clap:

I shall chime in with the continuation of my Sprint Car musings, picking up right where I stopped in the 1948 thread, when I find a little more time, probably early next year.

:)

#69 sramoa

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 12:44

It was fantastic gripping!Anyway if the 40s years we visited,could be a wartime years (1940-41 AAA National Championship)short historical summary?

Edited by sramoa, 15 December 2012 - 12:44.


#70 Jim Thurman

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 18:02

Mr. Printz, thank you for the 1949 AAA National Championship season review. I greatly enjoyed reading it.

Re: Rex Mays' fatal accident. I don't imagine that is the sort of thing that would come up, or other drivers would want to talk about. Unfortunately, it seems as if some ugly, unsubstantiated rumor surrounds many fatal racing accidents, helped along by bad writing, rumor mongering and internet prats, so as unpleasant as it is, it seems a necessary evil to bring up when possible now. Which I find truly annoying.

I still would be curious what Schilling wrote about Hal Cole, and I still feel Cole was unjustly persecuted over his involvement in Mays' accident. Very disappointing that Schilling went that way with it. It reminds so much of the blaming of Elisian for Pat O'Connor's death.

Mr. Printz, did Hal Cole come up in any interviews you conducted?

#71 E.B.

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 15:26

I still would be curious what Schilling wrote about Hal Cole


Schilling argued that as Cole was the 4th car on the scene, and running more slowly than the first 3 (Connor, Russo and Fohr - all of whom managed to avoid Mays), Cole should have had more than sufficient time to take avoiding action. He questions what could possibly have been going on in Cole's mind at the time to have not been able to avert the tragedy.





#72 Jim Thurman

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 05:51

Schilling argued that as Cole was the 4th car on the scene, and running more slowly than the first 3 (Connor, Russo and Fohr - all of whom managed to avoid Mays), Cole should have had more than sufficient time to take avoiding action. He questions what could possibly have been going on in Cole's mind at the time to have not been able to avert the tragedy.

I can turn up absolutely nothing at the time on this, yet I recall an article resoundingly blaming Cole. It must have been a magazine article, likely Open Wheel, in the 1980's. I sincerely hope it doesn't turn out to be another Joe Scalzo story. Though the similarities between this incident and his further scapegoating of Ed Elisian in Pat O'Connor's death are eerily similar. I also hope Schilling didn't simply recycle that account, thereby giving it more traction. That seems to be a recurring problem with Elisian, even more so in the internet age where errors have become further distorted.

Articles at the time seemed confused over who struck Mays or even how many times he was struck. So, how could Schilling (how old?) in the stands, a fan, know for certain? Russo and Connor were, at least in one account, cited as striking Mays. I ran across an item once (which I cannot find at the moment) where one of them (I do not recall which) vehemently stated that he did not strike Mays.

#73 john glenn printz

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 14:46

I know little about Cole. Hal Cole fell out of Championship racing after the Del Mar accident, except he showed up at Indianapolis for 1950. During a qualification attempt on May 29, he crashed into the wall in the southwest turn after a wheel came off his No. 16 Tuffy's Offy. Cole was unhurt and did not make the race. Cole's racing career in California went back as far as the late 1930s. Cole was in three "500s", i.e. 1946, 1948, and 1949. His best finish was 6th in 1948.

I remember all the hubbub on Ed Elisian (1926-1959) after the 1958 Indianapolis race. It was rumored that he had gambling debts and wanted to start collecting immediately the lap price money, which was then $150 a lap. I myself was at the 1958 "500" and sat that year in the Tower Terrace area in front of the pits. That was the last time I sat watching the race from the infield. I didn't think the Tower Terrace seats were real good, but you could certainly see the cars bouncing on the front straightaway, which then was still brick. I believe the seating at Indy is much better on the outside of the track, rather than from the infield, but it took me four races (1953 & 1957-1959) to find that out.

Elisian always greatly admired and actively emulated Bill Vukovich (1918-1955). In this regard he resembled another "bad boy" i.e. Alfonso De Portago (1928-1957), who tried to become another Juan Manuel Fangio (1911-1995). Portago was killed in the Mille Miglia in 1957 and Elisian died at Milwaukee on August 30, 1959 in the USAC Championship 200 miler. Neither Elisian or Portago were ever able to come close to their respective heros, Vukovich and Fangio.

Edited by john glenn printz, 18 December 2012 - 18:49.


#74 Jim Thurman

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 19:09

I know little about Cole. Hal Cole fell out of Championship racing after the Del Mar accident, except he showed up at Indianapolis for 1950. During a qualification attempt on May 29, he crashed into the wall in the southwest turn after a wheel came off his No. 16 Tuffy's Offy. Cole was unhurt and did not make the race. Cole's racing career in California went back as far as the late 1930s. Cole was in three "500", i.e. 1946, 1948, and 1949. His best finish was 6th in 1948.

I remember all the hubbub on Ed Elisian (1926-1959) after the 1958 Indianapolis race. It was rumored that he had gambling debts and wanted to start collecting immediately the lap price money, which was then $150 a lap. I myself was at the 1958 "500" and sat that year in the Tower Terrace area in front of the pits. That was the last time I sat watching the race from the infield. I didn't think the Tower Terrace seats were real good, but you could certainly see the cars bouncing on the front straightaway, which then was still brick. I believe the seating at Indy is much better on the outside of the track, rather than from the infield, but it took me four races (1953 & 1957-1959) to find that out.

Elisian always greatly admired and actively emulated Bill Vukovich (1918-1955). In this regard he resembled another "bad boy" i.e. Alfonso De Portago (1928-1957), who tried to become another Juan Manuel Fangio (1911-1995). Portago was killed in the Mille Miglia in 1957 and Elisian died at Milwaukee on August 30, 1959 in the USAC Championship 200 miler. Neither Elisian or Portago were ever able to come close to their respective heros, Vukovich and Fangio.

Hal Cole shows up first at Burbank Speedway, on former heavyweight boxing champion Jim Jeffries' ranch, racing alongside several future Championship drivers (among them Ray Pixley, George Robson and possibly even Rex Mays) before moving on to Silvergate Speedway, Legion Ascot Speedway and South Gate's Southern (Ascot) Speedway. He was listed as racing out of Long Beach, Huntington Park (where Jimmy Murphy, Lou Meyer and Kelly Petillo either lived or attended school) and South Gate (resident city of the Robson brothers). After his 1950 Indianapolis qualifying crash, he raced in AAA stock car events in California through 1953. He was also reported as one of the rookie observers (made up of veteran drivers, ex-drivers and officials) at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1953. Seems odd that if he was as reviled and castigated as the article I recall on him indicated, that he'd be in that position. This is beginning to reek, and rather badly. When I have time (I don't know when that will be), I'll dig through the old magazines. After he retired from racing, Cole had a Jeep dealership in South Gate.

Despite a myriad of rumors about Elisian, the one on having gambling debts seems to be the only one with any foundation. I have run across a newspaper item where Elisian talked with a sportswriter about that very subject. In it, Elisian said he became a card player, adding that he was a stupid and bad card player and quickly ran into debt, causing his problems. In 1958, newspapers picked up on inflammatory comments made by some drivers immediately after the accident and perhaps the gambling debts and ran with it (and I have to wonder about info leaked by USAC or IMS officials fueling the fire). Newspapers were merciless toward Elisian. He got blamed for seemingly everything that happened afterwards, and an even sadder legacy of rumor, falsehoods and conjecture was created years later apparently simply by the tales of one motorsport writer.

The similarities in the scapegoating of both Cole and Elisian for "killing" a popular and well-liked driver growing years after the fact is disconcerting, disappointing and maddening.

Edited by Jim Thurman, 18 December 2012 - 19:13.


#75 sramoa

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 17:39

A video(sorry,poor quality)about accident:



#76 E.B.

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 20:32

I ran across an item once (which I cannot find at the moment) where one of them (I do not recall which) vehemently stated that he did not strike Mays.


That would probably have been George Connor. I should point out that although Schilling was present, he does not claim to have witnessed the accident.



#77 Jim Thurman

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 17:59

That would probably have been George Connor. I should point out that although Schilling was present, he does not claim to have witnessed the accident.

I believe it was, although I could see either Connor or Russo being vocal about the situation (and understandably so), unfortunately I cannot find that article. If Schilling didn't claim to have witnessed it either, then I wonder what his source was for these charges against Hal Cole?