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1946 AAA National Championship


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#101 john glenn printz

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Posted 04 December 2006 - 16:26

1946 AAA season. (cont.-15) In the 1931 "500" itself Arnold, having started 18th, moved into the lead on lap 7 and then proceeded to increase his advantage on every lap. It looked for a long time like a repeat, runaway victory similar to that of 1930. Arnold held the front position until lap 162, when either Arnold lost control or the rear axle snapped, causing the car to crash in turn four. Arnold had led laps 7 to 161 with ease. Fred Frame however, in Hartz's Duesenberg, gave some good consolation to Harry, as Frame ended up 2nd overall, behind only the winner Lou Schneider (1901-1942). After the race Frame bought the Duesenberg from Hartz and used it for the rest of the 1931 season, though without much success.

For 1932 Hartz again had a two car team at Indianapolis. Arnold was again back with his 1930-31 Miller/Summers but Frame was now put into a new front wheel drive car, powered by a new 183 cubic inch Miller straight 8. This new Miller/Wetteroth machine made use of some parts from Cliff Durant's 91 1/2 cu. in. "Detroit Special", constructed in 1927, and designed by Tommy Milton and Dr. Stanford A. Moss, using Miller parts and components but greatly modified and hopefully upgraded for more speed. In the 1932 "500" itself Arnold, starting in 2nd, took over the front running position on lap 2 and then led until lap 59 when he lost control and crashed badly. In the 1931 "500" Arnold had sustained a fractured pelvis and now in 1932 he had a broken shoulder blade. "Spider" Matlock was Arnold's riding mechanic for the years 1930-32, and he didn't emerge from these two wrecks unscathed either. Matlock had a broken shoulder blade in 1931 and for 1932, a fractured pelvis; the exact opposite of what Arnold had gotten in 1931 and 1932! Fred Frame, in the second Hartz owned Miller/Wetteroth car, came through to win, at a new record average speed for the 500 miles of 104.144 mph. For the three year period of 1930-32, Hartz's entries had placed 1st in 1930 (Arnold), 2nd in 1931 (Frame), and 1st in 1932 (Frame). Not bad at all, but after the 1932 "500" Mrs. Arnold laid down the law. Either Billy would quit racing or she was getting a divorce and, as a result, Arnold never raced again.

Things went very sour for Hartz at the Speedway in 1933 and 1934. Harry returned to Indy in 1933 with a two car team. Frame was back to drive his 1932 winning Miller/Wetteroth and Lester Spangler (1906-1933), a rookie was in a front wheel drive Miller chassis using a 4 cylinder 255 cu. in. Miller motor. Spangler had made quite a name for himself in California driving single seat sprint cars during 1930 to early 1933. Lester had just one AAA Championship start on his resume, i.e. the Oakland 150 (13 Nov. 1932) where he started 5th and placed 15th when he wrecked after 10 laps. In the 1933 "500" both of Hartz's entries failed to finish. Frame went out after 85 laps with valve problems. Spangler lasted 132 circuits before he was involved in a wreck. The accident was triggered when Malcome Fox's Studebaker lost a wheel and his car skidded into the center of the track. Spangler couldn't avoid Fox's machine and plowed directly into it. Both Spangler and his riding mechanic, G. L. "Monk" Jordan were killed. 1933 was a bad year at Indianapolis all around as five died, i.e. three drivers (Mark Billman, William Denver, and Spangler) along with two riding mechanics (Robert U. Hurst and G. L. Jordan). And because of the Depression, the prize money was low. Louie Meyer, the winner of the 1933 "500", was still bitching to me, half a century later, about the small payoff he got for first place in 1933.

Edited by john glenn printz, 09 June 2010 - 14:37.


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#102 john glenn printz

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Posted 05 December 2006 - 13:26

1946 AAA season. (cont.-16) For the 1934 "500" Hartz had but a single car entry, but by May 20th, he still hadn't selected a driver for it. Eventually Harry put the veteran Peter "Pete" Kreis (1900-1934) in it, the car being the Miller/Wetteroth with which Frame had piloted in the last two Indy races. Kreis came from a prominent Knoxville, Tennessee family and was a civil engineer by trade specializing in railway levees. During 1925 Tommy Milton and Kreis had crossed the Atlantic together, with two Duesenberg 122's in tow, to race in the 19 Sept. 1925 Italian Grand Prix at Monza. Astonishingly both Kries and Milton led in this Grand Prix and Kreis even posted the fastest lap! Peter DePaolo, who became the 1925 AAA National Champion, also competed in this race but drove as a guest of the Alfa Romeo team. Milton finished 4th overall, hampered by the Duesenberg's now stripped transmission gears. Kreis had been a regular on the AAA Championship board track circuit during the 1925-1927 seasons but thereafter only raced annually at Indianapolis, at the request of his family, who feared for his safety. But now disaster ensued. On 25 May 1934, while practicing for the day's qualification trials, Kreis lost control in turn one. The car bounced over the outside retaining barrier and then, far below, smashed into a tree. The impact tore the Miller/Wetteroth in two and both Kreis and his riding mechanic, Bob Hahn, were both fatally injured.

Harry rebuilt the machine wrecked by Kreis and, for 1935, Fred Frame and Hartz got back together and Fred drove it in the 1935 Indianapolis 500. This time Frame finished only 11th. Freddy Winnai (1905-1977), in a subsidiary Hartz entry for 1935, did even worst, i.e. going out after just 16 circuits with a broken connecting rod to place 31st. After the 1935 "500" Hartz restricted himself to just a single entry in the "500"; now always the winning 1932 Miller/Wetteroth machine, with all its continuing and evolving modifications, and rebuilds. Hartz, impressed by what Horn had been able to do with the front wheel drive Ford/Miller in 1935, hired him for the 1936 "500". Horn was assigned the f.w.d Miller/Wetteroth and piloted it in the Indianapolis races of 1936, 1937, and 1938, and finishing 2nd, 3rd, and 4th respectively with it. For the 1938 "500" the car was rebuilt once again, now with a smaller and different looking radiator shell. Ted Horn also drove for Hartz in the two George Vanderbilt Cup contests of 1936 and 1937, but failed to finish in either one because of various mechanical ills, i.e. stalled-out motor in the pits in 1936 and transmission failure in 1937. The Hartz car that Horn utilised in the two Vanderbilt classics, was another Miller/Wetteroth car but this time a rear drive model, as a front drive vehicle here would have been totally useless. Harry Hartz's last entry at Indianapolis occurred in 1940. Mel Hansen (1898-1963), in the same f.w.d. Miller/Wetteroth that Horn piloted in 1936-38, managed to place 8th that year. Herb Ardinger (1910-1973) had had it for 1939. Hartz didn't figure much in the post-World War II period at all, except as an AAA and USAC official at the Speedway.

Edited by john glenn printz, 14 July 2009 - 14:48.


#103 john glenn printz

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Posted 05 December 2006 - 18:43

1946 AAA season. (cont.-17) The Harry Hartz-Ted Horn linkup during 1936-1938 well illustrates both the continuities and the discontinuities of American "big-time" AAA automobile racing during the period of 1920 and 1941. Ted Horn, like Rex Mays, never had any connections with the once dominant (i.e. 1915-1931) wooden surfaced ovals while Hartz, on the other hand, had been at the very center of the board type competition during the 1920's. Mauri Rose, whose racing career had begun a little earlier than that of either Horn or Mays, never competed in an AAA Championship ranked race on the big board speedways either. Rose, whose early career was on mostly dirt ovals located in the states of Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania, did get into some events staged at the half-mile board speedways located at Bridgeville, PA and Woodbridge, NJ. In fact Rose's very first race, as has already been said, took place at Bridgeville on 4 July 1927, in the inaugural 150 miler. Rose crashed out on his 60th lap and suffered a broken jaw.

For 1939 and 1940 Horn ran for Mike Boyle at Indianapolis. Bill Cummings had been Boyle's number one driver, beginning with the 1934 season, but Cummings had been killed on 8 Feb. 1939, in an automobile road accident in Indianapolis. Bill was soon replaced by Wilbur Shaw as the number one pilot on the Boyle team in 1939 and Shaw remained so in both 1940 and 1941. In 1939 Horn was Boyle's number two driver and Chet Miller (1902-1953) was number three. In 1939 Horn was given the machine that Cummings had won Indy with in 1934. It had been reramped, remotored, redone and rebuilt many times and its body configuration had been greatly altered, moderized, and streamlined in 1938. Cummings had driven this car, for Boyle, in every "500" from 1934 to 1938. It is obvious, that largely because of the poor U.S. economic conditions of the 1930's, and the very short supply of basic industrial materials immediately after World War II in 1946-47, that the same equipment in many cases, ran in the Indianapolis races over and over again; although in many instances rebuilt and modified during the depression era (1930-1941) and the immediate post-war years (1946-1947).

And finally in 1941, Horn drove one of Joel Thorne's "Little Sixes". In the pre-World War II years Horn's best placements in an AAA 100 dirt mile National Championship contest was a 3rd at Syracuse (2 Sept. 1939). Ted's highest rankings in the AAA National Championship Title chases were 2nd in 1937 and 3rds in 1936 and 1939. Horn was docked all his 1941 AAA Championship points because he bolted the AAA and joined the Ralph A. Hankinson "outlaw" circuit in mid-1941. For the first post-World War II "500", in 1946, Horn was reunited with sponsor Mike Boyle and the chief mechanic Cotton Henning.

Henning had originally hailed from Kansas City and in 1919 had worked alongside Riley Brett and William Wayne "W. W. Cockeyed" Brown (1886-1958), on the "Richards Special", which had run at Indianapolis in 1919, the owner then being C. L. Richards. The car used a Hudson "Super Six" block as altered by Brett. In 1921 Henning had worked on the two "Junior Specials", which belonged to George L. Wade, one of the men Hartz had unintentionally killed at Beverly Hills on 29 Nov. 1923. There exists a rather famous photograph of Henning hovering over a prostrate and unconscious Peter DePaolo at the inaugural Kansas City 300 (17 Sept. 1922), after they wrecked in a Junior Eight Special, in a race which took the life of Roscoe Sarles (1892-1922). Henning, like Gene Marcenac, was credited with four Indianapolis wins as a chief mechanic before the second World War. Henning's victories at the Speedway occurred in 1925 (DePaolo/Batten), 1934 (Cummings), and 1939-40 (Shaw). Horn, now in 1946, was put in Shaw's victorious 8CTF Maserati of 1939 and 1940. Such then is a brief background of the three top ranked American pilots, (i.e. Rose, Mays, and Horn), at Indianapolis in 1946.

Edited by john glenn printz, 12 October 2009 - 15:25.


#104 john glenn printz

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 13:07

1946 AAA season. (cont.-18) Midget car racing had begun in California in 1933 and quickly spread all across the United States. Rose, Mays, and Horn however did not race the "Mighty Midgets" but rather confined themselves to the more powerful and larger "big cars", i.e. single seat sprint cars and, when the AAA demanded them, the still larger "two-man" Championship level machinery, used during the 1930-1937 seasons. After World War II the AAA ran three basic types or classes of open wheel racing cars: (1) Midgets built specifically for 1/4 mile ovals, (2) Sprint Cars, used mostly on 1/2 and 5/8's mile tracks, and (3) the still larger Championship Cars used at Indianapolis and at ovals of one mile length or more. Of course all this varied a great deal in actual practice. Midgets ran occasionally even on one mile tracks like Milwaukee and Detroit, while the AAA Championship cars staged non-Championship events at the 1/2 mile William Grove Speedway located in Pennsylvania. However, after World War II certainly, the AAA ruling was that all National Championship "point" races had to be run on tracks of at least one mile distance or larger. Back in 1930 two AAA National Championship contests had been run on 1/2 mile board ovals, i.e., Akron (June 22) and Bridgeville (July 4). These are the only exceptions to the general rule.

The terminology changed somewhat after 1950 also. Before c. 1950, the name "big car" included both the sprint and Championship type racing vehicles but thereafter the "big cars" were of just the AAA Championship level racing cars only. Sprint cars now were just designated or dubbed as sprint cars. The AAA regional titles, i.e., the Pacific Coast, the Mid-West, and the Eastern, were all sprint car titles. I might add that during the 1930's, the drivers referred to the various and scattered 1/2 mile dirt ovals as "bull rings" and that, as the 1950's wore on, the sprint cars got to be considered more dangerous than the more powerful and division "Champ" cars proper.

The leading Championship car chassis makers just before the U.S.'s entry into World War II, in 1941, were Clyde Adams, Myron Stevens (1901-1988), and Louis "Curly" Wetteroth (1901-1975). All three labored in total obscurity and not much, seemingly and unfortunately, is known about them now. Neither the AAA record keepers (!) or the racing news media took any contenance or notice of any chassis constructors or makes during the period 1930-1950. Wetteroth's constructed chassis won at Indianapolis in 1932 (owner Hartz), 1935 (owner Petillo), and both 1938 and 1941 (owner Lou Moore). Wetteroth was also mixed up with the early midget car movement in California and built some of the earliest midget racing cars in the early 1930's.

Myron Stevens first began working on race cars when he was hired by Harry Miller in early 1922 as a metal fabricator and body builder. Myron worked for Miller from 1922 on and left Miller's shop about 1927, to work on Frank Lockhart's Land Speed Record car. The very first machine Stevens worked on at Miller's shop was Tommy Milton's "Leach Special", which Milton ran at Indianapolis in 1922. Milton later won the inaugural (17 Sept. 1922) Kansas City 300 in it. Stevens' constructed cars won Indy in 1931 (owner Bob Bowes), 1936 (owner Lou Meyer), and the 1937 winner (owner Shaw) was jointly put together by Wilbur Shaw and Stevens in 1936. When the body came apart during the running of the 1936 "500", Shaw blamed Myron. Here's what Myron told me, "I told Wilbur over and over again that you couldn't put the body together that way, and when the body flew apart in the race, he blamed me!" Compare with Shaw's autobiography GENTLEMEN, START YOUR ENGINES (New York, 1955, pages 207-218) which is a most delightful book. Myron also did some driving at times and placed 3rd at Altoona (2 Sept. 1929) and was a starter at Indianapolis in 1931. Myron's 1929 Altoona race was his only board track start and he always said he was very grateful for this opportunity, as he really enjoyed this experience. Stevens' 1931 Indy ride was built by himself, in 1931, and was owned by Louie Meyer; but Myron was both the 1931 "500" race qualifier and starter, and drove laps 1-72. Meyer's original mount failed after 28 circuits (oil leak) and Louie wanted to get back in the race. So Meyer took over the Myron started car, as he owned it, and drove it for laps 73-200, to place 4th. This was a good car and Meyer not long later, won the Championship Detroit 100 in it, on 9 June 1931. For 1932 Meyer gave the car to Bob Carey to drive and Carey responded by winning the 1932 AAA National Driving Title in it. Mauri Rose, as has already been stated, used it in the 1933 "500". Stevens had first attempted to drive in a "500" in 1929 but in a practice session he wrecked, which put him out of the race for that year.

Clyde Adams had not had an Indy winner as yet, but he had put together the "Big Six" and the two "Little Sixes" for Art Sparks and Joel Thorne. These Thorne owned Adams' constructed cars had held the Indianapolis one lap qualification record since 23 May 1937. Jimmy Snyder upped the mark to 130.492 mph on 23 May 1937 and later broke his own record on 20 May 1939 by posting a 130.757 mph, still the Indy one lap record in early 1946. These Thorne-Sparks-Adams cars had finished 2nd in 1939 (Snyder), 5th in 1940 (Thorne), and 4th in 1941 (Horn). None of these three constructors, i.e., Adams, Stevens, or Wetteroth, seems to have seriously resumed their racing chassis businesses after World War II, except Wetteroth did rebuild and revamp two Champ cars owned by Murrel Belanger for the Indianapolis race in 1948, and Stevens seems to have constructed a couple of Indy cars in 1952.

Edited by john glenn printz, 10 January 2011 - 20:46.


#105 john glenn printz

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Posted 07 December 2006 - 13:17

1946 AAA season. (cont.-19) Considering the five year layoff, i.e. between 1941 and 1946, it is rather remarkable how few Indy drivers had retired during this long lull. Frank Brisko (1900-1990) and Babe Stapp were gone and, of course, Wilbur Shaw. Brisko however returned in 1946 as a car owner and entered a Maserati to be driven by Emil Andres (1911-1999). Deacon Litz and Floyd Davis (the co-winner with Rose in 1941) were seemingly in limbo and didn't seem to know whether they had quit or not.

A 1946 entry from the 1935 Indy victor, Kelly Petillo, was thrown out by both the AAA and the IMS. Kelly's rather bizarre personality had taken a turn for the worst during the war years, 1939-1945. It became progessively more and more nasty and pugnacious and Petillo was continually in trouble with the police in bodily assault cases. Kelly now wanted to settle all his numerous disputes with fisticuffs. Because his entry was refused Kelly sued the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on 23 May 1946 for $50,000 maintaining that the Speedway, "is attemping to control the outcome of the 1946 race by elimination of the plaintiff." The case was thrown out of court.

Petillo had competed in all the "500"'s staged, 1932-1941 and had been the 1935 AAA National Driving Champion. Kelly had a total of four National Championship wins, i.e. (1) Mines Field 23 Dec. 1934; (2) Indianapolis, 30 May 1935; (3) Saint Paul, 4 July 1935; and (4) Langhorne, 13 Nov. 1935. Petillo had certainly been a top driver during 1934, 1935, and 1936, but thereafter his racing career was in a downward slide. Kelly's best placement, after 1936, in a Championship ranked contest was 5th at Springfield on 24 Aug. 1940. Art Sparks told me, "Petillo was an excuse maker, in fact, he was the greatest excuse maker I ever knew." In the early 1930's Kelly had made his living trucking fruit produce to market in California.

Engine types at Indianapolis in 1946 were still very diverse with such makes as Alfa Romeo, Brisko, Ford, Miller, Lencki, Maserati, Novi, Offenhauser, Sparks, and Winfield still at hand. By 1950 however the field was largely cleared out, and almost all the serious entrants now utilized the tried and true Offenhauser "270" 4 banger.

Almost all the U.S. equipment on hand for the 1946 "500" was of pre-World War II vintage. There were, in fact, only four new American cars present; (1) Ralph Hepburn's front wheel drive "Novi", (2) Paul Russo's twin engined "Fageol", (3) Mel Hanson's "Ross Page Special", and (4) Joe Langley's "Clemons Special", put together in 1945 by Fred Clemons (d. 1945) and Jack Dixson. The Novi's supercharged V8 motor had already been both tested and used in the 1941 "500", when it had been put into one of the now old 1935 Miller-Ford front drive chassis. Hepburn had driven this combination, owned by Lou Welch (1907-1980), to a 4th place finish for 1941. The engine's nominal designer, Bud Winfield, claimed its horsepower was 500 and if so, it was certainly the most powerful engine at the Speedway in 1946.

Edited by john glenn printz, 06 March 2012 - 18:13.


#106 john glenn printz

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Posted 07 December 2006 - 16:06

1946 AAA season. (cont-20) THE 1946 INDIANAPOLIS QUALIFYING TRIALS. The 1946 Indianapolis time trials were originally scheduled for five separate days, i.e., May 18, 19, 25, 26 and 28; and all entries had to post at least a minimum qualifying speed of 115 mph to be allowed in the race. Before "Pole Day" arrived on May 18, there was some news of note. On May 7, it was announced that that the British port authorities would not allow Caracciola to ship his type W165 Mercedes-Benz racing car out of England. In the past the British had looked enviously, and with great interest, on the doings of the 1934-1939 German Grand Prix teams of Auto-Union and Mercedes-Benz. England itself, during 1933/34, had started up a firm, i.e., English Racing Automobiles (ERA), to produce British bred racing cars under the direction of Humphrey Cook. The new company was located in Bourne, Lincolnshire, but ERA's racing cars were of a decided amateurish and retrograde cast. They were techically behind the times and totally obsolete compared to the advanced engineering to be seen in the German Grand Prix cars of the same era. The ERA's were even quite antiquated in concept when compared to the new racing cars emanating from Italy, i.e. Alfa-Romeo and Maserati. The English both knew and remembered all this during the second World War, for the Auto-Unions and Mercedes-Benz racing cars had been all conquering during the 1936 to 1939 seasons. Thus, after the war, British Intelligence itself wanted to take a very close look at the advanced and superior German technology put into these cars during 1934-1939. The idea here was that they might find something of use for military pistoned engined aircraft.

An official "Top-Secret" report was even issued, entitled INVESTIGATION INTO THE DEVELOPMENT OF GERMAN GRAND PRIX RACING CARS BETWEEN 1934 AND 1939 (INCLUDING A DESCRIPTION OF THE MERCEDES WORLD'S LAND SPEED RECORD CONTENDER, reported by Cameron C. Earl (1947): B.I.O.S. Final report/British Intelligence Objectives sub-committee: no. 1755, item no. 19. Trip no. 3219, April 22-May 20, 1947. And so, in April-May 1946, the Brits didn't think it was in their best interests to allow Caracciola's type W165, out of the country. They probably wanted to dismantle the car and see what made it tick. At a later time, c. 1951/52, Cameron's detailed report was declassified for it was now readily acknowledged that nothing of any real military value had been found. In 1945 and immediately after World War II proper, it was obvious that jet powered aircraft was entire way of the future and that piston powered planes, for major and future war use, was as dead as the dodo bird.

The whole episode here was somewhat reminiscent as to what happened to Ralph DePalma in late 1914. His 1914 Grand Prix Mercedes, in which he would win the 1915 Indianapolis "500", was duly torn apart and inspected by the Packard Motor Car Company in Detroit during December 1914, at possibly the suggestion of the U.S. War Department. It was well known that the 1914 Mercedes racing car engine utilized the most advanced high performance and lightweight German aero motor practices. The "Liberty" V12 aircraft engine of 1917 was the direct result of this snooping: but in 1917 the "Liberty" was generally hailed as a vaunted triumph of American-British cooperation and engineering.

Rudolf Caracciola had been personally invited by Wilbur Shaw to compete in the 1946 "500". As all Rudi's travel and hotel arrangements had long been made, Caracciola decided to come to the U.S., even without a car. He and his aristocratic looking wife could call it all a holiday and perhaps he could still land a ride of some sort at the Speedway.

On May 11 Arbuthnot's V12 Lagonda was severly damaged en route to the track. A tow line had broken near Defiance, Ohio and a passenger car following behind, plowed into it. Arbuthnot's Lagonda was probably not a serious entry anyway. It was originally a two-seat, sports-racing car which had placed 4th in the 1939 LeMans 24 hour race and his vehicle looked like a barnyard special when modified into a single seat, open wheel racer. Arbuthnot's wrecked car was brought to the Speedway and repaired but it never got going fast enough to attempt a qualification run. Arbuthnot himself stayed long enough in Indiana to be an interested spectator of the race itself.

Edited by john glenn printz, 14 July 2009 - 15:02.


#107 john glenn printz

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Posted 07 December 2006 - 19:28

1946 AAA season. (cont.-21) About 14 cars were said to be ready for pole day, Saturday 18 May 1946. Rex Mays was favored to win the pole position with his stiffest competition being thought to come from Mauri Rose and Harry McQuinn. Alas for all these hopes (!), as it proved to be a very disappointing day for the 20,000 speed happy fans that attended. Mays had engine trouble (the babbit in the connecting rods pulverized) and he didn't run. Rose's Lencki designed six cylinder motor threw a connecting rod on his first qualifying lap, McQuinn didn't make a try (engine problems), and Ted Horn couldn't take a trial try either because of a water pump problem. The day had also intermitent rain which slowed up the action and just six cars qualified all day. Mays' babbit problem caused a sudden panic in Gasoline Alley as many of the other competitors were using the same alloy from the same supplier.

The somewhat unexpected pole winner was Cliff Bergere (1896-1980), an old seasoned veteran whose first year at the Speedway had been back in 1927. Other prominent "first timers" in 1927 had included George Souders (the winner), Louie Meyer (in a relief role for Shaw), Wilbur Shaw, Lou Schneider, Fred Frame, and Babe Stapp, among others; a very good rookie crop indeed! Bergere had certainly been around. His racing experience went back as far, at least, to running at Bentel's new Ascot oval in 1924. Cliff had worked as a Hollywood stunt man during the 1920's and 1930's. Bergere had raced on the big AAA board speedways (i.e. Altoona and Salem) during 1928 and 1929, with his best results being a 2nd and a 3rd at the Altoona races staged on 15 June 1929 and 2 Sept. 1929 respectively. After the 1929 AAA season, Bergere raced only at the annual Indianapolis classic, with his best final placements being 3rds in both 1932 and 1939.

During the entire "junk" formula years (1930-1937), was put in place by the AAA, to encourage the U.S. automobile manufacturers to get back into racing using souped up stock block powered cars. It was Cliff Bergere's 3rd place finish in 1932 with a straight 8, 337 cubic inch, a modified stock block engined Studebaker, which actually come the closest to winning against all the totally thoroughbred designed racing equipment then still in use during the Junk era. No other stock block powered racers ever fared at Indy, during 1930-1937, as well as Bergere's placement here in 1932. Cliff's 1939 Indy mount was one of the 1935 Ford-Millers with its original Ford V8 now replaced by a standard 270 cu. in. Offenhauser 4. Its owner was Lew Welch and for the 1941 "500", a new supercharged Winfield V8 had replaced the Offy 4 in this car. Ralph Hepburn, as has been said, drove this combination to a 4th place finish in '41.

For 1941, driving for Lou Moore, Bergere had driven the entire 500 mile distance without stopping, which was only the second occasion when this had occurred. Dave Evans (his real name was David Sloat, 1898-1974), using Diesel power in 1931, had been the first example of this feat. Evans had placed 13th and had averaged 86.107 mph, more than 10 mph behind the winner, Lou Schneider. In the 1941 "500" Cliff had led laps 152-161 before being passed by a hard charging Mauri Rose. Bergere however had become sick from the exhaust fumes and when the race was over he had slid all the way down to the 5th position. Before the 1946 "500" Bergere held the record for having driven the most competitive miles in the "500", at 5704 miles in all, accumulated in his previous 14 starts. Now Bergere, at age 49, had just won the pole by posting a 126.471 mph four lap average.

Edited by john glenn printz, 21 March 2012 - 14:36.


#108 john glenn printz

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Posted 08 December 2006 - 19:18

1946 AAA season. (cont.-22) Next to Bergere on the front row was Paul Russo (1914-1976) in the odd looking Lou Fageol entry. Fageol was a manufacturer of buses and trucks. This machine was a totally unique vehicle put together by Paul F. Weirick, the ex-partner of Art Sparks. It was powered by two 90 cubic inch midget Offenhauser motors, one in front and one in back, of the driver position. It featured four wheel drive and 320 horsepower total, if both of its two Offy engines, were added together. Russo had had the fastest practice laps of the month so far, up in the 128 mph range. Parts of this car's transmission assembly had been cannibalized from the ubiquitous 1935 Ford-Miller cars. Weirick was now also the chief mechanic and Russo posted a good qualifing speed of 126.183 mph. Paul Russo was a younger brother of Joe Russo (1901-1934) who ran in the AAA Championship division from 1931-1934. Joe was killed in an accident at Langhorne on 10 June 1934 while, so I've been told, he was feuding over a woman with Billy Winn (1905-1938).

Joe, as the driver, was linked up with the last efforts ever of Augie Duesenberg, to compete at Indy, in 1933 and 1934. After that Augie went to work for Mormon believer, Ab Jenkins (1883-1956), located in Salt Lake City, Utah. Fred Duesenberg had already died from pneumonia in 1932 caught, while in a hospital, recuperating from an auto accident. This was the end of the Duesenbergs in AAA Championship racing.

On the outside of the front row was Sam Hanks (1914-1994) in the "Spike Jones Special" at 124.762 mph. Hanks began his racing career in California during 1936 driving midgets and he quickly became very adept at piloting the so-called "Doodlebugs". Sam qualified for the "500" in both 1940 and 1941. In 1940 "Sammy" qualified a car owned by ex-board track and Indy star, Leon Duray (1894-1956). In 1940, Hank's rookie year, he was flagged after 192 laps to finish 13th. For 1941 he drove for the Saint Louis, MO entrepreneur, Ed Walsh., in the very first Championship car built by Frank Kurtis (1908-1987). Sammy, although he qualified for the 1941 "500" had not been an actual starter. In a pre-race practice session, the day before the race, his car's motor broke a crankshaft which locked up the rear wheels. This resulted in a very bad wreck, in which Hanks, was very seriously injured. Although Sam didn't actually start the 1941 "500" he was awarded the 33rd finishing position in the final official results. Hank's 1946 car, the "Spike Jones Special" and named after a then popular comical-satirical band leader, was a 16 cylinder job originally built in 1939 for owner Alden Sampson II, who had been Louie Meyer's sponsor at Indianapolis during the years 1928-1932.

Its supercharged V16 engine had been constructed in 1928, out of two standard Miller 91 cubic inch blocks, for Frank Lockhart's Land Speed Record machine, dubbed the "Stutz Black Hawk". On 25 April 1928, while traveling close to 225 mph and trying to better Malcolm Campbell's (1885-1948) then current record of 206.956 mph, Lockhart had a tire explode and the result was that the car rolled violently over and over. Frank was thrown out and killed, at just age 25. Alden Sampson at some point purchased Lockhart's V16 motor and the unit was stored away until 1939 when Alden employed Myron Stevens to make a special chassis for it. Bob Swanson (1912-1940), a popular midget driver, ran it at Indianapolis in both 1939 and 1940. However Swanson died on 12 Oct. 1940 during a qualication attempt for a midget race at Toledo, Ohio. Veteran Shorty Cantlon had the ride for 1941 at Indy but didn't like the car and eventually backed out. Deacon Litz then, at the very last moment, put the machine into the 1941 starting field with a 123.440 mph clocking. The car's best finishing postion at Indianapolis before the war was 6th in 1940 with Swanson in the cockpit. This was not the first 16 cylinder car entered by Alden Sampson II at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Back in 1930, for the newly introduced AAA Championship car formula of 366 cubic inches and two-man cars, Sampson sponsored Riley Brett and Louie Meyer to build a new 16 cylinder job, made like the Lockhart V16 engine, from two Miller 91 cu. in. blocks. Brett's design put the two 91 Miller blocks alongside each other, in exact parallel, to form a U16 rather than a V16. Louie Meyer drove this Miller/Stevens U16 car at Indy in 1930, 1931, and 1932; and Chet Gardner piloted it there in 1933 and 1934. The car's best placements were 4ths in 1930 (Meyer) and 1933 (Gardner). Thereafter this "16" ceased to appear in any Indy lineup but, in any case, it should not be confused with the later 1939 Sampson V16 machine, which had an entirely new Stevens chassis and the ex-Lockhart V16 motor installed in it. Anyway Hanks, in 1946, was impressed with this Miller/Stevens car and put it on the outside of the first row, next to Bergere and Russo, by posting a 124.493 mph average.

Edited by john glenn printz, 14 July 2009 - 15:08.


#109 Jim Thurman

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Posted 09 December 2006 - 19:21

John,

Outstanding material. Thanks for posting it here. While researching other racing matter many years ago, I stumbled across an article on owners protesting and trying to stop the Fageol Special from competing in the '46 race, ostensibly over "safety" concerns. Have you run across any items mentioning this?

#110 john glenn printz

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Posted 11 December 2006 - 13:21

1946 AAA season. (cont.-23) Rookie Jimmy Jackson put the ex-Boyle front wheel drive machine in at 120.257 mph. Some reports state that Jackson's No. 61 car was a later version of the front drive job that Bill Cummings piloted to victory in the 1934 "500". There was a total of just six qualifiers on the first day, the other two being Hal Cole (1912-1970) and the veteran Louis Durant. Sunday's (May 19) time trials were rained out but there were to be eventually seven separate qualifying days for the upcoming 1946 "500". Ted Horn put the ex-Shaw 8CTF Maserati in on May 20 with a 123.980; and Mauri Rose qualified a 4 cylinder Lencki entry on May 22 with a speed of 124.065 mph. This car had been originally assigned to Tony Bettenhausen but he left the Lencki team on May 18. Tony then hitched a new ride with the Marchese brothers from Milwaukee. Finally on May 25 Rex Mays was ready with the big Bowes Seal Fast car and Rex posted a qualification mark of 128.860 mph, the fastest so far for 1946, and almost 2 1/2 mph quicker than Bergere's pole speed of 126.471 mph. Mays' 1946 speed of 128.860 mph compared with 127.85 mph and 128.29 mph posted respectively in 1940 and 1941, when Rex drove the exact same car. Most of the veteran Speedway observers probably expected Mays' 128.860 mph would remain the quickest trial for 1946. Next in speed on this same day was George Robson (1909-1946), who in Joe Thorne's "Little Six", clocked in at 125.541 mph but nobody paid much attention to Robson.

On the next day however, Sunday May 26, occurred unexpectedly the biggest story of the 1946 Indy time trials. In the new, long, and rakish front wheel drive Novi, the oldest driver at the Speedway at 50, Ralph Hepburn, reeled off four laps at an average speed of 133.944 mph! The speeds for all four laps were; (lap 1) 134.288 mph; (lap 2) 133.136 mph; (lap 3) 133.909 mph; and (lap 4) 134.449 mph. And so Jimmy Snyder's old marks of 130.757 for one lap and 130.138 mph for four laps, both set on 20 May 1939 were decisively broken. To most of the onlookers at the Speedway in 1946, Ralph Hepburn must have seemed like something that dated back to the Paleozoic age. Hepburn had started racing motorbikes in 1913 and in his youth, Ralph had been one of the best and most famous motorcycle racers in the U.S., mostly on "Indian" and "Harley-Davidson" made bikes. In early 1923 Tommy Milton wanted to run his own Miller two car team in the AAA National Championship circuit and he picked Hepburn to be his protege and new teammate even though Ralph had never ever raced a vehicle with four wheels before. Hepburn was scheduled to make his automobile racing debut at Fresno on 26 April 1923 in the 150 miler but Milton's plan went awry. Milton had to reappropriate the 183 cubic inch Miller originally assigned to Hepburn because his new 122 cu. in. Miller had oil circulation ills. Later however, Hepburn attented many 1923 AAA races with Milton to get the lay of the land, so to speak.

In early 1924 Milton's scheme was tried again and Hepburn, as a Milton student and protege, made his first actual AAA Championship start at Beverly Hills on 24 Feb. 1924 in the big 250 miler. Ralph finished 13th, being put out after 189 laps with a broken oil line. Hepburn didn't race a car again in the AAA Championship division until the 1925 Indianapolis 500, when he piloted a Miller entered by driver Earl Cooper. Ralph led circuits 108-122 in that event but retired shortly thereafter with a leaking gas tank after 143 completed laps. After his 1925 run at Indy, Hepburn became a regular competitor at Indianapolis and the then existing AAA Championship board track circuit. Hepburn seemed to take to the Rockingham-Salem 1 1/4 mile oval the best and took two 2nds there (i.e. in a 250 miler run on 31 Oct. 1925 and a 62 1/2 mile race held on 12 Oct. 1928); and a 3rd (i.e. in a 50 miler staged on 5 July 1926). These were Hepburn's best placements before the introduction of the larger two-man cars, beginning in 1930.

For the 1931 season Ralph bought a new 230 cubic inch straight 8 two-man Miller and finished 3rd with it at Indianapolis behind the winner Lou Schneider and 2nd place Fred Frame. Later however disaster ensued. In a non-Championship AAA 100 mile race held at Oakland on 1 Jan. 1932 Hepburn's big two-man Miller burst its right front tire on the 34th lap. The machine plowed though the outside barrier and then rolled over and on the hapless Hepburn. Ralph's various injuries, i.e. broken skull, busted jaw, and fractured left kneecap, were very serious and it took more than two years for Hepburn to recover from them. After this Oakland Speedway wreck Ralph now walked with a decided limp and his two legs were no longer of equal length. Because Hepburn couldn't drive it, Ralph's two-man Miller was piloted by Wilbur Shaw at Indianapolis in 1932 but the rear axle failed and Shaw was out after 157 circuits. For the 1933 "500" the car was turned over to Louie Meyer who romped home in 1st place, setting a new speed record of 104.162 mph for the full 500 miles. Meyer's 1933 victory made him and Tommy Milton the only two time winners of the Indianapolis race. After the 1932 Oakland accident Ralph confined his automobile racing to Indianapolis only with a single exception being a start at Mines Field 200 (23 Dec. 1934), where he finished 3rd in the his two-man Miller behind winner Kelly Petillo and 2nd place Wilbur Shaw.

Edited by john glenn printz, 13 July 2012 - 17:58.


#111 john glenn printz

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 13:25

1946 AAA season. (cont-24) Hepburn competed in all the pre-World War II "500"'s from 1933 to 1941 garnering a 5th place finish in 1935 with some relief help from Gene Haustein (1907-1984), who drove laps 74-141. In 1936 Ralph took 12th place in a Offenhauser/Miller, being flagged off after 196 laps completed. But for the 1937 Indy, Ralph "caught fire" again. Starting 6th in the car that Louie Meyer had won with in the previous year, Ralph found himself in definite contention for overall victory. Almost overcome from the heat, Hepburn took a "breather" during laps 108-142, when Bob Swanson piloted the car. Ralph then returned to the fray with the car still placed among the front runners. About lap 180 the actual leader, Wilbur Shaw, found himself running low on both oil pressure and oil itself, and faced the doubtful task of nursing his ailing car home as best he could while hopefully staying in the front position. At the time Shaw noticed his oil problem, he had a lap and a half lead over the 2nd placed Hepburn. Shaw was worried that Ralph's pit crew would notice his problem and soon give Hepburn the signal to speed up for a possible win, as Shaw had to now lower his lap times considerably to preserve his Offy engine. And this did take place. As it turned out at the end, Hepburn was just 2.16 seconds behind Shaw on the last and 200th circuit. It was the closest finish ever in a 500 mile Indianapolis contest before the inauguration, in 1979, of the so-called "bunch-up" rule, now used under the caution or yellow light periods. It has allowed, of course, for many more "closer" finishes than that of 1937.

For the 1938 Indy race Ralph linked up with Harry Miller himself with a rear engined, four wheel drive, six cylinder job, but teething problems with this totally new and radical design prevented both Hepburn or the car from making the race day lineup. In 1939 Ralph drove the first 103 laps in a conventional Offenhauser/Stevens vehicle and then turned the car over to Bob Swanson who crashed it on lap 108, triggering a three car accident which seriously injured Chet Miller (1902-1953) and killed the previous year's winner, Floyd Roberts. For 1940 Ralph was out after 47 laps with a frozen steering problem. 1941 began Hepburn's liaison with the Novi. The origin of the supercharged, 183 cubic inch, V8 Winfield (Novi) motor was instigated by Bonneville record holder Ab Jenkins. Jenkins mentioned to the two Winfield brothers, Edward "Ed" Arnold (1901-1982) and William Clement "Bud" (1904-1950), that he was in need of a high powered 183 cu. in. engine to set new international straightaway and endurance records in the 3 litre (183 cu. in.) class. This set the two Winfield brothers to thinking.

Somehow Indy entrant and Detroit area industralist Lew Welch got involved and apparently put up the money for this new Winfield engine project in late 1940. For the upcoming 1941 Indianapolis 500 this new V8 powerplant was installed in an old 1935 front wheel drive Ford-Miller chassis owned by Welch and Hepburn was hired as the chauffeur. This Winfield/Miller in 1941 ran under the sponsorship of Robert M. Bowes however, for whom Hepburn had also driven in 1940. While incorporating the ideas of Ed and Bud Winfield, it was Leo Goossen who drew up the actual drawing or blueprints for this V8 motor; and Fred Offenhauser's shop built the engine. When Dale Drake and Louie Meyer bought Offenhauser's engine business in early 1946, Leo's drawings for the Novi V8 engine were still there. Meyer-Drake retained them until the early 1960's when Andy Granatelli (b. 1923), "borrowed" them. "We don't have Leo's drawings now because Granatelli never returned them", Mr. Meyer once told me. The new hybrid of the Novi engine in the old 1935 Ford-Miller chassis ran well in the 1941 race and Hepburn finished in 4th position without relief, a good placement for the supercharged V8's first try in actual "500" competition. Thus before the second World War, Hepburn had a 2nd (1937), a 3rd (1931), and a 4th (1941) at Indianapolis and his best rankings in the AAA National Championship title chase was 2nd in 1941 and 3rd in 1931.

It should be mentioned that Ted Horn, should have been listed 2nd in the 1941 AAA rankings, but Ted had forfeited all his Championship points when he joined the new "outlaw" Ralph A. Hankinson circuit, set up in early or mid-1941. Hankinson had bolted from the AAA officially in April 1941. For the 1946 "500" the Winfield (Novi) V8 engine was installed in a new front wheel drive chassis of which Goossen also had made the blueprints but which incorporated mainly the ideas of Bud Winfield; however Frank Kurtis was the actual fabricator and constructor of this completely new chassis. The name "Novi" itself came from a small town outside of Detroit, MI, where the car's owner Welch, resided. The whole Novi package, both the engine and the chassis, was reputed to have cost Welch $50,000 and was the most expensive car on the Indy premises in 1946.

Edited by john glenn printz, 23 March 2012 - 15:38.


#112 john glenn printz

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 18:46

1946 AAA season. (cont-25) Preston Tucker, an associate and would-be promotor of Harry Miller after Miller's bankruptcy in July 1933, had managed somehow to resurrect one of the 1941 rear engined Miller-Gulf machines, and sponsored it in the 1946 "500" with George Barringer as the pilot. Tucker's idea here, of course, was to generate further publicity for his recent "Tucker Torpedo" passenger car manufacturing scheme. Always a supreme hot air artist, Tucker asserted, "Many of the major features in the special racing car are the same we will use in cars scheduled for production and we will learn more from this one race than we could from months of ordinary proving tests. That is what is important." On May 27 Barringer put the car into the field with a 120.623 mph average. By the end of May 27 there had been a total of 27 qualifiers. But then the Marchese brothers had to withdraw their already qualified car because in a preliminary pre-race inspection of the vehicle it was discovered that the crankshaft was fractured and a quick replacement was not immediately available. Thus its driver, Tony Bettenhausen, found himself looking for a ride for the third time, on May 28. The Scuderia Milan team members arrived at the Speedway on May 22 and their three cars came a day or two later, held up in New York by a railroad strike. Both Varzi and Villoresi completed their required driving tests on May 26, but by the morning of May 28 (the last qualifying day) no foreign entry, either a car or driver, had yet managed to make the race day lineup. With the withdrawal of Bettenhausen's Marchese car on May 27 however, there remained seven spots still unoccupied before the bumping process would begin, if need be.

Many still thought however, on the morning of May 28, that Caracciola, Varzi, and Villoresi would be almost certain starters on race day. Rudolf "Rudi or Rudy" Caracciola, escorted by his beautiful and stately looking wife Alice, arrived in Indianapolis on May 22 and were greeted by the ubiquitous Peter DePaolo. Mrs. Caracciola's maiden name had been Alice "Baby" Hoffman-Trobeck and she had been a former mistress of French driver Louis Chiron (1899-1979). She and Rudi had married on 19 June 1937. Chiron had tried the "500" in 1929 and had placed 7th in a 1 1/2 litre Grand Prix Delage. Caracciola was, of course, one of the greatest European Grand Prix pilots of the 1930's, mostly using white colored Mercedes-Benz equipment. Rudi had been in the U.S. briefly in 1937 to compete in the George Vanderbilt Cup contest staged on 5 July 1937. Caracciola's driving style was precise, methodical, and lightning fast. The 1946 American publicity on him stated that he was born in Genoa, Italy and was a Swiss citizen. The truth seems to have been that he was born in Remagen, Germany and was still perhaps a citizen of Germany in 1946. Rudi however had lived in Lugano, Switzerland, beginning in 1939. Probably everyone on the "inside" felt it was better to sever all Caracciola's would be connections to the Third Reich as best they could. Because many found his last name hard to pronounce, many track personal started calling Rudi "Cola-Cola".

Joel Thorne's "Big Six", originally built by Art Sparks as an independant venture in 1937, was Thorne's favorite vehicle at Indianapolis. Because Thorne was barred from racing, on account of his broken leg (Thorne was still in a wheel chair); Joel sportingly offered the "Big Six" to Caracciola to drive and a deal, between Caracciola and Thorne, was finalized at noon on May 26. Late on the same day Rudi took the big Sparks/Adams car out for a few test laps before a mechanical problem halted this new adventure. The busiest qualifying day in 1946 was May 28 when ten drivers completed their four lap trials. The biggest story of the day however was Caracciola. While on the last phase of his driving test Rudi went into the 2nd turn too low and while trying to erase his miscue the car whipped out of control and slammed into the outside wall. Caracciola was thrown out of the machine and landed hard on the track surface many yards from the wrecked "Big Six". It was later surmised that a bird had hit Caracciola square in the face because a dead one was found nearby and Rudi's goggles were smashed. Some less generous individuals, including Art Sparks, spectulated that Caracciola had had a rock thrown at him as he sped by, by someone who regarded him as nothing more than a unrepentant Nazi. Whatever the case, lost of control, a bird, or a rock, Rudi was in very serious condition and Thorne's "Big Six" was demolished. It was all a great waste because Caracciola had been impressed by the Sparks/Adams car.

Edited by john glenn printz, 14 July 2009 - 15:10.


#113 john glenn printz

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Posted 13 December 2006 - 13:14

1946 AAA season. (cont.-26) Harry Schell's team finally arrived at the track on May 27, with two 8 cylinder Maseratis in tow. Later, on the same day, Harry took a few laps around the course at very low speeds. The Schell operation came to Indianapolis too late. The Italian Scuderia Milan team put two of their three Maseratis into the lineup on May 28. Villoresi, in the 3 litre machine, qualified at 121.249 mph and American Duke Nalon (1913-2001) put one of the 1 1/2 litre cars in with a 119.680 mph clocking. Varzi, in the other 1 1/2 litre Maserati, had never attained qualifing speeds and he did not attempt a time trial. The experiment of running a little 1 1/2 litre Maserati against all the larger and more powerful cars at Indianapolis had already been tried in 1938 by Mauri Rose. In Rose's 1938 venture the Maserati's supercharger had collapsed after 165 laps. Of all the foreign pilots at hand, only Villoresi made the race day lineup and he would start 28th. The foreign threat had totally evaporated before the green flag for the 1946 race to start, was ever waved. Nine cars qualified on May 28 and the bumping process began. Buddy Rusch (1914-1983), who had made his qualification on May 27, was eliminated with his 116.268 posting as well as Charles Van Acker (1912-1998) who registered a 115.666 mph on May 28. The field was full and Al Putnam (1910-1946) was the slowest of the 33 starters at 116.283. Tony Bettenhausen, on his third team for the month, got in on the last day using an antique front wheel drive Miller, owned by Robert McManus. This machine was in fact the old Miller-Hartz car with which Fred Frame had won the 1932 "500". Its last two appearances at the Speedway were in 1939 with Herb Ardinger and in 1940 with Mel Hansen when still owned by Harry Hartz. Bettenhausen qualified it now with a speed of 123.094 mph which was better than his 121.860 mph set in the withdrawn Marchese machine. In all there had been 36 completed qualification runs. The field average was 122.328 mph which was not a record as it had been surpassed by 123.567 mph in 1939; 122.853 mph in 1940; and 122.739 mph in 1941. There were 26 aspiring new rookies in 1946, of which 13 passed the Speedway's driving test. Ten of them made it into the race itself but with the sole exception of Tony Bettenhausen, none of them was destined to make much of a name for himself in the post-war AAA National Championship ranks. The other nine rookies were Cole, Dinsmore, Durant, Jackson, Kladis, H. Robson, Sheffler, Villoresi, and Wilburn. Most of the starting pilots, i.e. 23 of them, had had pre-war experience at Indy. Such then were some of the motley cars, crews, drivers, owners, and teams that assembled for the 30th running of the "500", in 1946.

Edited by john glenn printz, 06 June 2010 - 18:12.


#114 john glenn printz

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Posted 13 December 2006 - 20:41

1946 AAA season. (cont.-27) 1. THE INDIANAPOLIS 500, MAY 30, 1946. With much anxiety, expectation, and hope, both the fans and the racing fraternity awaited the running of the first post-World War II revival of the 500 mile race. The pre-race 1946 favorites were Bergere, Hepburn, Horn, Mays, and Rose; with Hepburn being given an edge by the general public. It was thought by many that if Hepburn could lap the course in the 133 or 134 mph range in the time trials, then he could certainly "cruise" in the race itself at 127 or 128 mph easily enough, which would be more than sufficient to outrun everyone else, including even Rex Mays. Bud Winfield, who was involved with the two fastest qualified cars, i.e. Hepburn's and Mays', was duly hailed as a genius. Mauri Rose, the co-victor with Davis in 1941, was the only previous winner in the starting lineup. All the other "500" winners, since the 1925 event, had either died (i.e. Lockhart, Keech, Schneider, Cummings, and Roberts) or had retired (i.e. DePaolo, Souders, Arnold, Frame, Meyer, Shaw, and Davis). Kelly Petillo's situation we have already discussed.

Henry Ford II (1917-1987) drove the pace car, a Lincoln Continental, and when rotund Seth Klein waved the green flag, the race was on. Mauri Rose, from his 9th starting position, led the first eight circuits before being passed by Rex Mays, who had started 14th. Ralph Hepburn, up from 19th on the starting grid, got around Mays on the 12th lap and led until circuit 56 when Ralph made his first and only pit stop. The very first car into the pits was Horn, on lap 9, with a faulty magneto. Horn's stop took all of 6 minutes and 45 seconds to replace the magneto- a very discouraging start. At 10 laps or 25 miles the running order was (1.) Mays; (2.) Rose; (3.) Hepburn; (4.) Bergere; (5.) Russo; (6.) Hanks; (7.) G. Robson; (8.) Andres; (9.) McQuinn; and (10.) Villoresi. Russo, in the twin engined Fageol, crashed into the outside concrete wall on lap 17, and sustained a broken leg. The concept of a two engined car, although seemingly promising here, would not be revived at Indy until 1966 when Bill Cheesboug arrived with a ride, powered by two modified Porsche motors, which failed to qualify. All the pre-race 1946 favorites were quickly running into big trouble. Mays was out after just 28 laps with a broken engine manifold; Rose wrecked in the 3rd turn on his 41st circuit; and Bergere began having problems with a broken oil line which was spraying him now with a very hot lubricant. Bergere had to pit on his 39th lap, and Mays took over the Offenhauser/Wetteroth but by lap 83 all the engine oil had been pumped out and Rex now called it quits for the day.

Hepburn pitted on his 57th lap because he had lost his brakes and was in for 9 minutes. The brake trouble was not corrected and when Ralph returned to the track he had dropped all the way down to 13th place. Back on the track, and with still the fastest car, Hepburn put on a show. Hepburn moved the Novi back up to 4th and then its engine crumbled (either crankshaft or piston failure) and the 50 year old veteran was out after 121 circuits. On lap 51 Chitwood had to stop and ask for relief because the bumpy bricks had aggravated an old back injury. Sam Hanks, in the ex-Lockhart V16 motored, Miller/Stevens machine was out after 18 laps with a broken oil line, and now Sammy relieved the ailing Chitwood and drove the 1941 Indy winning Offenhauser/Wetteroth the rest of the distance (laps 52-200).

One pilot who had advanced quickly through the pack was George Robson, in Joe Thorne's "Little Six". George had started 15th but was 7th at 10 laps, 4th at 20 laps, and 2nd at 40. Robson took over the lead position from Hepburn at lap 56 and thereafter led most of the way. Robson made a total of two pit stops, i.e. lap 69 for 35 seconds, and lap 142 for 1 minute and 42 seconds. By the half way mark (100 laps or 250 miles) 18 vehicles had already retired and the running order was (1.) Robson; (2.) Jackson; (3.) Snowberger/Nalon; (4.) Andres; (5.) Hepburn; (6.) Durant;(7.) McQuinn/Wilburn; (8.) Chitwood/Hanks; (9.) Putnam/Connor; and (10.) Horn. Jimmy Jackson, who started 5th, had dropped to 13th at 10 laps but then steadily moved up. Jimmy was 10th at 20 laps, 8th at 40, 4th at 50, 3rd at 60, and 2nd at 80. After 90 circuits Jackson held the front position and was credited with leading laps 88-92. Jackson made his only pit stop on lap 110, for two minutes flat. Late in the race Jimmy ran securely in 2nd, but was unable to challenge Robson, whose victory margin was 23 seconds.

Ted Horn gradually worked his way through the field and was 10th at 90 laps, 7th at 110, 6th at 120, 5th at 130, and 3rd at 140. Robson, the victor, averaged 114.820 mph which was the fourth fastest "500" up to that time, behind only the races run in 1938, 1939, and 1941. George had a grand total of 138 leading laps in the contest. The top five positions were (1.) George Robson: Sparks/Adams s/c: 114.820 mph (2.) Jimmy Jackson: Offenhauser/Miller FD: 114.498 mph (3.) Ted Horn: Maserati s/c: 109.819 mph (4.) Emil Andres: Maserati s/c: 108.902 mph, and (5.) Joie Chitwood Sam Hanks: Offenhauser/Wetteroth: 108.399 mph. At the finish only 9 cars were still running. Both rookie Jimmy Jackson, and the new Novi front wheel drive car had made a huge impression; and, of course, little George Robson was the big and unexpected hero of the day.

Edited by john glenn printz, 14 July 2009 - 19:27.


#115 john glenn printz

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Posted 15 December 2006 - 13:20

1946 AAA season. (cont.-28) In this manner Art Sparks, at last, ended his quest for a "500" victory. Sparks first came to the Speedway in 1932 with his partner, Paul Weirick. Their driver was Stubby Stubblefield (1909-1935) and Sparks-Weirick had a brand new streamlined bodied Miller/Adams car, soon given the nickname, "the Catfish". After considerable problems Stubblefield was flagged off after 178 laps, to finish 14th. Later at Roby (19 June 1932) and in the Catfish, Stubblefield won the 100 mile Championship contest. This was the first and only Championship win for a Clyde Adams built machine until the 1946 Indianapolis classic. And now Joel Thorne too had won the "500", howbeit as the car owner. Sparks, the designer of the winning car and Thorne's team manager said many year's later that he had hired Robson because, "He was better than average as a driver and had some experience but he wouldn't have been my first choice as the chauffeur, but George was the best driver still available at the time we signed him up." Robson had been racing in southern California since 1930. The press and the daily newspapers made a big play out of the fact that Robson had never won a major race before, which was a bit unfair and forgot conveniently (if they ever knew) that during the 1938-41 seasons there were very few major AAA events to be won.

The actual number of AAA National Championship races staged between 1938 and 1941 averaged less than three a year. Robson, before World War II, had participated in nine Championship contests beginning at Syracuse on 10 Sept. 1938. In 1940, driving for Leon Duray, George had placed 4th at Springfield (Aug. 24) and 2nd at Syracuse (Sept. 1). It would appear to me that Robson was a better driver than he was given credit for. His "Thorne Engineering Special" at Indy was the first six cylinder vehicle to win here since the Ray Harroun/Cyrus Patschke victory in a Marmon back in 1911, in the very first "500". The two Italian Scuderia Milan Maseratis failed to make much of an impact. Villoresi, in the 3 litre car, had run as high as 10th at 25 miles but then experienced persistent carburetor problems which required four pit stops totalling 30 minutes and 41 seconds. Even so Villoresi managed, just, to post an average speed above 100 mph (i.e. 100.783 mph) for the full 500 mile distance (finishing 7th overall) and thus became a bona fide member of the exclusive Champion Spark Plug 100 mile per hour club, which had begun its existence in 1935.

In order to qualify for the Champion 100 mile an hour club a driver had, without any relief, to complete the full 500 mile distance in exactly or in less than five hours. Duke Nalon, in the 1 1/2 litre car, was out after 45 laps with a broken universal joint, and later relieved Russ Snowberger (1901-1968) piloting a 3 litre Maserati. Nalon took over from Snowberger on lap 80 and was riding in 3rd position at 130 laps but then the differential gears in the rear end sheared off, after 134 circuits. The huge crowd which arrived for the first post-war "500", estimated at 150,000, was perhaps the largest up to that time and ensured the further continuance of the annual Memorial Day auto classic. Hulman's gamble, if that was what it was, had payed off. The Speedway upped its original guaranteed payoff of $50,000 to a $75,000 payout. It was pointed out however, that the track had collected over $50,000 just from the seven days of qualifications alone, at 50 cents a head.

Edited by john glenn printz, 14 July 2009 - 19:28.


#116 john glenn printz

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 17:54

1946 AAA season. (cont-29) THE 1946 SEASON AFTER INDIANAPOLIS. PREFACE: THE PRE-WORLD WAR II SITUATION. The American Automobile Association (AAA) was formed on 4 Mar. 1902 in Chicago, Illinois. An AAA "National Racing Committee" was instituted in June 1902 and consisted of A. R. Pardington, H. B. Brazier, and W. J. Stewart. By 1904 the AAA racing division was simply called the "Racing Board" and it sanctioned the first and prestigious Vanderbilt Cup held on 8 Oct. 1904 on Long Island, NY. The AAA Racing Board lasted until 2 Dec. 1908, when there was a complete shakeup and A. R. Pardington was dismissed and a new group of individuals took over. The previous AAA "Racing Board" was now changed to the AAA "Contest Board". The first chairman of the newly created 1909 Contest Board was Frank B. Hower.

For the year 1916, the AAA Contest Board, under the direction of Chairman Richard Kennerdell (d. 11 Dec. 1928), decided to hold "point" awarding contests, in which the drivers competing in them over the entire year, would earn point totals. The driver who had accumulated the most points would, at the season's end, be declared the official AAA and U.S. National Driving Champion for that given year. In the first AAA "National Championship" of 1916, an Englishman Dario Resta, won the title with 4,100 points gathered in the 15 AAA Championship ranked contests. Resta, it might be added oddly enough, was the only foreign driver ever to win the AAA National Driving Title.

Because of World War I (1914-1918) and the U.S. entry into it on 6 Apr. 1917, the AAA suspended its U.S. National Championship Driving Title during 1917, 1918, and 1919, but revived the concept for 1920. That season the AAA staged only five National Championship point races and the 1920 title was captured by Gaston Chevrolet with an accumulated point total of 1,030. (For a more detailed account of U.S. racing before 1921, according to the McMaken/Printz reconstruction, consult the thread "AMERICAN RACING 1894-1920.) Thereafter the AAA ran National Championship events every year until 1942, when World War II prevented further competition, until 1946. 1946 was thus the first post-World War II season, and marked the revival of AAA National Championship racing.

In early 1946 the previous winners of the AAA Driving Title, by personage and the make or makes of car they had driven were; 1916 Dario Resta (Peugeot); 1920 Gaston Chevrolet (Frontenac); 1921 Tommy Milton (Duesenberg/Miller, Frontenac, & Miller); 1922 Jimmy Murphy (Duesenberg & Miller/Duesenberg); 1923 Eddie Hearne (Miller); 1924 Jimmy Murphy (Miller); 1925 Peter DePaolo (Duesenberg); 1926 Harry Hartz (Miller); 1927 Peter DePaolo (Miller); 1928 Louie Meyer (Miller); 1929 Louie Meyer (Miller); 1930 Billy Arnold (Miller/Summers, Fronty-Ford, Miller/Stevens, & Duesenberg); 1931 Lou Schneider (Miller/Stevens); 1932 Bob Carey (Miller/Stevens); 1933 Louie Meyer (Miller); 1934 Bill Cummings (Miller); 1935 Kelly Petillo (Offenhauser/Wetteroth); 1936 Mauri Rose (Miller & Offenhauser/Miller); 1937 Wilbur Shaw (Offenhauser/Shaw-Stevens); 1938 Floyd Roberts (Offenhauser/Wetteroth); 1939 Wilbur Shaw (Maserati); 1940 Rex Mays (Offenhauser-Meyer-Goossen/Stevens); and 1941 Rex Mays (Offenhauser-Meyer-Goossen/Stevens).

Edited by john glenn printz, 14 July 2009 - 14:52.


#117 john glenn printz

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 18:09

1946 AAA season. (cont.-30) The AAA National Championship series had been a viable concept from 1916 to 1926 because a large number of big milage, point awarding, contests could be run on the then existing board speedways but with the demise of the board tracks during the 1927-1931 seasons the AAA Champ car division ran into very serious trouble. There no longer existed any raceways where it was possible to stage long milage races, i.e. above 100 miles in length. Already in 1928 and 1929 the AAA was forced to hold Championship point contests on one mile dirt ovals originally built for horse racing, at Detroit and Syracuse, because of the scarcity then of automobile racing facilities proper. After the total disappearance of all the board tracks in 1932, the AAA Contest Board had to relie on mostly dirt surfaced horse tracks, where the distance scheduled was almost always inevitably 100 miles, because there was literally no place else to run. After the 1931 season, 100 milers staged on oval tracks originally built for horse racing and often run in conjunction with a State Fair, became the mainstay of the AAA National Championship circuit with the huge exception of the 500 miler held annually at Indianapolis, right up to and including the AAA 1955 season!

Public interest in Championship racing declined steadily and quickly after World War I and the numerous 100 mile dirt track AAA Champ car events staged after 1927 ceased to be of any real interest to either the automobile industry and/or the general public at large. It is very difficult to properly evaluate the seemingly endless plethora of 100 mile AAA Championship dirt track races run between 1928 and 1955. In 1955, the AAA's last season, seven of the 11 Champ car events were 100 milers run on one mile dirt ovals and six of these were still held on bona fide horse tracks. The resultant AAA circuit of 100 mile dirt events seemed only vaguely complementary to the more important Indianapolis 500, and was possibly a "rag-tag" and rather insignificant supplement to the "500". General interest and news coverage of these AAA 100 mile Championship races, 1928 to 1955, was dismal. After the U.S. auto industry quit racing during the period 1916 to 1919, the dominant makes on the AAA Championship circuit for 1920 to 1922 were Ballot, Duesenberg, Frontenac, and Miller. (Miller, however, it should be remarked was absolutely nothing in 1920.) For 1923 to 1927 there remained just two viable marques, i.e. Duesenberg and Miller; and for 1928 to 1929 there remained just one, i.e. Miller. All the 1928 and 1929 AAA Championship race lineups were made up of almost exclusively and certainly consisted mostly, of racing vehicles built by Harry A. Miller. Although the supercharged Duesenberg and Miller 122 and 91 1/2 cubic inch racers used during the 1924-1929 seasons may have been technical engineering marvels (as Griffith Borgeson first advocated, maintained and stated) interest in the AAA Championship series lapsed almost completely.

The engine displacements allowed on the AAA Championship cars was progressively lowed during the 1920's: a 300 cubic inch limit was still in force in early 1920 but at Indianapolis in 1920 it was lowered to 183 cu. ins.; then downsized again at Indianapolis in 1923 to 122 cu. ins., and finally reduced to just 91 1/2 cu. ins. at Indy in 1926. These engine formulas followed the International Grand Prix formulas to some extent, but not exactly. These motor size reductions were also an attempt by the AAA to keep the always rising speeds down, but Gaston Chevrolets' winning speed of 88.16 mph in the 1920 "500" using a 183 Frontenac contrasts with Louie Meyer's 1928 Indy win in 91 Miller at 99.482 mph. The racing car designers and engineers were generally able to outfox the rules makers. The 91 1/2 cars never quite averaged 100 mph for full distance at Indianapolis but they were very close and would have done so if there had been no radical engine formula change in 1930. I should mention that for the 1928 and 1929 AAA Championship 100 mile dirt races staged at Detroit and Syracuse, a 183 cubic inch limit was used and not the 91 1/2 limit imposed everywhere else.

Edited by john glenn printz, 05 March 2012 - 15:50.


#118 john glenn printz

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 13:24

1946 AAA season. (cont.-31) For 1930 Rickenbacker introduced, at Indianapolis, the so-called "junk" formula. Rickenbacker's new rules for 1930 called for two-man cars (not used since early 1923), with a now required "riding mechanic" to sit next to the driver in the races. The new rules permitted engines sizes up to 366 cubic inches, but supercharging was totally banned on all four stoke engines. For five entire seasons, i.e. 1931 to 1935, these rules were in force in all the AAA Championship ranked contests, without exception. However this was not the case in 1930, 1936, and 1937. In 1930 a strict adherence to them obtained only at the Championship races at Indianapolis, Detroit, and Altoona. In the other 1930 Championship races single seat racers were allowed to run against the two-man cars and supercharging was at least legal at Langhorne and Syracuse.

The new junk formula, announced in January 1929, was quite a shakeup and was meant to be. Its overt purposes were threefold; (1) to get rid of the Miller car monopoly; (2) to coax the U.S. automobile industry back into the sport; and (3) to put a much larger variety of car makes and designs back in the AAA Championship level events. Rickenbacker's thereby hoped that both the auto manufacturers and the public interest in the sport would thereby be revived as in the "good old days" of 1904 to 1916. About the rapid decline and disappearance (1927-1931) of the board tracks, nothing could be done. The junk rules and the resulting shakeup failed with regard to point (2), but was very successful with regard to point (3), and was just semi-successful with reference to the Miller dominance (1), as Miller engined equipment won all the Indy "500"s from 1930 to 1934 inclusive. And the Offenhauser motor, a direct derivative of the four cylinder Miller 255, won five "500"'s from 1935 to 1941.

During the entire Junk Formula era (1930-1937) only one AAA National Championship event was won by a stock block powered vehicle. This was a minor 25 mile sprint staged at Altoona on September 7, 1931. It was won by Jimmy Gleason (1898-1931) driving a Model A Duesenberg motor powered car at a 117.75 mph clip. Gleason would be killed in this same Duesenberg at Syracuse on September 12, 1931. Bill Cummings (1906-1939), it should be noted, won the Syracuse 100 of September 6, 1930 in a No. 6 Duesenberg but this was not the same Duesenberg No. 6 which he had used at Indianapolis in May 1930. Bill's 1930 Indianapolis Duesenberg had been designed by Fred Duesenberg and used a Model A Duesenberg stock block motor. Cumming's 1930 Syracuse winning Duesenberg No. 6 had been originally a late 1920s thoroughbred single seat Duesy, which had been altered, converted, and modified by Augie Duesenberg, to make it legal for the new 1930 AAA Junk Formula rules.

The most successful stock block racers were powered by modified Buick, Duesenberg, and Studebaker straight 8 motors. In 1930 a Studebaker powered car, put together and piloted by Russell Snowberger (1901-1968), placed 2nd in three AAA Championship contests, i. e. the Detroit 100 (June 6), the Akron 100 (June 22), and the Bridgeville 100 (July 4). Snowberger was eventually given the title "King of the Super Stockers". In the Indianapolis 500 itself, during the Junk era, the highest ranking attained was 3rd in 1932; here Cliff Bergere (1896-1990), in a factory backed 337 cubic inch Studebaker, took the honours.

As the 1930s wore on, the stock block vehicles had less and less success. They were generally just too heavy, less maneuverable, and lacked the horsepower of the all-out racing vehicles. The highest positions gained by stock block powered machines at Indianapolis during the Junk era were: 1930 5th Duesenberg-Bill Cummings, 1931 5th Studebaker-Russell Snowberger, 1932 3rd Studebaker-Cliff Bergere, 1933 5th Buick-Hartwell Stubblefield, 1934 6th Buick-Al Miller, 1935 13th Buick-Cliff Bergere, 1936 9th Studebaker-Zeke Meyer, and 1937 10th Studebaker-Leo Tomei. It was the law of diminishing returns.

The great economic depression (1929-1940) had a very dismal effect on AAA National Championship racing whose real heyday was from 1916 to 1927. The number of annual Champ events continued to slide drastically from 24 in 1926 down to just 3 in 1933. During the entire depression era (1929-1940) only two major automobile racing facilities were built in the entire U.S. The first was the Oakland Speedway, located in California. Oakland was a one mile slightly banked oval built in 1931. It was a project formulated by Art Pillsbury, a former sidekick of John "Jack" Shillington Prince (1859-1927), the board track builder and guru. At first Oakland was an AAA track and its first race was a 100 miler, run before 25,000 fans, on 18 Oct. 1931. The Pacific Coast ace Ernie Triplett (1906-1934) won this event in a Miller powered sprint car, averaging 75.37 mph. Oakland however hosted only one AAA Championship race, a 150 miler staged on 13 Nov. 1932, won by Bill Cummings at an average speed of 90.45 mph. In March 1936 Oakland bolted from the AAA and became an "outlaw" track. Thereafter its activity was of only local interest, but because of its banking Oakland had been the fastest AAA one mile dirt oval in the country. Al Gordon held the AAA one lap record here, set on 12 Nov. 1933, of 33.86 seconds or 106.320 mph in a "Gilmore Special", another single seat Miller powered sprint car.

Edited by john glenn printz, 06 March 2012 - 14:19.


#119 jimmyc

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 17:20

May I add a point and ask a question. New AAA formulas did not start at the start of the season but rather at Indy. This was true in 1920,23 and 26. This helps explain superchargers being allowed at Langhorre. The question , did any two man cars run at Langhorne?

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#120 john glenn printz

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 21:07

Miscellaneous 1946. Mr. Jim Thurman. I have no remembrance of any objections to the 1946 Fageol entry at Indianapolis, at least I don't recall hearing or reading anything; so unfortunately I can't help you here, either positively or negatively. To Mr. Capps and Mr. Ferner: I am just typing "on-line" my 1946 AAA season write-up, however I don't deal with any of the 71 sprint car races which counted for the 1946 AAA Title, as I have no interest in them. To "Jimmyc". The new "two-man", unsupercharged cars up to 366 cubic inches, were eligible for all eight 1930 AAA Championship races, including the Langhorne 100 staged on 3 May 1930. Snowberger's new two-man Studebaker ran in that event. In a sense then, this 1930 Langhorne race was the very first Championship event using the new junk formula. Thus this 1930 Langhorne 100 obviously was not just a 91 1/2 or 183 cubic inch "carry-over" event from the 1929 AAA season, or utilised a formula "left over" from the 1929 Championship season. Originally only the "500" was going to use the new "junk" formula rules, as the U.S. racing fraternity was generally against the new regulations. I think Rickenbacker, as both Chairman of the AAA Contest Board and the owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, just pushed the new rules though over their objections. The race car owners did not want their single seat, blown, 91 1/2 cubic inch cars scraped because of all the expence and investment they had put into them and/or the added expence of building new unsupercharged, large displacement, "two-man" machines on top of all that. The AAA compromised a bit in 1930, to placate the 91 1/2 cubic inch car owners, by allowing the single seat 91 1/2 cu. in. jobs to run in four of the 1930 Championship contests. At least this is what appears to me to be the case. The exact rules governing the 1930 AAA Championship contests at Langhorne, Akron, Bridgeville, and Syracuse may have varied amongst themselves, but I have no exact details. Here again what we need is a complete set of 1929 and 1930 AAA Contest Board Bulletins to, perhaps, clear up the confusion here. Again, Mr. McMaken and myself thank everyone for their interest!

#121 john glenn printz

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 17:58

1946 AAA season. (cont.-32) The second and more important track development project during the Depression was the construction in 1936 of the Roosevelt Raceway in Westbury, NY. The layout was an artificial road circuit with a vast multitute of labyrinth like curves measuring in all 4 miles a lap. Art Pillsbury, again, was the main layout designer. The race format and/or the idea of it all was to introduce European Grand Prix racing into the States and have them run against the American speedway type Indy cars. The track's first contest (12 Oct. 1936), the George Vanderbilt Cup for 300 miles, was won by Tazio Nuvolari at a 65.998 mph average in an Alfa Romeo, 2nd was Jean Pierre Wimille (Bugatti). 3rd Antonio Brivio (Alfa Romeo) and 4th Raymond Sommer (Alfa Romeo). Because its original four mile layout proved to have very unexpected low lap speeds and that all the American speedway cars were rather decisively outrun, the course was greatly altered for the staging of the 1937 George Vanderbilt Cup 300. The raceway was now just 3.33 miles in length and had nine corners removed. This second and last George Vanderbilt Cup race was run on 5 July 1937 and was won by Bernd Rosemeyer (1909-1938) at 82.564 mph in an Auto-Union and Dick Seaman (Mercedes-Benz) was 2nd. American drivers Rex Mays and Joel Thorne finished 3rd and 6th respectively but both drove Alfa Romeos.

In the 1937 Vanderbilt contest the American entries were even more outclassed than they had been in 1936 and all astute observers like Frankie DelRoy, Louie Meyer, Wilbur Shaw, Art Sparks, etc., suddenly knew that all American race car designs since 1929 had been in a state of acute obsolescence and no real technical or engineering advances had been made in them at all. By March 1938 the Roosevelt Raceway management announced that the track was bankrupt and that was the end of this rather unexpected and unusual experiment. Rickenbacker's "junk" two-man 366 cubic inch formula lasted, with variations, until late 1937. It was not strictly adhered to even in 1936 and 1937. For instance, at the two George Vanderbilt Cup races of 1936 and 1937, the two-man car rule had to be waved because most foreign racing cars were single seaters. In 1937 the piston displacement limit at the Vanderbilt Cup was upped to almost 400 cubic inches because the Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix cars were thought be have engines larger than the 366 cu. in. maximum limit, hitherto in force since 1930. Bill Cummings drove the first U.S. built car across the line in both of these 1930's Vanderbilt Cup contests, placing 7th both times. His racer, in both instances, was owned by Mike Boyle and the vehicle was a Miller chassis powered by an Offenhauser engine as all altered and modified by mechanic, Cotton Henning. Athough riding mechanics were still required at Indy in 1936 and 1937, the AAA totally banned their use in the 100 mile Championship dirt events run those two years, now maintaining that the danger for the mechanics was just too great to risk, on the treacherous dirt surfaced tracks. At Indianapolis in 1936, supercharging was allowed again for the first time since 1929, but was not at all practical because of the 1936 Indianapolis fuel limitation, of just 37 1/2 gallons. At the 1938 "500" riding mechanics were optional, but none of the 33 qualified cars used them.

For the upcoming 1938 AAA Championship season, the AAA adopted on 21 July 1937 the newly introduced International Grand Prix limits of 4 1/2 litres (274.59 cubic inches) unsupercharges and 3 litres (183.06 cu. ins.) supercharged and single seat cars were legal once again at Indy and in all the other AAA Championship contests. Meanwhile the AAA National Championship Title itself was at its nadir during the four seasons of 1938 to 1941. The Indianapolis 500 was supplemented by less than an average of two races a year, all 100 milers. These were all run on one mile dirt horse racing ovals located at Milwaukee, Springfield, and Syracuse. Because of the paucity of Championship events, Floyd Roberts in 1938 and Wilbur Shaw in 1939 were able to clinch the year's AAA Driving Title by points earned (i.e. 1,000) at Indianapolis alone! In reality, the AAA National Driving Title during the entire 1930's and early 1940's didn't amount to much. The interested reader should not be misled however. There was plenty of automobile racing going on in the U.S. during the period 1930 to 1942 but it consisted of races for sprint cars, midgets, stock cars, and jalopies. Most of this activity ran on oval tracks smaller than a mile and at distances usually less than 100 miles, but the AAA Championship division itself was seemingly moribund during these years and was certainly languishing. Such was the immediate pre-World War II U.S. scene.

Edited by john glenn printz, 17 December 2009 - 14:18.


#122 john glenn printz

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 13:26

1946 AAA Season. (cont.-33) THE 1946 SEASON ITSELF. And so, of necessity, everything after the 1946 Indianapolis "500" was on a much smaller and significant scale. After the 1946 "500" the year's AAA Championship schedule consisted of five 100 mile contests all contested on one mile dirt ovals. Among the drivers who intended to run in all five were Andres, Bardowski, Connor, DeVore, Dinsmore, Horn, Mays, Rose, and after his unexpected win at Indianapolis, George Robson. Connor, DeVore, Mays, and Rose would drive exactly the same cars they had used at Indianapolis, but many of the pilots switched to different mounts for use on the one mile dirt ovals. Horn switched to Fred Peter's Offenhauser/Wetteroth, which had been used by Chitwood and Hanks at Indy. After the "500" the Bergeres, Shirley and Cliff, had sold their Offenhauser/Wetteroth to Bill Corley of Detroit and George Robson was now its new chauffeur. Horn and Robson thus drove the two ex-Lou Moore Indy winning Offenhauser/Wetteroth machines. Emil Andres had taken an old 1932/33 Clyde Adams ex-Ascot sprint car and stretched it out to a 98 inch wheelbase to meet the AAA 1946 regulations required for the Champ car division. In 1946 the Championship level AAA 100 mile dirt races were limited to 14 starters.

Most of the drivers and their equipment did not continue the AAA Championship campaign series after running in the "500". The dirt 100 milers were very destructive of both cars and drivers; i.e. the cars were often wrecked and the drivers were frequently badly injured or even killed. The prize money put up was extremely low compared to Indianapolis and there were the costs and troubles of hauling the race cars to the tracks and the entry fees to be paid. And, in the end, there was little glory in winning. Indianapolis could make you world famous instantaneously but the 100 milers were hardly noticed at all, even by the die hard Indy fans. Before World War II the annual 100 miler run at Syracuse between 1928 and 1941 was the most important of these. Ex-AAA driver Ira Vail (1893-1979) was in charge of the Syracuse AAA Championship races but curiously they were not revived until 1949, again under Vail's supervision. Ira had managed, almost without exception, all AAA racing at the Syracuse track, beginning in 1926 when Vail had still been an active driver.

The 1946 AAA Championship season is confused because the AAA combined into one point division total, all its 71 sprint "big car" events and the six Championship races proper. No complete or original AAA point distribution chart for 1946 seems to have survived and today no one quite knows how the original 1946 reckonings were arrived at. Since 1952 at least, most historians (including Mr. McMaken and myself), refigure the 1946 AAA point totals on the basis of the six Championship contests only. In both systems Ted Horn was the top point scorer. The task of figuring out the exact points earned by each pilot in the shorter milage sprint car events proved to be a very complex and onerous task for a Mr. Dorrell who had been assigned the task of keeping the AAA point standings current and up to date in 1946. It was a 1946 AAA innovation, i.e. combining the sprint and Championship points together, but it was never used again by the AAA. It should be pointed out that the two classes of cars, sprint and Champ car, were never mixed together in 1946: that is the sprint cars were never used in the six Championship races; or conversely, the Champ cars never ran in any of the 71 sprint car contests. Just why the AAA combined the sprint car points and the Championship points all into just one, single division in 1946 remains a mystery.

Edited by john glenn printz, 17 December 2009 - 14:24.


#123 john glenn printz

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 19:03

1946 AAA Season. (cont.-34) 2. THE LANGHORNE 100, JUNE 30, 1946. The first Championship level event proper after Indianapolis was staged at Langhorne, PA on 30 June 1946. The Langhorne track was a one mile oval, of circular shape, and was originally constructed for automobile racing. It had been built, in 1926, by the National Motor Racing Association (NMRA). Its first program of racing took place on 12 June 1926 and the 50 mile feature was won by 21 year old Fred Winnai (1905-1977) with a time of 42 minutes and 37 seconds. Langhorne was, at first, named the "New Philadephia Speedway". Langhorne's first 100 miler was won by Russell "Russ" Snowberger (1901-1968) in a Miller on 9 Oct. 1926. Jimmy Gleason, Ray Keech, Russ Snowberger, and Fred Winnai were all NMRA stars before they joined the AAA "big-time". Keech, Snowberger, and Winnai joined the AAA Championship division in 1927 and Gleason in 1928.

In 1930 impresario and promotor, Ralph A. "Pappy" Hankinson (1879-1942), bought the track with the financial backing of George A. Hamid, took over all its management, and brought the oval into the AAA fold. Hankinson's first race here was a 100 mile AAA National Championship contest run on 3 May 1930. Bill Cummings, making his very first start AAA start, was the fastest qualifier at 38.97 seconds or 92.45 mph and then led all 100 laps in the event itself, to the surprize of all. Bill's time was 1:17:36.68 or 77.308 mph. The winning car was a single seat 91 supercharged Miller sponsoned by Karl Kizer, a later curator of the Indianapolis Speedway Museum. Cumming's amazing performance, winning his first AAA National Championship start in such a dominant manner, earned him a ride for the upcoming 1930 Indianapolis 500. "Wild" Bill joined Peter DePaolo in one of the two new Fred Duesenberg designed cars, powered by altered Model A Duesenberg stock block engines. Cummings, in his rookie year at Indianapolis in 1930, placed 5th among the 38 starters, with some relief help (laps 113-149) from Fred Winnai.

During c. 1932 or 1933 Hankinson sublet the track to Richard Dunn and Percy Sapsis for a year or two, but by late 1934 Hankinson was directly in charge again. Hankinson staged his second and last Langhorne AAA Championship event on 13 Oct. 1935 and Kelly Petillo won this 100 miler in his new and previous Indianapolis (30 May 1935) and Saint Paul (24 Aug 1935) winning Offenhauser/Wetteroth. These two races were the only two AAA National Championship races held here before World War II, although other 100 mile open wheel contests were staged at various times. For instance, an open wheel 100 mile contest was run here in both 1940 (June 16) and 1941 (June 22), but both of these races were for sprint cars, not Champ cars. The winner in both instances was Duke Nalon (1913-2001) driving an ex-Ascot sprinter (Sparks/Adams) known as "Poison Lil" and now owned by Paul Weirick. Nalon held the absolute 100 mile Langhorne record for open wheel cars at 92.787 mph, set in the 22 June 1941 contest. Nalon's elapsed time for 1941 was 1:04:57.16.

In November 1940 Hankinson sold Langhorne to auto stunt driver Earl "Lucky" Teeter. The very last day of racing at Langhorne before the U.S.' serious involvement in World War II, occurred on 10 May 1942, when Jimmy Wilburn (1908-1984) won the 25 mile feature. "Lucky" Teeter himself was unlucky while performing a stunt at the Indianapolis Fairgrounds on 5 July 1942, and was killed. The ownership of Langhorne reverted back to Hamid and Hankinson but then Hankinson himself died on 19 Aug. 1942. In December 1945, Mr. and Mrs. John D. Babcock purchased the track from Hamid and Mrs. Hankinson. Under promotor Jimmy Frattone, Langhorne held its first race after World War II, i.e. the Langhorne 100 of 30 June 1946.

Frattone claimed he had a total of 20 entries for this event but only 12 actually appeared. Ted Horn won the pole with a clocking of 37.13 seconds or 96.957 mph on June 29. Rex Mays however bettered that on June 30 with a time of 35.47 seconds or 101.494 mph to start in 9th position. In the race itself Horn led the first 17 circuits and then Mauri Rose sped by. However Rose either blew a motor and/or lost control and skidded into the outside fence on his 22nd lap and was out. Mays took over the front position on lap 22 and led the rest of the way. On his 64th circuit Mays lapped the entire field by passing Horn, then in second. The finishing order at 100 miles was Mays, G. Robson, Horn, Andres, and DeVore. Mays' winning time of 1:10:28.14 (85.14 mph) was not a Langhorne record for the AAA Champ cars as Petillo had a winning time of 1:05:17.5 (91.893 mph) back in 1935. The paid attendance was put at 38,821 and the total purse was $12,644.80. Mays had now won five AAA National Championship 100 milers in a row, dating from the 24 Aug. 1940 Springfield race.

Edited by john glenn printz, 23 March 2012 - 13:38.


#124 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 05 January 2007 - 04:05

The program for the 1946 Langhorne event, complete with notations as to qualifying times, is part of the Chapman Root Collection at the IMRRC located in Watkins Glen.

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 13:37

Originally posted by jimmyc
May I add a point and ask a question. New AAA formulas did not start at the start of the season but rather at Indy. This was true in 1920,23 and 26. This helps explain superchargers being allowed at Langhorre. The question , did any two man cars run at Langhorne?

I take it you mean 1930? There were a few at least, but my research is uncomplete about this. This is now from memory, but I'm fairly certain Snowberger's "Russell 8" and Guiberson's "Waverly Oil" (Gleason) were there already, also Smith's "Empire State" (Shaw/Schneider). I would need to have access to some contemporary sources to find out about some of the car identities, others are fairly simple (Bill Cummings had the ex-Hartz/White Miller 91, Frame the ex-Durant/Boyle Miller-Locomobile, etc.), but more important is to stress that during those years, there was not one formula for all Championship Racing!

With the advent of dirt tracks on the Championship trail in 1928 (discounting the one race each in 1916 and 1924), influenced by Eddie Rickenbacker, the Indy formula did only apply to the board track races; at the dirt miles there appears to have been a free-for-all approach, or perhaps just a waiver for 4-cylinder cars, or whatever. Fact is, some of the cars on the dirt tracks (and, apparently also, the half-mile boards) from 1928 to 1930 inclusive (perhaps even later), did not conform to the Indianapolis formula. Late in 1936, perhaps even before the Vanderbilt Cup, the Indy formula was abandoned altogether, and in 1937 only the "500" ran to a somewhat modified "junk formula".

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 13:42

Another afterthought on 1946: I recently found a "1951 Official AAA Record Book" which lists, among other things, the number of races held for each "Division" over a number of years. For 1946, now get this, the book lists 6 Championship races and 1 (one!) Non-championship (meaning Sprint Car in today-speak) races!!! Isn't this a wonderful piece of revisionist history? I'm certain that the relatives of, say, Bumpy Bumpus and Bus Wilbert must be delighted to hear that the races in which their beloved ones died, didn't really take place at all! :drunk:

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 16:09

I'm beginning to read thoroughly through John Printz's story, and I really enjoy it. I hope I don't offend when I'm putting in my corrections and addititons here and there.

Originally posted by john glenn printz
1946 AAA season (cont.-3) Robert "Bob" Malcolm Bowes (1884-1945) began sponsoring Championship cars with Lou Schneider (1901-1942) at Indianapolis in 1930. Schneider finished 3rd that year, but in 1931 with the very same car (Miller/Stevens), Schneider won the "500".

Schneider won in 1931 with a new car, his 1930 car was driven by Freddie Winnai in 1931 (perhaps to mend the burns received while driving the car in relief for Schneider at Altoona?).

From memory, the two cars had the following Indy history:
- 1930 Schneider, 1931 Winnai, 1932 Cummings, 1933-37 Litz
- 1931-33 Schneider, 1936 Andres, 1937 ? (Midwest Red Lion), 1938 de Vore, 1940 Andres

Originally posted by john glenn printz
Before the war the Bowes Seal Fast team had won three AAA National Championship Titles, one with Schneider in 1931, and two with Rex Mays in 1940 and 1941.

Actually, "Bowes Seal Fast" was merely the sponsor for Schneider (1930-32), then Duray (1934-37?). The Bowes team was formed in 1938 with Bowes, Louis Meyer and a third individual whose name has slipped my memory. Bowes soon bought the others out, and the cars and engines should rightfully be called "Bowes", and not "Stevens/Winfield", "Kurtis/Winfield" or whatever.

Originally posted by john glenn printz
Lou Moore (1904-1956) was originally a California driver and he can be traced as having run at such tracks as Ventura in 1924 and Tanforan in 1925. Moore moved up to the AAA Championship series in 1928, with his first start at Indianapolis. Moore, as a rookie, placed 2nd behind Louie Meyer, another first time starter from California. Meyer however was not considered a rookie because he had relieved Wilbur Shaw for 53 laps (77-129) in the 1927 "500". Moore was never able to duplicate or better his 2nd place as a rookie at Indy but took 3rd in both 1933 and 1934 at the Brickyard. In 1929 Lou won two 100 mile non-Championship races at the 1/2 mile board track located at Woodbridge, PA on June 30 and August 4 respectively. Moore had two AAA Championship wins, both in 1931, at Altoona July 4 and Syracuse Sept. 12, when driving for Mike Boyle's team. Lou's highest annual AAA Championship rankings were 2nd in 1933 and 3rd in 1928. Circa 1933/34, Moore began to own his own Championship level cars.

The beginnings of the Moore team are a bit difficult: Originally, the team was that of Henry Maley (this is not the Maley of "Jones & Maley", although you can often read that), from Indianapolis iirc, who ran a Duesenberg 122 with a 91 engine through 1929, then one of the stretched 122-based two-man cars in the "junk era" (perhaps it was even the same car than before). Around 1932, Frank and Al Scully, two brothers from California, bought into the team, and soon Lou Moore and Peter de Paolo also became involved as the entries were filed under the name "California Racing Team" (or similar). The Duesenberg (now with a Miller 255 engine) was Moore's Indy mount in 1933 and later won a couple of National Championship races in the hands of the incomparable Billy Winn (1935, although by this time it was apparently no longer owned by Moore, Maley or the Scullys). It was run by Chet Gardner at Indy in 1936/37.
Apart from the old Duesy, the team also had one of the 4wd Miller 308 (later to be converted to a conventional car and the basis for the Frank Kurtis-built Walsh/Offenhauser) and at least two different two-man cars, one the car in which Joe Russo crashed fatally at Langhorne in 1934.

Originally posted by john glenn printz
Mapcap Joel "Joe" Thorne (1914-1955) was the heir of a huge trust fund and early showed an interest in motorcycles, speedboats, racing cars, and fast women. Thorne's first year at Indianapolis was 1935 as a car owner. In 1936 Joe wished to drive in the "500" but was told by the AAA that he lacked enough experience. In 1937 Thorne passed the driver test OK, but qualified only 35th fastest and thus was out of the race.

This was the catalyst for the famous car-buying spree of Thorne's. IIRC, he first bought the 1933 Shafer/Buick qualified by Andres, which he then proceeded to withdraw which made him and his 1935 Pirrung/Offenhauser 1st alternate. Then he tried to buy one of the 33 qualified cars, but was rebuffed, and I think the AAA and/or the IMS got into the act as well, trying to prevent these actions. Almost funny...

#128 fines

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 16:24

Originally posted by john glenn printz
1946 AAA season (cont.-4) For 1937 the Speedway allowed supercharging on four cycle engines which had been completely banned, starting in 1930, with the introduction of the then new "junk" formula rules. Art Sparks had built a big 337 cubic inch supercharged 6 cylinder car for the 1937 Indianapolis contest. This car, with a chassis constructed by Clyde Adams, proved to be the fastest Indy car built up to that time. Leadfoot Jimmy Snyder (1909-1939), on 23 May 1937, established a new one lap qualification mark of 130.492 mph. Spark's new machine was the first vehicle ever to lap the Brickyard at over 130 mph. In the 1937 "500" itself Snyder, starting 19th, passed 18 cars in just two laps and led circuits 3 to 26. Transmission trouble put the car out after just 27 laps and Snyder finished 32nd. Discouraged and broke Sparks contemplated towing his new Indy car back to California and Sparks' future prospects looked bleak. However millionaire Joe Thorne had been impressed and tracked Sparks down. Thorne purchased the 337 cu. in. Sparks/Adams car from Art and futher signed up a somewhat bewildered Sparks to a lifetime contract (!) solely to design and construct racing cars, and manage Thorne's racing interests. A new company, located in Burbank, CA, was formed to pursue these ends and interests and was named Thorne Engineering. For 1938, the Indianapolis Speedway abandoned what was left of the 1930 "junk" formula format and adopted the new 1938 International Grand Prix rules of 3 litres (183.06 cu. in.) supercharged and/or 4 1/2 litres (274.59 cu. in.) unsupercharged, supposedly to entice more foreign entries. Single seat cars were now allowed again for the first time since 1929. For the upcoming 1938 "500" Sparks built for Joe Thorne two new blown sixes and in early 1939 took the supercharger off the 337 cu. in. machine, made it into a single seater, (...)

This is quite a common misconception: Most two-man cars that continued to run after 1937 were not converted to single-seaters, including the 1937 Sparks - it was still a two-seater in 1946, when Caracciola crashed it. After that the car was rebuilt and apparently used by Thorne in 1948, but I haven't seen pictures of it so I can't comment on the number of seats. In 1949, Thorne pulled the engine and put it into a W154/39 Benz - I wonder what Rudi thought of that!

Three cars that were converted to single-seaters were the 1932 Boyle FD (originally a 1928 Miller chassis, anyway), the 1932 Sparks-Weirick "Catfish" and the 1934 Marks. Not rebuilt, amongst others, were both the 1930 and 1932 Miller-Hartz (the latter was rebuilt in 1938, but strangely, remained a two-seater), the 1930 Miller-Schofield "Minnie" (ran until 1947 in its original form, then rebuilt into Milt Fankhouser/Karl Hall Special and appeared in 1951 Indy), the 1936 Lencki, the 1931 Schneider, the 1934 Meyer, at least one of the 1931 Durays and probably many others that slipped my memory.

#129 fines

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 16:38

Originally posted by john glenn printz
1946 AAA season (cont-6) And finally from Italy came the "Scuderia Milan" team owned by Covorado Filippini who entered three Maseratis. Among his drivers was Tazio Nuvolari (1892-1953), who had already won one genuine AAA Champ car event, i.e. the George Vanderbilt Cup run on 12 Oct. 1936. On May 6 it was announced that Nuvolari's trip was cancelled because of the death of his son, Alberto, at age 18 on 11 Apr. 1946. In 1938 Nuvolari had been an entrant at Indianapolis but had to withdraw because of burns he had sustained in a race at Monza.

A few corrections that have possibly been done before already, I think, but anyway: the real name of "Raph" is Raphael Bethenod de los Casas, I think, and the owner of Scuderia Milan is Corrado Filippini. Nuvolari had been entered in 1938 in an Alfa Romeo, which did not arrive for reasons unknown to me, but Nuvolari (burns were from race at Pau) most certainly did arrive and did practice! He probably tried a number of cars, but the one I'm sure of is the Miller 180 (vulgo Gulf-Miller) of Ralph Hepburn.

#130 fines

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 16:46

Originally posted by john glenn printz
Joel Thorne entered two cars, the Big Six for himself and a Little Six for George Robson. Although wealthy, Thorne was an irresponsible spendthrift, who was always in need of more funds. To raise some quick cash Joel had sold one of the Little Sixes to Robert Flavell. Flavell nominated Harry McQuinn as its driver. The totally irresponsible Thorne, on 21 Feb. 1946, had crashed into an automobile while riding a motorcycle in Los Angeles. Throne broke both legs and suffered a fractured wrist. The Speedway officials were dumbfounded when Thorne, still in a wheelchair, named himself as the driver of his own "Big Six". Art Sparks, Takeo Hirashima, and Eddie Offutt prepared the two Thorne Engineering Specials for the 1946 running of the "500".

I believe, although I'm not yet sure, that the Flavell Sparks was the one Ted Horn had raced in 1941, then owned by Art Sparks and not Joe Thorne. Thorne and Sparks split in 1940, but during the war combined again until their final split in 1946.

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 17:04

Originally posted by john glenn printz
1946 AAA season. (cont.-8) THE TOP 1946 U.S. DRIVERS AT INDY. The four top U.S. pilots in 1940 and 1941, just before the U.S.' direct involvement (7 Dec. 1941), with World War II, all had single syllable last names, i.e., Shaw, Rose, Mays, and Horn. Shaw was completely out of it now as a driver but Rose, Mays, and Horn were back as post-war "500" competitors. All, in 1941, had been seasoned AAA Championship grade veterans and wise in the ways of the big-time American racing wars. Mauri Rose (1906-1981), who was of Jewish descent, had started his racing career on 4 July 1927 at Bridgeville, PA and by 1932 was running in the AAA Championship dirt races. Rose was always seemingly able to take advantage of offered opportunities. In 1932 Rose came to Detroit only to watch the Champ car race as a interested spectator but then was suddenly enlisted to drive instead, as a replacement for Deacon Litz (1897-1967), who had taken sick. Rose then proceeded to win the Detroit 100 race (5 June 1932), in what was only his second AAA Championship start. Mauri failed to qualify in his first attempt at the "500" in 1933 but then, Howard Wilcox II (1905-1946), was disbarred from driving on the very morning of the race because of his epilepsy. After much debate and acrimony Wilcox's qualified Miller/Stevens car was pushed to the rear of the 40 car starting field and its new pilot was Rose. This was a very fine machine and the year before Bob Carey (1904-1933) had won the 1932 AAA National Driving Title in it. Rose, in the 1933 "500", had worked himself up to 4th place before the timing gears failed after 48 laps. In 1934 Mauri had a real chance to win the AAA Driving Title and was still in contention when the last contest, i.e. the Mines Field 200 (23 Dec 1934) was staged, but Mauri didn't bother to enter. I asked Rose years later why he didn't compete and Mauri replied, "I was just too busy at work, to take the time off to travel all the way to California." In 1936 Rose did win the National AAA Title by placing 4th at Indianapolis (May 30), 6th at Goshen (June 20), 1st at Syracuse (Sept. 9), and 8th in the revived Vanderbilt Cup (Oct. 12). Rose always seemed to be involved in the middle of controversy. At the 1936 Vanderbilt Cup, Rose was the first U.S. driver to cross the finish line, in 7th, but later was dropped to 8th. The event required a mandatory pit stop of at least one minute's duration for "inspection" and Rose originally had beaten Bill Cummings to the wire by 7.87 seconds. The Mike Boyle team protested Rose's 7th place finish, saying that Mauri had only stopped for a 48 second interval during the required one minute stop. The Boyle-Cummings' protest was upheld on 18 Jan. 1937 by the AAA Contest Board and Rose found himself now dropped to the 8th finishing position just behind Cummings.

There is another twist to that story: During the 1936 season, the AAA decided to drop the 1930-35 scoring method ("point per mile") and replace it with a new "Grand Prix" scoring, presumably the 1937-41 method although I can't be sure. When the Boyle protest was upheld, this meant that Rose not only lost the tag "Best American", but also the National Championship! So, the old scoring was reintroduced for the one year on the grounds that the scoring couldn't be changed in the middle of a year. : One doubts this would have happened if not for the Boyle protest.

Originally posted by john glenn printz
Before World War II, Rose had finished at Indianapolis, 2nd in 1934, 4th in 1936, 3rd in 1940, and 1st in 1941. In addition Mauri had won AAA Championship 100 milers at Detroit, and at Syracuse twice (15 Sept. 1936 and 2 Sept. 1939); and a non-Championship Springfield 100 (21 Aug, 1937). At the time the annual Syracuse 100 was the most prestigious dirt track race in the entire country. At Indianapolis in 1934, Rose's crew protested the Cumming's win, saying that Bill had gained much illegal ground or distance during the caution periods. The protest was denied. However Rose's greatest exploit at Indy occurred in 1941. Mauri was driving for Lou Moore that year and now had one of the Maserati cars which had been brought over the year before by Lucy Schell. In fact this Maserati had been Rene LeBegue's mount in 1940 and Moore had purchased the Italian machine from Lucy. For 1941, Rose put the car on the pole with an average speed of 128.691 mph. Rose led laps 39-44 but spark plug problems of some sort eliminated the Maserati after 60 circuits. Back in the pits Mauri told Moore that he was going to walk up and down pit row to see if he could line up some further work as a relief driver. Moore quickly told Rose to stay put, that Floyd Davis (1905-1977) in another team car wasn't doing so well, and that he could soon replace Davis. Davis was running in 12th position at the time. Rose said, "O.K., but let's gas up the car when Davis comes in so I won't have to stop again." Thus Rose, on lap 72, replaced a very indignant and unhappy Floyd Davis. Rose then moved up steadily and took over the front position on lap 162 and led the rest of the way. There was a great deal of happy euphoria in victory lane and Moore stated, "Mauri did a terrific job and is the only driver I know of who could have done it." Rose requested specifically that Davis be present in victory lane to share the honors and everyone seemed quite happy, but Davis held a grudge against Rose ever thereafter. For the 1946 "500" Rose had linked up with car owner and machinist Joe Lencki (1903-1994). Lencki had owned cars in the "500" as far back as 1933 although none of them had been particularly successful, a 5th in 1938 with Chet Gardner and an 8th in 1937 with Tony Gulotta being the best placed positions. However on 10 Sept. 1938, Jimmy Snyder won the Syracuse 100 in a Lencki owned single seater. Since 1939 Joe had been trying to promote a Lencki 6 engine, a powerplant that was really nothing more generally than a six cylinder Offy, a fact however that the pesky Lencki didn't care to admit. Lencki had two entries in the 1946 "500", a six cylinder car for Mauri Rose, and a car powered by a standard Offy 4, for rookie Tony Bettenhausen (1916-1961). Tony had not been an entrant at Indianapolis before 1946 but had driven in the last two AAA Championship 100 mile dirt races held before the war, i.e. at Milwaukee (24 Aug. 1941) and Syracuse (1 Sept. 1941). In 1941, with Lencki built car, Tony placed 6th at Milwaukee and 2nd at Syracuse. Bettenhausen had started his racing career in early 1938, racing midgets.

The Lencki story is another complicated one. Perhaps there were only three original Lencki cars, the 1937 two-man car based on the 1930 Miller (Products), the 1939 streamlined Indy Car and the 1939 Champ Car, the Syracuse winner and probably the one driven by Davis in the 1940 Indy 500. Rose drove the Indy Car in 1946 and most sources declare his engine to be a Lencki 6, but pictures clearly show it to be an Offy 4! Lencki probably had more than only one 6-cylinder, but he also had at least one and probably more Offys - which engine was in which car when is the most difficult question... :stoned:

#132 fines

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 17:07

Originally posted by fines

A few corrections that have possibly been done before already, I think, but anyway: the real name of "Raph" is Raphael Bethenod de los Casas, I think, and the owner of Scuderia Milan is Corrado Filippini. Nuvolari had been entered in 1938 in an Alfa Romeo, which did not arrive for reasons unknown to me, but Nuvolari (burns were from race at Pau) most certainly did arrive and did practice! He probably tried a number of cars, but the one I'm sure of is the Miller 180 (vulgo Gulf-Miller) of Ralph Hepburn.

Oh yes, and of course, Filippini wasn't the owner of Scuderia Milan... :blush:

Ta, Alessandro! :up:

#133 fines

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 17:27

Originally posted by john glenn printz
1946 AAA season. (cont.-9) Rex Mays (1913-1949) hailed from California and had his first race at Riverside, CA, a 1/2 mile dirt track, on Labor Day 1931. Rex was a "natural" as they say and he soon got famous on the Pacific coast during 1933 driving Paul Fromm's "Hisso" powered car. There were a number of Hisso engined racers built in the U.S. in the 1920's and early 1930's using half a bank of cylinders from the Hispano-Suiza 719 cubic inch V8 aircraft engine designed by Swiss engineer Marc Birkigt (1878-1953). Mays, by the end of 1933, was already accounted as a top flight driver on the west coast where there existed already many fine and fast chauffeurs. Mays was a rookie at Indianapolis in 1934 driving a hybrid, i.e., a Miller motor in a Duesenberg chassis, owned by Fred Frame (1894-1962).

One of the stretched Duesenberg 122s, the one driven by Babe Stapp in 1930, then Frame in 1931 and Winn in 1932... I forgot who ran it in 1933, but in 1935 Freddie Winnai drove it. The car was owned one time by Frame, the other by Harry Hartz. I actually do away with that and call the team Hartz/Frame. ;)

Originally posted by john glenn printz
Mays was also a starter in the 23 Dec. 1934 Mines Field 200 using a Miller owned by Earl Haskell, (...)

The 1933 Miller 255, the only four-cylinder Miller built between 1920 ("Baby Chevrolet") and 1936 ("Miller-Hibbard"), actually a rebuilt of the 16-cylinder Miller 303 of 1931, suitably shortened. Les Spangler, another Ascot superstar (one wonders what he could've achieved), crashed fatally in it at the 1933 "500", then Hartz sold it to Haskell. After Spangler and Mays the car was driven at Indy by Floyd Roberts and Ray Pixley - what an array of highly-talented, yet ill-fated racers... :cry:

Originally posted by john glenn printz
For 1935 and 1936 Rex joined up with the famous pair of car owners, machinists, and mechanics, Art Sparks and Paul Weirick. Art and Paul took Mays to Indianapolis in 1935 and 1936, and Rex responded by winning the pole position both years. In the 1935 "500" Rex was out with a broken spring at 123 circuits completed and in 1936 he ran out of fuel after 192 laps. Fuel allotment limits were in use at Indy during the years 1934, 1935, and 1936. Only 37 1/2 gallons of fuel were allowed for the entire 500 mile distance in 1936 and Mays was not the only competitor to run out of fuel before the 200 laps had been completed, another half dozen cars did likewise. In both 1934 and 1935 Mays won the tough AAA Pacific Coast Title for single seat sprint cars. The Pacific Coast title was the first of the annual AAA regional sprint car awards, having been first inaugurated here in 1929. Its previous West Coast winners were Mel Keneally (1929); Francis Quinn (1930), and Ernie Triplett (1931-32), and Al Gordon (1933). The AAA Midwest and Eastern regional sprint titles were added in 1933.

I believe it's spelled Kenealy, not Keneally. Also, some sources (other than official AAA ones) list Bryan Saulpaugh and Bob Carey as 1932 Eastern and Midwestern Champions.

Originally posted by john glenn printz
During 1935 Rex was not present at any other Champ car events except Indianapolis itself, but for 1936 Mays drove the entire AAA Championship schedule and continued doing so for the rest of his racing career. There were only four AAA Championship contests staged in 1936 and after Indianapolis the next stop was Goshen, NY (June 20) where Mays scored his first Championship win. At Syracuse (Sept. 15) Rex was 3rd and then everyone got ready for the first running of the George Vanderbilt Cup race to be held on the new Roosevelt Raceway (Oct. 12). However, much to the exasperation of Sparks, Mays crashed their two-man car during practice and was a non-starter.

Other sources say it was the single-seater... Actually, the team had two single-seaters by then, the old "Poison Lil" of 1932, consequently owned by Jimmy Snyder, Emil Andres and Murrell Belanger, and the new "Poison Lil" of 1936, owned by Weirick until at least 1949 and driven by many greats, most notably Mays, Duke Nalon, George and Hal Robson, Mel Hansen etc. At one point Ralph Helms owned one of these cars, but I'm not sure yet which.

#134 john glenn printz

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Posted 07 January 2007 - 20:41

1946 AAA Season (cont.35) 3. THE ATLANTA 100, SEPTEMBER 2, 1946. The next AAA Championship contest was held at Lakewood, GA on Labor Day, 2 Sept. 1946. This contest was promoted by Floyd Samuel "Sam" Nunis (1900-1980) and was the very first AAA Championship race staged at the site. The event, in 1946, would prove to be catastrophic. The track was constructed for horses in 1916. The first automobile races held here were match sprint events, on 28 July 1917, waged between Ralph DePalma's Packard V12 and Barney Oldfield's Golden Submarine (Miller) 4. The International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) held a meet here on 3 May 1918 and until the mid-twenties at least the Atlanta track was an IMCA mainstay. The AAA staged a non-Championship 100 miler here on 2 Sept. 1935, won by Maynard 'Hungry" Clark (1903-1991) in a Gerber Special with an elapsed time of 1:19:00.25. The IMCA, founded in 1915, was originated and run by J. Alex Sloan (1879-1937).

Sloan regarded automobile racing as a form of show business and it was generally supposed, probably correctly, that a great deal of the IMCA activity was staged and not quite on the up and up. The IMCA ran mostly at the county and state fairs' dirt tracks. Tommy Milton and Leon Duray were both part of Sloan's travelling motor circus before they moved up to the AAA; Milton joined the AAA in June 1916 and Duray in May 1922. Louis Disbrow, Eddie Hearne, and Jerry Wonderlick all ran on the IMCA circuit at one time or another. Before World War II and over a period of time, the big IMCA stars had been Louis Disbrow (1877-1939), Fred Horey (1884, died at age 62), Sig Haugdahl (1871-1970), Gus Schrader (1895-1941), Emory Collins (1904-1982), and Jimmy Wilburn (1908-1984). The IMCA, during the 1920s and 1930s, gave the AAA a very hard time as competitors for fairground race dates. The IMCA would stage a complete program for less money and were not so fussy about safety regulations, as was the more honest AAA, who ran genuine races and not shows. For the IMCA "stars" and progammed performers, like Haugdahl and Schrader, it was a good living.

Only 11 machines started in the 1946 Atlanta 100. Ted Horn led most of the way (laps 1-15, & 32-97), and with only three laps to go he had almost a full circuit lead over veteran George Connor, running in second. Long before however the Lakewood Park track had dried out and the ensuing red dust clouds had made the visibility for the still competing drivers less and less. The pilots were now driving around the oval "blind" and by instinct. Billy DeVore (1910-1985), who had led laps 19-31, was now driving a disabled car but was trying nevertheless, to be running at the finish. DeVore was idling around the track at a 40 mph pace, hugging the inside rail of the oval. Suddenly George Robson came up quickly on the slow moving car of DeVore and, to avoid hitting it, Robson swerved sharply to the right. As Robson did so, his car was struck by the vehicle driven by George Barringer and Barringer's car (the ex-Wilbur Shaw 1937 Indianapolis winner) then hit DeVore's machine. DeVore was tossed out of his Offenhauser/Wetteroth as it went over a stone barrier and he landed in a drainage ditch 10 feet below the track. Robson's mount (the ex-Floyd Roberts 1938 Indianapolis winner) left the ground and catapulted, end over end.

Robson, possibly stunned by the accident, was said by witnesses to have jumped from his wrecked car. He was then instantly hit by another car as he attempted to make his way to the inside railing. At least two more cars, i.e. those of Andres and Bardowski, were involved in the melee. Finally the race leader, Ted Horn, entered the cloud covered accident area, running his 98th lap, and made contact with a car or two. Ted stopped, extricated himself from his vehicle and ran onto the speedway, where he could be seen, waving his arms in an attempt to warn the other drivers about the wreckage ahead. Joe Langley (1918-1973), running far behind the original cars that had gone into the accident area, managed to stop his car near the outside banking and avoid all contact with the other machines. Joe leaped from his Fred Clemons built racer and was able to save Billy DeVore, laying in the drainage ditch, from a possible drowning. Conner, Truchan, and Andres were able to get pass the wreckage area but the event was immediately halted when Connor completed his 98th lap. Ambulances were rushed to the accident scene, hampered somewhat by a large artificial infield lake, and both Barringer and Robson were hurried to the Grady Hospital where they both died shortly after being admitted. DeVore suffered a broken collarbone and shoulder while Bardowski escaped with only minor cuts and bruises.

This tragic 1946 Atlanta race was somewhat reminiscent of the 5 March 1934 El Cento, CA event, where Pacific Coast ace Ernie Triplett (1906-1934) had been killed. In both cases the AAA officials should have stopped the contests long before, because of the poor visibility. George Barringer, born 10 May 1906, had been driving in the AAA Championship division since 1932. His first Championship start occurred at the Roby Speedway (Hammond, IL) on 19 June 1932. Barringer had no Championship wins but the statistics reveal two 2nds (Springfield 1935 and Milwaukee 1939) and one 4th (Syracuse 1934). Barringer's best Championship season was in 1939 when he placed 6th, both at Indianapolis and in the AAA National rankings. George drove rear engined Millers at Indianapolis in both 1941 and 1946.

George Robson, who was born in England on 24 Feb. 1909, set out after his 1946 Indy 500 triumph to win the year's AAA National Title as well, but now would not achieve that honor from his adopted country. Robson had not raced automobiles as long as Barringer but he had been more successful and had a more impressive record. Robson's first Championship start had taken place at Syracuse in 1938. Robson's best pre-World War II season was 1940 where he placed 4th at Springfield, 2nd at Syracuse, and 10th in the AAA Championship division standings. Of course, George's 1946 Indianapolis win was the highpoint of his racing career which had begun in California in 1930. Robson's best AAA National Ranking was a posthumous 2nd in the official and original 77 AAA race count chart and/or 3rd in the later reckoning which used only the six 1946 AAA Championship races proper. It is not clear whether the later six race chart was ever issued by the AAA itself, or was just put together by private individuals, acting on their own.

Edited by john glenn printz, 11 January 2011 - 20:07.


#135 john glenn printz

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Posted 08 January 2007 - 20:31

1946 AAA Season. (cont.-36) On 9 Sept. 1946 the AAA declared Ted Horn, who had had almost a full lap lead on George Connor at the time of the Barringer/Robson wreck, the winner of the Atlanta race. But Connor's car owner, Ed Walsh, protested this judgement stating that the contest was not halted until his car had completed the 98th lap, which clearly put Connor ahead of Horn. The AAA also apparently, had an old rule that any vehicle involved in a fatal accident, could not be declared the winner in a Championship race; and as Horn admitted that he had made contact with one or more cars on his 98th circuit, he was thereby excluded from any victory. (This odd AAA ruling had apparently been invoked at Altoona on 14 June 1929. It made Louie Meyer the winner instead of Ray Keech. Keech was leading when he crashed and the race was immediatly halted because the outside steel railing was now laying across the track, blocking it completely. Keech, the 1929 Indianapolis victor, was killed in the wreck.)

The Horn-Connor case dragged on until a two day AAA Contest Board meeting (13-14 Dec. 1946), but Connor was finally and offically pronounced the actual winner of the 1946 Atlanta contest, now reduced down to a 98 miler. The official order of finish as posted by the AAA on 14 Dec. 1946 was; (1.) Connor-running; (2.) Truchan-running; (3.) Andres-running; (4.) Bardowski-stopped; (5.) Langley-stopped; (6.) Horn-contact & stopped; (7.) Robson-wrecked; (8.) Barringer-wrecked; (9.) DeVore-wrecked; (10.) Dinsmore-out; and (11.) Mays-out. No winning time is recorded. It is not perfectly clear as to how or why the AAA listed the finish in this order. When the Barringer/Robson accident occurred Dinsmore and Mays had long been out, therefore they were listed 10th and 11th. However now five pilots were placed ahead of Ted Horn. The criteron used seems to have been that these five had not made any actual physical contact with any other vehicle. Next were put the four cars which had some physical contact with each other, i.e. Horn, Robson, Barringer, and DeVore. Poor Horn, who had been the actual leader by almost a full lap when the Robson/Barringer accident took place, was now dropped all the way down to 6th.

I might add here that Robson met his death piloting the very same Offenhauser/Wetteroth that the 1938 Indianapolis winner, Floyd Roberts was killed in on his 107th lap, during the running of the 1939 Indianapolis 500. It is the only vehicle in which two Indy 500 winners perished on the record and thereby hangs a tall tale. There circulates a story that Cliff Bergere, totally distraught over the fact that two of his best and dearest friends, Floyd Roberts and George Robson, had been killed driving this 1938 built Offenhauser/Wetteroth, took a blow torch and cut the entire car into small pieces! This is quite untrue as at the time of the Atlanta tragedy (2 Sept. 1946) Bill Corley had owned the car for some months. This apocryphal tale is recorded in Brock Yates' UMBRELLA MIKE: THE TRUE STORY OF THE CHICAGO GANGSTER BEHIND THE INDY 500, (New York, 2006, page 192). This story also appears in Rick Popely's INDIANAPOLIS 500 CHRONICLE (Lincolnwood, 1998, page 80), where I would guess, Mr. Yates got it. The car itself, it should be noted, was not at fault in either case. In 1939 Bob Swanson triggered the accident which claimed the life of Roberts, and poor visibility was the cause of the Atlanta pileup, which took the lives of Barringer and Robson.

Edited by john glenn printz, 14 July 2009 - 19:45.


#136 Jim Thurman

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Posted 09 January 2007 - 07:42

Originally posted by john glenn printz
This apocryphal tale is recorded in Brock Yates' UMBRELLA MIKE: THE TRUE STORY OF THE CHICAGO GANGSTER BEHIND THE INDY 500, (2006, page 192). The car itself, it should be noted noted, was not at fault in either case. In 1938 Bob Swanson triggered the accident which claimed the life of Roberts, and poor visibility was the cause of the Atlanta pileup, which took the lives of Barringer and Robson.


In the same book, Yates states the accident took place early in the race, when in fact - as Mr. Printz points out - it occurred on the leader's 98th lap, just 2 laps from completing the scheduled 100 lap/mile distance.

#137 john glenn printz

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Posted 09 January 2007 - 20:56

1946 AAA Season (cont-37) 4. THE INDIANAPOLIS STATE FAIRGROUNDS 100, SEPTEMBER 15, 1946. The next AAA Championship event was staged at the Indiana State Fairgrounds on 15 Sept. 1946. The site was constructed in 1892 and its one mile oval was, of course, a horse track. It was here on, 20 June 1903, in a race meet partly promoted by Carl G. Fisher (1874-1939), that Barney Oldfield posted the very first "mile a minute" lap on a flat one mile dirt oval in the U.S. Barney stopped the clocks at 59 3/5 seconds in the Henry Ford constructed "999". The previous record of 1:01 1/2 seconds for a flat one mile dirt track had also been held by Oldfield. The Indiana State Fairgrounds are actually located in the City of Indianapolis, unlike the Indianapolis Motor Speedway itself, which is outside the city limits. The IMS is now located in Speedway, IN. The 1946 100 miler was the first AAA National Championship contest ever to be held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. The entries as listed in the INDIANAPOLIS STAR, (8 Sept. 1946, page 41) were by CAR NUMBER, DRIVER, OWNER, and CYLINDER NUMBER; [list=a]
[/list=a] [list=1]
[*] 1 Mays, Rex, Los Angeles; Bowes Racing, Inc., Indianapolis; 8
[*] 7 (To be announced); Erwin White, Tulsa, Okla.; 4
[*] 9 Rose, Mauri, South Bend; Joe Lencki, Chicago; 4
[*]12 Putnam. Al, Indianapolis; R.L. Palmer, Indianapolis; 4
[*]16 (To be announced); Bill Corley, Detroit; 4
[*]17 (To be announced); William Schoof, Milwaukee; 4
[*]24 Horn, Ted, Paterson, N.J.; Fred Peters, Paterson, N.J.; 4
[*]25 Snowberger, Russ, Detroit; R.C. Cott, Detroit; 8
[*]26 (To be announced); George Barringer, Indianapolis; 6
[*]28 Truchan, Steve, Gary; Jimmy Chai, Joliet, Ill.; 4 [*]31 Rassey, Lou, Detroit; Lou Rassey, Detroit; 4
[*]37 Zulucki, Eddie, Dayton, O.; Norm Olson, Grosse Points, Mich.; 6
[*]38 Conner, George, Los Angeles; Ed Walsh, St. Louis; 4
[*]44 Andres, Emil, Chicago; Emil Andres, Chicago; 4
[*]45 Webb, Spider, Los Angeles; Fred Johnston, Hamilton, O.; 4
[*]53 Crawford, Charles, Indianapolis; Bill Chambers, Indianapolis; 8
[*]55 Langley, Joe, Southport; Jack Dixon, Indianapolis; 4
[*]71 Rogers, Charles, Detroit; Lawrence Jewell, Detroi ; 4
[/list=1]

#138 john glenn printz

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Posted 10 January 2007 - 14:58

1946 AAA Season (cont.-38) The above roster contains some peculiarities. The naming of Lou Rassey, as a driver, I surmize is a mistake. Rassey came to the Indianapolis fairgrounds with Elbert Booker as his pilot. Booker had been a somewhat prominent mid-western big-car and sprint pilot before World War II. Rassey had nominated Elbert for his 1946 Indianapolis entry but Booker failed his Speedway driving test so Rassey then put the veteran Henry Banks (1913-1994) in the cockpit for the "500". The R.C. Cott entry, with Snowberger as the chauffeur, was the Maserati with which Louis Unser "the old man of the mountain" (1896-1979), had just recently on 2 Sept. 1946, won the Pikes Peak hillclimb. The Barringer car had to be the rear-engined Miller which was quite unsuitable for dirt. In any case neither Barringer or Snowberger showed up. Barringer, of course, had been killed at Atlanta. Bill Corley tried to repair his broken car from the Atlanta race in time for the 100 miler at the Indiana Fairgrounds and had already hired Tony Bettenhausen to replaced the deceased George Robson, but the badly mangled 1938 Offenhauser/Wetteroth could not be fixed in time.

Instead Corley now somehow obtained Kelly Petillo's old 1935 Indy winner, possibly sitting vacant without an engine, and installed in it the Offenhauser motor out of Robson's wrecked vehicle. Petillo's machine was originally an Offenhauser/Wetteroth also, and it had been upgraded in 1939 and given a more modern body style. This car had been owned and driven by Petillo at Indianapolis during the years 1935 to 1941 inclusive. The new Corley entry now ran here at the Indianapolis Fairgrounds, and later at Milwaukee (Sept. 22), bearing the number "67" and with Bettenhausen as the pilot. On 14 Sept. 1946 it was announced in the Indianapolis papers that Floyd Eldon Davis, the 1941 co-Indy winner, would come out of retirement to pilot the Schoof Special. Davis was replacing the injured Billy DeVore and was also slated to drive this car at the upcoming Milwaukee 100 on 24 Sept. 1946. Davis had not been in competition since running the first 71 laps of the winning car at Indianapolis in 1941. Frank McGurk (1915-1982) was originally assigned this ride at Indianapolis but crashed the car on the front straightaway on 18 May 1946. After the vehicle was repaired Frank was unable to get the machine up to speed and quit the team. Billy DeVore then replaced McGurk in it and put the car into the starting field with a speed of 119.876 mph on the last qualifying day.

At the Indianapolis Fairgrounds, during the qualifications, and after Horn, Andres, and Connor had taken their runs, the next up was Al Putnam. On his third warmup lap Putnam lost control, took out 60 feet of the outer guard rail, and then crashed into a concrete or stone abutment of an overpass. Al was instantly killed when the steering column pierced his chest. Putnam had had a close call with death previously when he had crashed at Syracuse on September 1, 1940. His car had hit the rail and overturned several times. Al was thrown clear but sustained a severe head injury, a broken right arm, was in shock, and was unconscious for hours.

Putnam's racer Palmer Special No. 12 was very badly mangled on September 15, 1946 and its mechanic on that day, i.e. Cotton Henning, said that the only portion of the car that could possibly be saved was the engine. Al Putnam's Offenhauser/Stevens was the same machine he had used at Indianapolis, where he had been the slowest qualifier to actually make the race at 116.283 mph. The car was then owned by George L. Kuehn of Milwaukee, but sometime after the Indianapolis 500 mile race, it was sold to Richard L. Palmer, an Indianapolis automobile dealer.

This vehicle had originally been built for Harry Hartz for Ted Horn's use at the 1936 and 1937 Vanderbilt Cup races. Mike Boyle had subsequently acquired the car and under the Boyle marque Frank Wearne (1913-1985) had run it at Indy in 1940 and George Connor ran it there in 1941. This car was also, I believe, the same vehicle in which Babe Stapp won the 1939 Milwaukee 100 on August 27. The ownership of this Offenhauser/Stevens went from Harry Hartz, to Mike Boyle, to George Kuehn, and finally to Richard Palmer. Mays had driven it at Atlanta, as the Palmer Special No. 12, on September 2. In this instance Rex's usual Bowes Seal Fast No. 1, must either have failed to arrive or went out with mechanical ailments during one of the early practice sessions. Al Putnam (1910-1946) had been around. Al's resume shows four Indy starts, with his best finish being a 12th in 1941. Putnam occasionally ran elsewhere and his best placement in an AAA Championship contest was a 4th at Milwaukee in 1941. Putnam lived in Indianapolis, was a Mason in good standing, and worked at the L. G. S. Spring Clutch Company located in Indianapolis.

Rex Mays made the best qualifying time, 42.78 seconds or 87.083 mph, to start on the pole. In all, 13 cars posted times, but with three drivers killed in less than two races, the AAA got very careful, superstitious, and/or ridiculous. To avoid a 13 car starting field the AAA allowed Bardowski (1914-2000) to start after he had won a toss over the matter from Clarles Rogers (1917-2001). This incident, I believe, is indicative of the mental capacity of the 1946 AAA Contest Board officials. Bardowski however was flagged off the course, after running just 7 laps, as running too slow. Rex Mays took the lead in the first turn and led all 100 laps, it being noticed that his car was faster on the straightaways than any of his rivals. At 10 laps the running order was Mays, Andres, Horn, and Bettenhausen. At 50 miles the top four were Mays, Horn, Rose, and Andres; and at 70 laps the countdown was Mays, Horn, Rose, Andres, and Bettenhausen.

The order at the finish was Mays, Rose, Andres, Horn, and Bettenhausen. Floyd Davis, in the Schoof entry, was 7th and eight cars were still moving at the finish. Mauri Rose, in the Lencki 4 cylinder machine, started 6th and gradually bettered his positions. At 10 laps Mauri was 5th, 4th at 20 circuits, and up to 3rd by the half way mark or 50 miles. Rose moved into 2nd on lap 72 when he overhauled Horn on the front straight. At 100 miles, Rose remained in 2nd, but was almost a full lap behind Mays. Mays winning time was 1:16:03.43, his average speed 77..888 mph. This Indianapolis Fairgrounds contest was promoted by Dick Miller and Lou Moore. Moore sometimes ventured into race promotion. The officials of the Indiana State Fairgrounds did not take the death of Al Putnam lightly and would not allow another AAA Championship level event to be staged here until 26 Sept. 1953. The attentance here in 1946 was estimated at 20,000.

Edited by john glenn printz, 21 March 2012 - 17:29.


#139 john glenn printz

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Posted 11 January 2007 - 15:38

1946 AAA Season. (cont.-39) 5.THE MILWAUKEE 100, SEPTEMBER 22, 1946. The one mile dirt oval once (i.e. paved after the year 1953) located at the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds (West Allis) was a horse track, built, c. 1876. Automobile races were first staged here on 11 Sept. 1903. Possibly the very first race driver fatality in the U.S. occurred here on 12 Sept. 1903 when Frank Day was killed while driving the Henry Ford built "Arrow", an exact twin of the more famous "999" car. The "Milwaukee Mile" lays claim to being the oldest continuous automobile racing track in the U.S. but perhaps this is incorrect. The Indiana State Fairgrounds held a race meet in June 1903 and automobile races are still run there.

The first AAA 100 miler at Milwaukee was staged on 17 July 1933. Wilbur Shaw (1902-1954), in his autobiography GENTLEMAN, START YOUR ENGINES (New York, 1955, page 185) remembers this 1933 Milwaukee 100 as a point awarding AAA National Championship event, which it was not. Shaw won this 1933 race, which was for single seat sprint cars, in a Miller powered machine. Wilbur averaged 79.58 mph and was followed over the line by Chet Gardner, Johnny Sawyer, Sam Palmer, and George Barringer. Shaw's car owner was Leon Duray and Wilbur's winning time was 1:15:23.5. The next Milwaukee 100 mile race was run on 29 Aug. 1937 and the victor was Rex Mays. Through a mistake of the AAA officals Mays was given the checkered flag after he had completed only 96 laps, but the contest was over, in any case. Rex's average speed was 84.76 mph and the next four finishers were, in order, Bill Cummings, Mauri Rose, Tony Willman, and Johnny Sawyer. A third Milwaukee 100 miler for the "big cars" was held on 28 Aug. 1938. This time the victor was Chet Gardner (1898-1938), who averaged 84.34 mph. The other top four finishers, again in order, were Ted Horn, Rex Mays, Floyd Roberts, and Tony Willman. Gardner's elasped time was 1:11:08.2.

None of these three AAA Milwaukee 100 milers for open wheel big cars, i.e. 1933, 1937, or 1938, was a AAA National Championship ranked contest. The very first race held here and given AAA Championship status was run on 27 Aug. 1939. Its winner was Elbert "Babe" Stapp (1904-1980) who had been racing since mid-1923. Mr. Stapp told me, "Frank Lockhart and I started racing on the very same day and place, on July 4th at San Luis Obispo, CA, in 1923." Elbert joined the AAA Championship division in 1927. In 1930 Stapp travelled to Italy and took part in races (Gran Premio di Monza) held at Monza on September 7, using the very Duesenberg that Cumming's had run at Indianapolis in May. The Babe's 1939 winning Milwaukee time was 1:11:43.60 or 83.651 mph. Stapp's 1939 Milwaukee victory was his second AAA Championship win, his other victory having been at the Charlotte board speedway on 19 Sept. 1927, in another 100 miler. On that occasion Stapp had averaged 119.91 mph. Stapp never had much luck at Indianapolis, his best finish there in 12 starts, was 5th in 1939. For the year 1940 there was to have been a 100 mile Championship event at Milwaukee, to be held on 25 Aug. 1940, but it was rained out and was never rescheduled. Rex Mays won the 1941 AAA Champ car event (24 Aug. 1941) recording a time of 1:12:55.97 or 82.649 mph.

Edited by john glenn printz, 14 July 2009 - 19:39.


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#140 pete3664

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Posted 12 January 2007 - 16:54

I noticed earlier on the history something about a Voelker engine being used in a car and then no further mention of it. Do you have any information re the engine? It sounded as though it was an aircraft engine based on the Hispano-Suiza.

#141 john glenn printz

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 16:56

1946 AAA Season. (cont.-40) On 17 September 1946 it was announced in the Milwaukee papers that Duke Dinsmore (1913-1985) would replace Floyd Davis in the Schoof machine and thus Davis' comeback lasted just one event. The Schoof car in 1946 now had had four drivers, i.e. McGurk, DeVore, Davis, and presently Dinsmore. For the 1946 Milwaukee 100, Mays posted the quickest qualification time of 39.69 seconds or 90.703 mph, to start on the pole. However Bettenhausen, from the 2nd starting position, led the first six laps and then was passed by Mays who led the rest of the way for his third win in the first five 1946 AAA Championship contests. Mays averaged 85.41 mph (time, 1:10:44.57) and thereby set a new Milwaukee record for 100 miles and bested Chet Gardner's older 1938 mark of 84.34 mph. Bettenhausen held onto 2nd place from lap 7 on, until forced out of the race by a broken oil line after completing 48 miles. Mauri Rose had locked up the 3rd position, as he entered the 100th lap, but his fuel pump then failed and his engine stalled and quit about a quarter mile from the finish line. Rose thus dropped from 3rd to 6th. Andres had held the 3rd spot from lap 40 on, until Rose sped by him on the 91st circuit. George Metzler (1912-1949), in his very first Championship start, lost a left rear wheel on his 41st lap. Metzler hit the inner guard rail, was struck by the lose wheel, and suffered a bruised should, but was otherwise O.K. The final finishing order was 1. Mays, 2. Horn, 3. Andres, 4. Dinsmore, and 5. Rogers., and the paid attendance was put at 24,671.

The 1946 Milwaukee 100 was promoted by the Wisconsin Auto Racing Association under the presidency of Tom Marchese (1899-1990). The three Marchese brothers, i.e. Carl (1905-1984), Tudy (d. 1967 at age 59), and Tom, were all heavily into motor racing. Carl was a driver, Tudy the designer and mechanic, and Tom the promotor and salesman; these three areas or divisions may have overlapped at times but that was pretty much how things shaped up. Carl Marchese (1905-1984) made only one start in the AAA Championship ranks proper, i.e. the 1929 Indianapolis 500 and without any relief he placed, as a rookie, 4th. I asked Carl why, after such a fine first start, he never returned to compete at the Speedway as a driver. "Well I kind of wanted to but the family was against me racing and further with the new rules for the 1930 race, I no longer had a suitable car. I couldn't afford a new one, not in those times." On 17 Aug. 1929 Carl had been involved in a very bad melee at Springfield, IL which had resulted in the death of one and injuries to five others spectators. On the 4th lap, of a 25 mile event, three cars collided and that driven by Johnny Gerber was hurled through the railing. Drivers W.C. Pingrey and Carl Marchese were also injured. This incident put a halt to all motor racing at Springfield until 25 Aug. 1934 when a 100 mile AAA Championship contest was staged, promoted by Ralph Hankinson. Tudy Marchese, in 1938, designed and built a radically new car for Indianapolis and it was this very vehicle that Bettenhausen had qualified at Indianapolis in 1946, only to have it withdrawn later. Tom Marchese promoted races at the Milwaukee mile from 1929 to 1967.

Edited by john glenn printz, 05 October 2011 - 13:47.


#142 john glenn printz

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 20:27

1946 AAA Season. (cont.-41) 6. THE GOSHEN 100, OCTOBER 6, 1946. The only 1946 AAA Championship race now left was Goshen, NY run on 6 Oct. 1946. The event was originally scheduled for 29 Sept. 1946 but was changed because it might conflict with a possible 22 Sept. 1946 Milwaukee rain date. Goshen is located about 50 miles northwest of New York City. This horse track, triangular in shape, dated back to the early 19th century but had been completely refurbised in 1899, to train trotting horses. Goshen soon thereafter became a center for harness horses. William Henry Cane (d. March 27. 1956 at 81) bought the site in 1926 and and named the entire complex "Good Time Park". By 1930 it was site of the annual and famous trotting classic, the Hambletonian. There had been one previous AAA National Championship event held here, on 20 June 1936, organized jointly by Cane and Ira Vail. Its winner was was Rex Mays when he was still driving for the partners Sparks and Weirick. This victory was Mays' first win in the AAA Championship ranks. Rex's machine was the same 1934 built Sparks/Stevens-Summers car with which Mays had won the pole position at Indianapolis in 1935 and 1936. Mays' winning time and speed at Goshen in 1936 were 1:18:31.47 or 76.409 mph. Bill Cane still owned the track both in 1936 and 1946.

The 1946 Goshen event was a promotion of Jimmy Frattone, like the June 30 Langhorne race. There were 17 entries. In the 1946 Goshen practice session the Bowes Seal Fast car put a connecting rod through its crankcase and Mays became a non-starter. It was the first time since the George Vanderbilt Cup of 12 Oct. 1936 that Rex was not among the starters in an AAA National Championship contest. Bettenhausen posted the fastest qualification, on the second day of trials, at 42.76 seconds or 84.191 mph to start in position number 6. Bettenhausen won the race, using the same car he had piloted at the Indiana State Fairgrounds and at Milwaukee as No. 67, but here at Goshen its big "6" had been painted out and it now ran as No. 7. Carl Hungness in his book GO! THE BETTENHAUSEN STORY (Speedway, 1982, page 113), believes that Tony Bettenhausen drove the No. 7 Norm Olson car at Goshen. An Olson No. 7 did run at Langhorne (June 22) and at the Indiana State Fairgrounds (September 15), but not at Goshen on October 6. Carl's error is due to both cars having used the No. 7 during the 1946 AAA Championship season. George Peters in his THE IRON DUKE: THE ILLUSTRIOUS RACING CAREER OF DUKE NALON (Hazelwood, 2005, page 113) repeats this error, probably taken from Hungness' book. In addition here at Goshen, the ex-Petillo machine was now entered by Paul Russo instead of Bill Corley as had been the case at the Indianapolis Fairgrounds and Milwaukee.

Exactly why these changes occurred is unknown but there was at least a story about it all, told in the early 1980's, and then circulating as oral tradition. The tale was that Corley may have run out of money and couldn't afford to run the car at Goshen, but both Bettenhausen and Russo knew where it was, and without permission removed this ex-Petillo car from storage and entered it at Goshen as the "Russo Offy" No. 7. Emil Andres had the pole position and led the first two laps, then Bettenhausen passed him and led all the rest. By lap 60 Tony had lapped everyone with the exceptions of Andres and Horn. On his 65th circuit Andres' motor went sour and Horn got by him on the 73rd lap and Dinsmore on the 83rd. The only accident was when George Metzler crashed on his 60th lap. At the end the top five positions were 1. Bettenhausen, 2. Horn, 3. Dinsmore, 4. Andres, and 5. Rogers. Tony's winning time was 1:17:18.52 (77.52 mph), a new track record. Thus a vehicle won an AAA Championship event twelve years after it was initially constructed (1935) containing very possibly the exact motor used by Floyd Roberts to win the 1938 Indianapolis 500. In victory circle Bettenhausen received the "Robson Memorial Trophy" from Miss Marilyn Buford from California, who had been recently crowned the 1946 "Miss America" at Atlanta City. Tony remarked, "It's the first time I've ever won a 100-mile race and I'm certainly happy." The attendance was placed at 18,000. Duke Dinsmore had done well with the Schoof Special, in his first two starts with it. Duke finished 4th at Milwaukee (Sept. 22) and now 3rd here at Goshen (Oct. 6). This pre-war Offenhauser/Wetteroth was owned by William "Bill" Schoof of Milwaukee and had run in the 1941 Indianapolis 500 with Al Putnam as its pilot.

Edited by john glenn printz, 05 April 2012 - 20:00.


#143 john glenn printz

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Posted 16 January 2007 - 20:33

1946 AAA Season. (cont.-42) FINAL REMARKS ON THE 1946 CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON. Rex Mays had the fastest qualifying time on four occasions; Langhorne (June 30), Atlanta (Sept. 2), Indiana Fairgrounds (Sept. 15), and Milwaukee (Sept. 22); and he won three events, i.e. Langhorne, Indianapolis Fairgrounds, and Milwaukee. Almost certainly Mays was the outstanding AAA Championship division driver for 1946, not Ted Horn. As it turned out only Andres, Connor, and Horn started in all six 1946 AAA Championship contests, with Dinsmore and Mays starting in five. George Connor was the only one to drive in all six, using the same car. Although 14 cars maximum were allowed to start in the 100 milers, there was only two races in which they actually did so, i.e., Indiana Fairgrounds and Milwaukee.

There were only ten competitors in the race at Goshen, eleven at Atlanta, and twelve at Langhorne. Car builder Frank Kurtis (1908-1987) had his first Championship car victory at Atlanta and Tony Bettenhausen recorded his first Championship win at Goshen. More than 20 more Championship wins would accrue to Bettenhausen before his great career ended in May 1961. The 1946 AAA Championship season was, by no means, a great year but the revival of both the Indianapolis 500 and the AAA National Championship automobile racing title, after a lapse of some four years, was perhaps, a very hopeful sign for the future. Still the year 1946 was the biggest AAA Championship season since 1935, which it exactly equalled with the Indianapolis 500 and the five accompanying 100 mile dirt track races. 1947 would see a much larger AAA schedule and a few new cars.

Edited by john glenn printz, 05 April 2012 - 20:03.


#144 john glenn printz

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Posted 17 January 2007 - 17:58

To "pete3664". Charley Voelker (1901-1990) or Volker was a machinist and mechanic from Detroit, MI. It is my understanding that he first came to Indianapolis in 1923 as a mechanic on an entered car. In 1937 Voelker both designed and built a 332 cubic inch V12 racing engine, which was of a rather clean and aesthetic form. The V12 engine was installed in an old Miller chassis, once owned by Ralph DePalma, who had retired from automobile racing in late 1934. Henry Banks drove this car at Indianapolis in 1937 and 1938. Banks failed to qualify in 1937, but made the grade in 1938 with a 116.270 mph run to start 31st. In 1938, a rod bearing failure put the car out after 109 laps, and Banks' final placement was 21st. At Indianapolis, this same car with the Voelker V12 engine, was piloted by Tommy Hinnershitz in 1939, Louis Webb in 1940, and by Ira Hall in 1941. None of the three made the starting lineup. In all these Indianapolis appearances 1937-1941, the car owner was Louis Kimmel, who owned movie theaters in Detroit. In late 1945/early 1946 Voelker built a 274 cubic inch six cylinder engine for mechanic Al Singer (1906-1994) who did not own a chassis. Singer soon got linked up with Charles Van Acker, who had a Stevens chassis, but no engine. Van Acker had purchased the empty chassis from George Lyons of Chicago. So Van Acker and Singer got together and Van Acker entered the 1946 Indianapolis 500 with the Voelker 6, installed in the Stevens chassis. Of the 36, 1946 Indianapolis qualifiers, Van Acker was the slowest at 115.666 mph and was bumped out on the last day of the time trials. The only time a Voelker engine ran at Indianapolis in the race itself was in 1938. In Karl E. Ludvigen's book, THE V12 ENGINE: THE UNTOLD INSIDE STORY OF THE TECHNOLOGY, EVOLUTION, PERFORMANCE, AND IMPACT OF ALL V12-ENGINED CARS (Newbury Park, 2005) it contains a footnote 6, on page 179. It reads, "Though respected Miller historian Mark Dees wrote that Voelker's twelve was still entered "as late as the 1970s", the author has not found evidence of this. To be sure, many Speedway habitues entered cars without a ghost of a chance of qualifying simply to enjoy the Gasoline Alley camaraderie." As a matter of fact, what Dee's says couldn't be truer. I knew the man that had the Voelker V12 and was in his assigned garage at Indy innumerable times. And I might add, as Ludvigen states, the V12 Voelker was not in Van Acker's car in 1946, as it then housed a new Voelker six.

A Mr. Bob Olmstead, a Lincoln V12 Zephry connoisseur, had acquired the old Voelker V12 motor, and had installed it a rear engined chassis (Antares?). I believe Bob had also modified the Voelker V12 to perhaps make it legal, and maybe had added a turbocharger, I don't exactly remember. Bob entered this car, at least, three years in a row (1977, 1978, and 1979). The Speedway always however assigned him the same garage, right in the middle of the main and center lane in Gasoline Alley! But the car never left the garage and the engine never, ever ran. And no would-be drivers ever appeared either at Bob's garage, to pilot or to try the Olmstead entry. Bob was always saying that he would have the engine running in a day or two, but it never did, and it was all a big joke. But a lot of people would stop by Bob's assigned garage, as he was a friendly guy, and wish him well. And apparently among them was Howard Gilbert, A.J. Foyt's engine man. One year Foyt qualified early and Foyt's crew had nothing to do but wait around for the race, a week or two off. Gilbert, with time on his hands, went to Olmstead and said, "Let's see if we can get that V12 running." After about three days or so the word went around that they were going to fire up Bob's V12 Voelker in the garage. So about twenty persons, including myself, were there and by golly they got the V12 actually running! I saw it. Everyone, including Gilbert, seemed to think that a lot had been accomplished.

Edited by john glenn printz, 23 January 2011 - 20:06.


#145 john glenn printz

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Posted 19 January 2007 - 20:22

1946 AAA Season. (cont.-43) Here follows the final (as of 31 Dec. 1946), official, and original 1946 AAA National Championship point totals and rankings, with the 71 sprint car races and the six Championship events, totaled together. This listing is lengthy and contains the names of many now quite obscure 1946 AAA sprint car drivers who never made it into the more exclusive ranks of the AAA National Championship division proper. This is not a complete 1946 listing, only the first sixty-four, as the pilots at the end are missing but this is the only data available to me. (SOURCE: ILLUSTRATED SPEEDWAY NEWS, 3 Jan. 1947, page 5). Horn won the 1946 AAA National Title by competing in all six Championship contests and a further 33 sprint car events. 1. Ted Horn-2448, 2. George Robson-1544, 3. Emil Andres-1348, 4. Bill Holland-1280.6, 5. Tommy Hinnershitz-896.8, 6. Walt Ader-850, 7. Jimmy Jackson-800, 8. Joie Chitwood-693, 9. Rex Mays-613, 10. Duke Dinsmore-454, 11. Louis Durant-400, 12. George Connor-380, 13. Henry Rogers-371, 14. Tony Bettenhausen-340, 15. Earl Johns-309, 16. Gigl Villoresi-300; 17. Johnny Shackleford-297.5, 18. Lee Wallard-291, 19. Red Byron-280.8, 20. Tommy Mattson-276.5, 21. Elbert Booker-260, 22. Eddie Zalucki-253, 23. Frank Wearne-250, 24. A. I. Fleming-246, 25. Mauri Rose-240, 26. Ottis Stine-229.5, 27. E. Zimmerman-227, 28. Dan Goss-202, 29. Charlie Rogers-200, 30. Walt Brown-186, 31. Warren Bates-173.5, 32. Spider Webb-163.5, 33. Buddie Rusch-160, 34. Bud Bardowski-160, 35. Steve Truchan-160, 36. Billy DeVore-146, 37. Eddie Casterline-145, 38. Buddy Shuman-135, 39. Charles Van Acker-128, 40. Lucky Lux-122, 41. Joe Langley-120, 42. Larry F. Smith-117.8, 43. George Culp-114.5, 44. Robert Cooney-112, 45. James Gibbons-106.5, 46. Joe Verebly-102; 47. Milt Frankhouser-95, 48. Hal Robson-94, 49 Red Redmond-90; 50. George Metzler-89.5, 51. Mark Light-89, 52. Oscar Ridlon-83, 53. O. Epperly-83, 54. Floyd Davis-80, 55. John Carpenter-76, 56. Earl Horn-75, 57. Duke Nalon-67, 58. Carl Ott, 65, 59. John Matera-60, 60. Bob Chronister-57, 61. Bus Warke-55, 62. Norm Houser-54, 63. E. Terry-52, and 64. George Barringer-50.

#146 john glenn printz

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Posted 22 January 2007 - 17:57

1946 AAA Season. (cont.-44) I do not know when, where, by whom, or in what circumstances, the first 1946 point totals based on just the six AAA 1946 Championship contests, were made. Mr. McMaken and I have no certain evidence that the AAA Contest Board ever made and/or issued a six event reckoning. Private individuals it seems, were the first to do so. A top five standings for 1946 appears in Speed Age (August 1954, page 78), provided by Jay Charles. This is the earliest evidence for the existence of a six race chart, but it is not certain if these totals were provided by the AAA. Charles' top five for 1946 reads, 1. Horn-1360. 2. Andres-1260, 3. G. Robson-1220, 4. Jackson-800, and 5. Mays-600. This is the earliest six event reckoning known to Mr. McMaken and myself. Bob Laycock (1914-1995), the longtime head of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway press room during the month of May, made a six race 1946 reckoning at some point or another.

The only complete 1946 six event chart that I have seen, is that put together by Mr. McMaken, in October 1974. Mr. McMaken's point totals for 1946 were published in the 1985 CART NEWS MEDIA GUIDE on page 246 in a statistical/historical section of the 1985 guide (pages 223-292) put together by McMaken and myself at the request of the then CART Director of Communications, Jan Shaffer. Mr. McMaken and myself inserted a waver on the AAA 1946 totals included in the 1985 CART guide, which appeared on page 228. It read, "The year 1946 is confused because the AAA combined into one point division all its sprint car races and the six genuine Indy Car/Championship events. No point distribution chart for 1946 is known to have survived and today no one knows how the AAA arrived at its final tabulations. Most historians today refigure the 1946 point totals on the basis of the six real 1946 Indy car events only. Such a 1946 reckoning is included here." Thus the 1946 listing in the 1985 CART guide is not from the AAA, nor did we ever claim it to be from that source.

The 1985 CART media guide is the only CART media guide to which Mr. McMaken and myself contributed information, and all the CART media guides issued after 1985 do not reflect the data and/or ideas of Mr. McMaken and myself. CART was incensed and irrate over our "historical" data. For the 1986 CART media guide the new editor of the historical section (Bob Russo) excised all our commentary and modified everything back to Means, Haresnape, and Catlin orthodoxy, as well as changing other correct data to incorrect. Over the years our original 1985 input got altered and butchered more and more by the ever changing CART PR boys, until CART finally made the claim that the historical information provided was based on "official AAA and USAC" records! Jan Shaffer was fired over the matter in June/July 1985 and CART threw Mr. McMaken and myself out in early 1985, immediately after the 1985 guide was published, about late April 1985 if I remember correctly. We never had any futher connextion or dealings with the CART organization. A Mr. John Evenson, just newly recuited by CART from the National Football League's Pittsburgh Steelers where he had worked during 1980-1985, took over Jan's job in July 1985. Evenson told and yelled at me, "McMaken and you have greatly embarrassed CART and have made CART to look completely ridiculous and we don't allow people to do that! Somehow you two managed to completely hoodwink Mr. Jan Shaffer. You and McMaken don't know a thing about automobile racing." It was my understanding that Evenson had never seen an automobile race before joining CART in mid-1985!

One of the oddities of the six contest and/or second 1946 listings is the fact that neither of the two top ranking drivers (i.e. Horn and Andres) won a race, while Rex Mays who won three of the total of six, placed only 5th. But consistency was what did the trick for Horn and Andres. In any case the results of the two charts are very different. Bill Holland, for instance, ranked 4th in the original AAA standings, disappears completely in the second reckoning because Bill ran in no 1946 AAA Championship races at all. McMakens' totals for the 1946 season are thus; 1. Ted Horn-1360, 2. Emil Andres-1260, 3. G. Robson-1220, 4. Jimmy Jackson-800, 5. Rex Mays-620, 6. Louis Durant-400, 7. George Connor-370, 8. Tony Bettenhausen-340, 9. Duke Dinsmore-310, 10. Lugi Villoresi-300, 11. Billy DeVore-290, 12. Frank Wearne-250, 13. Mauri Rose-240, 14. Joie Chitwood-235, 15. Bill Sheffer-200, 16. Steve Truchan-200, 17. Charles Rogers-200, 18. Bud Bardowski-160, 19. Mel Hansen-100, 20. Joe Langley-100, 21. Buddy Rusch-80, 22. Floyd Davis-80, 23. Spider Webb-80, 24. Eddie Casterline-80, 25. George Metzler-70, 26. Walt Brown-60, 27. Elbert Booker-60, 28. John Carpenter-60, 29. Hal Robson-50, 30. George Barringer-50, 31. Al Miller-50, 32. Danny Goss-30, and 33. Russell Snowberger-22.

Edited by john glenn printz, 18 April 2011 - 15:15.


#147 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 02:25

Well, this certainly provides some insight and more than a few missing pieces of the puzzle that have been missing.

Little wonder that this was a bit easy to misinterpret and glide down the wrong path.

Pity the poor historian.

#148 Frank Verplanken

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 04:28

What a fabulous thread ! Many thanks and bravo to John G. Printz and Mr McMaken for this great piece of work !

#149 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 04:50

My thanks goes to Mr. Printz for this extraordinary and outstanding account of the 1946 AAA Championship clarification, presenting the facts in such clear and simple language. Without you, Mr. Pritz, we would have never learned about many of these important details. Very well done! Thank you very much.

I am sorry by the shabby treatment you and Mr. McMaken received by the CART organisation’s management. As far as I can recall, CART was managed at times by incompetent people. But we have read about similar problems already over 100 years ago with the ACA after the AAA’s formation.

#150 john glenn printz

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 19:47

1946 AAA Season. (cont.-45) 1946 MISCELLANEOUS, ODDITIES, AND TIDBITS. Arthur Chevrolet (1884-1946), who was the last of the three Chevrolet racing brothers, died on 16 April 1946, a suicide. Arthur was the least talented and the least successful of the three; the other two being, Louis (1878-1941) the oldest, and Gaston (1892-1920) the youngest. The Buick racing team, when it actually entered major races, spanned the years 1908-1911. Louis Chevrolet joined the Buick team in early 1909 and Arthur had joined him by September 1909. Arthur made his racing debut at Brighton Beach, NY, in a 24 hour marathon staged on 16 Oct. 1909. Arthur and Louis were the co-drivers. Both Arthur and Louis were members of the Buick team in 1910 also, but Louis quit racing for a time, after a bad spill in the Vanderbilt Cup held on 1 Oct. 1910. Arthur was a two time starter at Indianapolis, in 1911 with a Buick and in 1916, with a Frontenac, but Arthur didn't do a whole lot of racing. Arthur was to race again at Indianapolis in 1920, but on 23 May 1920 he and Rene Thomas collided during a practice session and Arthur was severely injured and never raced again.

Arthur Chevrolet manufactured "Frontenac" speed equipment for Ford Model T's during the twenties and also built some very successful sprint cars, using Frontenac heads on the Ford T blocks, which cleaned up on the mid-western, minor league dirt tracks. A "Fronty Ford" took 5th place at Indianapolis in 1923, when driven by Lora L. "Slim" Corum (1899-1949), ahead of the teams of Bugatti, Duesenberg, Mercedes, and Packard, but it couldn't out run all the Millers. In an era when almost half the automobiles in the U.S. were "Tin Lizzies", the Fronty Fords running at Indy in 1922, 1923, and 1924 were of great interest to the general public. Well before moving up and into the AAA National Championship division ranks proper drivers like Lockhart, Woodbury, Shaw, Dutch Bauman (1896-1930), Cummings, Howdy Wilcox II, and Rose during the late 1920s, all honed and developed their racing skills on vehicles powered by model T motors equipped with the special high performance Frontenac and Rajo heads.

Louis Chevrolet died in 1941 of natural causes in Detroit. Gaston Chevrolet won the 1920 Indianapolis 500 and the 1920 AAA National Championship Driving Title but was killed in the last AAA Championship event for 1920, i.e. a 250 miler staged at the Beverly Hills board speedway on 25 Nov. 1920. Arthur hanged himself at his home located in Slidell, LA, in the garage. Arthur had spend much time designing piston type aircraft engines and was despondent and depressed that such type motors, his life's work, were totally obsolete after World War II, as the jet engine was now the way of the immediate future.

On 21 April 1946 Roy Russing (1910-1946) died during a qualification attempt for a midget race at Stockton, CA. Russing was a pre-World War II Californian who raced both midget and sprint cars. In 1941 Russing, an Indy rookie that year, had been Kelly Petillo's protege at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. However things went totally awry when Roy crashed Petillo's car during the last phrase of his Speedway driving test on 13 May 1941. The car was repaired and Petillo now decided to pilot it himself. This 1941 effort, was Russing's only try at racing in the AAA Championship ranks.

Edited by john glenn printz, 28 June 2011 - 19:08.