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1905 races


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#51 Darren Galpin

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Posted 15 February 2007 - 09:32

Two days prior to this race a series of record attempts were run:


1 mile – World Record Attempt

  Herbert W.Fletcher	De Dietrich		45.0s

  Joe Tracy		Renault
This set a World Record Time, but it was not recognised by the European authorities on the matter. Tracy’s time was within three-fifths of a second of equalling the record for middleweight machines set by Hemery in Ostend in November. Two other Cuban drivers also attempted the mile. All of these records were held on a stretch of road between Guanjay and Artemisa, 30 miles from Havana.

1 km – World Record Attempt

  Herbert W.Fletcher	De Dietrich		28.6s
Tracy did not start this event, having broken a gear during the flying start.

Other kilometre record attempts

 5 km	Fletcher		De Dietrich		 3m41.5

10 km	Fletcher		De Dietrich		 5m57.0

20 km	Fletcher		De Dietrich		11m18.2

20 km	R.G.Mendoza	Mercedes 40 hp		21m13.0



These were all run in conjunction due to the approaching night.


The same Havana-San Cristobal course was used for a race on the 22nd October. There were no finishers in this race – one car crashed into a culvert, one had a broken axle, and another was stopped by police after an exchange of shots, although there were no casualties.

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#52 anjakub

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Posted 15 February 2007 - 09:38

Tony - thank you very much for this interesting story.

#53 robert dick

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Posted 15 February 2007 - 09:39

Thomas's 90-hp German car :

The New York Times - February 10, 1905 : "Havana - E. R. Thomas of New York was slightly injured, and his chauffeur, E. H. Hawley, was badly hurt in an accident to Mr. Thomas's 90-horsepower Mercedes automobile shortly before noon to-day."

Difficult to say if it was a 9-liter Mercedes as driven by Jenatzy in the 1903 Bennett Cup and by Hawley in the 1904 Vanderbilt Cup, or a 12-liter as used in the 1904 Bennett Cup. I would say it was the 9-liter driven by Hawley (Edward or "Ed" Hawley) in the 1904 Vanderbilt.

E. R. Thomas = "Edward R. Thomas of 17 West Fifty-seventh Street, a broker and son of Gen. Samuel Thomas, railroad President and financier".
In October 1906, Thomas bought the ex-Elliott Fitch Shepard GP Hotchkiss.
Edward Thomas was also the owner of the famous power boat "Dixie".
In December 1905 Thomas sold his Dixie to Edward J. Schroeder, "the newly elected Commodore of the Motor Boat Club of America".
In the autumn of 1911, Schroeder imported a new 9.5-liter three-valve Mercedes = DePalma's famous Grey Ghost.

#54 David McKinney

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Posted 15 February 2007 - 09:39

Originally posted by Darren Galpin
... another was stopped by police after an exchange of shots...

...after which tickets always carried the warning, "Motor Racing is Dangerous" :)

#55 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 01 May 2007 - 13:45

It is interesting to note that there are now various sites which acknowledge that the 1905 AAA championship existed, but what is interesting is that all seem to say -- since they are all obviously lifted from one site and plugged into another site per the usual pilfering that is typical of the internet and the Web -- that the championship was cancelled. Is this a factual statement?

I have searched high and low and I have yet to find anything stating that the championship was OFFICIALLY cancelled or abandoned. The Poughkeepsie event is still listed as a round for the national championship with the championship being mentioned as late as September. I am stymied by not having access to any of the periodicals such as Horseless Age or Motor Age which might help resolve this, but there seems to be nothing in the contemporary newspaper accounts which support the abandonment of the series by the AAA.

Granted, there was perhaps a distinct lack of interest on the part of some of those involved after the deaths and injuries that occurred, but there is a major difference between a series being cancelled and coasting along with a perceived lack of interest. Or, simply being ignored which is not the same thing, even if the final effect might be construed that way.

Last night I did another look and if there was a statement terminating the championship by the AAA, I simply could not find it.

#56 ensign14

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Posted 01 May 2007 - 14:28

I assume that the Championship would have been awarded by the AAA based on the results and points system? In other words, even if you calculated the points and thought "hooray, I've won", it's not an official title until the AAA physically states "yes, you've got it, have a trophy"? In which case it would be trying to find negative evidence... :

#57 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 01 May 2007 - 15:29

The point is that in 1905 the A.A.A. Racing Board created a national championship, sanctioned events, and then.... what? Forgot about it? Ignored it? Cancelled it? Abandoned it?

It seems clear that as late as September that the championship was still being considered as a viable series. However, there seems to then be a void in the aftermath of what was apparently the final round at Poughkeepsie.

Several ideas seems to present themselves at this point: the first being the cancelled/abandoned scenario; the second being that the documentation, like much from this period, is missing; third, that amid the hoopla surrounding the upcoming Vanderbilt Cup, the championship got lost in the shuffle; or, fourth, there is another explanation, including that Oldfield was already on the "outs" with the A.A.A. or that the current and in-comiong A.A.A. leadership simply decided to not discuss the championship, or, that there were stipulations for the awarding of the championship that were never met by the participants.

This is another one of those "why didn't the dog bark?" mysteries that seem to be part and parcel with anything to do with the racing activities of the AAA early in the 20th Century. So, based upon what we know and what could be inferred, is it a case of silence or a case of missing documentation?

#58 Mark Dill

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Posted 02 May 2007 - 02:26

I have the 1905 schedule of races and the announcement of the AAA National Championship for 1905 in both Motor World and The Automobile. Don and I have exchanged e-mails on this stuff. I'm willing to share if someone is interested. This was the first national championship. After several serious accidents there was major backlash against "track" racing in 1905. I have one very interesting editorial cartoon with the grim reaper swiping at Barney Oldfield, Earl Kiser and Webb Jay from September 1905.

I think one of the reasons for "The Lost Championship of 1905" is the champion himself. Barney had few friends at the AAA. I believe 1905 was turning point in his life. Up to that time, most of his career was pretty much on the up and up with occasional forays into staged racing at county fairs. Exactly the stuff that raised the ire of the AAA.

Keep in mind Barney was born in a log cabin, for gosh sakes -- long after that was an endearing and common beginning. He finally had a chance to make serious money. After serious career-ending accidents to Webb Jay and Earl Kiser -- a pair of darn fine drivers -- and Barney's third serious accident in as many years, he started wondering why he should make other people happy. He won the first national track championship and received very little for it. He then decided that he had to look out for himself. That's when he built the special effect for the Broadway play, "The Vanderbilt Cup," in January 1906. It was a treadmill that he drove with his Green Dragon racer enhanced with bags of dirt to scatter up clouds. That lasted a few months, but it wasn't nearly as glamorous and profitable as he imagined. He then decided to stage speed thrill shows where he would perform alone or drive with one other teammate in staged races were less risky and he controlled the take of the gate.

The simplistic assessment of Barney was that he was a boor and a blow hard. And maybe he was. But he was also a hell of a driver. Ralph DePalma brought out the best in him, and DePalma's proudest moment was beating Barney in the 1914 Vanderbilt Cup. A heck of a duel. Barney not only survived but prospered in a deadly phase of the sport, the only driver I can think of that endured from 1902 through WWI. I think a reassessment of his career is overdue.

#59 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 02 May 2007 - 13:03

Mark makes the point that I have also come to while digging up information on this championship, that part of the problem may have simply been who wound up at the end of the season with the most points -- Barney Oldfield. Initially, I disregarded that as being a bit harsh on my part and reflecting an anachronistic viewpoint. However, upon further review, as they say, I have begun to think that there just might be more to this idea than I realized.

Give Mark great credit for finding information that led to other information and so forth. I am thankful for his willing to share what information he had as well as broaching this subject in the first place after it had faded from the scene.

Mark Dill, John Glenn Printz, Ken McMaken, Darren Galpin, and others have done much to put this topic back on the map. For this, we should be grateful.

More to follow.

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#60 Mark Dill

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Posted 11 May 2007 - 03:10

Thanks, Don. You've done more than anyone to take this to the next level of meaningful discussion. Mark Godfrey tipped me off that the discussion was going on and I just thought I'd chime in. I intend to continue to dig into this, I've just been preoccupied with some Vanderbilt Cup work of late.

#61 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 11 May 2007 - 18:05

Mark, I assume that you have the Gordon White microfilm with the George Vanderbilt Cup materials, which includes the Technical Committee files as well as the (voluminous) correspondence concerning the protest. It also has the pay out records for those working the event.

In addition, I have Cup articles from the 1916 issues of Motor west -- at one point there was speculation that Corona would be the site for the Cup race.

#62 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 00:53

"Barney Oldfield has succeeded in winning the track championship of the American Automobile Association again this year, despite the fact that he encountered several defeats in the early part of the year.

Oldfield received the prize emblematic if this championship -- a valuable gold medal in New York yesterday. While Oldfield is now very much mixed up in stage matters, he does not mean to neglect taking in the big automobile shows next month, and announced positively that he would be a competitor at the Ormond-Daytona beach races in Florida."

The Racine Daily Journal, Thursday Afternoon, January 4, 1906, page 7.

#63 Darren Galpin

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 08:01

Great find, Don. By the way, that's newspaperarchive.com page 12 if anyone else goes looking....

#64 Disco Stu

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 13:44

"Barney Oldfield has succeeded in winning the track championship of the American Automobile Association again this year,"

Does this mean there was a 1904 championship?

#65 ensign14

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 14:15

Beat me to it, Stu...I wondered if it was a misunderstanding that he received in 1906 something achieved in 1905...

#66 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 14:37

There is a Sinsabaugh article, however, from December 1905 that states that the circuit was abandoned; however, that is also nearly the only mention of the National circuit after September 1905 except for the Racine article.

Not sure where and how this article from the Racine paper fits into things, but it seems that on 3 January 1906 that Oldfield received some sort of recognition from the AAA. That is, in and of itself, enough to raise both eyebrows.

The search goes on....

#67 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 14:47

Originally posted by Disco Stu
"Barney Oldfield has succeeded in winning the track championship of the American Automobile Association again this year,"

Does this mean there was a 1904 championship?


Originally posted by ensign14
Beat me to it, Stu...I wondered if it was a misunderstanding that he received in 1906 something achieved in 1905...


Stu, I am not sure, but there is the possibility that there may have been some recognition for the records he set in 1904..... I think that it was certainly for 1905, being only a few days into 1906.... However....