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A book about Rex Mays is in the works


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#1 Henri Greuter

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Posted 18 July 2003 - 08:09

To whom it may concern,

The past two days I have spend time with Bob Schilling, an authority on American Racing history (among other thing). Bob is the main contributor to Dick Wallen's books "Fabulous Fifites"and "Roar of the Sixties": he wrote the chapters about the races within those books.
Bob earned his masters degree with a thesis on the life and career of Rex Mays, one of the all time greats in US racing and prime drivers during the 30's and 40's.
Bob has extended the work on this thesis to have it published in bookform. Apart from a Rex Mays biography, the book will also tell more about US racing in that era Rex participated.
Thoe who know the Wallen books and appreciate them for the info they contain, I think it is fair to say that it is a case of that you like Bob's writing and knowledge. And several of us here at the Nostalgia forum might be very interested about a book about Rex. And on behalf of Bob, I'm happy to inform all of you within this Forum about its upcoming arrival.

The exact date of publication isn't know yet but the manuscript etc is finished and with the publisher.
Bob is not connected to the internet (yet) so (for the time being) he is unable to give more details etc. But I will remain it touch with him and any progress on the situation as I receive it will be passed on for those of us who are interested within this thread. That is, als long as I haven't managed to succeed to talk Bob into joining us!

Knowing the quality of writing Bob provided Wallen with for his books, I'm very curious to see Bob's book on Rex, one of the major drivers in his days within the USA and about an era within US racing that was dark yet privoded some of the seeds which eventually turned out to yield many of the contents of the near classic 50's and 60's.


Thank you very much for your time and attention.

Sincerely Yours,


Henri Greuter

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#2 m.tanney

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Posted 18 July 2003 - 16:20

  As one "whom it may concern", I'm very pleased to see that Bob Schilling's Rex Mays book is working its way toward publication. I've been waiting for it for a long time and have no doubt that it will be an excellent work.
  I first learned of the Mays thesis through a bibliographical citation in Mark Dees' The Miller Dynasty. Hoping to acquire a copy, I made contact with Mr. Schilling. He told me that the Mays family had refused to cooperate with him on the thesis - a considerable handicap. It seems that they'd had some bad experiences with would-be biographers and memorabilia seekers. Nevertheless, he sent them a copy of the finished project. They must have been impressed with it, as the walls came down. Mays' widow and son told Bob all sorts of stories he'd never heard, answered questions, opened up the family albums, etc. It was that influx of new material that led to the new book, which will be considerably more than a published version of his thesis.
  With all of the new material, and Mr. Schilling's other responsibilities, the Rex Mays biography has been a long time coming. Given the quality of Schilling's other work, it will be worth the wait.
  Please keep working on him, Henri, Bob Schilling would make an excellent addition to this forum.

  Mike

#3 dretceterini

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Posted 18 July 2003 - 16:37

There is a group of historians and old racers that get together the first saturday of every month for brunch. Bob is a member of the group, as is Jim Sitz (historian for vintage motorsport), Tim Considine, and a bunch of others (usually 20 to 30 people). Anyone is welcome. If you are going to be in the Los Angeles area, and are interested, feel free to contact me at dretceterini@hotmail.com for specifics. The group is headed by Dave Scully, who has been working on a book of Americans in the Carrera Panamericana for a long time.

#4 neville mackay

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Posted 18 July 2003 - 19:21

All I can add - as a humble Brit fascinated by American racing of that period - is that if the book is half as good as Mr Schilling's contributions to the Wallen books we are all in for a treat. And while I'm on a book theme, perhaps I can thank Henri for his own contribution to the genre through his Novi books. I happened upon him by chance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed one year and listened spellbound as he patiently explained the history of the then newly restored Ralph Hepburn car to an amazed crowd. I ordered the book on the spot and it was worth every penny!

Neville

#5 m.tanney

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Posted 18 July 2003 - 23:19

  Bob Schilling's Rex Mays book is with the publisher, Gary Doyle is working on Ralph DePalma, Bob Gates is writing a book on Bill Vukovich, and Rob Edelstein is doing a bio of Curtis Turner. Life is good. :)

#6 Phil Harms

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Posted 20 July 2003 - 02:31

Originally posted by m.tanney
  Bob Schilling's Rex Mays book is with the publisher, Gary Doyle is working on Ralph DePalma, Bob Gates is writing a book on Bill Vukovich, and Rob Edelstein is doing a bio of Curtis Turner. Life is good. :)


Add to that ---- Dick Wallen's 1970s book will be out this fall and his book on California racing roadsters next year. After the IMCA and CSRA, Buzz is finishing up the first volume of a two book series on CRA (California Racing Assn) which will be out in a couple of months. All are well researched and solid contribution to US auto racing history. Life is indeed good.

#7 Don Capps

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Posted 20 July 2003 - 02:36

:up: :clap: :wave: :up:

#8 Henri Greuter

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Posted 21 July 2003 - 07:44

Thanks for all your replies guys.

Neville, its a small world, thanks for your nice words.
Man it was wet that year at Goodwood, they could almost organize a a display of historic speedboats at the lake within the infield that year....

I can add another book about the same period as Rex's era coming up. Duke Nalon's career is also being written about and if all goes well being published shortly.
No, I'm not involved in this one despite Nalon's activities with the Novi. This Nalon book is a solo project by George Peters, I had the pleasure to co-write with George on the Novi books but this one is by George on his own.
When I have more info on that one, stay tuned.....

Greetings,

Henri Greuter

#9 karlcars

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Posted 21 July 2003 - 08:05

Speaking of Bill Vukovich, Brock Yates says in C/D that he's working on a book about the year 1955 which saw so many racing tragedies, disasters and other ructions. He says that he's interested in hearing from people who have information to provide.

Henri, thanks for your work on the Novis -- which I cited in my Iconografix picture book on those great cars. My book for them on Indy Car of the 1970s should be out soon and there's another in the pipeline on the cars of the 1940s -- a fascinating assortment!

#10 Henri Greuter

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Posted 22 July 2003 - 06:36

To Karl Ludvigsen:

The man you really need to thank is George Peters. He was the one who got the book done to begin with. I could contribute to it and help George to make it better. But while George could have written Novi books on his own and have those published, I couldn't.


Henri Greuter

#11 Henri Greuter

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Posted 19 April 2004 - 07:19

To whom it may concern (again)

I received a message from my friend Bob Schilling again.
Much to my regrest I must inform you that there are some delays yet again due to publisher's problems. (Software related)

So we must remain patient a little longer I'm affraid.

I keep you informed as soon as I hear more.


Best regards,


Henri Greuter

#12 Frank S

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Posted 05 May 2004 - 04:39

Originally posted by Henri Greuter
...I received a message from my friend Bob Schilling again.
Much to my regrest I must inform you that there are some delays yet again due to publisher's problems. (Software related)...

Saturday last I approached Schilling about this. I said, "There are a number of people on The Nostalgia Forum who are expressing dismay about your book's delay."

He mused, "What's that? Must be Henri Greuter did that. I'm not online," and ran off to pass a big envelope to Dick Wallen.

#13 Henri Greuter

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Posted 05 May 2004 - 06:29

Originally posted by Frank S
Saturday last I approached Schilling about this. I said, "There are a number of people on The Nostalgia Forum who are expressing dismay about your book's delay."

He mused, "What's that? Must be Henri Greuter did that. I'm not online," and ran off to pass a big envelope to Dick Wallen.




Frank,

take my word for it, if there is one person disappointed to have to wait so long for Bob's book, it is me. Bob is one of the nicest men in this field and his work for Wallen's tomes can't be praised enough. I sincerely wish he has the satisfaction of seeing a book being printed with his name on the cover. And the Mays book is a great subject. Pity is sin't out during the Month of May, that could have helped sales a bit, I know that from experience.
But then, that was in the pre-IRL era....

By the way, I am not the only one who is reporting about what Bob is up to. In another forum board I read a message about another project of Bob he works on and about which I, for certain, (I swear on whatever you want me to swear on) kept my mouth shut and didn't hit a keyboard. But obviously, that monkey came out of the sack already though I'm not gonna repeat it over here for good reasons.

By the way, I know more bad book news but if you insist on knowing that ....


Henri Greuter

#14 paulhooft

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Posted 05 May 2004 - 17:09

To keep us busy,
alas,
if only for a while..
There is this article in Motor Sport April 2004..
called :
The Nuvolari of America??
so he must have been:
Very Special???
just got it...
Paul

#15 m.tanney

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Posted 05 May 2004 - 18:04

Originally posted by Henri Greuter
In another forum board I read a message about another project of Bob he works on and about which I, for certain, (I swear on whatever you want me to swear on) kept my mouth shut and didn't hit a keyboard. But obviously, that monkey came out of the sack already though I'm not gonna repeat it over here for good reasons.



You aren't referring to the USAC 50th anniversary project, are you? If so, it's not much of a secret - USAC issued a press release about it back in December. They expect the book to be out in the early part of 2006. As Dick Wallen is the publisher, I assume that Bob Schilling is doing the writing. Let's hope that Bob's Rex Mays book is out long before the USAC book.


By the way, I know more bad book news but if you insist on knowing that ....


You might as well tell us, Henri. It's better to know than not know.

Mike

#16 Andy Glaess

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 23:36

Anyone know any updates on this book's status? Has the project died?

Thanks.

#17 David M. Woodhouse

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 01:31

The project is still alive. I see Bob at the Burbank breakfasts and he says that it will finally appear soon, but doesn't have a deminite date.

Woody

#18 Russ Snyder

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 15:05

any updates? I would love too read about one of my Dad's heros

#19 john glenn printz

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 20:34

According to the latest information, Bob's book on Mays is to be published in November 2011. The Title is REX MAYS POLE POSTION and the price is $100. 496 pages with 800 photographs. My information comes from the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame Museum's latest catalog. Just got the catalog in the mail today. Printz

Edited by john glenn printz, 15 November 2011 - 20:49.


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#20 Flat Black 84

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 21:44

It's on my to-buy list.

#21 E1pix

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 06:38

any updates? I would love too read about one of my Dad's heros

Me, too, I'm a buyer for my Dad. He was raised two blocks from the Milwaukee Mile, longtime home of the Rex Mays 150 we attended for years.

#22 m.tanney

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 17:02

I spoke with someone at Dick Wallen's Racing Classics (Mrs. Wallen?) yesterday. It seems that publication has been delayed yet again. It may not be out until after Christmas. Apparently, the delay is due to last minute changes by the author - which is remarkable, given the long gestation period for this book. The Wallens are still taking orders. If you have already ordered, or are planning to order, you might want to check with them about the ETA.

I've waited for years. I guess I can wait a bit longer.

Mike

Edited by m.tanney, 17 November 2011 - 03:12.


#23 helioseism

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 15:32

Seems that the book will be released on Feb. 25, with signing at Autobooks-Aerobooks in Burbank, LA, California:

Link!


And it can be ordered.

Edited by helioseism, 10 February 2012 - 15:35.


#24 B Squared

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 16:38

It must be out already, as my Dad has received his copy.

#25 m.tanney

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 17:52

I got my copy a few days ago. Is it worth $100US? YES. Was it worth the long, long wait? YES.

I'm only about 250 pages into it, with over 200 pages to go. I have no hesitation in saying that this is one of the best driver biographies I've ever read, American or otherwise. It is a racing driver biography that focuses on the racing - which, sadly, is not always the case these days. Schilling did a massive amount of research and it shows. Example: I've read about rumours that Mays was offered a Grand Prix drive. Schilling looks at two instances. He even reprints the correspondence. Then he gives a logical explanation as to why it didn't happen.

Schilling also does a great job of setting the scene - be it California racing in the early 1930s or AAA racing and the Indy 500 in the '30s and '40s. A reader who has little or no knowledge of American racing in Mays' era can read this book and not feel lost.

The photos are amazing. Most are from the Mays family collection. You would think they would just have photos of Rex. Mays collected racing photos and pictures of his contemporaries too. It's a treasure-trove.

This is a great book. I recommend it highly. I shall be very interested to know what people who really know about this era of American racing have to say about it - Mr. Printz and Mr. Ferner in particular.

#26 chsutherland

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 18:27

My uncle Bob owned a few of his old Bowes Seal Fast cars. '39 Bowes and a Miller Novi, he also had the pole position car that Mays drove in '48. Uncle Bob has a bunch of Miller's before he passed away in '99. He loved them. Sounds like I'll have to order :)

craig

#27 Russ Snyder

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 18:43

I got my copy a few days ago. Is it worth $100US? YES. Was it worth the long, long wait? YES.

I'm only about 250 pages into it, with over 200 pages to go. I have no hesitation in saying that this is one of the best driver biographies I've ever read, American or otherwise. It is a racing driver biography that focuses on the racing - which, sadly, is not always the case these days. Schilling did a massive amount of research and it shows. Example: I've read about rumours that Mays was offered a Grand Prix drive. Schilling looks at two instances. He even reprints the correspondence. Then he gives a logical explanation as to why it didn't happen.

Schilling also does a great job of setting the scene - be it California racing in the early 1930s or AAA racing and the Indy 500 in the '30s and '40s. A reader who has little or no knowledge of American racing in Mays' era can read this book and not feel lost.

The photos are amazing. Most are from the Mays family collection. You would think they would just have photos of Rex. Mays collected racing photos and pictures of his contemporaries too. It's a treasure-trove.

This is a great book. I recommend it highly. I shall be very interested to know what people who really know about this era of American racing have to say about it - Mr. Printz and Mr. Ferner in particular.


very cool...

was one reason given the old tale that Rex did not want to wear a Tuxedo at formal gatherings?

... waiting a long time for this one.

I deserve a valentines day gift this year!




#28 m.tanney

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 19:10

very cool...

was one reason given the old tale that Rex did not want to wear a Tuxedo at formal gatherings?

... waiting a long time for this one.

I deserve a valentines day gift this year!


Schilling mentions the tuxedo story - without comment. He also refers to concerns aout the political situation in Europe, citing Dorothy Mays as his source. According to Schilling, it was really a matter of logistics - there was no way Maserati could pull it off, assuming that Mays wanted to take the offer. Yes, the offer was from Maserati, not Alfa Romeo, as many have assumed.

Schilling also follows up on the fate of some of Mays' cars. Yes, he mentions Bob Sutherland.

Edited by m.tanney, 10 February 2012 - 19:41.


#29 Russ Snyder

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 20:15

Schilling mentions the tuxedo story - without comment. He also refers to concerns aout the political situation in Europe, citing Dorothy Mays as his source. According to Schilling, it was really a matter of logistics - there was no way Maserati could pull it off, assuming that Mays wanted to take the offer. Yes, the offer was from Maserati, not Alfa Romeo, as many have assumed.

Schilling also follows up on the fate of some of Mays' cars. Yes, he mentions Bob Sutherland.



m.tanney

bingo! a big thanks.

WW2 was on the brink at that point, with poor Czcheslovakia next in line....makes sense that unrest would cause second thoughts.

and i am guessing, he just liked racing in America?

Ted Horn, Wilbur Shaw, Rex Mays, Louis Meyer...it would have been interesting to see those men compete in Europe, and given time, pretty sure some would have been sucessful.

again, this is one of the best bits'o'news I have seen in a while!

#30 Michael Ferner

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 21:23

Seems that the book will be released on Feb. 25, with signing at Autobooks-Aerobooks in Burbank, LA, California:

Link!


And it can be ordered.


Well, that is one stupid website!

I have waited for this book so long, seems like I'll have to wait for an offer by a bookseller who's actually interested in selling, not in puzzling future customers :well:

SIGH!!!

#31 m.tanney

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 23:57

Well, that is one stupid website!

I have waited for this book so long, seems like I'll have to wait for an offer by a bookseller who's actually interested in selling, not in puzzling future customers :well:

SIGH!!!


My reading of the Autobooks-Aerobooks website is that the book is available now and the booksigning is on the 25th. I am surprised that Autobook-Aerobooks is charging $125 for it. Dick Wallen only wants $100 plus postage. The Wallens are good people but they don't make it easy to do business with them. You can't order off their website. They don't give an email address. Their 800 number is hit-and-miss. The shipping costs are on their brochures but not on the website. I can't find the brochure, so I can't tell you how much it is to Europe. It was $30 to Canada (the cost of buying books from the U.S. has gone up in recent years). The National Sprint Car Hall of Fame has the Rex Mays book. It also has it priced at $100. I have no idea what their shipping costs are. At least you can email them.

Hope this helps.

Mike

P.S. I suppose I should add that I have no connection with the author or anyone involved in the sale of this book. I'm just really pleased with it. I would like to see it do well. If it does, maybe there will be more like it in the future.

#32 fbarrett

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 02:17

Folks:

Who is the publisher of the Rex Mays book?

Thanks,

Frank

#33 m.tanney

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 03:08

Folks:

Who is the publisher of the Rex Mays book?

Thanks,

Frank


I assumed it was Dick Wallen. I was wrong. This is the publisher:

Race Data Press
P.O. Box 989
South Pasedena, CA
91031-0989
email: robwalco at aol.com

There doesn't seem to be a website.

The book was printed by the same firm that does Dick Wallen's books. It is in the same format and on the same glossy paper as the Wallen and Buzz Rose books. It lines up nicely with them on the bookshelf.

Edited by m.tanney, 11 February 2012 - 05:00.


#34 Michael Ferner

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 10:58

Thanks, Mike, for the tips - I shall be ordering the book soon.

#35 john glenn printz

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 20:35

Got my copy on Friday February 17th!

With Bob Schilling's POLE POSITION REX MAYS we now have a book which gives more coverage and information about the AAA seasons 1934 to 1949 than any other single source. Along with Wilbur Shaw's autobiography (1955), Gene Banning's book about Sparks (1983), and L. Spencer Rigg's Langhorne treatise (2008), the period of U.S. open wheel racing 1930 to 1950 is largely cleared up and finally delineated. Schilling covers it all, i.e. the midgets, sprint cars, and the AAA Champ cars.

The thing that strikes me most, after looking at Schilling's tome, is the huge difference between the years 1930-1950 and the 1920s in U.S. motor racing. Griffith Borgeson's GOLDEN AGE and Schilling's REX MAYS don't overlap at all and seem to take place in entirely different worlds. U.S. racing for the years 1930 to 1950 was insular, downbeat because of the great Depression (1929-1939) & World War II (no major races 1942-1945), and was also largely remote from the European scene.

In Europe the Bugattis, Alfa Romeos, and Maseratis were supreme during 1930-1935 and after that the Germans with the Auto-Unions and the Mecedes-Benz's in 1936-1939 reigned absolutely. The two separate groupings, the U.S. and the European, only really came together twice, during the Vanderbilt Cup races of 1936 and 1937.

With Schilling's work on Mays we now have a classic book on a very hitherto obscure era of AAA National Championship racing (1930-1950). I recommend Schilling's new book without any criticisms or qualifications at all. If anyone wants to learn about American big-league open wheel during the two decades, 1930 to 1950, this work will be the place to start. It's perusal and ownership is now absolutely required and is essential.

P.S. The photo on page 201 is not the Sparks' "big 6", but Mays' 8C-35 type Alfa Romeo. I note on page 19 that the man sitting in Wade Morton's Duesenberg No. 9 is not Morton himself but rather Peter Kreis (1900-1934). For page 284 I will add that the two Langhorne 100 milers staged on June 16, 1940 and June 24, 1941, both won by Duke Nalon in "Poison Lil", differed from the genuine AAA National Championship races by more than just the prize money put up. Both of these Langhorne 100 mile contests were for sprint cars proper and ran under the AAA sprint car engine regulations. At the time the maximum piston displacement allowed for sprint cars was 205 cubic inches, while the Champ cars were allowed up to 274 cubic inches unsupercharged.

Edited by john glenn printz, 09 May 2012 - 20:03.


#36 Russ Snyder

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 16:42

Got my copy via pony express...and it was worth every mile that the ponies traversed

Frank Brisko - never knew he had no love for Rex until this book.

Joel Wolfe Thorne - The picture of him in wheelchair 'talking' to Rudi about the track at INDY circa 1946...then Rudi wrecks the thorne engineering little 6 into the wall. The chapter about Thorne is very interesting and gives some more insight into this very strange character.

Wilbur Shaw - 1940 winner Indy 500..... according to Mr Schilling, 1940 race had very little rain to cause its yellow bunting for the last 125 miles.....only a section of the N/E turn (3) was receiving the drizzle after a few laps and Rex was very angry being stuck in second place. Rex either wanted to resume the race...or stop race and continue when drizzle was over. Author says that Rex stuck his arm in the air everytime he passed the officials at the starting line. Whispers of indiana officials doing their indiana hometown boy(Shaw) a favor over the california (Rex) is made by the author through Sam Hanks, although he does mention Rex forgot about it the minute the race was over.

so much more to get to....

the pictures alone make this book worth the price and wait.

Edited by Russ Snyder, 07 March 2012 - 18:51.


#37 ensign14

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 19:23

*makes note for later*

*calculates life expectancy*

*works out all will be fine if e14 lives to 238*

#38 Michael Ferner

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 16:24

For page 284 I will add that the two Langhorne 100 milers staged on June 16, 1940 and June 24, 1941, both won by Duke Nalon in "Poison Lil", differed from the genuine AAA National Championship races by more than just the prize money put up. Both of these Langhorne 100 mile contests were for sprint cars proper and ran under the AAA sprint car engine regulations. At the time the maximin piston displacement allowed for sprint cars was 205 cubic inches, while the Champ cars were allowed up to 274 cubic inches unsupercharged.


Sorry, John, but that is not quite correct. There was no difference between Champ Car and Sprint Car regulations at all in 1940*, and the only reason for the Langhorne race not to be included in the National Championship was indeed the size of the purse. The 205 cu in limit was only effective in 1941, as it was replaced by a 210 cu in rule in 1946 (no AAA races in between). However, the same engine size (205 cu in) also applied for AAA races in the Pacific Southwest during 1934 and 1935, possibly also after that - elsewhere, 366 cu in was the limit until 1937.

* Actually, there were no Champ or Sprint Cars in 1940, only Big Cars. All these cars were built to the same regulations, whether they raced at Indy, on a mile-track or a half.

#39 Russ Snyder

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 13:14

I have a much better understanding why so many driver's went over the wall's in the turn's between 1911-1935...the outside retaining wall would be better called 'outside launching ramp'.

Pic of Al Gordon upside down in turn 3/NE, laying on the wall/launching ramp.

I can see why men like Al Aspen, Bill Denver, Peter Kreis, Wilbur Shaw, Chet Miller...and many many more....went over the wall's with such ferocity and speed, some to their death's, other's with barely a scratch! simply amazing photograps and information in this book.




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#40 john glenn printz

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 18:09

Dear Michael;

I've gone through and reviewed my 1940 and 1941 data which I have not probably looked at since the mid-1980s. You are absolutely correct that the 205 cubic inch limit for the Eastern AAA regional title began with the 1941 season, so it would not have applied to the 1940 Langhorne 100 staged on June 16. I was in total error here. I still believe that the 1941 Langhorne 100 miler (June 22) was held under a 205 cublc inch limit with no supercharging allowed. In fairness also to Bob Schilling on page 284, he mentions only the 1940 Langhorne 100, not that of 1941.

The so-called "open wheel" cars that ran in the 1940 regional AAA title races (Mid-West and Eastern) were not generally or more normally of the same identity, caliber, or quality as the AAA National Championship vehicles proper. That would also be true for the AAA drivers. It would seem that both the cars and pilots which took part in the 1940 Langhorne 100 were the same as ran generally in the AAA 1940 regional divisions. There was however some definite overlap and crossover. For example, the winning "Poison Lil" car had run at Syracuse in both 1937 and 1938 Championship contests, as driven by Rex Mays. Poison Lil was not in 1933 originally built as a Championship division vehicle, but was made for use in the single seat AAA Pacific Coast regional division. And the ubiguitous Ted Horn raced in both the AAA regional and National Championship divisions. It would be of interest to know if the Langhorne 100s of 1940 and 1941 counted in points for the Eastern AAA regional title. I have no idea.

The 1940 and 1941 Langhorne 100s had a large number of entries and certainly most of their drivers and cars were not from the AAA National Championship ranks. My best guess is that the Langhorne fields here were the same that generally took part in the AAA Eastern division title chases for 1940 and 1941. In the 1940 pre-race hype for the Langhorne 100, it was stated that Ralph Hankinson had sent entry forms to the top ten finishing drivers at the 1940 Indianapolis 500. This actually meant nothing at all, for how many would come? This hypthetical Indy contingent was to be matched up supposely with the pilots of the AAA Eastern regional title series, i.e. names like Ora Bean, Mark Light, Johnny Matera, Dominic Muscatelli, Vic Nauman, Buddy Rusch, Johnny Ulesky, Gus Zarka, etc. Were these the normal or regular AAA National Championship drivers? And just where were all the Champ division AAA pilots like Cantlon, Connor, Davis, Mays, Petillo, G. Robson, Rose, Russo, Stapp, Thorne, etc.? Wilbur Shaw, the 1940 Indianapolis winner, was missing also but Wilbur had quit running on dirt tracks after failing to qualify at Syracuse on September 12, 1937.

What it all amounted to was just Hankinson's exaggerated pre-race publicity. Ted Horn was the only top ten 1940 Indianapolis finisher in the 1940 Langhorne 100 starting lineup. I just don't think that the 1940 Langhorne 100 differed from the a genuine National Championship race by just the prize money put up. In general both the quality of the pilots and cars present was vastly inferior to a National Championship contest. Contemporary data on the two Langhorne 100s of 1940 and 1941 is scanty indeed! I have never seen an entry list, a complete box score, let alone the engine or vehicle regulation requirements for either one. Although both races were for "big-cars" I would venture to say that the open wheel sprint cars used in the 1940 regional titles differed from the more normal cars used generally in the AAA National Championship events proper. The wheelbase requirements were probably different, as was the vehicle weight limits, minimum width, and supercharging may have been banned. I just don't know. I would like to see some 1940 AAA Contest Board Bulletins dealing with the AAA regional title car specifications then in use.

The term "big-car" seems during the years 1935 to 1950 to refer to both the AAA sprint cars and the Champ division vehicles proper. The term may have originated during the late 1930s to differentiate these machines from the open wheel "midgets" whose popularity greatly increased in the late 1930s and the 1940s. Midget racing began in California during 1933 and quickly spread eastward. The designation "big-car" may have been first used by the racing promotor's advertising and PR men, to keep a clear distinction between the midgets and the larger open wheel cars. Although the name "sprint car" may indeed be a historical anachronism with regard to 1940 and 1941, I think it is O.K. to use it with regard to the open wheel vehicles which ran in the pre-World War II AAA regional title contests. They were then the next level of open wheelers below the National Championship cars.

It must be admitted that the situation is a bit confused, but such is my current understanding. When I first began to follow racing in 1953, the term "big car" had largely fallen out of use. The AAA "open wheel" nomenclature generally used during the 1950s was triparite, 1 Championship cars, 2. sprints cars, and 3. the mighty midgets.

Edited by john glenn printz, 09 May 2012 - 20:07.


#41 Michael Ferner

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 17:07

John, I didn't mean to say that these races were of equal "status" to a National Championship event - the reduced purse effectively saw to it that many of the "National" drivers and car owners stayed away! It's just that the effective rules for these races, for both cars and drivers, were at least essentially the same, except for the displacement limit in 1941 (which may only have been effective on a half-mile track!). I don't think there was a minimum wheelbase for Champ Cars until 1951, although I still can't prove it. But there were numerous Sprint Cars running in National Championship 100-milers, even at Indianapolis up until 1950, like "Poison Lil", for example, or the "Iddings Special".

I'm 99 % sure the Langhorne races counted towards the Eastern Regional ("Sprint Car") Championship both years. In 1941, Duke Nalon raced mainly in the Midwest, but was listed with 218 Eastern points in August. He would've scored 180 points with his win at Langhorne, and the only other Eastern event I have him in is a Williams Grove 15-miler where he finished third. That, along with a 3rd place finish in a WG heat, brings his tally up to 204 points, close enough to the 218 in the August standings. I don't see how he could've scored that many points without the Langhorne result.

I, too, would like to see more official documentation about these races. I only have the top 8 or 9 finishers, plus a few retirements. A full entry list, or even car specifications would be really nice! :)

#42 Michael Ferner

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 21:47

I found something interesting re Sprint/Champ Car regulations during the late prewar years: in both 1940 and '41, the New York State Fair in Syracuse scheduled two races, a "sprint program for the regular dirt track cars" and the 100-miler for "Indianapolis type" cars. The latter were more specifically described in a 1940 NARN article as the type "which conforms to the International formula including the regualtion body width and four wheel brakes"!

#43 Russ Snyder

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 14:12

Schilling mentions the tuxedo story - without comment. He also refers to concerns aout the political situation in Europe, citing Dorothy Mays as his source. According to Schilling, it was really a matter of logistics - there was no way Maserati could pull it off, assuming that Mays wanted to take the offer. Yes, the offer was from Maserati, not Alfa Romeo, as many have assumed.

1. Tuxedo - author does mention that most pics of Rex show him in relaxed attire

2. Unrest in Europe

3. Not clear on contract


and the author mentions one other item that is easy to forget in 2012

4. The Hindenburg Disaster @ Lakewood NJ May 6th 1937. - its demise, and demise of the German airships, played as big a part if any in keeping Rex Mays and other US based drivers from crossing the maginot line of water. As well as those in Europe making it over for Indy 500's, and possibly more US based races.

Today we cross the Atlantic quickly and efficeintly (save the jokes) compared to the 1930's.

Edited by Russ Snyder, 11 April 2012 - 14:49.


#44 Russ Snyder

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 15:12

FYI - the 1939 Indy 500 is now available. approx 30 mins of footage and interviews with Wilbur shaw, Jimmy Snyder, Babe Stapp, Lou Meyer.

Mr Schilling make's a point about the 1946 Indy 500 race as 'a boring runaway with Ralph Hepburn in the Novi until it broke down and went out of the race'

My late Dad thought otherwise and would disagree with Mr Schilling ..... Russ Snyder III circa 1990's "the 1946 Indy 500 was very exciting, one of the best I have seen yet. Ralph Hepburn had the advantage over every car on the track and we were whooping and yelling everytime he went by. From our seat we saw him taking different lines and making wild moves down the front stretch, over taking into turn 1 and pulling away in the S short chute. We had never seen such power and daring"



#45 luckytampa

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 23:54

I found something interesting re Sprint/Champ Car regulations during the late prewar years: in both 1940 and '41, the New York State Fair in Syracuse scheduled two races, a "sprint program for the regular dirt track cars" and the 100-miler for "Indianapolis type" cars. The latter were more specifically described in a 1940 NARN article as the type "which conforms to the International formula including the regualtion body width and four wheel brakes"!


Indeed, Michael, the adoption of the International Formula by the Contest Board in 1938 did accentuate the differences once more between the cars usually found on the dirt track circuit and the cars focused on the International Sweepstakes. Ironically, it was an US entry blank that provided the sliding displacement/weight scale for the formula for most of us.