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Indianapolis 'Junk Formula'


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#1 Don Capps

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Posted 12 February 2004 - 14:00

Somewhere in the depths of TNF, recently there was a question about the so-called "Junk Formula" and when it was actually created.

On 18 December 1928, the management of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosted a meeting to which it had invited several of the chief engineers from the American automobile industry, members of the technical press, and "others." The purpose was to review the current Champsionship formula and consider a replacement. The formula discussed was specifically for Indianapolis, but the AAA Contest Board involved from the begining through the presence of E.V. Rickenbacker (formerly Rickenbacher and Richenbacher prior to that) in the presidency position of both organizations.

"At the request of the Speedway, these engineers drew up a set of regulations designed to return a type of car less expensive, less specialized and calculated to furnish experimental departments with more constant and tangible lessons of value in every-day motor car designing and building."

Initially, this formula was to apply to only Indianapolis on 30 May 1930, but....

The specification for the 1930 Indinapolis event were laid out in the 17 January 1929 Official Bulletin of the AAA Contest Board. Hope that this set the record straight on when the "Junk Formula" was created.

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#2 David McKinney

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Posted 12 February 2004 - 14:13

Thanks, Don
More or less as I thought, but giving a more formal tag to it

BTW and OT - you've got me intrigued with the spelling of EVR's surname. The one reference I recall to a change of spelling was that it was "Rickenbacker - he replaced the 'h' with a 'k' in WW1". Not very helpful, as, no matter how many times I counted, I couldn't get fewer than two 'k's in the later spelling. I couldn't tell therefore whether it was originally Richenbacker, Rickenbacher or Richenbacher. Now you say there were two name changes. So the obvious question is, when did each occur?

#3 Henri Greuter

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Posted 12 February 2004 - 14:46

Interesting that many people still believe that the Junk forumal was a resilt of the Wall Street Crash & resulting Depression Era....

The only thing I still don't understand after all these years is that they mandated two man cars, instantly doubling the risk for fatal accidents. There must have been decent reasons for that.
Don, did you ever find out anything about that?

Henri Greuter

#4 Don Capps

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Posted 12 February 2004 - 16:07

David,
I believe that EVR's family were German-Swiss and when they arrived in the US, it was "Richenbacher." At some point soon after it was changed to "Rickenbacher." EVR raced as "Eddie Rickenbacher" during his time on the tracks. Not until 1917 did he become "Eddie Rickenbacker."

Henri,
The presence of the engineers from the American automobile industry I think were a major factor in this requirement for two-seater machines. There was a major push by EVR and others to bring racing on the National Championship Trail back to something similar that had existed until Louis Chevrolet, Harry Miller, and the Duesenbergs grasped the obvious advantages of the single-seater. EVR, the IMS, and the AAA CB wanted cars more like what had been raced up until perhaps 1920 or 1921 on the NCT -- specials based on modified production cars. Starting in 1930, they is pretty much what they returned to, two-man cockpits and all. It was not a unamiously acclaimed move, I can recall reading the a few were not thrilled over the prospect of two-man cockpits.

Overall, the formula used at Indianapolis and on the NTC from 1930 to 1937 was pretty interesting. A pity that Daimler-Benz AG or Auto-Union AG did not decide to contest the International Sweepstakes during this period. Now, that would have been very interesting to say the least.

One result of this formula was the realization on the part of Pop Myers and others was that the IMS needed to get back into the realm of international racing, hence the commitment to use the new International Formula for 1938-1941 almost as soon as it was announced. Plus, from 1938 on the International Sweepstakes events were also often called the "Indianapolis Grand Prix" by more than a few to include being called that in print.

#5 WDH74

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Posted 13 February 2004 - 01:56

If'n I remember rightly, EVR was detained and searched at port in New York after the outbreak of the Great War, but before America's entrance, because of the spelling of his name. He was suspected of being a spy because of his Greman sounding name, which prompted the final "k" to be added.

Weren't matters of cost involved in the junk formula as well? Not necessarily stock market crash related, but in cost of racing, period?

#6 Don Capps

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Posted 13 February 2004 - 03:52

Since I am not sure that many have seen the specifications of the formula, here is the proposal that came out of the 18 December 1928 meeting, forwarded to the AAA Contest Board, and then published in the 17 January 1929 Official Bulletin:

1. CARS ELIGIBLE FOR INDIANAPOLIS, MAY 30, 1930 -- In general specificiation laid down for the above race are designed to produce either (a) a car susceptible of adaption from production car chasses, ot (b) development cars that embody new engneering principles or adaptions as contrasted against what may be termed "normal" cars. All cars must pass satisfactorily the inspection of the Race Technical Committee as to safety of design and construction, otherwise full freedom is given within the general restrictions imposed in the following rules.

2. DISPLACEMENT -- Cars will be limited to a maximum piston dsplacement of 366 cu. in. (6000cc or 6 litres).

3. WHEEL BASE -- There will be no restriction on wheel base other than the general restriction that the car must be handleable.

4. WEIGHT -- A minimum weight of 7 1/2 pounds per cubic inch displacement is fixed with a final minumum of weight irrespective of displacement of 1750 pounds.

The weight shall be that of the completed car but without fuel, oil or water. A formula may be used to obviate actual drainage of the oil.

5. THREAD -- The tread measured at the center of tire contact with the road must lie between 54 and 60 inches.

6. BODY TYPE AND MEASUREMENTS -- The cars must have bodies with two seats, with the body width across the driver's seat not lass than 31 inches at the base of the seat. The seat for the mechanician must be along side the driver, although it may be staggered not more than 12 inches with respct to the driver's seat.

7. VALVE MECHANISM -- In popprt valve type gasoline engines a limit is placed of two valves per cylinder. No restriction is made as the number of valves in any other type, for example, sleeve, rotary valves, and so on, or in Diesel engines.

8. SUPERCHARGER -- On four-cycle gasoline engines, supercharging is prohibited. A positive displacement supercharger may be used on two-cycles or Diesel engines.

9. CARBURETORS, NUMBER OF -- Not more than two carburetors may be used on four-cycle gasoline engines. A duplex carburetor even though it has but a single float chamber will be regarded as two carburetors. No restriction for 1930 will be made in the number or type of carburetors or manifolding in the case of two-cycle, Diesel or semi-Diesel or turbine engines.

10. BRAKES -- Two independently operated systems of brakes will be required on every car. The secondary system must not be vulnerable to any failure of the primary system. The primary system must operate effectively on all four wheels and be capable of continued use without failure and of arresting the car within reasonable limits. A standard test as to braking effectiveness will be devised by the Indianapolis Race Committee.

The Secondary system need be effective on but two wheels and must be capable of arresting the car form hundred-mile-an-hour speed not less than five times in succession without failure. A detailed test for both effectiveness and repeated operation will be laid down by the Indianapolis Race Committee.

11. TRANSMISSION -- The transmission system must incorporate a declutching device and a reverse as well as a forward speed.

12. NAME -- The following regulations will govern the naming of all cars in this class.

All names are subject to the approval of the Contest Board at the time of registration. The initial naming of a car must be made not later than the date of closing of entries of the first competition in which it is entered.

CARS MAY BE NAMED

(a) after a manufacturer, provided the main components (that is, presumed to be the engine and transmission at least) are designed by said manufacturer. The intention is to permit factories to race either under the name of their product or incognito, as they prefer. If under their trade-mark name, the factory should at least design and have supervision during the construction of its cars. Factoris will not be permitted to race a prduct of their own in the case if cars purchased already constructed. All disputed cases are to be referred to the National Technical Committee of the Contest Board who as a committee od the whole will hear the evidence pro and con and their decision will be final:

(b) after the owner or owner-driver. This is to permit any race car to be named after itd bona fide owner:

© after a recognized accessory in national use and upon regular sale. Provided that the accessory designated must actually be used in its regular way in or upon the car.

NAMES PROHIBITED -- A car may not named after a manufacturer by others unless the writen consent of the manufacturer concerned is filed with the Contest Board on or before the first application fro registration, nor is a car to be permitted to resemble the product of any American manufacturer without such written consent. This regulation applies particularly to radiator, hood, hub caps, and other individual characteristics.

No change in name after the initial christening may be made without first obtaining approval of the Contest Board. In general, cars named for a manufacturer or an accessory will be required to be altered substanially in appearance. In no case will they be permitted to be named for a second manufacturer. They may be permitted to be anmed for a second accessory provided there is a bona fide sale and the new accessory is actually used, as in the first instance. There is no intention to restrict the renaming of cars after new private owners. In all cases, however, notice must be given the Contest Board not less than 30 days prior to the authorized use of the new name even where permission is granted.

Val Haresnape
Secretary, Contest Board


But, Wait! There's More!

In the 25 March 1930 Official Bulletin of the AAA Contest Board, the regualtions for the 1930 National Championship Trail events appeared:

CHAMPIONSHIP EVENTS

1. No race will be allowed in championship schedule where total prize money is less than $50 per mile. Promoters may at their option increase the pirse in the interest of attracting entries.

2. Championship races must have a minimum of 100 miles of racing either in one event or a combination of sprint events.

3. Championship races may be held on circular tracks one mile or more in length and on the Altoona, Pa., Akron, Ohio and Bridgeville, Pa. Board Speedways, provided the type of improvements, track construction and general condition warrant, and after complying with any other special requirements which may be ordered by the Contest Board.

4. (a) Mechanics shall be permitted to ride only at Indianapolis and in 100-mile dirt track events.

(b) In such events and when in competition with one-man cars, the use of a mechanic is two-man cars shall be optional with the driver thereof.

5. Promoters of championship race meets shall be permitted to nominate the type of cars to compete in their meets during 1930, except as hereinafter provided:

(a) Supercharged cars shall be barred from specially constructed board speedways;

(b) All races held in the champinship circuit shall be oipen to those cars complying with the 1930 Indianapolis specificiations.

6. No superchargers or compressors will be permitted in racing in the championship circuit effective January 1, 1931.

7. More than one championship race may be held on the same day, providing the distances intervening eliminates direct competition for patronage.

T.E. Allen
Assistant Secretary



If there is any intrest, I will also print the material from the 1 November 1930 Official Bulletin concerning the regulations for the 1931 season.

#7 Henri Greuter

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Posted 13 February 2004 - 16:02

Qoute by Don Capps,

Overall, the formula used at Indianapolis and on the NTC from 1930 to 1937 was pretty interesting. A pity that Daimler-Benz AG or Auto-Union AG did not decide to contest the International Sweepstakes during this period. Now, that would have been very interesting to say the least.


===

Don, I think the answer why the Silberpfeile never competed in that era is rather simple:
Junk formula rules only allowed supercharging on twostroke engines and both M-B and A-U had supercharged fourstroke engines within their GP machinery. And if they really believed Indy was worthe all the efforts? Not only building twoseater chassis but also new engines or at best, prepare new engines for Indy, using an existing one already.

AAA really made it very difficult for Europeans to compete in the continent with these rules.

By the way, thanks far starting this thread, it's a neat one, your info much appreciated.


Henri Greuter

#8 Don Capps

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Posted 14 February 2004 - 16:33

Henri, the formula would change during the period of the formula so that the Vanderbilt Cup events of 1936 and 1937 would be possible. The Europeans could have entered the 1936 and later events at Indianpolis had they desired.....

For those few interested, more from this period....

** From the 14 February 1930 AAA Contest Board Official Bulletin:

GRAND PRIX TROPHY - A most pleasant surprise was the announcement by Mrs. George H. Fearons, Jr. at the January meeting of the Contest Bard that Automobile Club of America had decided again to place the Grand Prix Gold Cup in competition. This famous old trophy had been on display in the foyer of the ACA headquarters since 1916, when it was last raced for at the Santa Monica Grand Prix Road Race. A new deed of gift has been prepared whereby it will be annually awarded the winner of the Indianapolis "500" and will be loaned the winner upon posting satisfactory bond until one month before the next year's race.

We understand that "Pop" Myers has been deluged with requests for Indianapolis specifications and the prospects are for a most represntative field of entries.

** 1931 AAA Contest Board Official Competition Rules book:

Appendix F: The A.A.A. Annual Championship Driver's Award

1916 -- Dario Resta
1917 -- Earl Cooper
1918 -- Ralph Mulford
1919 -- Howard Wilcox
1920 -- Gaston Chevrolet
1921 -- Tommy Milton
1922 -- Jimmy Murphy
1923 -- Eddie Hearne
1924 -- Jimmy Murphy
1925 -- Peter DePaolo
1926 -- Harry Hartz
1927 -- Peter DePaolo
1928 -- Louis Meyer
1929 -- Louis Meyer
1930 -- Billy Arnold

Appendix L: Record of Championship Drivers 1909-1930 Inclusive

1909 -- Bert Dingley
1910 -- Ray Harroun
1911 -- Ralph Mulford
1912 -- Ralph DePalma
1913 -- Earl Cooper
1914 -- Ralph DePalma
1915 -- Earl Cooper
1916 -- Dario Resta
1917 -- Earl Cooper
1918 -- Ralph Mulford
1919 -- Howard Wilcox
1920 -- Gaston Chevrolet
1921 -- Tommy Milton
1922 -- Jimmy Murphy
1923 -- Eddie Hearne
1924 -- Jimmy Murphy
1925 -- Peter DePaolo
1926 -- Harry Hartz
1927 -- Peter DePaolo
1928 -- Louis Meyer
1929 -- Louis Meyer
1930 -- Billy Arnold

** From the 1 November 1930 Official Bulletin of the AAA Contest Board:

At a meeting of the Contest Board held at Detroit, October 13, 1930, the following regulations were adopted to govern both championship and general racing during 1931.

Championship Events

1 -- No race will be accepted in the championship schedule where total prize money is less than $50 per mile. Promoters may at their option increase the purse in the interest of attracting entries.

2 -- Championship races must have a minimum of 100 miles of reacing either in one event or a combination of sprint events.

3 -- Championship races may be held on circular tracks one mile or more in length an on the Altoona, Pa., Speedway, provided the type of improvements, track construction and general condition warrant, and after complying with any other special requirements which may be ordered by the Contest Board.

4 -- Mechanics must ride in all championship events.

5 -- It shall be compulsory for the first five drivers in the championship schedule to compete in all championship races. Promoters shall have the privilege of excusing any driver with the right of appeal by the driver or the promoter to the Contest Board.

6 -- Entries for all 1931 championship races shall be restricted to those cars complying with the 1931 Indianapolis specifications:
(a) Piston Displacement - 366 cu. in. and under;
(b) Wheelbase - No restriction; must be handleable;
© Weight - Minimum 7 1/2 lbs. per h.p., final minimum 1,750 lbs.;
(d) Tread - Measured at the center of tire must be between 54 and 60 inches;
(e) Bodies - Two-seated; minimum width across driver's seat - 31 inches; mechanic's seat permitted stagger of not more than 12 inches;
(f) Valves - Not more than 4 per cylinder;
(g) Superchargers barred except positive displacement supercharged may be used on two-cycle engines;
(h) Carburetors - Not more than one for each two cylinders; duplex carburetors, regardless of float equipment, regarded as two carburetors; no restriction on two-cycle, Diesel, semi-diesel or turbine type engines;
(i) Brakes - System must operate effectively on all four wheels and be capable of arresting car within reasonable limits, even should a linkage member of one system fail;
(j) Transmission - Must have declutching device and recerse as well as forward speed gearing;
(k) Gasoline tanks must be constructed and supported in such a manner to insure against breakage;
(l) All cars must be equipped be equipped with a metal fire dash and if aluminum is used it must be not less than 3/16" in thickness.

7 -- Promoters will be required to state on the entry the number of cars to start, the date and time of closing of entries, and whether or not prize money posted will be paid on the order of finish in the event nd the respective cars fail to finish the full number of laps.

General Racing Regulations

1 -- The use of superchargers on four-cycle engines shall be barred on and after January 1, 1931, as set forth in Bulletin No. 33 issued March 25, 1930, and sustained by the Contest Board in regular meeting assembled at Detroit, October 13, 1930;

2 -- All non-championship competitive race meets shall be held under open specifications up to 366 cu. in. displacement;

3 -- No sanction will be granted for any competitive race meet where the total prize money posted for the day's events is less then $750.00, but the Contest Board reserves the right to increase this requirement in any individual case should the circumstances in their opinion warrant;

4 -- "Percentage races" will not be permitted nor will a sanction be granted for an program where the prize money for the day is to be calculated upon a percentage of the gate receipts, except under unusual circumstances, a detail explanation of which shall accompany the sanction application, and only then with the provision that the minimum total purse of $750.00 shall be be posted in accordance with Art. 290-B of the Official Competition Rules;

5 -- In the interest of safety and protection and protection, no further sanction will be granted to the half-mile speedways at Akron, Ohio, Bridgeville, Pa., and Woodbridge, N.J., pursuant to a resolution passed by the Contest Board in the regular meeting assembled at Detroit, October 13, 1930;

6 -- All cars must be equipped with a metal fire dash and if aluminum is used it must be not less than 3/16" in thickness;

7 -- Any car developing a gasoline leak during the progress of an event, shall be required to stop at the pits the succeeding lap for examination. A driver failing to observe this regulation will be given the white and may be barred from firther participation in the event.

T.E. Allen
Secretary

#9 Don Capps

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Posted 14 February 2004 - 17:12

From Automobile Racing, Second Edition, by Ray F. Kuns, 1932:

How To Become Registered As An A.A.A. Race Driver by Contest Board

First -- The applicant must be 21 years of age or over.

Second -- A preliminary examination of the applicant's ability to ahndle a race car at high speed on the track will be made. At all sanctioned meets a Field Respresentative of the Contest Board is always in attandance. The day before or the morning of the race this represntative will arrange for a test of the applicant's abilitiy as follows:

(a) One lap of the track, at a speed of no less than 7 seconds slower than track record on 1/2 mile dirt track, 12 seconds slower than track record on 1 mile dirt track and proportionately slower on tracks of greater lenght.

(b) Three laps of track either paced or followed by a registered A.A.A. drivers of several years' rracing experience who is qualified to pass on applicant's handling of his car on turns and straightaways.

© Providing these two tests are passed satisfactorily, the applicant will be permitted to start in the day's racing program, his entry being confined, where both sprint and long-distance events are scheduled to the sprints only. If performance in the sprint events warrant it, he will be permitted to start in the longer events.

(d) Where only one long event is on the program, applicant may start and, providing his performance is satisfactory, will be permitted to continue to its conclusion. If apparent weakness or poor handling of his car becomes apparent, he will be flagged from the course.

Issuing of drivers' certificates will depend upon:

(a) Satisfactory performance in trial on cleared track for one lap.

(b) Satisfactory performance when paced or followed by registered driver for three laps.

© Satisfactory handling of his car in the competitive events on the day's program.

The final decision rests with the respresentative of the Contest Board, after advising and consulting with the older registered drivers.

Third -- Applicant will compete regular form of registration and pay the fee before start of his test. If at the end of the day he has satisfactorily met all requirements this will be forwarded to headquarters by the Field Representative with the recommendation that identification card be issued.

Fourth -- The driver must appear at the track with his car brightly painted, with number properly placed on sides and tail or back and lettering, not exceeding 8 inches high, of name of car neatly done on sides and all nickel polished and clean.

Fifth -- He must be clothed in a clean white or other suitable uniform with helmet to match and also have his mechanic and pit attendants neatly uniformed.

Sixth -- He must guarantee the conduct of himself, mechanic, and pit attandants to be that of gentlemen and sportsmen at all times.

#10 Don Capps

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Posted 14 February 2004 - 22:53

From the Supplemantary Regulations for the First International Motor Race for the George Vanderbilt Cup held on the Roosevelt Raceway, Westbury, Long Island on Columbus Day, October 12, 1936:

3 -- ELIGIBILITY

(a) DISPLACEMENT -- Engines will be limited to a maximum piston displacement of 366 Cubic Inches (6000cc. or 6 litres).

(b) WHEEL BASE -- There will be no restriction on wheel base other than the general restriction that the car must be handleable.

© WEIGHT -- There shall be no weight restrictions but cars will be subject to elimination by ruling of the Technical Committee.

(d) THREAD -- The thread measured at the center of tire contact with the road must be between 50 and 65 inches.

(e) BODY TYPE AND MEASUREMENT -- Entries will be open to either one-man or two-man bodies. Bodies having two seats must have a width across the driver's seat of not less than 31 inches at the base of the seat.

(f) SUPERCHARGERS -- There will be no restictions against the use of superchargers.

(g) CARBURETOR fittings of brass may be required if the Technical Committee is in its opinion die cast parts are insufficently supported or reinforced.

(h) BRAKES -- Each car must be equipped with a braking system or systems with two controls, one of which must operate effectively and instanteously on all four wheels. The second control, independent of the first, must operate brakes on either front or rear wheels, or both, or drive shaft, to insure continued effectiveness of brakes in case of failure of amin control.

(i) TRANSMISSION -- The transmission must incorporate a declutching device and a reserve as well as forward speed.

(j) FUEL TANK -- Fuel tank seams must be welded and tank supported in such a manner to insure against leakage or breakage. Attached fittings, if soldered, must be also be riveted. The construction and suspension of gasoline fuel tank and fuel lines shall be subject to the approval of the Technical Committee.

(k) FUEL CAPACITY -- There will be no limit on the capacity of fuel tank. Fuel tank and system must be constructed as as to permit complete drainage. SEE RULE 4.

(l) ENGINE LUBRICATING OIL SUPPLY -- There shall be no restrictions on the oil supply nor on the oil added. However, no oil may be added except at the pits and neither may loose containers of oil be carried in the cars.

(m) STARTING -- Pushing cars at pits or starting line or at any other point on the course will not be permitted and will result in disqualification. All engines must be equipped with self-starter and battery and must be started at the starting line with self-starter. At pits or elsewhere on the course either self-starter or hand crank may be used.

(n) FIRE WALL -- An effective fire wall is required between the engine compartment and the driver's cockpit. The thickness of the material to be not less than 3/16 in. aluminum or 1/16 in. steel. The fire wall construction shall be subject to the approval of the Technical Committee.

(o) STEERING -- Steering must permit a movement of the front wheels of at least 20 degrees in either direction. Steering wheel rim and spider must be of approved steel construction. All steering parts will be subject to a rigid inspection to be designed by the Technical Committee. All steering parts including knuckles, arms, drag-link, and tie-rods must remain unpainted to permit technical inspection. Wheel locking devices or hub-nuts must be approved from a safety standpoint by the Technical Committee and will be rigidly inspected.

(p) NEW PARTS -- The Technical Committee may require that front axles, steering knuckles and steering rods or any other parts be new and proportional to weight of car. The Technical Committee Chairman will have the right to refer any cases in question to a special committee whose decision must be accepted as final.

(q) OIL AND GREASE LEAKAGE -- Leakage of lubricants will not be tolerated. The Technical Committee or the Stewards may bar any car having excessive leakage from using the track.

® INSPECTION AFTER RACE -- Motor Development Corp. of N.Y. and the Contest Board reserves the rght to inspect for non-compliance with the rules, any or all cars finishing the race.

4 -- COMPULSORY PIT STOPS -- Each car will be required to make a pit stop for an inspection by the Technical Committee, the minimum duration of which shall be at least one minute. This stop must be made not earlier than the fortieth lap and not later than the sixitieth lap. Re[lenishments and repairs may be made during this stop.

11 -- NATIONAL COLORS -- The management reserves the right to paint the national flag of each entrant or driver on both sides of the tail or fuselage of each car. Forign cars will be required to carry the distinctive colors of their nationality as assigned by the A.I.A.C.R. and specified in Appendix I of the International Sporting Code.

#11 Vitesse2

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Posted 14 February 2004 - 22:54

Originally posted by Don Capps
Henri, the formula would change during the period of the formula so that the Vanderbilt Cup events of 1936 and 1937 would be possible. The Europeans could have entered the 1936 and later events at Indianpolis had they desired.....

I came across an interesting (if somewhat confused/confusing) passage in Alan Henry's "Mercedes in Motor Sport"

The 1937 season also saw preliminary plans laid for participation at Indianapolis the following year. Unterturkheim, mindful of the team's Vanderbilt Cup experience, duly prepared cars for von Brauchitsch, Caracciola and Lang. These entries were cancelled late in April, however, due to Neubauer's perhaps mistaken belief that the Mercedes' oil consumption was high enough to make things extremely marginal in this race where there were strict limitations on how often oil levels could be topped up.


Is this another Neubauer myth, or does it have any basis in fact?

#12 Roger Clark

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Posted 15 February 2004 - 08:24

Originally posted by Vitesse2

I came across an interesting (if somewhat confused/confusing) passage in Alan Henry's "Mercedes in Motor Sport"

Is this another Neubauer myth, or does it have any basis in fact?


Karl Ludvigsen's "Mercedes-Benz Racing Cars" says the same. Apparantly in 1937 there had been limits on the amount of oil a car could carry, but these were lifted in 1938.

#13 Don Capps

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Posted 15 February 2004 - 19:15

Originally posted by Roger Clark
Karl Ludvigsen's "Mercedes-Benz Racing Cars" says the same. Apparantly in 1937 there had been limits on the amount of oil a car could carry, but these were lifted in 1938.


1938 was a completely different formula from 1937, the AAA adopting the International Formula for all its National Championship Trail events.

#14 D-Type

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Posted 15 February 2004 - 22:10

Did the AAA adopt the formula in its entirety, i.e. including the sliding scale of minimum weight vs engine capacity, or did they simply adopt tjhe maximum capacity limits?

#15 Don Capps

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Posted 15 February 2004 - 23:13

Originally posted by D-Type
Did the AAA adopt the formula in its entirety, i.e. including the sliding scale of minimum weight vs engine capacity, or did they simply adopt tjhe maximum capacity limits?


Judge for yourself....

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#16 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 16 February 2004 - 07:59

Originally posted by Don Capps
...On 18 December 1928, the management of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosted a meeting to which it had invited several of the chief engineers from the American automobile industry, members of the technical press, and "others." The purpose was to review the current Champsionship formula and consider a replacement. The formula discussed was specifically for Indianapolis, but the AAA Contest Board involved from the begining through the presence of E.V. Rickenbacker (formerly Rickenbacher and Richenbacher prior to that) in the presidency position of both organizations...

I understand that the AAA Sporting Commission was also formed around this time, probably September or October of 1928. After the ACA (Automobile Club of America) had deligated its sporting representation within the A.I.A.C.R. to the American Automobile Association, the AAA had to name a Sporting Commission to maintain the established communication with the International Association. The Commission included the journalist W.F. Bradley, the Director of the Indianapolis Speedway T.E. (Pop) Myers, IMS's new owner Eddie Rickenbacker, as well as the General Director of the A.A.A., Smith.

Who else was part of this first AAA Sporting Commission?

#17 D-Type

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Posted 16 February 2004 - 09:10

Originally posted by Don Capps


Judge for yourself....

Posted Image


An interesting insight into different attitudes on each side of the Atlantic is the inclusion of minimum prize money in the regulations. In Europe they hardly acknowledged that there was any money involved . . . . then Bernie came along.

#18 Henri Greuter

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Posted 16 February 2004 - 09:48

[QUOTE] originally posted by Don Capps

Henri, the formula would change during the period of the formula so that the Vanderbilt Cup events of 1936 and 1937 would be possible. The Europeans could have entered the 1936 and later events at Indianpolis had they desired......

====


Don, I totally agree with you on that.
But personally, I think that the true junk era were the early years, as from '35 on one could notice a little more technology getting involved and the demise of the the stock block engined cars. The involvement of stock blocks that was what it made the junk formula for me. And in the final years of the Era they were even more uncompetive that they had been in the early years.
But M-B and A-U making twoseaters for their cars and remove the blowers? I suppose the GP season as it was already cost them a fortune already.....

Henri Greuter

#19 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 18:45

From the Washington Post of 16 December 1928, page A5:

The Indianapolis 500-mile race hereafter will be known as the Grand Prize of America. A permanent challenge trophy, commemorative of the place that the premier American speedway event has in auto racing annals, was authorized, effective this year.

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#20 ensign14

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Posted 18 October 2006 - 17:56

Hah! Was that a mistake, did they change it back, or is it still technically the "Grand Prize"?

#21 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 18 October 2006 - 19:53

No mistake.

I have found several other references to items such as this, usually later on when Pop Myers was pushing to bring back the foreign participation, but trying to pin down exactly what happened as well as why is always frustrating.

Keep in mind that this is being done at the point where the ACA finally gave the American seat on the CSI to the AAA.

At some point, I am sure, we will begin to cast a brighter light on this era when automobile racing went into something of a major slump-- roughly from the 1927/29 period until the American entry into WW2. Generally, any study of this period seems to revolve around the Indianapolis race and everything else is a tad hazy. This latter point always bothers me since there are some doors into this world -- the Wilbur Shaw book as a for instance, but few seem to pull the pieces together.

#22 john glenn printz

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Posted 16 December 2007 - 19:36

HISTORY OF THE AAA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP "JUNK FORMULA" (1926-1938) by John G. Printz and Ken M. McMaken.

PREAMBLE TO THE JUNK FORMULA. PART I. The period 1920-29, the "roaring twenties", is for AAA Championship division racing, a very distinct decade. The year 1920 re-introduced the AAA National Driving Title (in abeyance since 1916, its only previous year) and a new 183 cubic inch engine size limit (3-litres), starting at Indianapolis in May. 1930 witnessed the greatest rule change that ever occurred in AAA Championship racing. To past generations, including our own, the twenties have always seemed to be a wholly fabulous era with its board ovals and the highly technical Duesenberg and Miller racing cars. Those years have been called "The Golden Age of the American Racing Car" (Griffith Borgeson), but to its contemporaries it bore a very different aspect, particularly during 1926-29.

By both earlier and later standards there were very few cars running on the AAA Championship circuit during the years 1920-25 and after the 1921 season only the two makes of Duesenberg and Miller were competitive. By 1926 the Duesenberg brothers were in acute financial difficulties with regard to racing, which meant that they concentrated their main, mutual efford and interest, to winning the Indianapolis classic, to the neglect and detriment of the rest of the AAA Championship circuit. After the introduction of the 91 1/2 cubic inch formula at Indy in 1926, there were 43 AAA Championship contests held before 1930. Only two of them were won by Duesenberg cars, all the rest of them went to Miller machines. The total Miller domination of the late twenties (1926-29) of U.S. "big-time" racing was truely vexing and was considered intolerable as well as uninteresting by many. The general public, it was claimed, were tired of seeing an entire race day lineup composed of small cubic-inch, single-seat racers, all emanating from the shop of Harry A. Miller. This was problem No. 1.

In 1923 the displacement limit for AAA Championship cars was lowered to 122 cubic inches (2 litres) and then, in 1926, to just 91 1/2 cubic inches (1 1/2 litres). Both changes here took effect, in 1923 and 1926 respectively, at Indianapolis in May. The new and smaller 91 1/2 cubic inch cars were then known as the "vest pocket" racing cars. It all provided for an enigma! The general U.S. public couldn't and/or didn't relate or have much empathy for these costly, tiny, diminutive, small displacement, supercharged and thoroughbred 91 1/2 cubic inch racing cars; regardless of how "jewel-like", technically advanced, exquisitely built and designed, they may have actually been. In the U.S. since World War I, unlike Europe, the American public cannot get "acclimatized" to open wheel throughbred type racing or racing cars. It is still a big problem. As everyone knows, Indy car or Champ Car racing is nowhere near as popular or successful as NASCAR.

Athough it is very hard to judge, it seems that public interest in AAA Championship racing dropped dramatically during the years 1926 to 1929. Coverage of the sport in the automobile journals and the daily newspapers was practically nil, except for Indianapolis, during those years. The public seemed to need, and expected bigger, much more impressive looking vehicles for the top echelon of American motor racing, than the 91 1/2 vest pocket racing machines. This was problem No. 2.

The U.S. passenger car manufacturers had stopped building thoroughbred type racing cars during 1918-1920. This led to a scarcity of makes in 1920 with the coming of the 183 cubic inch limit and greatly lessened the variety and design of the cars used. During the 183 cubic inch formula (May 1920-April 1923) only three makes of U.S. build cars were competitive, i.e. Duesenberg, Frontenac, and Miller. By 1922 the Frontenacs were obsolete and were now generally assigned to new aspiring rookies like Peter DePaolo and Leon Duray or to washed up veterans like Art Klein or Ralph Mulford. The American auto manufacturers claimed and stated somewhat voraciously at times that small displacement (especially the 122's and 91 1/2's), high rpms, supercharged (supercharging was first used at Indianapolis by Mercedes in 1923) single seaters, were of no value to the automobile industry, even as just experimental test cars.

U.S. racing, in its earliest years 1894-1910, may have been very useful and very relevant to the auto industry proper, but those days seemed now during 1920-29, to be over. The contemporary racing cars were now much too overspecialized. However many felt that to increase the public interest in racing it was necessary to get the automobile manufacturers somehow, back into racing; and that it was truely needed to save the failing and languishing sport from almost total destruction. This was Problem No. 3 and was related somewhat to Problem No. 1.

The rapid decline of the various board tracks caused another set of problems. The board speedways all lost money, and their structures being made of wood, quickly deteriorated due to the weather. The quick disappearance of these oval speedways greatly curtailed the number of events (particularly long milage races) that could be run during the seasons of 1927-29. Dirt track races had to be re-introduced in 1928, to the AAA Championship division, in order to have much of a schedule at all.

The board tracks of the twenties were mostly built by John "Jack" Shillington Prince (1859-1927). Prince was hailed as an ex-champion bicycle racer from England. Bicycle racing was a big sport at the turn of the century both in America and Europe; and Prince was engaged in the lucrative business of constructing 1/8 and 1/4 mile banked wooden "Cycledromes" across the U.S. In 1910 Prince built the first big wood oval, in the shape of a one mile perfect circle, for automobiles at Playa del Rey (near Los Angeles) in southern California. Prince himself was a dandy, a smart dresser who gave the aura of a shrewd Mississippi river boat gambler.

Prince was perhaps a very smart, confident, and convincing con-artist. (I doubt whether anyone ever checked his claims to being an ex-European bicycle racing champion. Many Europeans came to the New World with false assertions and phony pedigrees.) Prince and his entourage would blow into a large U.S. city and meet the idle rich. Soon there was often generated a great enthusiasm, or so it was reported in the local newspapers, for the construction of a new and colossal pine oval saucer that would make the immediate area or city a Mecca of automobile racing! It was a sucker's gambit.

In a few cases the well-to-do perspective investors went for Prince's scheme and a new track would be constructed. The new speedways however quickly became white elephants and lost money big-time. The gate or paying customers would soon diminished after each race as the earlier novelty of the thing wore off, and the wooden oval itself was soon in a state of quick deterioration and needed constant and expensive repairs. And just how the new track owners expected to make a profit from staging just two big AAA contests a year, is hard to fathom. The track that Prince built at Kansas City in 1922 started falling apart at the very first race on September 17 and two years later, at its very last contest held on 4 July 1924, the race had to be halted short of its scheduled distance of 250 miles, by 100 miles, because of large gaping holes appearing in the track surface.

The AAA Contest Board went along with Prince's promotions because it needed tracks to run on but by 1928 it was clear that board track racing would soon become extinct. Just what tracks could and would replace the high speed "toothpick" saucers was not really clear, but it was evident that an era was over. This is the true story of the fabulous board tracks and their disappearance now constituted, in 1927-29, Problem No. 4.

Another concern was also voiced, i.e. the high cost of the small Duesenberg and Miller 91 1/2 cubic inch, supercharged, single seat race cars. The AAA Champonship division during the early and mid-1920's was composed of a very small and select group of drivers and car owners and it was very difficult for new pilots to break into its rather exclusive ranks. But both these problems often are, and after 1925 were, actually chimeras. It has always been hard for new drivers, even with talent to move up into the Championship division ranks but there was no lack of 91 1/2 cubic inch machines, admittedly mostly Millers, during the late twenties (1927-29). In fact there were probably more high grade racing cars available for AAA racing than anytime since the year 1919. Car and driver count was not a problem in the late twenties.

When there are many more vehicles present than can possibly fill up a complete starting grid, it is idle to invoke any complaint that the high expence of racing and/or the equipment is hurting the sport. Still it was claimed by some of the AAA brass in the late twenties, in the name of regeneration and reform, that new rules were needed to make AAA Championship racing less expensive, so that new personnel (car owners, drivers, and mechanics) could enter the Championship level events. This was perceived to be another problem, i.e. Problem No. 5.

So what was the solution to these five real, semi-real, imagined, and supposed problems?

Edited by john glenn printz, 16 July 2009 - 11:43.


#23 fines

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Posted 16 December 2007 - 21:46

Another important factor was the "acquisition" of the Hankinson Fair circuit by the AAA around 1927. Before that, Hankinson's circuit of State and County Fair races was the eastern extension of the IMCA, and a major thorn in AAA's side. It is often credited to Eddie Rickenbacher/Rickenbacker (I believe Richenbacher is just a spelling mistake) that he had the foresight to replace the "Board Track Circus" with 100-mile dirt track races, and the necessary understructure of a plentiful supply of short fair races, but I'm not so sure if that is correct. I am trying to get a more rounded picture of Rickenbacker who, to me at least, appears to be a man posessed more by principles than common sense.

Hankinson, on the other hand, was a manipulator and a most practical man, more concerned with his own business interests than anything else. Of course, these business interests included the well being of his patrons and entrants, so he was well respected and even loved. And always in the background of his dealings was another figure, one that is constantly ignored by contemporaries as well as historians, but of enormous importance in autoracing circles in the pre- and post-WW2 era: George Hamid (1896-1971). In his position as chief concessionaire/booking agent for the fairs in the east and the midwest, Hamid heaved Hankinson into his powerful position and did the same for Sam Nunis after the war. As far as I know, he was never personally involved with autoracing, but his contacts and influence meant there was no way anyone could make more than a dollar or two out of the fair business without his consent!

#24 fines

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Posted 16 December 2007 - 21:53

Originally posted by john glenn printz
Another concern was also voiced, i.e. the high cost of the small 91 1/2 cubic inch, supercharged, single seat race cars. The AAA Champonship division during the early and mid-1920's was composed of a very small and select group of drivers and car owners and it was very difficult for new pilots to break into its rather exclusive ranks.

Sorry, but that is demonstrably far from being the truth, there is probably no other period in US racing when there was such a sudden and complete changeover at the top of the sport: if you look at the top twenty drivers in 1929 points you'll find not a single one who was already active in AAA in 1926! And the same is true for most of the owners, as well.

#25 john glenn printz

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Posted 17 December 2007 - 20:17

Junk Formula 1926-1938 (cont.-1) RICKENBACKER'S SOLUTION:THE JUNK FORMULA. PART II. Edward "Eddie" Vernon Rickenbacker (1890-1973) thought he had all the answers. Rickenbacker had driven in many of the major U.S. auto races during 1911-16. During World War I, in 1917-18, Eddie had become world famous as the top U.S. flying ace with 26 official kills. In the twenties (1922-27) he also marketed a car using his own name. On 6 November 1926 Rickenbacker became the Chairman of the AAA Contest Board and on 11 September 1927 he became the new titular owner and President of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Eddie had thus moved into the two most powerful administrative positions in U.S. automobile racing.

The direction in which the situation would move was indicated in an article nominally, at least, written by Harold F. Blanchard (1890-?), in the July 1928 issue of MOTOR (U.S.) entitled "WHO WANTS 91 1/2 INCH ENGINES?" I believe this article was a Rickenbacker "plant". What was here proposed was a total ban on supercharging, that the allowable displacement limit be raised to at least 300 cubic inches, and that there be a return to the larger two-man cars, to replace the single seat equipment used in AAA Championship racing since May 1923. These proposed rules would allow the introduction of relatively cheap racing cars based on production stock block engines and other normal stock car components. If these rules were to be adopted it would represent the biggest shake up and revision of the AAA Contest Board regulations since at least, 1909. After much supposed "open discussion" these basic ideas were announced on January 8 1929 as the new rules or formula for the upcoming 1930 Indianapolis 500. Piston displacement at Indianapolis would be allowed up to a whopping 366 cubic inches (6 litres)!

The new rules caused an uproar! Harry Miller regarded the new formula as a total wipeout of his life's work and as directed specifically against himself, which was true enough. It was the price Miller now had to pay for the almost total Miller domination of the AAA Championship circuit, along with the lesser dirt AAA non-Championship 100 milers, during the years 1926-29. Most of the car owners and drivers were against the new Indy regulations. Everyone had a considerable amount of money invested in the single seat 91 1/2 and 183 (used in the AAA dirt races) cubic inch cars and now their entire investment, as well as the whole development of supercharging, would be wiped out overnight. Many new machines would now have to be constructed and/or the older 183, 122, or 91 1/2 models drastically modified to run at Indianapolis in 1930, all of which entailed another huge expense. It seems clear that Rickenbacker had pushed the new 1930 Indy rules through over the heads of almost everyone else. And it should be noted, that as long as they conformed to Rickenbacker's new regulations, specially built and designed thoroughbred or all-out racing cars were not excluded, in any way, by the new 1930 rulings.

In order to placate the disgruntled car owners, the AAA Contest Board maintained, at first anyway, that the new rules were for Indianapolis only and that the other race promotors and track owners could still run AAA events using just the single seat machines and the older 1928-29 engine formulas if they chose to do so. In this manner the single seat equipment would still continue in use, until they were worn out and made totally useless and obsolete.

This however is not what happened. For when a rather large fleet of unsupercharged two-man cars appeared at Indianapolis in 1930, i.e. about 42 vehicles, the AAA could pretty much do as it pleased and worry no longer about the fate of the older single seat, small cubic inch displacement, supercharged equipment. A bad conscience on this matter by the AAA however, may account for the fact that in four of the 1930 Championship events (i.e. Langhorne, Akron, Bridgeville, and Syracuse), single seat cars were allowed to compete against the newer two-man cars. All eight of the 1930 AAA Championship races allowed the use of the new unsupercharged two-man machines.

So in this manner Rickenbacker instituted a whole new order or a "new deal" for big-time U.S. AAA National Championship racing and dealt with Problems 1, 2, 3, and 5 enumerated above. About Problem No. 4, i.e. the decline, disappearance, and the total elimination of the board speedways in 1932, Eddie could do nothing. During the period 1925-27 the AAA had staged many non-Championship 100 mile dirt track contests on the nation's horse racing tracks. The cubic inch limit on these events was usually 183, but sometimes 91 1/2, with supercharging allowed in both instances. However in 1928 Rickenbacker re-introduced oval dirt track racing back into the AAA Championship schedule, with 100 milers run at Detroit (10 June) and Syracuse (September 1) horse ovals, because the board tracks were fading fast now.

For the 1928-29 AAA Championship seasons, Indianapolis and all the board speedway contests adhered to the 91 1/2 limit, while the limit on the dirt tracks was 183 cubic inches. There was no ban on supercharging at any AAA Championship races until the 1930 Indianapolis 500. Previous to the 1928 season there had been dirt oval Championship contests only staged in 1916 (i.e. Ascot 150 on Nov. 30) and 1924 (i.e. Syracuse). In the last Championship level dirt track event staged before 1928, the Syracuse 150 of 15 September 1924, Jimmy Murphy had been fatally injured in a Miller 122.

The Junk formula took its name from the often crude, sometimes ugly, underpowered, and overly heavy modified stock cars that showed up at the Speedway, after the introduction of the new 1930 rules. For how could one, without wincing, view such primative stock block powered vehicles when remembering the thoroughbred, high tech, expensive, and exquisitely designed Duesenberg and Miller racing cars constructed between 1923 and 1929 for the 122 and 91 1/2 cubic inch formulas?

Although the new regulations were instituted to allow stock block machines to compete, many pure-bred and thoroughbred race cars were put together, and showed up at Indianapolis in 1930. So at Indianapolis in 1930, two-man, stock, semi-stock, and all-out vehicles all ran and raced together, as back in the years 1911-12! Rickenbacker did achieve his goal here, of reintroducing car variety in both make and design (formerly Problem No. 1); both at Indianapolis and on the AAA National Championship circuit. It was all hailed as the return of the "big cars"!

The board track regulars, during 1926 to 1930, witnessed their high-speed occupations quickly vanish just as, in a wholly different context entirely, the piano players and musicians who supplied live music to the "silent" movies faded out at exactly the same time. U.S. racing quickly changed during 1926-29, with more cars, drivers, and team owners moving in. New and fearless drivers, who learned their speed trade entirely on the nation's rough dirt tracks, i.e. pilots like Billy Arnold, Shorty Cantlon, Fred Frame, Deacon Litz, Frank Lockhart, Lou Moore, Lou Schneider, Wilbur Shaw, Russ Snowberger, George Souders, and Cliff Woodbury, moved into the AAA Championship division; while the older board oval specialists, like Earl Cooper, Peter DePaolo, Frank Elliot, Harry Hartz, Bennett Hill, and Bob McDonough, were being moved out. Almost a complete unknown in 1927, Louie Meyer, won both the 1928 and 1929 AAA National Championship driving titles; and by 1932 the AAA Championship circuit consisted of just the Indianapolis 500, and five dirt track races, none of which was above a 150 mile distance.

If a young man wanted to start racing in the 1920s, he would began his competition with stripped down and souped up Model T Fords, preferably equipped with a high performance head, made and supplied by either Frontenac or Rajo. Such vehicles competed on mostly 1/2 mile dirt surfaced ovals. Many of the more famous AAA Championship junk formulas pilots of the 1930s started their racing careers in this manner, i.e. personages like Shorty Cantlon, Bill Cummings, Lou Moore, Lou Schneider, Mauri Rose, Wilbur Shaw, etc., whose racing savy and skills were thereby gained almost entirely on dirt surfaced tracks.

For three years in a row, all quite unexpectedly, first time starters won the Indianapolis 500, i.e. Frank Lockhart 1926; George Souders 1927; and Louie Meyer 1928. Ray Keech, who won Indy in 1929, was a relative newcomer also, and first drove in the AAA Championship ranks in 1927. The new "kids" were taking over.

However with regard to Problem No. 3, none of the U.S. passenger car manufacturers took Eddie's clear and obvious bait or hint, and entered a team at Indy or in any of the other AAA National Championship contests in 1930. There were no U.S. factory teams in AAA racing for 1930.

In closing I will mention two long standing myths about AAA Championship racing history, of which there are many. Up to now I have not had an occasion to allude to the Great Depression (1929-1940) which began with a stock market crash in New York during October 1929. It has been frequently stated that the new 1930 "Junk" rules, as they were later called, were the result of the new depression economic conditions which existed after October 1929. As I have already related the new 1930 Indy regulations were published on 9 January 1929, ten months before the 1929 crash, and were the result of conditions existing during 1926-28. The new rules, at first, had absolutely nothing to do with the Depression. The soon ensuing Depression (1929-1940) however, which was totally unforeseen in January 1929, meshed and dovetailed nicely with Problem No. 5, which ironically during 1926-29 itself, was not a real problem at all.

Likewise the disappearance of the board speedways is often attributed as mostly the result of the depression conditions doing its work, but there are chronological difficulties here also. Of the twenty big board tracks, of one mile in size or more, on which the AAA had staged major contests, only Altoona was still operating in the sanction of AAA in 1929. The last important board speedways built were Fulford by the Sea (Miami, Florida) and Atlantic City, (Hammonton, New Jersey) in early 1926. The great depression began with the Wall Street crash on 29 October 1929 and steadily got worst until 1934. Altoona, the only large board speedway still in operation in 1929, would last just two more seasons. Its last races were held on 7 September 1931, among all its rotting planks and timbers. Except for Altoona (1923-1931) itself, all the other large board ovals were already, before October 29, 1929, either broke, bankrupt, defunct, or long gone.

That the Great Depression did not cause either (1.) the Junk Formula to be devised or adopted, and (2.) the demise of the board ovals, was first pointed out by Mr. McMaken and myself, in the 1981 PPG INDY CAR WORLD SERIES YEARBOOK, on pages 131-132.

Edited by john glenn printz, 20 October 2010 - 14:24.


#26 john glenn printz

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 20:57

Junk Formula 1926-1938 (cont.-2) HISTORY OF THE JUNK FORMULA RULES 1930 TO 1938. PART III. THE 1930 AAA CHAMPIONSHIP RACE REGULATIONS. The 1930 AAA championship races were run with varying rules and regulations. The new rules at Indianapolis required the use of two-man cars with a mandatory and accompaning riding mechanic. Engine displacement was limited to 366 cubic inches, but superchargers were totally banned on all four cycle engines. Only two valves per cylinder and a minimum weight of 1750 pounds had to be adhered to. The races held at Detroit (June 9) and at Altoona (June 14 and September 1) also strictly conformed to these new 1930 Indianapolis regulations. All eight of the 1930 championship events allowed the use of the new two-man cars and in all eight championship contests the piston displacement limit was 366 cubic inches.

However at Langhorne (May 3), Akron (June 22), Bridgeville (July 4) and possibly (?) at Syracuse (September 6), single seat racing cars were allowed to run against the two-man vehicles. The single seat racers were lighter, smaller, and more maneuverable generally but they won only one event in 1930, i.e. at Langhorne. Superchargers were totally banned on all four cycle engines at all the championship level AAA races except at Langhorne and Syracuse. (Note: It's not clear to me whether superchargers were also banned or permitted at either Akron or Bridgeville). The Langhorne race was won by a single seat, supercharged, rear drive, 91 Miller. This Miller 91 was then owned by Karl Kizer, a later curator of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. Superchargers on some cars with four cycle engines were also permitted at Syracuse. This was the result of a request by the race promotor there, i.e., Ira Vail, who wanted blowers allowed, because Vail desired new dirt track records to be set during the 100 mile event. Four vehicles in the 1930 Syracuse 100 race are said to have used superchargers. These cars were driven by Arnold, Farmer, Gardner, and Stubblefield.

A further question is whether, in those 1930 championship races which allowed supercharging, were there cubic inch limits on the blown engines, below 366 cubic inches? That is to say, were perhaps supercharged entries limited to 183, 122, or 91 1/2 cubic inches? And again, it is not clear if the two valve per cylinder rule was enforced in all eight of the 1930 Championship events. I have no data on these questions, and thus no answers.

When the 1930 regulations were introduced, three types of cars appeared; (1) modified and formerly single seat throroughbred racing cars from the previous AAA championship seasons of 1923 to 1929, all now altered to conform to the new AAA rules; (2) new thoroughbred type racing cars built specifically for the new two-man car formula; and (3) new cars using modified passenger car engines and/or a passenger car or a new racing chassis. The most successful type of vehicle was, of course, those in category (2).

Three stock block powered racers finished in the top ten at Indianapolis in 1930. They placed 5th (Duesenberg/Stevens-Bill Cummings); 8th (Studebaker-Russ Snowberger); and 10th (Stutz-Lora L. Corum). Cummings' Duesenberg motor at Indianapolis was not a prue bred racing engine, but was rather taken from a Duesenberg Model A passenger car. The only championship win for a stock block car in 1930 occurred at Syracuse (Duesenberg/Stevens-Bill Cummings); if indeed it was the same Duesenberg No. 6 that Bill piloted at Indy, but I'm not sure. In the only picture I can find of the Syracuse winner (Source: SYRACUSE HERALD, September 7, 1930, page 1), the photo is blurred, but frankly it looks to me more like one of Augie Duesenberg's modified thoroughbreds, than one of Fred Duesenberg's two new cars built for Peter DePaolo for the 1930 Indianapolis race, using Model A Duesenberg blocks.

I think Rickenbacker's new reforms for 1930 must be reckoned a success. There was a great renewal of interest in the 1930 Indianapolis race, and even briefly (i.e., c. 1930-32), in the AAA National Championship Title. The AAA seemed pleased with the results of the new 366 cubic inch formula after its first full year in use. But a new and wholly unforeseen threat to U.S. big-time auto racing soon loomed up. That was the continuing and deteriorating economic conditions of the U.S. which had been steadily worsening since October 1929.

#27 fines

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 18:57

Great story, John, and well told! :up: I hope you'll continue, but allow me a couple of questions.

Originally posted by john glenn printz
The direction in which the situation would move was indicated in an article nominally, at least, written by Harold F. Blanchard (1890-?), in the July 1928 issue of MOTOR (U.S.) entitled "WHO WANTS 91 1/2 INCH ENGINES?" I believe this article was a Rickenbacker "plant". What was here proposed was a total ban on supercharging, that the allowable displacement limit be raised to at least 300 cubic inches, and that there be a return to the larger two-man cars, to replace the single seat equipment used in AAA Championship racing since May 1923.

The last half sentence (in bold) raises a question I have about that original 1928 article by Blanchard, which regrettably I was never able to read in full. Did he really propose two-man cars? Because, in 1931, the same Harold F. Blanchard wrote in the Indianapolis preview of MoToR (June issue) about the new rules: "A mechanic must ride with the driver as was the case last year. This MoToR regards as deplorable, a useless risk of human life."

Strong words, indeed, especially for a man who now appears to have been in favour of exactly this rule three years earlier. Or was he? I realise that advocating two-man cars does not automatically endorse riding mechanics, but could it be that Paul (other sources say Charles) Marshall's death in 1930 swayed Blanchard's opinion?

#28 fines

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 19:42

Originally posted by john glenn printz
However at Langhorne (May 3), Akron (June 22), Bridgeville (July 4) and possibly (?) at Syracuse (September 6), single seat racing cars were allowed to run against the two-man vehicles. The single seat racers were lighter, smaller, and more maneuverable generally but they won only one event in 1930, i.e. at Langhorne. Superchargers were totally banned on all four cycle engines at all the championship level AAA races except at Langhorne and Syracuse. (Note: It's not clear to me whether superchargers were also banned or permitted at either Akron or Bridgeville). The Langhorne race was won by a single seat, supercharged 91 Miller. This Miller 91 was then owned by Karl Kizer, a later curator of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. Superchargers on some cars with four cycle engines were also permitted at Syracuse. This was the result of a request by the race promotor there, i.e., Ira Vail, who wanted blowers allowed, because Vail desired new dirt track records to be set during the 100 mile event. Four vehicles in the 1930 Syracuse 100 race are said to have used superchargers. These cars were driven by Arnold, Farmer, Gardner, and Stubblefield.

(...)

Three stock block powered racers finished in the top ten at Indianapolis in 1930. They placed 5th (Duesenberg/Stevens-Bill Cummings); 8th (Studebaker-Russ Snowberger); and 10th (Stutz-Lora L. Corum). The only championship win for a stock block car in 1930 occurred at Syracuse (Duesenberg/Stevens-Bill Cummings). Note: Bill Cummings' Duesenberg motor was not a pure bred racing engine, but was rather taken from a Model A Duesenberg passenger car.

About the winners of the eight 1930 championship races, do you have contemporary sources to support your statements (in bold)? Specifically:

- only one of the 1930 events was won by single-seater? I have the June 22 Akron event also won by a single-seater, Shorty Cantlon in Bill White's Miller 91 chassis with Miller "Schofield" 183 engine! My main source for this is Mickey Mishne's article "Akron - Tricky Tire-Town Track" in Dick Wallen's "Board Track - Guts, Gold & Glory". This is, admittedly, not a very good source, because Mishne quotes unspecified newspaper accounts in it, but I wonder why these quotes should be wrong: "Cantlon knocked out enough two-by-four-inch splinters to keep all the toothpick companies supplied. His Miller-Schofield one-man racer kicked up splinters and the others just ran into them." If these quotes are fake, then the tone of the time is splendidly matched!

Another quote, this time Mishne's paraphrase: "Nine two-seaters were entered, but the six single-seaters were favored and did not disappoint." Looking through the fifteen entries present (according to Phil Harms's data), I can make out 9 that had the same driver, car number and name as at Indianapolis, another one with merely a new driver (who had driven for the team previously), and finally Chet Gardner in the Buckeye with #12 instead of #18. Since the Buckeye team appears to have rebuild its only single-seater into the two-man car driven by Gardner at Indy I guess this would be a typo, which would leave only two of those teams with the possibility to enter a single-seater instead of the two-man car: Bill White and Maude Yagle, and I have seen pictures of both their single-seaters (Dees p315, Wallen p396) with the same numbers as the two-man cars (#16 & #33)! Opinions?

- Cummings's Syracuse winner was the same car he had driven at Indy? It does indeed appear likely that this was the case, however I would be interested to see if you have contemporary sources to support that. Sadly, I have absolutely nothing on that race, apart from the Harms boxscore. If anyone could have pulled it off, Cummings is probably the most likely candidate, and should rightfully be applauded for the deed. Car number and name obviously match his Indy entry, but is it enough to exclude other possibilities?

#29 john glenn printz

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 20:57

Dear Mr. Ferner;

You are quite correct about the Langhorne winning Miller as having only two valves per cylinder. When I wrote that sentence I was thinking it had four valves per cylinder, which is nonsense. I have therefore deleted that statement, as there is no gain in posting false and incorrect data.


I will get back to you, on your other questions, in a week or two; as I don't like to make snap judgements. I will tell you what I know, or what I think I know.

Sincerely.

#30 fines

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 21:59

Originally posted by john glenn printz
I don't like to make snap judgements. I will tell you what I know, or what I think I know.

Thanks, that's fine with me. :) And don't worry about that 4-valve snafu, as they say sh** happens, and actually I should perhaps have realised you mixed things up - I will delete my question, too.

#31 john glenn printz

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 17:56

Junk Formula 1926-1938 (cont.-3) ON THE NEW 1930 RULE AND SPECIFICATION CHANGES. (Note: This essay was written in late 1979, believe it or not, and was part of a 21 page survey I wrote on the 1929 AAA Championship season, which used Mr. McMaken's superb statistical data. It contains more information about the transition from the 91 1/2 to the 366 cubic inch formulas. I originally was not going to post this on this thread, but I'm typing it in now, exactly as I wrote it back in 1979).

The AAA rule changes for the Championship division cars effected between the 1929 and the 1930 seasons were the most radical and momentous ever made. It is therefore incumbent to our story to investigate this matter in a thorough manner.

Ostensively the initial impetus for these important new specification changes appears to be an article which is contained in the July 1928 issue of MOTOR (U.S.) entitled, "WHO WANTS 91 1/2 INCH ENGINES?" by Harold F. Blanchard. Mr. Blanchard reports that he found very little real satisfaction with the existing 91 1/2 cubic inch racing cars during his visit to Indianapolis in May 1928. According to Mr. Blanchard even the U.S. racing fraternity proper was dissatisfied with the small and fragile vest pocket racers because they were too expensive to buy and maintain. The weakest link in the whole mechanical chain was the supercharger, especially the supercharger drive. The cost of a new car was somewhere between $10,000 and $15,000 and in some cases it was even higher. The average driver on the Championship trail ran more from a deep love of the sport than from any real hope of pecuniary rewards. The other main point of Mr. Blanchard's essay is that these highly specialized 91 1/2 cubic inch vehicles cannot teach the automobile industry any technological lessons applicable to normal passenger car construction and that, as a consequence, all industry support and interest in the sport had disappeared.

Blanchard's program was that (1) future American racing cars should be cheaper to construct, buy, and maintain and (2) that they should approximate more closely to normal passenger car construction, so that they would be of more relevance to the auto industry.

Blanchard proposed therefore that all the new cars built for the Championship class of racing, should henceforth incorporate or utilize a stock car engine block, modified for racing use. The piston displacement to be allowed should not be less than 300 cubic inches, but no supercharging should be permitted on these stock block cars. As to the problem of scraping almost half a million dollars worth of 91 Miller and Duesenberg racing cars, Blanchard's solution was to let them continue to run in supercharged form, with the newer stock block racing machines until they wore out. In Blanchard's opinion the small 91 1/2 supercharged cars and the unblown c. 300 cubic inch stock block based racers would have about the same speed potential with admittedly the stock blockers at a slight disadvantage because of slightly less power and more weight. Both types of engines would produce about 150 horsepower. Blanchard felt that the cost of a stock block racer would be in the area of $2000 to $5000 and that its maintainance would be cheaper than that of the old 91's because, for one thing, the frail and troublesome superchargers would be eliminated. Likewise the industry's interest in the sport would return and perhaps with it some economic assistance.

Such were the more important suggestions and thoughts contained in the article. Blanchard's ideas apparently stuck up a lively responce among not only the racing fraternity but among many prominent members of the U.S. automobile industry as well. A series of replies to Blanchard's opinions and proposals were published in the October 1928 issue of MOTOR. At the head of the list was Eddie Rickenbacker's. He agreed with everything Blanchard wrote but added, "From the spectator's viewpoint, the two-man body should be re-established for its colorfulness, as well as the factor of safety involved, all of which in time will give the general public better automobiles." T. E. Myers, the Vice President of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, also agreed with Blanchard's remarks but pointed out that it was too late to change the rules for the upcoming 1929 "500". Myers suggested that a meeting be held, possibly in Detroit, in the fall of 1928 to discuss these new proposals.

The thoughts of driver Harry Hartz went against these ideas, Hartz wrote, "Your ideas for the revision of the racing car are impossible to my conception of the sport, for many reasons... I believe the present cars should be run with the superchargers, as displacing them would be a backward step, and this is the day of advancement and progress. We have always had more or less trouble with racing cars, due to high speed and constant strain. The supercharger has been an added source of trouble, but it has increased the horsepower and speed and in this day nothing is gained without effort... I believe the public are interested in the 91 1/2 cubic inch cars, as evidenced by the large attendance at Indianapolis. The race was hard fought and interesting. What more can anyone ask?"

Fred E. Moskovics had this to say, "The real trouble with automobile racing as it is at present practiced is that the show does not pay for itself. If you will take the prize money of the fifteen leading drivers that make the show in any one year, then take the cost of their equipment and expences, the show does not pay for the performance. Naturally, any show in which the onlookers will not pay the price of putting on the show is not successful. The actors cannot be expected to made up the difference and that is what is happening now... I know exactly the returns that some very prosperous drivers got and very few of them really make money."

Lee Oldfield, a retired driver, had rather unusual ideas for a new formula, "My own thought about racing classifications is that fuel consumption is the only true method of obtaining real equality among the competitors without restricting unduly their inventive and engineering ability. I appreciate that this has been tried and found almost impossible of intelligent application as well as being, at times, quite disappointing to the spectators, due to the fact that some cars fail to finish when the fuel calculations are too close. In spite of these difficulties from a practical standpoint I still think it the only really fair basis. Assuming that the foregoing basis is not one that can be used, why should we not go to an absolutely open "free for all", permitting entries to have any size or type of engine they wish and requiring, presumably for safety in the complete structure, the weights for the vehicle in accordance with the present fixed scale, 91 1/2 cubic inch engine- 1600 lb. vehicle, etc."

Herman Schurch, an AAA driver, wrote, "In regard to eliminating supercharged racing motors, I think it would be a very good idea, as practically all the trouble today is with the superchargers, and the driver who operates them. Your idea of building racing cars out of stock cars and making the necessary changes for safety and getting more speed is a very good one and would not be so expensive. As it is at present very few can afford to stay in the game. And another idea is to get away from having all cars being just Millers and Duesenbergs. If there were more different makes of cars entered in the races the public would take a greater interest in racing, as I know that a large part of the people interested in seeing automobile races are getting tired of seeing the same make of cars in competition with each other."

There were 18 published replies in all and most of them thought that there was a great deal of merit in Mr. Blanchard's ideas.

#32 TrackDog

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 01:32

Originally posted by WDH74
If'n I remember rightly, EVR was detained and searched at port in New York after the outbreak of the Great War, but before America's entrance, because of the spelling of his name. He was suspected of being a spy because of his Greman sounding name, which prompted the final "k" to be added.


A couple of possible reasons for EVR being detained at New York:

There was a prominent article in an early issue of SPEED AGE that played up on Rickenbacker's German "heritage", going so far as to refer to him as ..."that Deutchster, Rickenbacher." And, another sportswriter came up with a fake bio that Rick was really "Edward von Rickenbacher", the son af a Prussian nobleman who kicked him out of the family castle in the old country because the father felt the son was a lazy playboy. EVR was racing in America to impress his pop. Rickenbacker knew of this and actually encouraged it. Also, Rickenbacker was trying to bring a pair of Sunbeam race cars into the 'states, despite a ban on such items being shipped internationally...considered "contraband".

He might have changed the spelling of his name to distance himself from the poor publicity those actions had a part in producing.



Dan

#33 john glenn printz

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 13:16

Junk Formula 1926-1938 (cont.-4) The AAA decided to have a meeting in Detroit on December 18, 1928 to formulate preliminary new rules for the 1930 Championship season. Rickenbacker said that racing is just passing through one of its recurrent doldrums. "If the best minds of the industry tackle the problem right now it is almost a certainty that renewed public interest can be created." It was to be a meeting of the AAA 1929 National Technical Committee on the one hand; the representatives of the auto manufacturers, and racing drivers on the other.

The members of the AAA National Technical Committee consisted of the following; 1. Col. William G. Wall-President, Society of Automotive Engineers; 2. S. G. Paits-Chief Engineer, Hudson Motor Car Company; 3. Harold F. Blanchard-Technical Editor, Motor magazine; 4. A. E. De Waters-Chief Engineer, Buick Motor Company; 5. Paul Dumas-Technical Editor, Chilton Class Publications; 6. Thos. J. Little, Jr.-Chief Engineer, Marmon Motor Car Company; 7. Frederick E. Moskovics-President, Stutz Motor Car Company of America, Inc.; 8. Delmar G. Ross-Chief Engineer, Studebaker Corporation of America; 9. H. C. Snow-Chief Engineer, Auburn Automobile Company; 10. George Stephenson-mechanical engineer; 11. Col. J. G. Vincent-Vice President, Packard Motor Car Company; 12. E. Von Hamback-Chief Engineer, Boyle Valve Company; and 13. Frank E. Watts-Chief Engineer, Hupp Motor Car Corporation.

Others in attendance but not on the Technical Committee proper were;

1. Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker-Chairman, A.A.A. Contest Board; 2. Val Haresnape-Secretary, A.A.A. Contest Board; 3. Ernest N. Smith, General Manager, A.A.A.; 4. T. E. Myers, Manager, Indianapolis Motor Speedway; 5. Fred S. Duesenberg; 6. Earl Cooper; 7. W. D. Edenburn; and 8. Howard Marmon.

The Detroit meeting proposed to rule out the small vest pocket 91 1/2 cubic inch racers and instead created a new class or formula which would include large displacement stock block powered two man cars. Supercharging would be banned, as this was a logical consequence of opening the races to the greater displacement engines. Probably a riding mechanic would be required as well. These suggestions were drawn up to be presented to another AAA Contest Board meeting to be held in New York on January 8, 1929 in conjunction with the National Automobile Show. At that time the final debates and hearings would occur and the whole matter would be acted upon.

At the New York meeting the following specifications for the 1930 season were approved. A maximum engine size of 366 cubic inches or six litres. The weight of the car dry (i.e. without fuel, oil, or water) must be a minimum of 1750 pounds and a ratio of 7 1/2 pounds to every cubic inch of engine displacement. The bodies must be of the two seat type and not less than 31 inches across the base of the seat. Riding mechanics will be required. Every vehicle must have two independently operated brake systems one of which controlled all four wheels. Only two poppet type valves per cylinder was allowed but no restrictions were put on rotary or sleeve valves. Supercharging was not permitted on four cycle engines but a positive displacement type blower was allowed on two cycle engines. No more than two carburetors may be used on four cycle motors but no restrictions were placed on Diesel, semi-Diesel, two cycle or turbine type engines with regard to carburetors or manifolding.

Such were the main features of the new 1930 Championship regulations and they constituted a veritable revolution. The new rules reversed, for the first time ever, the trend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway towards smaller and smaller displacement engines. The previous history had been;

1911-12: 600 cubic inches; 1913-14: 450 cubic inches; 1915-19: 300 cubic inches; 1920-22: 183 cubic inches; 1923-25: 122 cubic inches; and 1926-29: 91 1/2 cubic inches. One reason certainly, for all these curtailments, was to keep the always increasing speeds down.

Now it was back up to a whopping 366 cubic inches! It was disputed whether the newer 1930 type two seaters would prove faster or slower than the then current, single seat, supercharged 91's. The Speedway top brass seemed to think that the new rules would slow the "500" down. 1930 would be the first year since 1923 that riding mechanics would be required for some races.

After the passage of the 1930 Championship regulations there appeared a great amount of discussion in the American automobile trade journals as to their effect and import. Frederick E. Moscovics was at once the most vocal and the most sagacious. He and Rickenbacker engaged in a lively debate.

Moscovics pointed out, first of all, that the new regulations did not exclude in any way, the construction of thoroughbred unsupercharged racing cars at considerable expence. There was even talk about special freak 16 and 24 cylinder cars being possibly built to conform to the new 1930 formula rules. If such vehicles were to be constructed, a stock block powered car would have little or no real chance to win. The way the rule situation existed now, it might well develop that many of the new 1930 "all-out" race cars would cost more, not less, than the old 91 Duesenbergs and Millers. If the rule makers had really intended to make racing less expensive they should have required stock block based engines for all the entries.

Secondly Moscovics, like many others, objected to the re-establishment of the riding mechanic. "Putting two men in each car, as contemplated by the 1930 rules, to my mind is needlessly endangering the lives of the extra men." Moscovics was also against the banning of supercharging and the restriction of two valves per cylinder.

Rickenbacker replied to Moscovics various statements. Rick justified the return of the riding mechanics. "The rule requiring two men in each car is adopted with the idea of helping the drivers. He has all he can do to watch to the front of the car, and the mechanic acts as "eyes" in the rear. More than one crash has happened because a driver leading into a turn did not know what was taking place a few feet in the rear. Another reason for carrying two men in the car is to furnish a post-graduate course of schooling for drivers. There is now no training ground for the board speedway. Ten years ago a fellow had a chance to train on dirt tracks and he became acquainted with the problems to be met in high-speed work. But there is no precedent to guide him on wide-open work on board tracks and he suffers because he does not know the "feel" of speed."

As to a thoroughbred race car being the almost certain winner, Rickenbacker had this to say, "There will be plenty of cars costing less than $5,000 entered at Indianapolis next year and, while they may be competing with a few very expensive special jobs, they will an excellent chance to win. It was not long ago that a car, purchased second-hand for less than $5,000, won a race at Indianapolis. Experience last year and this year indicated that no further engineering information of value to designers of stock cars could be obtained from further competition between the highly specialized 91-in. jobs, except some further advance in metallury. Some change was in order. In fact, rules have been changed every three years for some time. The 91-in jobs had an additional year."

#34 john glenn printz

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 13:05

Junk Formula 1926-1938 (cont.-5) With regard to Rickenbacker's thoughts on riding mechanics Moscovics replied, "I think the results of racing in Europe and America with a driver and no mechanic, answers clearly Captain Rickenbacker's reasons for having a mechanic in the car, and certainly I believe the dangers to that mechanic far offset the reasons given for his use. And, as to the reason that it is a post-graduate school for training on the board speedways, please tell me what board speedways? I hardly presume that they are going to race at Altoona again after what happened there? Salem, I understand, is not in much better shape. Atlantic City has abandoned racing, so what other board speedways are they going to prepare for? I believe the development of such drivers as Louie Meyer and George Souders, the late Frank Lockhart, and many others who arose from the ranks since the one-man car came into vogue, answers whether the one-man car drivers can be developed or not without putting them through this dangerous, hazardous, needless test."

Val Haresnape wrote an article on the new rules as well. "At the outset, one might ask, why were new specifications necessary for Indianapolis in 1930? If necessary, what alternate specifications were available to meet the demand for a change? With the single exception of the Indianapolis Speedway, present-day racing is unprofitable to anyone connected with it. Many of the cars are reaching a point of fatique and the most careful diagnosis is without avail as far as determining when that point is reached. The manufacturers of passenger cars are not interested in racing. This is self-evident from the fact that none of them have built race cars since 1923, while their financial support, even in the most indirect way, has been almost nil. Change, then, was necessary and the way seemed open for a new union of public in the roaring road, as well as for factory support."

"Now, as to the alternates: A new specialized racing car class of, say, 61 cu. in. could have been created. A race could have been instituted for absolutely stock cars. Or, for a sports type car such as has been raced at LeMans, Brooklands, Dublin, and on Aug. 17 in the Tourist Trophy Race at Ulster. These were the objections: American passenger cars were steadily decreased in piston displacement until two years ago, since which time the tendency has been unquestionably toward larger engines and higher ratio rear axles. All practical lessons as to high speed, large power output from small displacement engines, and so on, necessary for the use of engineers for years to come, have been learned from the 91-in. jobs. A stock car is by nature a compromise in the engineer's mind to meet a vast range of conditions. Unmodified, it is not suited to long continuous high speed. And since the birth of the industry, no group of people have ever agreed on what were fair modifications nor as to how to guarantee that no changes beyond these were actually made. American cars are so good that there is but a limited field for sports cars in this country. For the time being, these three suggestions were put aside."

"The regulations have resulted in intense argument. That, at least, shows that they are virile. Many objections, the public champion of whom had been Mr. Moskovics, are that there is no restriction against very expensive cars far beyond even the present cars in complication... We have seen many examples of the expensively built car which seemed theoretically the last whisper but which never won a race. A car has competed at Indianapolis the last three years in which the eventual investment totaled finally this year $125,000. It was never a racing success. There is nothing to fear from this score."

The two great U.S. builders of the 1920's, Harry A. Miller and Fred S. Duesenberg, had thoughts about the new rules too. Miller said, "It seems to be a backward step to go to larger engines and to drop the superchargers, especially when there was reason to believe that they would eventually be suitable for commercial application. Furthermore, I object to the extra hazard of having two men ride, especially as it is quite unnnecessary as races are now run, to have a mechanic along."

Fred Duesenberg opined that. "Barring the three and four valves per cylinder is a calamity, as it takes the place of superchargers and makes it practically impossible to build a highly efficient motor that will stand for long, sustained speed, because it brings in the burning of valves. It may, however, help towards the development of better valve steel and fuels that will not burn valves under extreme high compression and speed."

"There will be a great deal of good derived from this race, there is no doubt that a number of level-headed engineers or "would-be" engineers will work out a semi-stock chassis with very high-class material and simple construction throughout that will probably carry off the money and surprise all of us. It is from this class we will probably see the winner and gain the most knowledge that will be of future use to the automotive industry. Certainly, a lot more can be learned from these than from some of the highly specialized jobs that will be built. Then, too, the manufacturers who are building snappy, speedy automobiles will be able to gain considerable knowledge from cars that will be rebuilt by garage mechanics, and some of these will have injected into them new ideas that probably will give a lot more speed and better performance."

"I have predicted that if the present rules stand there will be 150 entries and about 50 per cent of these will be Fords. From this entry list will emerge probably 12 or 15 high-class race cars, five or six new high-class, star drivers and 15 or 20 wrecked "would-be" race cars and drivers and about 100 more or less disappointed race drivers and builders that are using revamped stock cars."

As to the cost of the new cars Fred had this to say, "Any good race car for the Indianapolis Race is going to cost a lot of money regardless of the winning possibilities. The total cost of one lot of cars, covering a period of three years, has certainly run above a hundred thousand dollars. Their winnings have not been sufficient to pay racing expences to say nothing about covering the interest on the original investment."

A Mr. MacGregor summed up the whole situation, "As I look at the whole thing, the rules are set and everyone might as well make up his mind to lend his support insofar as it is possible and when actual experience instead of opinion is available for guidance, help to change the rules with whatever modifications may be necessary to accomplish the intended purpose."

By December 21, 1929 the Speedway reported that over 50 new cars were known to be under construction and they expected, in all, about 100 entries for the 1930 "500"; but no one knew quite what to expect in 1930.

#35 john glenn printz

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 21:28

Junk Formula 1926-1938 (cont.-6) THE PERFECT SQUELCH OR AN UNSCIENTIFIC POSTSCRIPT. (Note: these comments were also part of my 1979 survey of the 1929 AAA Championship season. I have however added one new paragraph.) May I say that I find myself rather unable to believe that the 1930 rule changes were just a result largely or solely due to Mr. Blanchard's article printed in the July 1928 issue of MOTOR. Rickenbacker, who was a strong minded and opinionated individual but certainly no fool, would not have taken over the Chairmanship of the AAA Contest Board in November 1926 and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in September 1927 without thinking that U.S. motor racing had a future. (Eddie had announced his resignation from the Rickenbacker Motor Company on September 18, 1926.) Rickenbacker certainly saw that the main deficiency of American motor sport was that it lacked industry participation and its accompanying economic support. The big money was in the hands of the U.S. auto manufacturers - if it was anywhere.

Rickenbacker, I strongly suspect, took over the control of AAA racing with the aim of getting some of the U.S. automobile makers back into the sport in a very active manner. Hence I'm inclined to believe that the so-called "Junk Formula" was Eddie's idea from the very start. Blanchard's initial article (MOTOR, July 1928, pages 44-45, 106, 110, & 114) was probably a direct "plant" instigated at the request and/or prodding of Rickenbacker himself. Rick, by being at once both the head of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Chairman of the AAA Contest Board, was in a doubly unique position to enact and enforce his will. Rickenbacker, of course, allowed Mr. Blanchard and MOTOR to take the full credit for the basic ideas behind the new regulations. Eddie was too smart to let anyone believe that he himself was the prime mover of the radical 1930 rule changes.

Rick, who had stayed in very close contact with both the auto industry and AAA racing during the 1920's, may have during the 1925-27 period asked the officials of the various auto manufacturers why they didn't have racing car teams. They may have replied, a bit selfconsciously while looking for a specious way out, that the cubic inch displacement limits in use were way too low to be of any real interest or value to the industry. This was just a makeshift excuse, to be sure, but Rickenbacker himself may have been misled by it all, nevertheless. During 1915-1919 (Rickenbacker himself drove Maxwell, Duesenberg, and the EX3 Peugeot cars in 1915-16), Crawford, Duesenberg, Frontenac, Hudson, Maxwell, Mercer, Packard, Premier, and Stutz had designed and constructed special 300 cubic inch, two-man racing cars to run in the big AAA races. Factory U.S. teams had existed in the past and maybe they could be revived in the future.

It was certainly a truism that the auto industry proper could learn little or nothing of use from the 122 and 91 1/2 cubic inch supercharged racers. But if Rickenbacker really thought, and apparently he did, that he could get some of the auto manufacturers back into AAA Championship racing by upping the displacement limit to 365 cubic inches or so, then he was in for a rather rude awakening. And the sudden onset of the Depression didn't help the situation any either.

Just what the auto industry actually thought about the whole matter is now impossible to say but given a choice between the vest pocket 91 racers and cars utilizing modified production engines, the industry would naturally tend to pick the latter. If anything of real value was to be learned from racing, it would undoubtedly come from running stock block powered machinery rather than the small gem like creations rolling out of the shops of Duesenberg and Miller. And as it wasn't going to cost the industry anything, why not let the boys play around with stock block powered cars rather than the small displacement throughbreds. We just might learn something and it won't cost us a dime!

Despite the official propaganda the new regulations had come from the top, make no mistake about. The "AAA Technical Committee", however it was actually chosen, was a "stacked deck" on this view. It did not represent the thinking of the rank and file, i.e. the drivers and car owners. Rather obviously the Technical Committee was full of passenger car industry spokesmen, none of whose companies had any connection with racing and/or with any actual race cars in the sport. There wasn't a single car owner, driver or track representative on it. Where were their voices? Just two quick meetings, i.e. at Detroit (December 1928) and New York (January 1929), and zip, the new and revolutionary 1930 rules for Indianapolis were in place! The two meetings thus seem, to have been packed by Rickenbacker's cronies. What did the various car owners think who were going to have to pay for it all? We scarcely know, but not everyone was happy.

#36 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 21:38

AAA Contest Board Bulletin for 17 January 1929

#37 john glenn printz

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 20:10

Dear Mr. Ferner;

With regard to your first question on Jan. 8, 2008, you are quite correct that Mr. Blanchard does not advocate any return to two-man cars in his article, "WHO WANTS 91 1/2 INCH ENGINES?". So my statement is incorrect, but if one excises that reference to the two man cars, then I think the sentence is O.K.

Blanchard does go on to say that a manufacturer who enters a racing car using a stock block motor, could easily put a two passenger body on it, and convert into a high performance sports car.

I hadn't actually read Mr. Blanchard's article for over, perhaps, 30 years as the material I'm now imputing, was actually written in 1979 and c. 1995. So I had no real recall at all of the Blanchard article in January 2008, but have just reread it.

I will answer your other two questions and/or corrections shortly, but they are more complicated.

Sincerely.

#38 fines

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 21:08

Thank you very much, Mr. Printz!

#39 john glenn printz

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 17:57

Dear Mr. Ferner;

Now to the question, whether Cantlon drove a single seater or a two-man car at Akron on June 22, 1930.

I believe that the Bill White's Miller-Schofield No. 16, that Cantlon drove at Indianapolis, was the same machine that he used at on Akron on June 22, 1930, i.e. a two seater. Indeed I think that Cantlon drove this same car throughout the entire 1930 AAA Championship season. I was however unaware that Mr. Mishne on page 381 in Dick Wallen's BOARD TRACK (1990) book, asserted that Cantlon piloted a single seater at Akron on June 22, 1930.

It is entirely possible that Bill White and Cantlon shipped a single seat Miller-Schofield machine from California to the east, thinking that Cantlon would have a better chance to win at the 1/2 mile Akron (6/22) and Bridgeville (7/4) board tracks using that car, rather than the two seater. I can't really say, but it is possible.

However the EVENING INDEPENDENT (MASSILLON, OHIO) of June 6, 1930, page 20, has the following paragraph (quote);

"B. Ward Beam, promotor of the local event announced receipt of Cantlon's entry today and at the same time announced that Cantlon will drive the same car in the local event that he piloted to second money at Indianapolis on Decoration Day. It is a Miller Scoffield Special and is one of the new two-men cars."

This data may be pre-race hype, just mistaken, or White and Cantlon may have later switched cars. I don't know.

Another interesting tid-bit of information is provided by the LIMA NEWS of 21 June 1930, page 5 (quote);

"Rules of the race here bar riding mechanics, altho the majority of the cars entered for the event are two-seaters."

I would guess that the same exact AAA rules governed both the 1930 Akron and Bridgeville, Championship 100 mile contests, although we do not know exactly what those rules were. But I think we can now safely say that riding mechanics were barred at both Akron (6/22) and Bridgeville (7/4).

Everything in Wallen's BOARD TRACK book, as excellent as it is, is secondary historical information; including the statistics and the box scores. Wallen's book also, be it noted, upholds the Harms-Haresnape-Catlin-Russo tradition of AAA Championship titles for 1910-15 & 1917-1919; and has Milton as the 1920 AAA Champ, all on page 411. All this is in gross and absolute error; and is ahistorical. In our present case only contemporary 1930 sources can be considered primary 1930 historical material, although by extension, we might include the years 1929 and 1931 as well. But what do we do when a secondary source quotes a primary source? I am always uneasy, if I can't look at the original data, being sited.

This is a great problem in doing church history. Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 260-340) in his ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY is always quoting earlier "primary" sources but some of it was fake. Then there are the PSEUDO-ISIDORE DECRETALS (mid- 9th century) where the forgers mixed their newly created data, supposedly "primary" material of course, and joined it with the genuine. And there is the futher question if the quotations used are exact and what was the context. And there are always in addition, jokers out there trying to mix things up and fool the experts. Even Russ Catlin has been accused of this. There was the Piltdown Man (1912), Van Meegeren's CHRIST AT EMMAUS (1936) "by" Vermeer (1633-1675), Irving's AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF HOWARD HUGHES (1971), and Kujau's HITLER DIARIES (1983). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York City, got stuck with a whole room of fake Etruscan sculptures, which they had purchased, over a number of years. So things are not always what they seem.

And then there are also history's more important and influential "ideological" misrepresentations such as the Priestly Code (P) in the Pentateuch (c. 480 B.C.), the DONATION OF CONSTANTINE (c. 8th century A.D.), and the PROTOCOLS OF THE ELDERS OF ZION (1903). Fakes have influenced history more than the normal layman thinks, but I don't generally believe in the conspiracy theory of history. (Shades of Lorrenzo Valla (1406-1457), the MAGDEBURG CENTURIES (1559-1574); and even Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) and David Hume (1711-1776) on the poems of Ossian (1765)! They, at least, could not so easily be fooled.).

I know of two separate cases, i.e. two different persons, who produced fake AAA Championship box scores. So a critical historian has to be very careful. One has to assume when using primary sources taken from secondary sources, that the author was both honest and competent. This is not always the case. And if you have no data, then just make it up! Two Noble Prize winners, if I remember correctly, were caught later, having done just this.

However I will accept Mr. Mishne quotations as accurate, but I still would be more satisfied if I could see exactly what Mishne was looking at and quoting from. I think that someone probably just made a mistake at the 1930 Akron Championship race. I could be entirely wrong, there is no absolute certainty in these matters. I make mistakes too, as you well know.

Even a contemporary source can be mistaken. Local newspapers often sent a reporter to cover an AAA Championship event, who knew nothing about automobile racing; and they sometimes misapprehended what they saw and garbled what they heard. I would guess that that might have happened here and in this case at Akron. Remember, all the cars running at Akron on June 22, 1930 had only one man, the driver, in each car which might have caused some confusion as to what cars were two-man and single seaters. Who knows?

Probably even the AAA registrars at Akron didn't record which cars were single seat and which were two-man vehicles. In any case the AAA "on site"' data for 1930 is lost, missing, and possibly no longer extant. 1930 AAA Contest Board Bulletins would probably clear up exactly what the regulations were for each 1930 AAA Championship event, but I have seen none. So everything is close to guesswork. That's the way it is...AAA National Championship history is a mess.

Sincerely.

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#40 john glenn printz

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 21:04

Dear Mr, Ferner;

With regard to your last question, what Duesenberg car did Bill Cummings drive to a win at Syracuse on September 6, 1930?

For over three decades I thought that Cummings drove at Syracuse the same stock block powered Duesenberg No. 6, that he had piloted at Indianapolis in 1930 (with relief help from Freddy Winnai laps 113-149), to 5th place overall. However just last year I came across a news photo of Bill's winning Duesenberg No. 6 at Syracuse (i.e, SYRACUSE HERALD, September 7, 1930, page 1) and it doesn't look like the same car. It looks smaller and the No. 6 is different and in another location. Frankly his No. 6 Duesenberg at Syracuse looks more like one of the thorougbred Duesenbergs, that August Duesenberg coverted over for use in the 1930 AAA two-man Championship events.

However a entirely new idea just came to me this week. Cummings could not have been piloting the Duesenberg/Stevens he drove at Indy in 1930, at Syracuse on September 6, because that exact car was then in Europe!

On August 8, 1930 Babe Stapp and mechanic Cotton Henning left New York for Europe, with a Duesenberg racing car and two boxes of spare parts, to compete at Italian Grand Prix at Monza on September 7, and the French Grand Prix at Pau on September 21. Stapp placed a poor 8th at Monza on September 7.

I asked Stapp many years later, about what car he had taken to Europe in 1930, and he replied, "That was the same car that Cummings had driven at Indy earlier in the year." So Bill could not have had that car at Syracuse on September 6, 1930.

At present it seems that Cummings could not have won the Syracuse 100 of September 6, 1930 using a stock block powered car, even one powered with a Model A Duesenberg block. If we had the AAA's car registry for this 1930 Syracuse 100, we could check the winning Duesenberg's piston displacement and would quickly know if it had a stock Model A block or a thoroughbred Duesenberg motor. I would now certainly guess the latter. We do not have such an AAA registry for this race and therefore everything is still an educated guess.

Sincerely.

P. S. Update of October 6, 2011. It is now certain that Cummings did not use a stock block powered car at Syracuse on September 6, 1930. This result eliminates any possibility of a genuine AAA Championship "junk formula" contest (i.e. 1930-1937) being won by a stock block motor, except a 25 miler at Altoona, won by Jimmy Gleason, on September 7, 1931.

Edited by john glenn printz, 16 May 2012 - 13:24.


#41 fines

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 21:56

Once again, my most sincere thanks for an exhaustive and well thought out answer, Mr. Printz! :up:

That's the way it is...AAA National Championship history is a mess.

Sadly, this statement is all so true, even after many years of diligent research by many talented historians! But we keep at it, and it is my honest believe that we are making progress - this thread is another shining example for that. The big difficulty is the scarcity of primary sources, and the bulk of (sometimes very poor) secondary information.

Everything in Wallen's BOARD TRACK book, as excellent as it is, is secondary historical information; including the statisics and the box scores. Wallen's book also, be it noted, upholds the Harms-Harsnape-Catlin-Russo tradition of AAA Championship titles for 1910-15 & 1917-1919; and has Milton as the 1920 AAA Champ, all on page 411. All this is in gross and absolute error; and is ahistorical. In our present case only contemporary 1930 sources can be considered primary 1930 historical material, although by extension, we might include the years 1929 and 1931 as well. But what do we do when a secondary source quotes a primary source? I am always uneasy, if I can't look at the original data, being sited.

I fully understand your uneasiness, it's the same here. In defense of "Board Track" it should perhaps be noted that the book is almost twenty years old! Revolutionary developments in fields of history, like the Printz/McMacken revelation about the Haresnape/Catlin fabrications do take time to become fully accepted. I do not think a book like that would look the same if produced today - we are all learning, most of the time...

I know of two separate cases, i.e. two different persons, who produced fake AAA Championship box scores. So a critical historian has to be very careful. One has to assume when using primary sources taken from secondary sources, that the author was both honest and competent. This is not always the case. And if you have no data, then just make it up! Two Noble Prize winners, if I remember correctly, were caught later, having done just this.

However I will accept Mr. Mishne quotations as accurate, but I still would be more satisfied if I could see exactly what Mishne was looking at and quoting from. I think that someone probably just made a mistake at the 1930 Akron Championship race. I could be entirely wrong, there is no absolute certainty in these matters. I make mistakes too, as you well know.

Even a contemporary source can be mistaken. Local newspapers often sent a reporter to cover an AAA Championship event, who knew nothing about automobile racing; and they sometimes misapprehended what they saw and garbled what they heard. I would guess that that might have happened here and in this case at Akron. Remember, all the cars running at Akron on June 22, 1930 had only one man, the driver, in each car which might have caused some confusion as to what cars were two-man and single seaters. Who knows?

This is the state of affairs, and we have to live with it. Care and scepticism are our best weapons. But often, when I don't have access to primary material (or if it is of poor quality), I try to make the most of the "naive" source that I have access to, i.e. to read and digest with an open mind and a clear conscience of the shortcomings of the author, be it a secondary source citing primary material, or a hapless reporter who is out of his depth in covering autoracing. It's often amazing what you can read between the lines!

#42 fines

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 22:08

(1) Re Shorty Cantlon - I have gone through my records again with a fine comb, and I can't find any evidence of Cantlon and the White single-seater appearing in any event between two races at Ascot in March and November. That doesn't mean there were none such, as my records are FAR from complete, but it was a very potent car, and if White and Cantlon would have shipped the car to the East one likes to think they would have featured prominently in a couple of races.

This apparently not being the case, I tend to agree with you, Mr. Printz, that Cantlon drove the two-man car in all National Championship races he competed in. It appears likely that the original source, from which Mickey Mishne was quoting in "Board Track", may have been confused by the fact that only one person rode in the car. As far as I see it, this case is closed until further evidence surfaces.

#43 fines

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 22:20

(2) Re Bill Cummings - this is a very interesting development! Good point about the car Babe Stapp and Cotton Henning took to Europe, because from my earlier research I knew that it could not have been the same car Stapp drove at Indy - I do believe that one was driven at Syracuse by Billy Arnold! However, I will have to look into this once more, as there are still a few question marks about the individual histories of the Duesenberg two-man cars (of which there weren't many!).

Dear Mr. Printz, I don't know if it's possible, but I really would like to see what you have on the Syracuse race, because my entire research in this case is based on the Phil Harms material, and astonishing though it may be we all know it's not free of (some quite embarrassing) mistakes! Perhaps you could even scan the picture of Cummings in the SYRACUSE HERALD, and post it here?

#44 john glenn printz

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Posted 20 January 2008 - 20:21

Dear Mr. Ferner;

Good. I agree that much progress has been made. Still there doesn't exist a single volume, narrative history of AAA National Championship racing, year by year; whether poor, indifferent, or authoritative! I had aspired to write such an AAA history beginning in about 1955, if no one else did so, but it is beyond my powers. I had thought it would be a worthy project and started collecting material and information in 1953. I began to follow Championship racing in 1953 after being taken to Indianapolis that year, when the AAA was still sanctioning the races. I have, at present, seen 51 Indianapolis 500's live.

It was in the early 1970's when I finally got really serious about this project, but I still had no complete listing of all the AAA National Championship contests or the make of the winning cars. The years 1933-1948 were a complete desert with regard to all the non-Indianapolis AAA Championship races. It wasn't until c. 1979, with Mr.McMaken's magnificant statistical data, that the problem about which races were AAA Championship "point" contests was completely laid to rest after 25 years! Our results were published in 1981, by the Englishman, Gordon Kirby, in his PPG INDY CAR WORLD SERIES 1981, pages 124-136. It was the first listing ever of all the AAA Championship contests and the first correct tabulation of all the AAA National Championship Title winners. Such data had not been available before.

In the early 1980's Catlin and Russo were considered the top experts on the history of AAA racing, by the press and the officials of USAC and CART. Catlin had long been the "Professor Emeritus" with regard to all matters about the past AAA history. Neither Catlin or Russo liked or thought well of the McMaken/Printz 1981 short essay on the entire history of AAA Championship racing, or our musings on AAA history published in Kirby's CART 1983 annual, pages 104-107. Both Catlin and Russo thought many of our findings were in gross error and highly misleading. Russo, it was reported to me, went around saying that, "there must have been more AAA Championship races during the 1930's, than McMaken and Printz list." And Russo had field day with our listing of Reeves Dutton as the winner of the 14 July 1917 Minneapolis 50. Bob laughed, saying we had confused the riding mechanic with the winning pilot, Earl Cooper. How stupid! (If interested in this, consult the thread AMERICAN RACING 1894 to 1920, the 6 July 2007 entry.)

And I might further add that Gordon Kirby's PPG "OFFICIAL" INDY CAR WORLD SERIES ANNUALS, of which there were four, were not put out by the CART organization itself. They were all an initiative of Kirby himself. CART itself never contributed a dime to their publication. I sent our manuscripts directly to Kirby and CART itself was not involved in any way.

And Catlin too was very uneasy and started to squirm about our published 1981 and 1983 surveys on the AAA. Early (c. 1947?) in his career as a racing historian, Russ had made a great and colossal blunder and misdated the 1926-28 Arthur H. Means' 1909-15 and 1917-1920 AAA Championship point charts back to those actual times, which was the year of each chart. The charts were not historical, but later compilations. And Catlin thought Means' ten race 1920 point summary was the original reckoning. Later Russ realized his mistakes, at least about the 1909-15 and 1917-19 material, and thereafter fobbed off everybody from finding out about his gross error here. Now both Arthur Means and Val Haresnape were to be totally and always revered according to Catlin, not criticized. Russ' major "red herring" was to make Haresnape and Means very intelligent, honest, respectful men, who had saved the AAA racing heritage for posterity, by reconstructing the past and "lost" AAA years (1909-1915 and 1917-1920), and putting them back together in a proper order. Kennerdell was apparently responsible for the loss of all the past records. And so Catlin manufactured more mythology about the AAA Contest Board by inordinately praising the work of Means and Haresnape, and always damning that of Richard Kennerdell.

Nobody suspected a thing about Catlin's distortions and machinations. Russo bought everything Catlin said and wrote, but then everyone else did too. There were in fact no AAA documents on the 1909-1915 and 1917-1919 Championship seasons in the Contest Board files in 1925 and 1926 or earlier, because these AAA Championships had never existed. Their complete absence was not due to Kennerdell's indifference, ineptness, or maleficence, as Russ tried to imply. This again is all AAA Contest Board mythology created by Catlin to cover his big mistake of misdating the 1909-15 and 1917-19 charts in the AAA files.

And thus in reality Means and Haresnape didn't restore or preserve anything at all in 1926, 1927 and 1928, but had just confused the AAA historical record. That's all. All the false AAA 1909-15 and 1917-20 charts were created and put forward by Means and Haresnape in 1926, 1927 and 1928.

But now in the early 1980's two mid-western men, who had appeared out of nowhere, were not buying Catlin's version of past events anymore. Maybe I did kill Russ Catlin (Consult my entry on the thread BOB RUSSO AND THE 1920 AAA CHAMPIONSHIP, of 5 Oct. 2006). Russ certainly now thought things were getting too close for comfort. In any case, Catlin died in either Oct. or Nov. 1983. Catlin was then down to just one lung, and always regretted having had the other removed.

Bob Russo thereafter took up the mantle of sustaining the mythological Means/Haresnape/Catlin heritage without realizing what it was. Bob thought it was all historically real. He and everyone else had been completely fooled by Catlin.

Catlin also asserted that he had in his possession all the pre-1931 AAA records which he had rescued from a Washington, D.C. sewer! This story, like a lot of Catlin's lore and yarns, existed mostly in oral form. But it found it's way into the CART NEWS MEDIA GUIDE 1985, on page 2. And so, if Catlin had all the AAA official records before 1931, who could argue or challenge him? Russ cowed literally everybody. The story of Catlin saving boxes and boxes of AAA documents also is stated in the Russ Catlin biography contained in the AUTOMOBILE QUARTERLY SECOND QUARTER 1984, Volume 22, No. 2 , on page 223. Russo told me in late 1984 that he now owned all the Catlin AAA archives. "I now have everthing that Catlin had', he said. Russo's daughter is now suppose to own this material. This entire matter needs to be cleared up and investigated immediately.

What does Gordon Eliot White know about these matters? I think we need to find out. Any volunteers?

It was Mr. Charles Lytle of Sharon, PA, the famous and wealthy auto racing photo collector, who put Mr. McMaken and myself in contact with each other. I knew Mr. Lytle and one year, my wife Mary and I, stayed at his home on our way to see the Pocono 500. Lytle had a 8 x 12 photograph of himself, at about age 12, standing in the pits at the Beverly Hills board track next to Jimmy Murphy, c. 1922. A rich kid, Lytle's family use to avoid the cold Pennsylvania winters by vacating in southern California. Trained as a lawyer, Lytle never practiced law, and never worked a day in his life. Lytle also had a 1919 Indianapolis Ballot racing car in his garage. About a year later, after our staying at Lytle's home, McMaken showed up at Lytle's doorstep. I first heard from McMaken, by letter, on February 24, 1978. Charles had given Ken my address. McMaken had box scores for all the AAA Championship races and point distribution charts for all the AAA seasons! I had originally thought Lytle might be a possible source for AAA Championship box scores. He had photos all right, hundreds of them, but no AAA box scores.

Others problems in 1978, which had to be solved, were the status and origin of the 1909-1915 and 1917-1919 AAA Championships which did not seem to exist in any contemporary sources. Why so? And why were there two conflicting 1920 AAA Championship tabulations? And if not contemporary, where then did all the 1909-1915 and 1917-1919 AAA Championships come from and when was this data put together? All at once or at different times? At first I hadn't a clue. But all these preliminary problems would have to be cleared up, if a genuine and real history of AAA Championship racing was to be put together. Nobody else, except Ken and myself, seemed even aware of these enigmas. McMaken and myself finally cleared all this up, with the proper solution, only in 1988. It had taken 33 years!

Both Ken and I however had, already and independently of each other, arrived at the conclusion, before we had contact in 1978, that the 1909-15 and 1917-19 AAA Championships were bogus, and that Gaston Chevrolet was the genuine 1920 AAA National Champion, not Tommy Milton. We did not know in 1978 what was the source of all the later contamination. But after dealing with these essential preliminaries and solving them in 1988, I for one was exhausted.

I see nothing to alter, correct, or modify in our 1988 solution (ICR January 15 & 29, 1988) of these problems, even after two decades. I think we hit all the nails, right on the head. Russo never attempted a reply and I don't even know, if he even read the two articles. I'm not sure either, whether Russo ever understood what the issues were all about. Nor has anybody else, for that matter, tried to refute our assertions. There's anger, but no rebuttal.

Then again, back in 1985 the CART brass claimed that McMaken and myself had swindled CART of $550 because the historical section which we had provided CART for their 1985 Media Press Guide at their (i.e. Jan Shaffer's) request, and which got printed in it by mistake, was false and bogus. CART said Mr. McMaken and myself had pulled a fast one, and had made CART "to look absurd and ridiculous", and that much of our data (pages 223-292) was pure fantasy. This was mainly, if not wholly due, to Mr. Bob Russo and a bosom buddy of his, i.e. the biggest money sponsor in CART, at the time. That man in 1985 had the two biggest money accounts and sponsorships. He was the man behind all our problems with CART as Bob himself had no real clout, but the big money man did. I never thought that big money or purely business considerations would vitiate AAA automobile racing historical data and statistics (after all who really cares), but I was proven wrong. Compare with my entry on the thread 1946 AAA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP, 22 Jan. 2007.

Ken and I also contributed an ALLTIME NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP INDY CAR WINNERS listing to the CART 1985 media guide (pages 223-227). This had never been put together before either. I compiled it all from Mr. McMaken's box scores. After 1985 CART never gave us any credit for that either. The driver win totals (top ten or so) use to appear in USA TODAY newspapers for years, as supplied by the CART PR men. That was all McMaken and Printz information originally. CART just kept adding and changing the win totals as the additional CART races occurred.

But after our CART swindle I was "persons non grata" to everyone in the CART organization. There was just one exception which I must acknowledge, i.e., J. Kirk Russell, CART's technical man and rules maker. He always thought I was O.K.

Russo was now put in charge of the historical section of the 1986 CART Media Guide and changed all our data back to Means-Haresnape-Catlin orthodoxy, and added new errors by his other quite random changes as well. Bob retained well over 95% of our statistics submitted in late 1984, for the 1985 CART guide, but we were no longer given proper credit for our info. And we no longer had any control over our own data. CART would no longer talk to us. Instead eight people were all collectively thanked and all given equal credit (CART 1986 MEDIA GUIDE, page 188), including Russo himself and his sugar daddy. I thought their listing themselves was dumb, as it might later prove incriminating. Naturally Russo excised all our commentary, which we considered an integral part of our material. CART would not even send me copy of their new 1986 media guide.

That was the way the data was always printed after 1985, always with Russo's revisions, until the very expiration of CART in late 2003, from bankruptcy. McMaken and myself apparently had no effect at all, and we soon disappeared from the scene. Many thought I was dead.

Bob had no use for false information. Ken and I had put both AAA 1920 reckonings in the 1985 CART guide, on pages 238, 239 and 274. But Russo was interested in only true historical data, so he excised all references to the 1920 five event schedule in the 1986 CART guide, i.e. pages 216 and 226. Unfortunately Bob had guessed wrong again, i.e. he retained the later false chart and threw out the earlier and true! See Gordon Kirby's CORRECTING THE RECORD BOOKS (AUTOWEEK, May 11, 1987).

Worst was to follow. Ken and myself having not been heard of, from 1985-87, Russo now decided to show how the McMaken/Printz contention that Gaston Chevrolet was the real 1920 AAA National Champion was totally in error. That, I deem, was a major Russo mistake. I had no advance warning about his INDY CAR RACING article (JANUARY 1987, pages 43-45) but when it arrived in my mailbox, and I read it with care, I broke into uncontrollable spasms of laughter. I was still laughing six months later, although I don't see anything funny about it now. Bob may have been a racing journalist, a publicist, and PR man but he was not a historian.

So and, with good cause for past offences, I penned a hard hitting and vicious attack on both Catlin and Russo (ICR, January 15 & 22, 1988); and this finished us off for good. USAC, CART, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and all the American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association, Inc. (AARWBA) members rose up to a man, against us. Catlin and Russo were both considered semi or wholly divine figures by the likes of the USAC people and the AARWBA. I had attacked two of the most venerable figures in American auto racing, and NASCAR still gives a writer's award in the name of Russ Catlin and the AARWBA does the same for Bob Russo.

But I agree totally with Mr. H. Donald Capps' statement, "It is difficult to conceive of a sport which would allow such nonsense to exist....", i.e. all its mixup of past data and the actual history. Consult Mr. Capps' entry on BOB RUSSO AND THE 1920 AAA CHAMPIONSHIP of 22 Sept. 2006.

And so, after 35 years of work on the project, I had accomplished nothing more than to be completely blackballed by USAC, CART, IMS, and the AARWBA. And the McMaken/Printz investigations had had, seemingly, no effect at all! After all that, I quit, for a full decade. What a waste of time! And I have other interests besides the history of motor car racing. Only the Brits, across the Atlantic and where Catlin and Russo were much lesser known, took any interest in the McMaken/Printz investigations and findings. In the U.S. no one was interested. Well...it's all water under the dam now, but that's what happen to Ken and myself. Corporate America and CART at work.

Now to make a long story, short; I started up again about four years ago and we have been saved by the internet. It was a totally unexpected development. I got on this data base on September 11, 2006. That is 9/11. Unluckly for others but luckly for Ken and myself. I think the struggle and war is largely over now, about the Means, Haresnape, Catlin and Russo issues. So much progress has been made.

It is to the English that Ken and I owe a great deal. It was Gordon Kirby at the beginning (1981-84) and the Atlas F1 Bulletin Board at the end (2006-08). In between, Peter Higham another Englishman, first put our ideas into a book, i.e. THE GUINNESS GUIDE TO INTERNATIONAL MOTOR RACING (1995), although neither Ken or myself were mentioned in the Acknowledgements in either the 1st or 2nd editions. (Compare with Mr. Bob Marley's entry of 26 Feb. 2002 on the thread WHICH RACES DETERMINED THE AAA AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIP?) Our AAA historical reconstruction was again repeated in his 2nd edition (2003), now called THE INTERNATIONAL MOTOR RACING GUIDE, on pages 452 and 456. I believe that Mr. Higham called me from England once, by phone, when he was putting the 1995 book together. Peter wanted to know if we had the top five finishers for all of the AAA Championship contests. We did, but I never heard from him again.

The American (!) Jan Shaffer, who included our data in the 1985 CART NEWS MEDIA GUIDE, against orders from his CART superiors, also deserves much credit. Shaffer was dismissed from his CART post in c. July 1985, for printing our information in the 1985 CART guide.

Many thanks to you all!!!


AAA Championship history? What a mess! So you want to write the history of AAA Championship Racing? I say, you try it. I thought I had had my fill..., but it is just so damn interesting! I'm overwhelmed by it all.

P.S. Mr. Ferner: Sorry for the long disquisitions here, but truth is a very fragile and elusive thing. I do not know how to input data into the internet. It took me months to learn just how to make paragraphs! I still don't know how to make columns. So send me your mailing address on the Atlas F1 e-mail, and I will send you the SYRACUSE HERALD 7 Sept. 1930 article and picture. I have published writings on Tommy Milton, Frank Lockhart, Louie Meyer, and Joel Thorne. And if you have not seen the above ICR essays, by Russo and myself, you might want them too. I also have a history of USAC 1956-1966.

Sincerely.

Edited by john glenn printz, 19 November 2009 - 13:55.


#45 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 21 January 2008 - 14:43

While the history of motor racing is, to borrow a phrase from Doug Nye and apply it here, "....a wonderfully unimportant matter..." -- the point is that history is still history. I have long puzzled over what the motivations were or why someone would so deliberately distort history.... to only smack my forehead and ask myself just what was I thinking? This is so commonplace in some areas of history as to be the starting point for any inquiries.

What is still remarkable about what Mr. Printz writes is that this forum is the only place where this issue has been openly addressed and discussed, mulled over and discussed some more.

Mr. Printz also points out the fact that, "Still there doesn't exist a single volume, narrative history of AAA National Championship racing, year by year; whether poor, indifferent, or authoritative!"

While Dick Wallen has provided the basis for narratives for several years of the AAA National Championship, 1950 thru 1955, there is nothing that addresses 1905, 1916, 1920 thru 1941 and 1946 thru 1955.

So, Michael, have it!

#46 ensign14

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Posted 21 January 2008 - 15:19

The Black Books address the 1916 races, and go into a bit of detail about the car-swapping as Aitken and Resta pursued the title, which in itself demonstrates that any ex-post facto revisions of titles is a nonsense, as there does not seem to have been the same sort of thing going on for the benefit of Val Haresnape in future years...

#47 leestohr

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Posted 21 January 2008 - 19:23

Mr Printz, Thank you very much for providing the background to your amazing research. As a relative newcomer I have been very impressed with your work.

#48 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 21 January 2008 - 23:54

Originally posted by ensign14
The Black Books address the 1916 races, and go into a bit of detail about the car-swapping as Aitken and Resta pursued the title, which in itself demonstrates that any ex-post facto revisions of titles is a nonsense, as there does not seem to have been the same sort of thing going on for the benefit of Val Haresnape in future years...


You must have a different edition of the Black Books than I do. All I have in mine are two paragraphs that give on the barest of details of the 1916 Grand Prize event -- the rest of the 1916 season is completely ignored, mentioning the car swapping in the first paragraph and then making an editorial statement about championships being more trouble than they are worth.

Nothing very illuminating about the event or the 1916 National Championship which is not even directly mentioned much less discussed.

I have known about the situation which Mr. Printz mentions for some time, but it still irritates me to no end whenever I think about it. Then again, this sort of thing is not unknown within the cloistered world of historians, some of the discussions I have endured over the years making the postings on the Racing Comments forum seem very mature and well-considered by comparison. I kid you not. Reading the correspondence from similar academic handbag duels at dawn, noon, and twilight is enough to give you a new understanding as to why it is necessary to question everything. Eric Blair/ George Orwell did not borrow the concept of correcting history just from the Soviets, there being abundant examples elsewhere to draw upon.

Of course, bringing this sort of information to the surface and discussing it is why this forum exists, although its role in historiography is one that is often limited due to the complete misunderstanding of that role by some. Then again, this is simply a motor racing forum we are informed, not a history forum.

I am amazed that there is still quite a bit of resistance to the ideas that Mr. McMaken and Mr. Printz developed as to the AAA National Championship. Indeed, it is often enough to give one a headache trying to explain all this to those unwilling to question what they have found in USAC and CART and IRL materials about the AAA championships. They want to babble on about "heritage" and if there weren't any championships why are they listed in so many places as fact?

#49 fines

fines
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Posted 23 January 2008 - 11:55

Originally posted by john glenn printz
Dear Mr. Ferner;

(snip)

So you want to write the history of AAA Championship Racing? I say, you try it.

Originally posted by HDonaldCapps
(snip) there is nothing that addresses 1905, 1916, 1920 thru 1941 and 1946 thru 1955.

So, Michael, have it!

So you've found your guinea pig, have you? :lol: And when it's all done and committed, all the Is dotted and the Ts crossed, you come back hitting out "oh no, look what he's done, that's what you get when you let a bloody Euro guy do OUR American stuff" :drunk: "AND HE'S EVEN USED METRICS!!!" :rotfl: :kiss:

Seriously :|, although in the past I certainly (like many others here, I'm sure) have had hopes of being a writer some time, my experience since has told me that I'm a researcher foremost - that's what I like doing, and I think I can say I do it well. Writing is fun, and I like to think I'm not all that bad at it, but it's an entirely different league, especially when it comes to high profile publications, which an enterprise such as this would surely turn out to be! I'm not sure I'd be up to it.

Having said all that, sure as heck have I thought about doing it, and how! :D For anyone familiar with the "Grand Prix!" series by Mike Lang, that'd be my favourite format! An introduction covering the years up to and including 1915, and then a short intro into every chapter with technical data about the cars and some background info. All the Championship events covered individually, with the Indy 500 taking up the most space, of course (and of necessity!), then just a few basic statistics at the end.

BUT: one thing that has always bugged me, is that the Championship races, especially in the thirties, are but a very small part of what has been going on - it's the proverbial tip of the iceberg! The history that needs to be written has to include all of Big Car racing, i.e. all the Sprint and Championship Car races at the many, many miles and half-miles all over the big country! That's where my research is centered upon now, and that's what'll keep me busy for another couple of years, minimum!

Let's see what happens then :wave:

#50 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 13:09

I think that it may be some time before we have a history of the AAA National Championship "whether poor, indifferent, or authoritative." I also think that when one appears, the chances are very good that is will be akin to the first two adjectives than the latter. Naturally, that will spoil any chances for the book that actually gets the story straight.

Michael's research skills are, to put it mildly, quite formidable. I know that I never cease to be amazed with what he dredges up from the depths of the past time and time again. Any one wishing to undertake this effort would be well-advised to include Michael in the team as part of the research team.

Were someone to actually attempt this, I would suggest that one decision has to be made from the very beginning as to whether the races, the cars, the drivers or the Contest Board (which includes the promoters and so forth) is the focus of the story. Or at least what the priorities wil be for these topics within the overall story. All four elements are part of the tale, but not all can be the No. 1 element.

Like Michael, I find much to commend in the Mike Lang approach. I have always thought it a good way to provide those elements which invariably get left out when the focus is strictly on the statistics. With my usual tendency towards overkill, I usually find myself combining Lang and Sheldon, basically leaning towards inclusion -- and all the problems that entails.

Once more, Michael hits on an issue that should be -- has to be -- addressed during the period being with the late 1920s and continuing well into the late 1940s and later, that is, discussion of the other Big Car events which took place during the period, not simply the Championship events. This context is necessary to place the National Championship into proper perspective.

One thought that I have had on this for some time is that this is the perfect topic for a monograph.