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Indianapolis 'Junk Formula'


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#51 john glenn printz

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 13:20

Yesterday I sent a letter to Gordon White asking him what he knows about the pre-1931 AAA material that Catlin said he had saved. I do not know, and have never had any contact, with Mr. White. I also enclosed a complete copy of my above 20 January 2008 posting to Mr. White.

And to Mr. Ferner I sent all of my September 6, 1930 Syracuse 100 data, the 1981 McMaken/Printz survey on the AAA and the Russo, McMaken/Printz ICR articles.

It will be interesting to see what Mr. White and Mr. Ferner think about things.

Mr. Bob Laycock (1914-1995), the head of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway press room during May for many, many years; told me repeatedly that Russ Catlin had promised the IMS that, in his will and upon his death, all his pre-1931 AAA material, which he had rescued from a Washington, D.C. sewer in 1950, would be given and turned over to the Speedway. I asked Bob whether the Speedway had gotten anything in both May 1984 and 1985 (i.e. after Catlin's death in late 1983), but Mr. Laycock said the Speedway had received absolutely nothing from the Catlin estate and had been contacted by no one about this matter.

The AAA Contest Board did not destroy any racing records after it had gotten out of racing in 1955. Actually the AAA Contest Board lasted until the end of 1956, as it was engaged in other activities besides racing like safety tests and fuel economy runs. Eventually, in 1967, the AAA turned over to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway all its Contest Board files which had survived, but these covered only the period September 1931 to 1955. That is why the current AAA parent body and organization has no Contest Board records.

According to the Catlin story, the AAA Contest Board decided to dispose of most of their pre-1931 material during a Contest Board move to a different building in 1950. Catlin, along with Norris Friel, then decided to grap all the pre-1931 documents then marked for destruction. Norris supposedly took all the "technical" stuff and Russ kept all the rest. Friel was an AAA Contest Board official and later worked for NASCAR. This then is how the AAA records got spilt into two groups, the pre-1931 stuff and the Sept. 1931 to 1955 material which the Contest Board retained.

And so it was generally believed that Catlin had saved and had in his possession all the 1902 to August 1931 AAA material. It was never very clear however just what AAA documents Catlin actually had. As always with Catlin, everything was very nebulous.

In my 55 years of research into the history of the AAA Contest Board, I have yet to meet any individual who had ever actually seen, Catlin's "rescued" 1902-1931 AAA files. It's also hard to believe that two historians (Catlin and Russo), with boxes and boxes of 1902-1931 AAA Contest Board data and documents to look at, would steadfastly maintain to their dying day, that no less than ten AAA Championship seasons (i.e. 1909-15 and 1917-19) existed, which never ever did exist. And that for the 1920 season they both had the wrong person named as Champion (i.e. Milton instead of G. Chevrolet) and the wrong number of events, (i.e. ten instead of the correct five). Something is certainly very wrong here somewhere.

So I ask you straight out, and without any equivocation; is the "rescue" by Catlin of the 1902-1931 AAA Contest Board files in 1950, just another Catlin "legend" or "myth", similar in reality to his reconstruction and misrepresentation of the 1920 AAA Championship season and his 1951/52 creation of all the 1902-1908 AAA National Champions? (See my remarks on the Catlin/Russo 1920 Championship problems on the thread BOB RUSSO AND THE 1920 AAA CHAMPIONSHIP, starting on September 11, 2006 and ending (currently) on June 30, 2007. With regard to the 1902 to 1908 AAA Championships consult the thread "1905 RACES" and my entries of October 9, 15, and 16, 2006.) I don't really know..., but I think it is high time we should find out; and after 58 years (2008 minus 1950) at that!

Edited by john glenn printz, 09 April 2010 - 13:50.


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#52 fines

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 17:59

Thanks, Mr. Printz, for your consideration.

As an aside, it always pays to keep a check on older postings of Mr. Printz, as he's in the habit of editing his posts frequently, and often over days!;) You miss out on first class teachings of racing history at your own peril!

#53 fines

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 18:15

Originally posted by john glenn printz
(snip) I got on this data base on September 11, 2006.

Coincidentally, I first registered with this Bulletin Board on September 11, 2000! :D

Cheers,

#54 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 18:34

Mr. Printz, Please check for a Private Message. Don

#55 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 31 January 2008 - 12:00

I am not sure which is worse, the Contest Board pitching its files into dumpsters in DC or the files being "rescued" by Catlin and Friel only to disappear into the darkness since the result is the same -- nothing for historians to examine.

If Catlin did indeed have the pre-1931 material, Mr. Printz is quite correct to question as to why Catlin -- and Russo -- did what they did, creating confusion and controversy which is not reflected in the other contempoary sources. Plus, if they had the materials stretching back to 1902 and the creation of the Racing Board, why did they never mention the 1905 National Motor Car championship? Certainly, there had to be some reference to the championship in the AAA files for 1905.

Should the pre-1931 AAA Racing Board/Contest Board records still exist -- and it seems that this might be a possibility, it would seem that they may have ended up with Russo.

Even if the records ended up with the IMS, is there any likelihood that access to the materials will be granted to historians? Or would they continue to sit in the basement along with the other records with access restricted to the very, very few?

We would all be better off if these records were made available in an archives where scholars could examine them, under the usual conditions that exist in other such facilities.

Or am I being my usual delusion self thinking that this is actually about history?

#56 john glenn printz

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Posted 31 January 2008 - 15:18

Dear Mr. Capps;

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, did in fact, allow an Automobile Racing Fan Club of some sort, to come in and put on microfilm reels, all its AAA Contest Board files, i.e. September 1931 to 1955. The sets were made available to the general public and these sets then cost about $600. This was about the year 1982 or 1983, if I remember correctly.

I later talked to someone (I don't remember who) who was involved in this project; and who expressed great disappointment in the job the microfilm photographers actually did.

Later, if I am still correct, Mr. Gordon White, took over the selling of these microfilm reels. I believe they are still obtainable from him.

Sincerely

#57 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 31 January 2008 - 17:22

Mr. Printz,

I have a number of the microfilm reels which were made and made available through Mr. White. The reproduction of the materials, in general, leaves much to be desired. As you suggest, they were produced in the 1982/1983 timeframe.

Are you aware of any others, outside the immediate IMS "family," ever having access to these materials? It is evident that actually viewing the materials in person, which on the reels is a disorganized hodge-podge of material scattered all over the reels and includes pre-1931 materials, would be quite a different matter than dealing some of the poor quality, poorly focused images on the microfilm reels.

I have never managed to figure out why this sort of material is allowed to sit around, out of sight, out of reach of scholars....

#58 john glenn printz

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Posted 31 January 2008 - 20:55

Junk Formula 1926-1938 (cont.-7) THE 1931-1935 AAA RULE SPECIFICATIONS AND GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS. PART III. During the years 1931 to 1935 inclusive all AAA National Championship events required two-man vehicles; and accompaning riding mechanics were mandatory in all Championship level contests, with no exceptions. Engines were limited to 366 cubic inches and suoercharging was totally banned on all four cycle motors. This formula had been introduced at Indianapolis in 1930 but only three other 1930 Championship races used it that year in this strict form, i.e. Detroit and the two events held at Altoona. Four valves per cylinder but no more, and one carburetor for every two cylinders were allowed again, beginning in 1931. Fuel restriction limits were used at Indianapolis in 1934, for the first time ever, and the competitors were limited to 45 gallons for the full 500 mile distance. In 1935 the fuel limit was cut to 42 1/2 gallons. The oil limit for both 1934 and 1935 was 6 1/2 gallons and no oil could be added, after the race had started.

Straight 8 type Miller motors continued to dominant the AAA National Championship circuit during the 1930-1933 seasons. They won 16 of the 22 Championship races staged from 1930 to 1933.The six exceptions were (1-2.) A Miller "marine" 151 four, used by Shaw at Detroit (June 9, 1930) and at Bridgeville (July 4, 1930); (3.) a Miller "marine" 183 cubic inch 4 used by Cantlon at Akron (June 22, 1930); (4.) a straight 8 Duesenberg at Syracuse (Sept. 6, 1930); (5.) a straight 8, 243 cubic inch, Duesenberg at Altoona in a 25 miler (Sept. 7, 1931); and (6.) a 220 cubic inch Miller 4 at Roby (June 19, 1932). It is worth pointing out here that Wilbur Shaw won the Syracuse 100 of August 31, 1929 using a 151 cubic inch Miller "marine" 4. The Miller marine 151 four was originally designed in 1926 for use in powerboat racing. Canton's motor at Akron was a 151 model also, but it had been enlarged to 183 cubic inches.

The Great Depression was now, i.e. 1931-33, having a large negative effect on AAA Championship racing, as money became harder and harder to come by. For 1934 and 1935 all seven AAA Championship contest held were won by four cylinder engines. A four cylinder motor was cheaper to manufacture and build, was easier to work on and assemble, and even to mend and repair. The reason was simple, it had less moving parts. In late 1930/early 1931 Leo Goossen designed a 200 cubic inch Miller 4 for automobile racing proper, using what had been learned from the Miller marine fours used by Wilbur Shaw/and mechanic Floyd Smith in 1929; and Shorty Cantlon/and his car owner Bill White in 1930. This 200 cubic inch Miller was very quickly upped to 220, and in early 1933 again to 255 cubic inches. The Miller 255 was the direct and immediate link to the Offenhauser 255. Louie Meyer always said, and maintained ever after, that the early AAA Championship Offenhauser fours of 1935 and 1936 were actually and really, just Millers.

All the winners at Indianapolis and of the AAA National Championship Title during 1930 to 1933 used Miller straight 8's. At Indianapolis it was Billy Arnold (1930), Lou Schneider (1931), Fred Frame (1932) and Louie Meyer (1933). The AAA National Championship Driving Crown was taken by Arnold (1930), Schneider (1931), Bob Carey (1932), and L. Meyer (1933) using straighr 8 Millers, but everything quickly changed in 1934 and 1935. The Miller and Offenhauser 4's really took over after 1933. Bill Cummings and Kelly Petillo, in the same year, won both the Indy 500 and the AAA National Driving Title, using 4 cylinder engines. Cummings did this trick with a 220 Miller in 1934, and Petillo achieved the same in 1935 with a 262.4 cubic inch Offenhauser. Kelly's motor was a slighty enlarged Offenhauser 255.

During 1931-1935 most of the new cars aimed at simplicity and low cost, in harmony with the times. U.S. racing engineering and technology remained conservative and stagnate. For instance, chassis development was totally nil, during this era. A front wheel drive vehicle however won Indy in 1930, for the first time ever, and front drive cars won again in 1932 and 1934. Front drive had been introduced to the Speedway by Harry Miller in 1925.

Actually Rickenbacker's junk formula of 1930-1935 was, in reference to the stock block powered vehicles, a failure. The stock block cars couldn't really compete at all effectively with all the pure bred, light weight, and more powerful thoroughbred racing equipment, which was still allowed to run unrestricted. The best placement for a stock block car at Indianapolis during 1930-1935, was a 3rd in 1932, i.e. a factory backed Studebaker driven by Cliff Bergere. Likewise on the AAA Championship trail itself only one win was recorded. A modified Duesenberg straight 8 Model A passenger car engine won a 25 miler at Altoona on Sept. 7, 1931, but that was all.

It was during 1931-35 that the only genuine factory team from the U.S. auto industry proper made its appearance. This was the Studebaker team of 1932 and 1933 at Indianapolis. In 1932 their highest placement was 3rd with Bergere. In 1933 their highest finish was 7th for the factory team but Studebaker powered machinery filled up the 6th through 12th finishing placements. The Studebaker factory team also entered the AAA non-Championship 203 mile road race held Elgin on August 26, 1933. This Elgin event was won by Phil Shafer (1891-1971), in his stock block engined Buick/Rigling, at 88.34 mph. The best placement for a factory Studebaker at Elgin was 6th, as piloted by Dave Evans (1898-1974), among the 14 starters.

In 1935 there was a quasi-official Ford entry which was financed by interested owners of Ford auto dealerships. Preston Tucker had talked Edsel Ford into this venture. An hitherto idle (i.e. mid-1933-1934) Harry A. Miller was enlisted to design these cars, which were built in Detroit. Ten Miller-Fords were quickly put together and constructed, four qualified at Indianapolis, and none finished. These Miller Fords showed real promise and some novel ideas but needed much more testing, before being put into actual competition. Many years later Art Sparks said, "You just can't design and build a race car overnight. The independent suspension, the streamlined enclosure for the springs, and the chassis, were advanced ideas. Harry Miller deserved better than a failure for the project." (Source: SPEEDWAY: HALF A CENTURY OF RACING WITH ART SPARKS by Gene Banning, (1983), page 143.)

In 1984 I was talking to Lloyd "Shorty" Barnes. Barnes had worked for Harry Miller, was a good friend of Wilbur Shaw, was a mechanic on Howdy Wilcox II's 1932 Indianapolis entry (it placed 2nd), worked for Sparks at Thorne Engineering, and on the Gulf Miller cars. Mr. Barnes starting telling me about 1936 AAA Championship racing season. "In 1936 I was the mechanic on Billy Winn's car when he won two races, one at Springfield and one at Syracuse." I knew he was actually talking about the year 1935 but I said nothing because I wanted to hear what Barnes had to say. He continued, "Harry Miller was broke and down and out, but he had in his possession a 255 Miller four racing engine. Billy Winn had a Duesenberg racing chassis, but no motor. So the two pooled their resources and installed the Miller 255 in Winn's Duesenberg chassis and we won at Springfield and Syracuse!"

I talked at length to Mark Dees both before and after he published his MILLER DYNASTY (1981) book, but I never told Dees this story. I thought I would keep it for myself and use it when convenient. I got mentioned twice in the 2nd edition of Dees' (1994) classic Miller book on pages 13 and 559. How luckly can one get! For some reason Dees always called me "Jack" instead of "John", maybe an unconscious remembrace of Jack Prince, the board track builder.

Fred Duesenberg had retired from the sport in 1931 but his brother August or "Augie", struggled on until he too quit, in 1934. August's last appearance at Indianapolis, as an actual participant, was 1934 with driver Joe Russo. Russo died, less than two weeks later, on June 10 from injuries sustained in a Langhorne 50 miler run the previous day. On this occasion Russo was piloting a car owned by Lou Moore. This was the end of the Duesenbergs in AAA Championship racing. Harry Miller's fortunes fell also. He was the largest and almost the only race car builder in America but he went bankrupt in July 1933. In 1934, various individuals who now needed new motors, i.e. Frank Brisko, Louie Meyer, and Art Sparks, had to built their own replica Miller 4's, as nothing now could be obtained from Miller himself.

The engine part of Mr. Miller's business was taken over in late 1933, in lieu of back wages owed, by his former and longtime shop foreman, Fred Offenhauser. However, Fred did not apparently construct any motors for the AAA Championship division in 1934. In 1935 Fred started building four cylinder 255 cubic inch engines of the Miller type design and construction. In 1937 this basic and tested design was upped to 270 cubic inches to become the famous and venerable "270" Offenhauser 4. Although in the early 1930's Miller built 8's and 4's, and their close copies or replicas, dominated AAA Championship racing, Mr. Miller himself was largely out of the picture after his business failure of July 1933.

Offenhauser made engines only and so others were enlisted to construct the chassis. The leading names in this area were Myron Stevens (an ex-chassis man for Miller 1922-1927); Herman Rigling (ex-chassis man for the Duesenbergs); Clyde Adams, Phil Summers, Ernest "Ernie" Weil, and Louis "Curly" Wetteroth. Stevens had quit Harry Miller in 1927 to go to work on Frank Lockhart's ill fated Land Speed Record car. Thus began the still existing dichotomy between the motor designer/developer/manufacture and the body/chassis/suspension maker. The year 1930 is the real year of demarcation here, for before 1930, the engine/chassis maker was nominally and usually the same. And in addition Harry Miller too, never made any chassis either, for his 200, 220, and 255 four cylinder motors, produced during 1931 to early 1933. These engines were all sold as separate items.

After the sudden demise of the board ovals (1927-1931) what had the AAA to fall back on? Not much except for some one mile flat dirt tracks built mostly for horse racing originally and located at annual State Fair sites. Such dirt ovals existed at Detroit, Milwaukee, Springfield, and Syracuse. Already by 1928 the AAA had started holding Championship events again on the dirt tracks because of the scarcity of board ovals and that year, two Championship 100 mile dirt races were staged: one at Detroit (June 10) and the other at Syracuse (Sept. 1). It was true that there did exist a few large dirt speedways in the 1930's built exclusively for automobile and motorcycle racing, but these ovals were very few and far between. Roby near the Chicago area (built 1920), Langhorne (built 1926), Oakland (built 1931), and Altoona-Tyrone (1 1/4 mile dirt track, built 1935) seems to exhaust the list. The Roby, Oakland, and Altoona-Tyrone dirt ovals staged only one genuine AAA Championship contest each, in their entire existence, i.e. Roby on June 19,1932; Oakland on November 13, 1932; and Altoona-Tyrone on September 7, 1935. Langhorne ran just two AAA Championship races during the junk era proper (i.e. 1930-1937), i.e. on May 3, 1930 and October 13, 1935. Both of these 1930 and 1935 Langhorne AAA Championship event were promoted by Ralph A. Hankinson.

After 1929, most AAA Championship contests tended to be 100 milers run on flat one mile dirt ovals, right up to the expiration of the Contest Board in racing, in late 1955. Dirt track racing is rough, tough, dirty, dangerous, and relatively slow moving in terms of mph. It took real men to wrestle and guide these big dirt track machines around the rugged, dusty, gutted, and dirty one mile non-paved ovals at average speeds of 70 to 84 mph, over the 100 mile distance. The best of the "dirt" AAA Championship pilots during 1931-1935 were Bill Cummings, Mauri Rose, Wilbur Shaw, Lou Schneider, and Billy Winn. But whatever it is, dirt track racing is hardly a very refined or a great aesthetic experience. It may be very gutsy (it is) and it may also have a small group of rabid followers, but it can never be made glamorous to the public at large.

A stock block powered "Junk Formula" car never won an AAA Championship race. Russell Snowberger, with his Studebakers, came the closest with 2nd position finishes at the Detroit 100 (June 9, 1930), the Akron 100 (June 22, 1930), the Bridgeville 100 (July 4, 1930), and at the Springfield 100 (August 8, 1934).

In sum, the Depression did dire damage to the sport in the U.S. and real recovery would not take place until the early 1960's, when the rear engine car revolution took place. In 1932 the AAA Contest Board put together a semblance of a new National Championship dirt track circuit to replace the old board track schedule, and to accompany and compliment the Indianapolis 500 mile race, but even this proved too much for the following time period of 1934-1941.

Edited by john glenn printz, 01 December 2010 - 16:00.


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Posted 01 February 2008 - 09:59

Originally posted by john glenn printz
Straight 8 type Miller motors continued to dominant the AAA National Championship circuit during the 1930-1933 seasons. They won 18 of the 22 Championship races staged from 1930 to 1933.The four exceptions were (1.) A straight 8 Duesenberg at Syracuse (9 Sept. 1930); (2.) a Miller "marine" 183 cubic inch 4 at Akron (June 14, 1930); (3.); a straight 8 Duesenberg at Altoona in a 25 miler (Sept. 1, 1930); and a 239 cubic inch Sparks 4 at Roby (June 19, 1932). It is worth pointing out here that Wilbur Shaw won the Syracuse 100 of August 31, 1929 using a 151 cubic inch Miller "marine" 4. The Miller marine four was originally designed in 1926 for use in powerboat racing. Canton's motor at Akron was a 151 model also, but it had been enlarged to a 183.

Mr. Printz, I will again endeavour to improve on our knowledge about AAA National Championship race winning cars, if you'll permit! My concern is now the cars with which Wilbur Shaw won his three Championship races in 1929/30 - according to your survey, with which I agree otherwise, Shaw drove a Miller 151 marine-type engine at Syracuse in 1929, and an 8-cylinder Miller at Detroit and Bridgeville in 1930.

1) It is common knowledge that, during much of the late twenties, Wilbur Shaw drove the Miller 122 chassis that was wrenched and (probably) owned by Floyd Smith. This car ran a Fronty-Ford engine until early 1928, when that engine was apparently destroyed in a record attempt, and from then on a 4-cylinder Miller 151, the first successful use of a marine-type Miller in racing, according to Mark Dees. My information is very limited on races of that period, but I believe it was this car that "made" Wilbur Shaw when he finished second at Cleveland/Randall Park on September 25 in 1927, between the 8-cylinder Millers of Frank Lockhart and Ralph de Palma.

The car was known as the "Whippet Special" around this time, and apparently ran as #1 in 1928 - Shaw drove it at Detroit in the June of that year in the AAA National Championship event. Shaw was again very successful in 1929, winning a number of races in cars described as Millers, but I'm not sure if it was the same car all the time, and especially not sure if it still was the Smith "Whippet". So far I don't have any real info about the car(s) Shaw used to win at Toledo/Fort Miami (May 26 and August 18), Pittsburgh/Bridgeville (May 30 and July 4) and Cleveland/Randall Park (June 2), but for Detroit (June 9) and Syracuse (August 31) I have him in a "Miller Special" #45, thanks to the info published by Phil Harms.

At Indianapolis in 1929, a "Miller Special" #45 was entered by Ralph Malamud, a racing driver from New York state who would, much later, become famous as a Sprint Car owner with (mostly) Bill Holland driving. Again, my info is limited, but it appears that Malamud stepped down from driving his car and gave it to Pennsylvanian Sam Greco, who qualified too slow (by almost a minute!) to make the race.

This car has to have been a "rebuilt" Miller 122, i.e. a 2-litre Miller with a new crankshaft to bring it down to 1500 cc engine capacity. As already mentioned in another thread, these cars weren't really competitive with an "outright" Miller 91, but there was still a number of them around, and they were easily reconfigured to 2000 cc and run on the dirt tracks, where the 1.5-litre limit did not apply, and as such they were more than competitive!

My guess would be that Shaw drove the Malamud Miller at both Detroit and Syracuse, most likely as a "real" 122, and perhaps even at other events of the year. Do you have contemporary sources regarding Shaw's car at any particular race?

2) The "Empire State (Motors) Special" #3 that Shaw drove to his two 1930 wins was, apparently, a rebuilt Miller 122, like the two "Bowes Seal Fast Specials" of Louis Schneider for example. And like those cars, it is usually described in the literature for the Indy 500 race as having had an 8-cylinder Miller engine, enlarged to around 2500 cc capacity. But, had it indeed?

The "MoToR" in July 1930 published a list of all Indy 500 starters with a tabulation of some technical data (p206), and listed the Empire State engine as a Miller 4-cylinder of 3 3/4" bore and 4 1/8" stroke, i.e. 183 CID, the same data as the "Miller-Schofield" engine, an improved (mostly enlarged) marine-Type Miller! A simple mistake? Possible, it wouldn't be the only one in these tables, but in a seperate article about the Detroit race on June 9 (p209), it reads:

Wilbur Shaw in a 183-inch four-cylinder Miller won the 100-mile championship race at Detroit on June 8, averaging 68.25 miles per hour.

Note the wrong date, the race was held over for one day because of rain. Are the sources claimining the car to have had an 8-cylinder engine in error, perhaps assuming the rebuilt car to have retained its original engine, when in fact it didn't? Or, perhaps it did and the "Empire State Special" was in fact a rebuilt of the "Whippet Special"? But then, what car did Shaw drive to victory on September 28 at Cleveland/Akron? A two-seater?

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#60 john glenn printz

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Posted 01 February 2008 - 20:57

Dear Mr. Ferner;

I have looked into this question about the four cylinder wins for 1930, because of your inquiry. The data here is all contradictory, again. Wilbur Shaw states in his book (actually ghost written by Al Bloemker), GENTLEMEN, START YOUR ENGINES (1955), on page 114, that he used a 151 Miller marine 4, at Detroit on June 9, 1930!

Probably the writer of the MOTOR notice just thought that Shaw was using the same motor, i.e. a "183" 4, that he had used at Indianapolis, on May 30, 1930. It was, after all, less than two weeks later.

At present I will follow Shaw in his book. I will therefore change my above writeup to include two more 4 cylinder wins, both for Shaw, at Detroit (June 9) and Bridgeville (July 4) in 1930. At this stage everything is pretty much guesswork, but it's the best I can do till more evidence surfaces.

Because of your question here, I have have altered and corrected (?) my text again. Thanks!

I will add that the McMaken/Printz AAA National Championship listing, published in both 1981 and 1985, had the 1930 Detroit 100 as being staged on June 9, 1930.

Sincerely

#61 Henri Greuter

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 14:37

To mr John Glenn Printz

We met ages ago at IMS as you perhaps vaguely remember....

I have never rated the Junk formula very high within IMS history, together with the current situation it is the least like era within IMS history for me. Though with the difference that the junk Formula kept Indy alive and running and help it survive for a future. And I don't know if the current formula is doing anything like it....

But I must give you credit for that, after having printed this thread and read all your data and the correspondence with Michael Ferner, I am looking with different eyes on the junk formula. Not that I begin to like it but I get more respect for it and what it eventually achieved.
Thanks for sharing all of this with us.

sincerely,

Henri Greuter

#62 john glenn printz

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 19:21

Dear Mr. Henri Greuter;

Yes, I do remember talking to you, i.e. two years in a row (c. 1984-85) I believe. You were from Belgium or near there and you were working on a Novi book.

I recollect you telling me that it was from my USAC article in the 1983 PPG Indy Car annual [actually on page 115] that you first learned of Jean Marcenac's 1959-1962 problems with the Bosch ignition system.

Your resulting two books on the Novi are very substantial and fine.

Sincerely,

P.S. I have yet to cover the Junk Formula years of 1936 and 1937. Many thanks!

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 19:30

Henri, I think your dislike of the "junk era" is quite common, and I myself shared it just a few years ago! In all my Indy Car and Champ Car research, I procrastinated as long as I could to delve into the thirties, researching all the other years before and after first! :D But once I had overcome my initial dislike, I found the era to be a most interesting and quite delightful one, and with a "happy ending" to boot: the "good guys" overcoming the Rickenbacker ploy to turn the 500 into a stock car event!;)

#64 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 09 February 2008 - 01:57

I am not sure that I quite agree with either the sentiment or the accuracy of Michael's comment, but then again there is little doubt that this is a commonly held view, Henri having lots and lots of company. The "good guys" vs "bad guys" scenario, Rickenbacker obviously being the leading "bad guy" in all this, is not only simplistic and myoptic, but misses the entire thrust of the effort which was, to be blunt, survival of the IMS. To view this era in that light and with the notion that the Speedway was "saved" from becoming a stock car race is to do so with a subjective basis and opens someone to being highly selective with the story. Of course, this is a fairly comment occurrance when it comes to the part of automotive history concerning racing. We are all guilty of it to varying degrees.

As Mr. Printz has led us through this look at the "formula" and discussed its context, I have to admit that I have gained much and learned even more than I had hoped for as a result of this discussion. As someone whose focus is not directed primarily at the machinery nor having the expertise or patience as Michael, for example, I have been far more interested in the life and times, the Zeitgeist, of this period than a relentless recording of each and every vehicle and its permutations -- for which I certainly salute those doing this. However, that is much akin to counting the oak trees, the conifers, the hickory trees or beeches and ignoring the forest within which they dwell. This similar to the geneologists who are so focused on "mining names" that the context or the documentation from which the information is extracted is often not even of secondary importance.

I first became interested in this era as a result of the Floyd Clymer book which covered the IMS up to the 1941 race. However, it left much out of the story, especially anything to do with the races held away from the Speedway or the various activities and goings-on of the Contest Board, the promoters, the entrants, and the drivers. It was not easy to really find much about this era outside a few sources until fairly recently. That this era is still very much a black hole, a near void or still largely a blank when it comes to the activities that took place is a sign of how much there is to be done.

Lest I seem a bit harsh on those pursuing the machinery over the "politics" and the other squishy stuff, it is from more than a bit of envy of their persistence and the concrete nature of their pursuits.

It is probably neither an exaggeration nor hyperbole to state that there is, perhaps, more information about the history of the various National Championships, especially those of the AAA, here on TNF than anywhere else that can be accessed by either researchers or those simply interested in the topic.

One last comment: Examining the 1985 and the 1986 and later CART Media Guides or Record Books in light of the Russo situation and the efforts to perpetuate the Catlin-created mythology with the slandering of the good gentlemen Printz and McMahan has really irked me to no end.

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Posted 09 February 2008 - 18:20

Just knew I'd get you heated over this, Don! :D ;)

Personally though, I'm VERY glad that the 500 did not become a playground for vehicles such as http://www.indy500.c...es_id=Array&o=h or http://www.indy500.c...es_id=Array&o=h or even http://www.indy500.c...es_id=Array&o=h, not to mention http://www.indy500.c...es_id=Array&o=h or http://www.indy500.c...es_id=Array&o=h or even http://www.indy500.c...es_id=Array&o=h!

#66 Henri Greuter

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 09:39

Originally posted by john glenn printz
Dear Mr. Henri Greuter;

Yes, I do remember talking to you, i.e. two years in a row (c. 1984-85) I believe. You were from Belgium or near there and you were working on a Novi book.

I recollect you telling me that it was from my USAC article in the 1983 PPG Indy Car annual [actually on page 115] that you first learned of Jean Marcenac's 1959-1962 problems with the Bosch ignition system.

Your resulting two books on the Novi are very substantial and fine.

Sincerely,

P.S. I have yet to cover the Junk Formula years of 1936 and 1937. Many thanks!




Hello mr. Printz,

The year was in fact 1988, "my rookie year" at the Speedway.
Country of heritage: Belgium's neighbourcountry the Netherlands.

Thank you very much for your comments on the books I co-wrote with my friend George Peters. I can't state enough that without George I couldn't get it done at all. But reading comment's like yours by a man from such a caliber within this world of racing historians is quite an honor.
And I look to read forward to '36 and '37

Henri

#67 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 12 February 2008 - 01:00

Speaking of 1936....

It appears that the points system proposed for that year was not approved by the entire Contest Board as stipulated by their rules and the system used during 1935 was used for 1936 as well. This meant that when the Cotton Henning protest at the George Vanderbilt Cup race was initally overturned and then later upheld on appeal, moving Rose to 8th place from 7th place, he earned the National Championship by a mere 10 points over Meyer.

That is the Readers' Digest version of things and I am certain that Mr. Printz will further elaborate on this interesting issue. Funny how almost every "box score" still has Rose in 7th place and not 8th which was the final position he was placed in by the Contest Board.

#68 fines

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Posted 12 February 2008 - 07:25

And interesting, as already related to in another thread, how Rose wouldn't have been Champion under the original points system and with the reversed Vanderbilt placing!

On another note, I have meanwhile received mail from John Printz and, needless to say, it's all I have been hoping for, and more! Thank you very much! :)

I had originally planned to respond to it here on TNF over the weekend, but I had something of an "off week", and the end wasn't much better :o, so I had to delay action. Suffice it to say that the Cummins Duesenberg at Syracuse was very obviously not the one he ran at the Brickyard, nor was it another one of the same or a similar type; it was clearly one of the cars based on the type 122. More anon.

#69 fines

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 10:23

Originally posted by HDonaldCapps
The "good guys" vs "bad guys" scenario, Rickenbacker obviously being the leading "bad guy" in all this, is not only simplistic and myoptic, but misses the entire thrust of the effort which was, to be blunt, survival of the IMS.

In the light of my Big Car research I have often wondered, how would the whole scene have developed if not for the two-man cars? A fact that is impossible to overlook is, e.g., that "Sprint Car" racing (with one-man cars!) actually thrived in the thirties! A look at the other thread dealing with this era from another perspective (http://forums.autosp...&threadid=97828) will reveal that racers, as usual, adopt to difficulties and continue to... RACE! Expensive Miller and Duesenberg hardware was bit by bit replaced by homemade chassis and hopped-up Ford engines, and here we go - nothing wrong with that, in fact the backbone of the US racing scene until the rear-engined revolution, and effectively until today in the dirt track scene!

Add to that the near total eclipse of autoracing as a subject in the newspapers of the time, as evidenced by John Printz earlier in this thread, and the realisation dawns: Autoracing as such, the Indy 500 and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway have survived despite Eddie Rickenbacker, not because of him!

#70 john glenn printz

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 15:28

Junk Formula 1926-1938 (cont.-8) JUNK FORMULA RULES FOR 1936 AND 1937. PART IV. THE 1936 AAA SEASON.

At an important annual meeting at New York City's Hotel New Yorker on February 17, 1936, the AAA Contest Board decided that riding mechanics would be prohibited in all AAA Championship contests staged on a dirt surface, although two man cars were still required in them. It was now deemed too dangerous to allow riding mechanics to ride in the AAA Championship level dirt races. Curiously however riding mechanics were still mandatory at Indianapolis. All AAA Championship contests in 1936 still had a 366 cubic inch limit on the size of the engines, just as it had been throughtout 1930-1935. And the 1931-1935 ban on supercharging continued for all the Championship level dirt track races in 1936.

In late March 1936 the AAA Contest Board announced that supercharging would be allowed at Indianapolis on all four cycle engines again, for the first time since 1929, but this new option was largely still born and a meaningless gesture. There was only one supercharged entry in 1936, i.e. an eight cylinder No. 49 French Bugatti entered by Overton A. Phillips (1908-1999) and piloted by Luther Johnson (1903-1978), but it failed to qualify and/or make the race day lineup.

At Indy in 1936 the fuel limit for the 500 miles was lowered again, now down to just 37 1/2 gallons. All the competitors now deemed this a very critical and serious situation. In 1935, with 42 1/2 gallons allowed, only one car ran out of fuel, i.e. Cliff Bergere's Buick/Rigling, after 196 laps completed. However a supercharged motor generally uses more fuel than a normally aspirated engine, so supercharged entries at Indy in 1936 were not at all practical, which explains why only a single example was actually entered. As it turned out in the 1936 Indianapolis 500, no less than seven cars went out of the race, before they completed the 200 laps, because they had run out of fuel. These were Frank Brisko (lap 181); Floyd Roberts (lap 184); Lou Moore (lap 186); Doc Williams (lap 193); Rex Mays (lap 193); Shorty Cantlon (lap 195); and Harry McQuinn (lap 197)!

Another important decision taken on February 17 was that the AAA Contest Board would demand a minimum purse of $7500 for a National Championship contest as opposed to a minimum purse of $5000 which had been current during 1935. The AAA claimed that five Championship events were already on the 1936 schedule, with the possibility perhaps of several more, because some of the 1935 sites where Championship contests had taken place were not yet on the list. By late March 1936 the AAA Championship season shaped up as follows: (1.) Indianapolis 500 (May 30); (2.) Goshen 100 (August 15); (3.) Springfield 100 (August 22); (4.) Syracuse 100 (September 12); and (5.) the Roosevelt Raceway 400 (October 12).

There existed a possibility that a Championship 100 miler might be run the Altoona-Tyrone 1 1/8's mile dirt track and would be later added to the 1936 AAA schedule. The Altoona-Tyrone Speedway was a 1 1/8 mile dirt oval which had been built inside the boundary or parameter of the old (1923-1931) 1 1/4 mile Altoona board track. Its inaugural race had been the 7 Sept. 1935 Championship 100 miler, won by Lou Meyer in a Miller/Stevens. Meyer, with this same car, would win the 1936 Indianapolis 500. The machine had been constructed originally for the 1934 "500". Its "copy" of a 4 cylinder Miller 255 motor had been built and put together by Meyer himself during late 1933/early 1934.

As it ultimately turned out only four AAA National Championship contests were run in 1936: i.e. Indianapolis (May 30) and three other races all held, oddly enough, in the state of New York. The sites of the last three were Goshen (June 20); Syracuse (Sept. 15); and Long Island (October 10). The total milage of 1000 run in 1936 was unchanged from that of 1935 but there were two less races in 1936, i.e. four instead of six.

On April 3rd it was announced that three 100 mile AAA National Championship races would be held in 1936 at William H. Cane's "Good Time Park" located in Goshen, New York. The dates were to be June 13, August 29, and October 3. No automobile races had ever been held at this horse racing facility before, then the site of the famous trotting classic, the Hambletonian Stake Race. The Goshen 1 mile track had the shape of a triangle and one of its three turns was so sharp that the drivers had to slow down to about 45 mph to negotiate it.

The nominal sponsor of the Goshen 100 (June 20) was William Cane but Ira Vail seems to have been in charge of things. Al Steward was the starter and the attendance was estimated at about 20,000. Rex Mays led all 100 laps in the Sparks/Stevens-Summers car which had also won the 1934 Mines Field 200 (Dec. 23), when Petillo was driving it. This was Mays' first Championship win. The other two 1936 scheduled 100 mile Championship races for Goshen were never held although AAA sprint events were staged there on October 3. This 1936 race was the only National Championship contest held at Goshen before World War II but two more were held after the war in 1946 (Oct. 6) and 1947 (Aug. 17), both being then won by Tony Bettenhausen.

Rickenbacker's 1930-35 junk formula was a uniquely AAA and U. S. phenomena and did not apply anywhere else in the world. In October 1932 the International Grand Prix formula for 1934 was announced. It was a weight formula with no restrictions whatsoever on supercharging, engine size, or single seat cars. A car could not however exceed 750 kg. (c. 1650 pounds) in weight. The top Grand Prix entrants for 1934 designed and developed one man vehicles with large and supercharged motors. The top teams were Alfa Romeo, Auto Union, and Mercedes Benz. The 750 kg. Grand Prix regulations lasted for four straight seasons, i.e, 1934, 1935, 1936, and 1937.

In the U.S. itself, it was thought in some circles, that a real interest in motor racing could be created and raised in a big "match up" between the AAA two man Indy Championship cars and the European Grand Prix machinery. But to make this event a reality it was necessary that the AAA Contest Board waive the two man car rule and the ban against supercharging; otherwise the foreigners would not come over.

Throughout 1936 there was a great deal of discussion about a new 242 acre four mile road racing complex to be built on the eastern end of the Roosevelt Field airport, located at Mineola (Westbury), Long Island. The cost of the project was to be about $750,000 and George P. Marshall (1896-1969), then the owner of the Boston Redskins football team, was the president of the Motors Development Corporation, which proposed to construct this circuit which they named the Roosevelt Raceway. The site was almost on the same exact spot where Charles Augustus Lindbergh (1902-1974) took off in his Ryan monoplane, the Spirit of St. Louis, when he made his epoch New York to Paris non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean on May 20-21, 1927. (The Boston Redskins football franchise, be it noted, was moved to Washington, D.C. in 1937.)

The organizers and founders of the Roosevelt Raceway, as listed in the official Vanderbilt Cup 1936 race program, were (1.) George P. Marshall, President; (2.) George H. Robertson, Vice-President; (3.) Paul Abbott, Treasurer; (4.) Edward V, Rickenbacker, Director; and (5.) C. Coburn Darling, Director. Robertson was the former winner of the 1908 (Oct. 24) Vanderbilt Cup race.

Work began on the track on June 12 and the circuit was offically dedicated, but not completely finished, on September 8. The inaugural event was to be the George W. Vanderbilt Cup, a 400 miler and an AAA National Championship race, to be held on Columbus Day 1936, i.e. October 12. George W. Vanderbilt (1914-1961) was a cousin of William K. Vanderbilt II (1878-1944) who had staged the first Vanderbilt Cup race for automobiles on Oct. 8, 1904 at Long Island, NY. George was evidently enlisted to provide a suitable trophy or "Cup" and was made the Honorary Referee. It was all an obvious attempt to link up this new race to the old W. K. Vanderbilt series (1904-1916) which had expired in Santa Monica on 16 Nov. 1916, when "Willie K." had withdrawn his famous Cup.

The new 1936 circuit was an artificial road course, 4 miles in length and consisted of 16 distinct turns. The Vanderbilt Cup race had the standard U.S. 366 cubic inch limit on engine size but supercharging, single seat vehicles, and riding mechanics were all quite legal, but not obligatory. Each car was required during the race to make a one minute pit stop between the 40th and 60th lap for inspection by the technical committee. There were no fuel or weight restrictions on the cars. Of course some American teams entered single seat cars as well as the foreigners. The U. S. two man Championship cars were given an option. They could run with or without a riding mechanic; none were used however because the car owners and drivers regarded them as totally useless and as only unwanted extra weight.

By mid-September 57 entries had been received with major teams and first rate drivers coming from Australia, England, France, Italy, as well as the USA. Significantly there were no entrants from Germany, which meant that the two foremost European Grand Prix teams, of Auto Union and Mercedes Benz, would not be present. Eventually 66 entries were secured. The class of the field were the three 12 cylinder Alfa Romeos entered by the Scuderia Ferrari and driven by Tazio Nuvolari (1892-1953), Count Antonio Brivio (1905-1995), and Dr. Giuseppe Farina (1906-1966). A feeble attempt to construct more suitable cars than the standard American left turning oval track machines was made by Cotton Henning, Lou Moore, and Harry Hartz for their respective drivers Bill Cummings, Mauri Rose, and Ted Horn. The two oddest cars in the race itself certainly, as it turned out, were two stretched out, 104 cubic inch Offenhauser powered midgets, No. 51 driven by Bob Swanson (1912-1940) and No. 53 piloted by Louis Tomei (1910-1955).

Very obviously the 1936 Vanderbilt Cup 400 would be no ordinary automobile race with its odd mixture of foreign drivers and the top U.S. pilots and/or the European road racing cars and the American oval track "Specials". 45 cars would be allowed to start the race. Practice began on September 27 when, for the first time, genuine racing cars took to the new Roosevelt Raceway.

#71 john glenn printz

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Posted 26 February 2008 - 19:06

Junk Formula 1926-1938 (cont.-9) During the practice sessions it became very evident that the speeds being posted were much slower than had been anticipated by the track designers, of whom Arthur "Art" C. Pillsbury was the chief, and the raceway management. The elaborate and complex design of the Roosevelt Raceway circuit was suppose to equalize the merits of the foreign road racing cars with the American/U.S. oval speedway equipment but it was immediately obvious that the labyrinthic and highly twisted course greatly favored the European machines. The drivers also thought the new circuit very tiring and many of them expressed the opinion that many relief pilots would be needed for the 400 mile contest. It now appeared likewise that the winner could hardly expect to average more than 65 mph for the 400 mile distance. and if indeed that were the case, it would take more than six hours to run the 400 miles. Would the fans, however ardent, stand for that? For these various reasons the AAA on October 5 reduced the race mileage from 400 down to 300.

The time trials consisted of five laps around the twistly course and the first qualifying sessions took place on October 6, with Antonio Brivio, Billy Winn, Wilbur Shaw, Giuseppe Farina, George Connor, Deacon Litz, Al Putnam, and Phil Shafer completing their attempts. Nuvolari had gear trouble on an abortive run. Brivio had the fastest time, with a 67.03 mph average. On the next day Tazio Nuvolari, Bob Swanson, Chuck Tabor, Chet Gradner, Pat Fairfield, Emil Andres, and Phillipe Etancelin qualified to bring the starting field up to 15 cars. Lord Howe and Babe Stapp spun in their attempts. Rex Mays crashed into the guard rail during practice and badly wrecked his two time (1935 & 1936) Indianapolis pole winning Sparks/Stevens-Summers car, much to the chagrin of Art Sparks. Mays had won the 20 June 1936 Goshen 100 using this machine. Nuvolari showed what he could do by posting a 69.929 mph qualification average, the fastest that would be achieved by anyone.

NOTE: The Alfa Romeo team had, at least, four cars at the track. Farina qualified on the first day with an 8 cylinder car (Type 8C-1935) with a total time of 18:16.95 (65.636 mph) and a fast lap of 66.339 mph, but this entry was later withdrawn. Farina requalified on October 11 with a 12 cylinder job (Type 12C-1936).

The trials were rained out on Octobet 8, but the remaining qualifications held on 9, 10, and 11, filled up the grid. Louie Meyer, who had been dickering all week long for a Maserati, made a last ditch effort on the 11th to qualify a Bugatti. On a practice run Louie spun and the car hit the guard rail. Meyer later said it was his unfamiliarity with the Bugatti that had caused his accident. He had stepped on the gas pedal when he had intended to push the brakes. So neither Lou Meyer nor Rex Mays would be in the race because of their wrecked cars.

All the qualifiers after the first day of the time trials, i.e. October 6, had to line up behind those of the first day but then, the rest of the starting field lined up by their posted speeds irrespective of what day they qualified.

And so on Columbus Day 1936 (Oct. 12) Garfield "Gar" Arthur Wood (1880-1971) at 11:05 a.m., the "Silver Fox" of power boat racing, gave the order and the 15 rows of three moved out. Although Nuvolari started 8th, he was already leading by the time the flying pack got down to the first turn. Billy Winn was in 2nd place for the first five circuits, in his rather unimpressive looking No. 7 "Miller Special" and then after being passed by Brivio on lap 6, stayed in 3rd position until he pitted on circuit 64 with a blown tire. Winn then dropped to 5th. During this stop the exhausted Winn turned the car over to Ken Fowler (1907-1981). Fowler completed lap 70 but then the rear end gears collapsed and the glorious effort was ended.

Tazio Nuvolari, "The Man who had a Pact with the Devil", was clearly superior to everyone else and had started lapping other cars before he had even run ten laps. Tazio passed cars deftly and easily everywhere on the four mile circuit and won the contest by a margin of 11 1/2 minutes. He made two pit stops and led every lap except number 26. His average winning speed was 65.998 mph. The 40 year old Italian ace started the event weighing 137 pounds and came out of it scaling just 124 pounds.

Count Brivio, Nuvolari's teammate, held on to 2nd place during laps 6 to 72, except lap 26, which he led when Tazio made his first pit stop. At 40 laps the running order was Nuvolari, Brivio, Winn, Wimille, Sommer, and Etancelin. On lap 72 Brivio had to pit for eight minutes because of an overheated motor. Brivio then took to the raceway again but had to stop again on the very next lap because his mechanics had neglected to fasten down the hood of his car. The extra stop allowed the Frenchman, Jean Wimille, in a modified Type 59 Bugatti to slip into 2nd and prevented a one-two all Italian Alfa Romeo finish. The third Alfa, driven by Farina, retired on lap 18 with a broken steering arm while running 4th and had been, at the time, heavily challenging the fierce Billy Winn for 3rd position. All in all the official Alfa Romeo grand prix team (i.e. Scuderia Ferrari) made a great impression with their very clear superiority, and their first and third final finishing postions. With the superior German vehicles absent, i.e. Auto Union and Mercedes Benz, the Alfa Romeo/Scuderia Ferrari team had had a field day in the U.S.

Wilbur Shaw wrecked his two man, "Pay Car", on lap 3. This streamliner had been built by Shaw and Myron Stevens for the 1936 Indianapolis 500, where it had led laps 32-82 before its hood came loose. Eventually Shaw, with Stevens also along as the riding mechanic, and after a long delay to make the hood stay put, placed 7th. Art Sparks told me that Shaw, before he had started constructing this car, had asked to look at all the data that Art had on the advanced two man Miller/Adams streamlined "Catfish", which Art and Paul Weirick had constructed in 1932. Shaw would later win the 1937 Indy 500 with this "Pay Car" and take 2nd with it at Indianapolis in 1938.

The only other American born driver, besides Winn, to make much of an impression against the Europeans was Bob Swanson driving an unsupercharged 104 cubic inch midget. Swanson made a very poor start but by 35 laps, had moved into 5th! The little car proved amazingly adept in the more twisty parts of the pretzel shaped sections of the track and Bob was getting everything possible out of the vehicle. But Bob ran out of fuel, on the course, when about 2/3's into the race, and thereby lost many laps. With great and unequal odds against them both Swanson and Winn had put on a spectacular show but the inevitable result did not fail to appear- rank failure. In the final results Swanson was listed as 23rd and Winn/Fowler as 32nd.

Foreign entries ended up with the first six finishing positions. Mauri Rose, in 7th, was the first U.S. driver across the line. As surprising as it appeared to many, there were no major accidents during the race. The top ten finishing positions were (1.) Tazio Nuvolari, Alfa Romeo, speed average 65.998 mph; (2.) Jean Pierre Wimille, Bugatti, 64.072 mph; (3.) Count Antonio Brivio, Alfa Romeo, 62.994 mph; (4.) Raymond Sommer, Alfa Romeo, 62.719 mph; (5.) Pat G. Fairfield, E.R.A., 60.645 mph; (6.) Frederick J. McEvoy/Carlo Trossi, Maserati, 60.518 mph; (7.) Mauri Rose, Miller, 60.486 mph; (8.) Bill Cummings, Offenhauser, 60.459 mph; (9.) Phillipe Entancelin, Maserati, 60.182 mph ; and (10.) Deacon Litz/Tony Willman, Miller, 59.781 mph.

Nuvolari's win here was the first for a V12 powerplant, in a major U.S. race, since Ralph DePalma won the Cincinnati 100 on 4 July 1918, and two 50 milers at Sheepshead Bay (17 Aug. 1918 and 14 June 1919), using a Packard.

The 1936 Vanderbilt Cup was attended by many of New York state's "High Society" and other notables. Among these were New York's Mayor, Fiorello H. LaGuardia (1882-1947); Mr. and Mrs. John Hay Whitney; Mr. and Mrs. Walter P. Chrysler; Howard Hughes (1905-1976), Victor Emanuel; Mr. and Mrs. Edsel Ford; Averall Harriman (1891-1986); Stuart Symington (1901-1988); Mrs. Bernard Gimbel; Henry B. Dupont; etc. There were many Vanderbilts present including William K. Vanderbilt, Jr. who had sporsored the original (1904-1916) Vanderbilt Cup series. It was duly noted that these famous and wealthy groups didn't watch the race much but rather used the occasion for mostly drinking and idle gossip. They were all housed on the roof terrace boxes of the three story main clubhouse complex.

High class clubhouse seats were $27.50 each. Main grand stand tickets were priced at $18.50, $11.00 and $7.00. The infield general admission was $2.75. The time trial days had been $1.00. The grandstands could seat 60,000 and the infield could hold another 100,000.

Despite all the effort, expense, hype, and publicity this 1936 Vanderbilt Cup race was generally regarded as a failure. Only 50,000 people attended, about half of what the promotors vainly hoped might show up. On a track where many of the competing cars couldn't attain a lap speed of 65 mph, the vehicles often looked like they were barely moving. One thing was immediately obvious and that was that the circuit would have to be altered so much faster lap speeds could be posted.

The U.S. teams had, on the face of it, made a very poor showing but they were in no postion with their various and privately owned oval track "Specials" to challenge the expensive European vehicles especially built for road racing. The U.S. entries had inadequate brakes, transmissions, suspensions, the maximum engine horsepower was within a very narrow range of rpm's, and they were all constructed using obsolete, moribund and elementary engineering practices; but had these foreign cars, drivers and teams entered the Indianapolis 500 and/or the Syracuse 100 they probably wouldn't have fared so well. And it was no accident either that the two top U.S. pilots to place were Mauri Rose (7th) and Bill Cummings (8th).

#72 kris

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 01:34

Congratulations for the thread, what an amazing mount of infos I found here !!!
I'm trying to learn about the history of champcar & indycar, and believe me that's quite difficult for a non-english speaking guy. I usually refer to the data posted on this site : link -
Can you tell me if the data is good ?
I see they gave Gaston Chevrolet as the 1920 champ and put some reserves for the years when points were awarded later. Also see that for 1946 it doesn't match the ARA Open Wheel CD or the Phil Harms Data with more than 70 races listed ????????

#73 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 11:50

Originally posted by kris
Congratulations for the thread, what an amazing mount of infos I found here !!!
I'm trying to learn about the history of champcar & indycar, and believe me that's quite difficult for a non-english speaking guy. I usually refer to the data posted on this site : link -
Can you tell me if the data is good ?
I see they gave Gaston Chevrolet as the 1920 champ and put some reserves for the years when points were awarded later. Also see that for 1946 it doesn't match the ARA Open Wheel CD or the Phil Harms Data with more than 70 races listed ????????


The Champ Car Stats site is quite good, striving for an accuracy usually lacking at other similar sites. The 1920 and 1946 seasons are examples of his efforts to get it "right." Unlike most other sites, that site is very explicit about the 1909-1915 and 1917-1919 seasons not being part of the AAA National Championship. And, to be honest, this is difficult for those of us who speak English.

#74 fines

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 20:37

Champcarstats.com is done by a TNFer, and it does make an effort to present the data in a correct and complete fashion, but it still contains quite a few bloopers!;) However, given the enormity of the task (and given time!), I'm sure most of it will be ironed out eventually, and the site will become a prime source. :)

#75 kris

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 06:43

Well, I began to read the thread about the 1946 AAA National Championship and now I understand the reason of the so many races on the Champcarstats for that year.
Once again, thanks you all , mr Ferner, mr Printz and mr Capps : your work and research are very helpful to better understand the way the data has been treated by AAA and previous "historians" of the sport, a great thank for sharing this work.
I still have not finished the reading of that thread about 1946 but was wondering :
- does someone have the standings and points for the AAA Midwestern and Eastern Sprint Car Championships
- does a simple addition of points earned in Sprint Cars and Champ Cars with points earned in the six Champ Cars events match the standings and points that mr printz found ?

I discovered that I do own the official final 1946 AAA Championship driver results, as of 31 Dec 1946. The final AAA standings for 1946 are (top ten); 1. Horn-2448, 2. G. Robson-1544, 3. Andres-1348, 4. Holland-1280.6, 5. Hinnershitz-896.8, 6. Ader-850, 7. Jackson-800, 8. Chitwood-693, 9. Mays-613, and 10. Dinsmore-454. Source: ILLUSTRATED SPEEDWAY NEWS, 3 Jan 1947, page 5.



#76 ry6

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 08:03

In the early 1930's Studebaker (should I say Rigling?) built some special racers for the Indy 500 'junk formula'.

These cars were then 'streamlined' for later Indy races.

One of these cars was imported to South Africa in 1935 for racing.

Some time back I wrote a story about the Indy Studebakers and the 'South African' car.

(I was given some great help in my research by John Shanahan who had rebuilt one of these cars.)

I read recently that Briggs Cunningham's "Monstere" was perhaps the first race car developed in a wind tunnel.

However, I recall seeing a photo of a wooden model of the Indy Stude streamliner and an indication that way back in 1933 or so it was being tested in a wind tunnel?

Don - can you perhaps confirm, comment?

Regards

Rob

#77 Gerr

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 15:14

Originally posted by ry6
In the early 1930's Studebaker (should I say Rigling?) built some special racers for the Indy 500 'junk formula'.

These cars were then 'streamlined' for later Indy races.

One of these cars was imported to South Africa in 1935 for racing.

Some time back I wrote a story about the Indy Studebakers and the 'South African' car.

(I was given some great help in my research by John Shanahan who had rebuilt one of these cars.)

I read recently that Briggs Cunningham's "Monstere" was perhaps the first race car developed in a wind tunnel.

However, I recall seeing a photo of a wooden model of the Indy Stude streamliner and an indication that way back in 1933 or so it was being tested in a wind tunnel?

Don - can you perhaps confirm, comment?

Regards

Rob


"The wind tunnel also provided additional money for Johnson. The university permitted him and a friend to rent the wind tunnel when it was not in use for $35 an hour. Among their customers was the Studebaker Motor Company, which was designing a streamlined automobile and wanted the most efficient configuration possible to fully utilize the power of the engine. And the student operators of the wind tunnel did just that for Studebaker.

In his spare time, Johnson tutored other students in calculus. He graduated in 1932 with a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering and started looking for an engineering position at aircraft firms on the east coast. But there were no jobs for even the most talented young engineers at companies struggling just to survive in the depths of the Depression. Johnson decided to join the U.S. Army Air Corps to become an aviation cadet. The Air Corps turned Johnson down when he failed the eye examination. Once again he sought work as an engineer at aircraft companies, this time on the west coast via a borrowed car. The only encouragement he received was at the small Lockheed Aircraft Corporation in Burbank, California, where the company had just been reorganized from bankruptcy.

"There were no jobs then at Lockheed in 1932, but engineering executive Richard von Hake at the plant suggested, 'Why don't you go back to school and come out again next year? I think we'll have something for you.'"

Johnson returned to the University of Michigan for a year of graduate study to obtain a master's degree, his expenses paid by the grant of a $500 fellowship. He studied supercharging of engines, to get high power at high altitude, and boundary layer control. He also went back to the wind tunnel, where among the projects was the design testing of cars that would race at the Indianapolis 500 race."

http://www.nap.edu/r...s/cjohnson.html

http://aerospace.eng.../pawlowski.html

http://auto.howstuff...nd-cruiser1.htm

#78 fines

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 16:10

Originally posted by ry6
In the early 1930's Studebaker (should I say Rigling?)

No, if you ask me - the cars were factory entries, and were almost certainly assembled at South Bend, and even if they were (partly) built at Herman Rigling's shop at Indianapolis, that's about akin to Ferrari having their chassis built at Gilco's or GTO. Those cars were Studebakers, through and through.

#79 fines

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 16:18

Originally posted by kris
I still have not finished the reading of that thread about 1946 but was wondering :
- does someone have the standings and points for the AAA Midwestern and Eastern Sprint Car Championships
- does a simple addition of points earned in Sprint Cars and Champ Cars with points earned in the six Champ Cars events match the standings and points that mr printz found ?

There were no sectional Big Car championships in 1946, but attempts have been made to create them retroactively. I have seen Ted Horn (E) and Elbert Booker (M) listed in an official USAC source from 1971, but Buzz Rose in his fairly recent books has made his own calculations, and comes up with Bill Holland (E) and Bus Wilbert (M) as "true" 1946 champions; his calculations are flawed, however.

I am still researching this subject and hope to be able to come up with a complete understanding of the points situation in 1946, however you have to remember that there was only one (combined) Championship that year!

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#80 fines

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Posted 02 March 2008 - 14:37

Found this per chance, a comment on the state of Indy Car racing in year 5, the penultimate of the 'junk formula' in "The Piqua Daily Call", an Ohio newspaper, of June 4, 1934. I had heard about Barney Oldfield's anti-racing tirades as a senior citizen, but I have to say he sounds very reasonable to me. After all, this WAS the nadir of autoracing in the USofA...

Barney Oldfield, daddy of
drivers, did not attend the 500-
mile automobile race in Indianapolls
on Memorial Day, primarily
because he was not Invited by
Eddie Rlckenbacker, president
of the Speedway Corporation
and chairman of the contest
board of the American Automobile
Association.
Oldfield is a member of the latter
body, but suspects that he is
not a welcome one, due principally
to interviews and broadcasts
stressing the peril of the roaring
road.
"I don't advocate prohibiting the
sport, but I believe it should be
made more safe, if possible." says
Oldfield, who again is at the World's
Fair in connection with an automobile
exhibit.
Automobile racing has snuffed
out, 21 lives in the last 18 months.
Five were killed on the Hoosier
course a year ago, Two met death
in a qualifying trial for the most
recent test. Four had miraculous
escapes when mounts hurtled the
wall in their mad dash after prize
and lap lucre.
On losing control end skidding
off the track and out of the grind.
Phil Shafer, who competed in the
event for the tenth time, said the
bricks never were more hazardous
owing to slipperiness caused by
oil leaking from cars on the turns.
Safely Still Last
The one rule designed as a .safety
measure—limiting cars to 45 gallons
of gasoline—worked with reverse
English, what with three smasups
and Mauri Rose forcing Wild Bill
Cummings to a new average of
104.865 miles an hour and track re- .
cord of 105.021. The Dayton driver i
finished only 27 seconds behind the
winner. '
The limited fuel turned out to be
nothing more than a source of
worry toward the fag end to the 13
who finished. Cummings had three
gallons left when' flagged, or enough
to rifle his little four-cylinder machine
about 36 miles farther.
Oldfield wouldn't raise his boy
to be an automobile racing driv-
er. The first man to drive a. car
a mile a minute calls the speed-
way championship an empty one.
"Automobile racing holds no fu-
ture as it did in the days when I
was driving old 'crates'." contents
Barney. "How many autoists know
who won last year's Indianapolis
race, and, although 135.000 persons
saw him do it, two weeks from now
how many will be able to recall off -
hand the victor of the other day?
Time to Retire
"But ask any horse-going person
who bagged the Kentucky Derby,
any golfer to relate Bobby Jones'
greatest achievement, any baseball
fan what club Babe Ruth plays
with, or any fight, fan who lifted
Jack Dempsey's title, and see how
quickly you get a reply.
"And if automobile racing un-
der current conditions isn't too dan-
gerous, why did Rickenbacker, Tommy
Milton, Billy Arnold, Harry
Hartz, Harlan Fengler. Earl Cooper.
myself and other ex-champions forsake
their chosen profession?
"There are only two answers.
Either it is too risky, or there isn't
enough money in it. And I for
one, didn't quit because I couldn't
make or use the coin.
"Lindbergh flew across the
ocean, but I dare say he is not
advising Young America to follow
his example."

Sorry for the crap quality, but I wasn't going to copy the whole article letter by letter, and the cut & paste does not always work well... Interesting the view of Phil Shafer, then a veteran of twenty years in the sport, of the track being more oily than ever, surely another effect of the stock car craze - racing engines were remarkably oil tight in the twenties and thirties.

Again, let me stress that if Rickenbacker's agenda "was, to be blunt, survival of the IMS", then he did a remarkably bad job of it...

#81 john glenn printz

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Posted 04 March 2008 - 15:54

Junk Formula 1926-1938 (cont.-10) In early July 1936 it was announced that a new and major two mile concrete speedway was going to be constructed at the Los Angeles Municipal Airport. The whole plant would cost about $1,400,000, and have the basic shape of the letter "B"; with just one long straightway, six left hand turns, and two right turns. The site was where the older Mines Field track had been. This new venture would be named the "Los Angeles Speedway". Its first event was to have been a 500 miler scheduled for November 29, 1936. Other variant track sizes given in the contemporay sources are 3.38 and 3.033 miles.

The whole project seems to have been to create a major new three race circuit featuring 1. Long Island (Westbury), 2. Indianapolis, and 3. Los Angeles itself, using mostly AAA Championship cars and foreign road racing machinery driven by both U.S. and European drivers. The whole scheme seems an early anticipation of the now defunct USAC "Triple Crown Series" of 500 mile races which began in 1971, and staged one big 500 miler each in the East (Pocono), the Mid-West (Indianapolis), and the Pacific Coast (Ontario).

Zack J. Farmer, a former organizer of the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games and a noted southern Californian sportsman, was the new Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Los Angeles Raceway, Inc. As usual Art Pillsbury and Eddie Rickenbacker were mixed up in the project as well. By September 1936 it was reported that construction had begun on the proposed site.

What happened next is uncertain but by October 1936 the new Los Angeles Raceway had been relocated to Long Beach, CA and its first race rescheduled for February or March 1937. The construction on the Long Beach site was to begin the in the middle of November 1936, but nothing had been done by December except that its first racing date for the "International Grand Prix" had been set for March 28, 1937. Then in January 1937, Ted E. Allen, then the Secretary of the AAA Contest Board, proclaimed that whole Los Angeles Raceway project and proposal had been abandoned.

This was all somewhat reminiscent of another project, announced in late November 1932, of the construction of a 1 1/4 mile asphalt oval speedway in Los Angeles, at Crenshaw and Exposition boulevards, at a cost of $250,000 by ex-driver Harlan Fengler (1903-1981). Fengler was named as the manager of this enterprize. The idea was to stage two or three AAA National Championship contests a year and the first race was scheduled on George Washington's birthday, February 22, 1933. Nothing further is recorded.

One of the salient undercurrents of the U.S. AAA Championship racing scene during the early thirties was that the sport itself had been in a rapid and obvious decline since 1926. No one really knew how to stop the slide. No doubt part of the trouble was simply that the automobile itself was no longer a novelty. Some contemporary authorities seemed to believe that the oval track format itself was much at fault in this matter and that what was needed was a return to road racing. Hence the Mines Field experiment in 1934, the construction of the Roosevelt Raceway in 1936, and the projected Los Angeles Speedway enterprize of 1936. But nothing, not artificial road courses, not stock block based racing cars, not even European drivers and cars versus the American, could revive the U.S. public's interest in AAA National Championship motor racing. The AAA Championship division racing would continue to decline and slide during the immediate pre-war years 1937 to 1941.

#82 john glenn printz

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 17:42

Junk Formula 1926-1938 (cont.-11) THE CONFUSED 1936 AAA CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS SITUATION. When the Junk Formula was introduced in early 1930, the point system for the AAA National Championship division was altered and revised as well, and now for the third time. The AAA systems for assigning points was always based on the milage, so the points actually earned varied, from race to race, depending both on the actual race distance, and the final placement in the results.

The point system used in 1916, for the first season of AAA National Championship racing, was devised in early 1916. It gave 500 points for a victory in a 100 miler, 600 for win in a 150 mile event, 700 for a 200; 800 for a 250, 900 for a 300, and 1000 for a 400. 1916 was the only year this point system was used.

There was no AAA National Driving Title, for the three seasons of 1917, 1918, and 1919, but when the AAA National Driving Title was revived in 1920, a new point system was put in place. It awarded two points per winning mile, thus a win at Indianapolis was worth a 1000, a 200 miler gave 400, and a 150 mile event earned 300, etc., etc. The 1920 manner of awarding AAA Championship points was used during the period 1920-1929. It was also utilizied by Arthur H. Means in 1926-28, when he compiled point charts for the AAA years 1909-1915 and 1917-1919. Means also revised the 1920 AAA Championship point standings and gave the 1920 Title to Tommy Milton instead of its original victor, Gaston Chevrolet.

For 1930 however the AAA Contest Board had an entirely new system which gave only 600 points for a 500 mile win, 240 counters for a 200 miler, and 120 points for a 100 mile event. This new scheme was used during the years 1930-1935. The AAA started the 1936 Championship season with it also, but in later 1936 changed its mind. Thus after Indianapolis the AAA point standings were (1.) Lou Meyer, 600; (2.) Ted Horn, 450; (3.) Mauri Rose, 350; (4.) Chet Miller, 300; (5.) George O. "Doc" MacKenzie, 282; (6.) Ray Pixley, 250; (7.) Wilbur Shaw, 200; (8.) George Barringer, 150; (9.) Kelly Petillo, 118, and (10.) Zeke Meyer, 100, and (11.) George Connor, 50. (Source: BERGEN HERALD, 11 June 1936, page 3).

And the NEW YORK TIMES (2 Aug. 1936, Sports, page 9) in a short article entitled AUTO DRIVERS BATTLE FOR POINTS, has this to say (quote), "In recent years, the Indianapolis winner generally was conceded the sport's king because of the 600 points awarded for victory in that 500-mile classic. But those tallies constitute merely one item now. To the victor in the first 400-mile international sweepstakes at the Roosevelt Raceway, Westbury, L.I., on Oct. 12 will go 480 points and there will be lesser points on a graduated scale for others among the first ten.The 500-mile international sweepstakes at the new Los Angeles Raceway on Nov. 29 will be worth 600 championship points to the winner and there will also be tallies for the other drivers among the first ten finishers."

After this August 2 data, I can fine no pertinent information until, on October 3, the AAA Contest Board announced a totally new way of computing the points in its Championship Title division. This October 3 notice is contained in the DETROIT NEWS, 4 Oct. 1936, Sports, page 2. I reproduce here the entire DETROIT NEWS article (quote), entitled ALTER SCORES IN AUTO RACES. New Point System Revises Standings.

"INDIANAPOLIS, Oct. 3.-(AP) - The contest board of the American Automobile Association announced today a new point system for speedway racing and a revision of the standing, effective immediately for the driving championship of 1936.

As a result, Louis Meyer of South Gate, Calif., has 1,000 points for having won the 500-mile race here May 30, instead of 600, to lead the racers. Ted Horn of Beverly Hills, Calif., is second with 800, instead of 400 originally given him for finishing second in the local speed classic.

The contest board also announced the point system for the 400-mile race to be run at Roosevelt Raceway Oct. 12, as follows: First, 1,000 points; second, 800; third, 625; fourth, 475; fifth, 350; sixth, 250; seventh, 175; eighth, 125 points; ninth, 100; tenth, 75; eleveth, 50; twelfth, 25. The same point system will prevail in the 500-mile race at Los Angeles later this year.

Ted Allen, secretary of the contest board, said the Indianapolis Speedway, Roosevelt Raceway and Los Angeles Raceway comprise a major circuit of Grand Prix races "and are so identical in character and so parallel in importance that the national championship decided upon their mileage would not be a true result of the problems in driving versatility presented at these three tracks." Under the discarded system, points were awarded on the basis of miles driven by each pilot."

However all this may be, for the Los Angeles 500 proved to be nothing more than an illusion, and this was not the point system used by the AAA, when on November 28 they declared Mauri Rose the U.S. Driving Champion for the 1936 season. But the AAA did adhere again to the previous idea of two points given for each winning mile, but revised the point totals awarded for the lesser finishing positions of 2nd through 12th.

The NEW YORK TIMES (Nov. 29. 1936, Section V, page 6) gives the 1936 AAA point totals for the top 35 pilots. I list here only the top ten from that list, i.e. (1.) Mauri Rose, 1020; (2.) Lou Meyer, 1000; (3.) Ted Horn, 825; (4.) Doc MacKensie, 614; (5.) Tazio Nuvolari, 600; (6.) Wilbur Shaw, 538; (7.) Jean Wimille, 495; (8.) Chet Miller, 450; (9.) Count Brivio, 405; and (10.) Ray Pixley, 375.

This new and now fourth plan of distributing Championship points adopted in late 1936, was then further employed by the AAA Contest Board for the 1938-41 seasons also. Two aspects of these late 1936-1941 regulations should be noted. 1. A car would still have to be running at the end of a race for its driver or drivers to receive any points; and 2. No driver who started a car in a race would receive any points from a relief role if he drove another car later in the same race.

However a protest lodged by the Boyle team, on Bill Cummings' behalf, at the Vanderbilt Cup later proved successful on 18 Jan. 1937. (Source: NEW YORK TIMES: 19 Jan. 1937, page 19) . I quote directly from the NEW YORK TIMES article;

"The board, after two days of deliberating, found that Cummings actually was entitled to seventh place, basing its decision on the recorded fact that Rose had not remained in the pit for the required full minute. One of the rules of the race called for a compulsory one minute pit stop for inspection during the closing stages of the race.

According to the records, Rose remained in his pit exactly 48 seconds. Since Rose's advantage over Cummings was 7.87 seconds, Rose was penalized the 12 seconds, thereby advancing Cummings to seventh place."

It therefore seems clear that if Bill Cummings is advanced to the 7th position instead of 8th, and Rose in turn, is reduced to 8th instead of 7th; Rose would then lose 30 Championship points from his former total of 1020. For the Vanderbilt Cup awarded points in the following manner; (1st) 600, (2nd) 495, (3rd) 330, (4th) 270, (5th) 225, (6th) 195, (7th) 165, (8th) 135, (9th) 105 and (10th) 75. Lou Meyer would still have his total of 1000, but Rose would now have only 990, thus making Meyer the 1936 AAA Driving Champion. But the same NEW YORK TIMES article contains the following inexplicit and paradoxical statement (quote),

"However, the board's ruling will not deprive Rose of the national championship, since the change left him ten points ahead of Louis Meyer." It would thus seem that the exact opposite is the truth, namely that Meyer was ten points ahead of Rose, but nothing further is heard of (!) on this vexing issue...

Note: The exact manner in which points were assigned to the AAA, USAC, and CART Championship races 1916 to 1984 is contained on pages 231-232 of the CART NEWS MEDIA GUIDE 1985. This information came from Ken M. McMaken and was published in the CART guide by Jan Shaffer and myself.

P.S. The original 1936 AAA National Championship schedule, as stated by the Contest Board on 22 March 1936, consisted of five events, i.e. (1.) Indianapolis 500, May 30; (2.) Goshen 100, Aug. 15; (3.) Springfield 100, Aug. 22; (4.) Syracuse 100, Sept. 12; and (5.) Roosevelt Field 400 or 500, Oct. 12. The Springfield 100 was actually staged on Aug. 22 but had became an AAA "big car" contest instead, which permitted the use of both one and two man cars. Wilbur Shaw was the victor in a "Miller" owned by Joe Thorne. Shaw's time was 1:12:31.58 (82.729 mph).

#83 fines

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 17:41

Originally posted by john glenn printz
After this August 2 data, I can fine no pertinent information until, on October 3, (snip)

I have found the following in the "Syracuse Herald" of Sep 14, 1936 (the eve of the NY State Fair Race). Not surprisingly (in the light of what Mr. Printz has just posted), it does list the points in the "old way":

"In the championship races, similar
to the one at the State Fair, the
winner is credited with 120 points
while the runner-up earns 90. Third
place brings 80; fourth, 70; fifth, 60;
sixth, 50; seventh, 40; eighth, 30;
ninth, 20, and tenth, 10.
Doc MacKenzie. who stood fourth
on the list with 364 points In the
1936 championship rankings, was
killed during a race a few weeks
ago, thus elevating Chet Miller, another
of the veteran drivers, to the fifth rung.
The complete list follows:
Pos. Name Points
1 Lou Meyer.. 600
2 Ted Horn.. 450
3 Mauri Rose.. 400
4 "Doc" MacKenzie.. 364
5 Chet Miller.. 300
6 Wilbur Shaw.. 290
7 Ray Pixley.. 250
8 George Barringer.. 150
9 Rex Mays.. 120
10 Kelly Petillo.. 116
11 Zeke Meyers.. 100
12 Floyd Roberts.. 70
13 Billy Winn.. 60
14 George Connor.. 50
15 Jimmy Snyder.. 40
16 Chet Gardner.. 30
17 Frank Brisko.. 20
18 "Babe" Stapp.. 10"

#84 fines

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Posted 11 March 2008 - 22:40

Harking back to the Barney Oldfiled story, a year earlier this is a very different view of the situation! The Daily News, Huntingdon (PA), Feb 24 in 1933:

By HENRY McLEMORE *
Staff Correspondent
Daytona Beach, Fla., Feb. 24.
—The depression may have put a
severe crimp in baseball, football,
boxing, and a dozen other major
sports, but automobiles racing, according
to Ted Allen, secretary of
the contest board of the A. A. A.
flourished like our old friend the
green bay tree in 1932, and is
headed for a record season in
1933.
Asked for an explanation of
this, Allen said he didn't know.
We suggested perhaps the chance
automobile racing offered the
spectator to see men ride to their
death was responsible.
"It couldn't be that," Allen
said, "for modern-day racing
doesn't offer many moments for
the morbid-minded. The way
racing is conducted now it's a
much safer sport than baseball or
football." If you don't believe
that, check over the baseball and
football fatalities of 1932. You'll
find they killed more men than
racing, which had but nine casualties
last, year."
"You see, the men who run
racing are constantly trying to
lessen its hazards. Take the Indianapolis
speedway. This year
there won't be half as many
crack-ups in the big race as in
the past. The qualifying test has
been increased from 10 to 25
miles. That step alone will eliminate
many accidents, for a car
that stands up through 25 miles
of top-speed driving is likely to
go the route in the real race
without falling to pieces.
"We've taken another smart
step too. This year gas tanks
will be limited to fifteen gallons,
As the cars use about a gallon
every eight miles, the drivers will
be forced to make four or five
stops during the race, giving
them time to rest and
mechanics time to check
the over the motor
and tires. In the past
drivers carried as much as 40
gallons of gas, which meant they
did not have to come to the pits
for refueling but once."
Allen, who has ben around racing
long enough to know most of
the answers, was asked what was
more important in winning a
race, the man or the car. --
"That's sort of tough, to say,
but I guess the car is," he said.
"A good car will come closer to
making a poor driver look good,
than a good driver will to mak-
ing a weak job stand up.
"And don't overlook the importance
of the men in the pit in
winning a race. They're especial-
ly important in the closing miles
of a long race when the driver is
too tired to notice little defects in
his mount."
Who, in his opinion was the
finest American driver?
"That's another mean one to
answer. By my guess is Ernest
Triplett, the Pacific Coast cham-
pion," he said, "He's not quite
as well known as some of the winners
of the Indianapolis race,
and he looks more like a grocery
clerk than a racer, but can he
go!"


One cannot help but think that Allen probably later wished he'd eaten his own words!


* Be it noted that the same Henry McLemore later wrote articles along the "motorsport = suicide club" line, very stupid and inept! :down:

#85 Russ Snyder

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 16:02

Very Interesting thread and read

thanks

the depression had far reaching effects...even in our beloved motor racing.

#86 fines

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 21:40

Back to the theme of the "flourishing" sport of autoracing: In a preview for the 1934 "Reading Inaugural", the Sprint Car classic in Pennsylvania, one paper remarked that...

A deluge of last minute entries for Reading's double auto racing program tonight and Sunday afternoon has brought the field within striking distance of the 1932 record when ninety-two cars and drivers clashed over the fast fairgrounds half mile speedway. Totaling eighty-seven, the near record entry list presents the names of almost every leading contender along eastern dirt track speed loops as well as a group of invaders from other racing sectors...

Added emphasis by me: 92 entries!!! There was also a Langhorne race in 1931 (I think) with more than one hundred entries reported in the papers before, and I guess they would still accept on race day! Even the time trials for qualifying must've taken hours to complete, and remember: only twenty survived this ordeal, the rest was "trailered" even before the heats began!!!

To be sure, most of the one-hundred-odd Sprint Car races a year had "only" about twenty to thirty entries, some forty the most - only the real big ones had such mega entries, but go figure!

#87 fines

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Posted 04 September 2008 - 16:25

Originally posted by john glenn printz
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.

Whether it was a stock block Duesenberg, or a modified racing car, this win was something special anyway, as I've recently discovered:

It was the only AAA/USAC National Championship win for a normally aspirated car not using a Miller or Miller-derived engine, between Jimmy Murphy in April of 1922, and Jim Clark in August of 1963, i.e. in over four decades!

Quite an achievement, eh? :smoking:

NB: this statement discounts a few 1946 sprint races and a 1955 hill climb, for the simple reason that they were quite irregular events of 15 miles or less race distance.

#88 Jim Thurman

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 17:37

Originally posted by fines
We suggested perhaps the chance
automobile racing offered the
spectator to see men ride to their
death was responsible.
"It couldn't be that," Allen
said, "for modern-day racing
doesn't offer many moments for
the morbid-minded. The way
racing is conducted now it's a
much safer sport than baseball or
football." If you don't believe
that, check over the baseball and
football fatalities of 1932. You'll
find they killed more men than
racing, which had but nine casualties
last, year."


* Be it noted that the same Henry McLemore later wrote articles along the "motorsport = suicide club" line, very stupid and inept! :down:

Note the loaded opening "suggestion". Racing folks always have to "convince" the writer, and it always comes off like the writer is dubious (or dismissive) of whatever argument is offered. No, that's not making one's mind up ahead of time at all, is it?. There were a lot of football fatalities in the early 30's. Actually, even as bad as racing fatalities have been in eras like the 30's and 50's, there are years where football is remarkably close in number. I heard it reported last week that there have been 6 high school football fatalities this year so far (add a 7th, a local high school player here is brain dead after a Friday night game).

Yet, where have the cries been?...the outrage? Utter hypocrisy.

Also, McLemore doing the "motorsport = suicide club" line shows kowtowing to the Grand Poobah (Hearst) and proves how far back media types have simply plagiar----, err, mimicked their fellow scribes. Or, even more feebly, simply gone along with the "crowd". :down: is right.

#89 fines

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 19:05

The sad thing is that writers like McLemore were read throughout the United States, as he wrote for a big press agency, UP I think. He was in EVERY f***ing paper with his tirades! :mad: Talk about building a conscience... :rolleyes:

#90 fines

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 18:57

Sig Haugdahl at the 1935 Indy 500.

In the twilight of his career, Haugdahl enlisted with the AAA in 1935, and was reportedly entered at the Indy 500 as part of the ten-car team of Harry Miller and FoMoCo. He competed in a couple of AAA Big Car races in May, without much success, and then apparently retired from driving, although it is possible he did a few more Midget races after that (he had been very successful at that earlier in the year).

Does anyone have information about Haugdahl's Indy adventure? Did he practise at all? The only relevant note I could find so far was that he had travelled from Indianapolis to Milwaukee on the eve of the May 19 race there (well in advance of several other Indy drivers), and was quoted as saying that he was still awaiting the arrival of his car, "due Monday" (May 20). With all the confusion and trouble of the Miller-Ford entry, is it possible that he has "slipped" through most historical records, and in fact belongs on the list of Indy 500 non-starters?

#91 David McKinney

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 20:23

Can't help with the Indianapolis venture, but Haugdahl did remain involved in racing.

He was a resident of Daytona Beach at the time of the LSR attempts, which had drawn vast crowds. When Malcolm Campbell and his mates decided that Utah was better suited to their purposes, the city fathers asked their resident IMCA star, Haugdahl, to organise a race. He measured out a stretch of beach and the parallel highway to make a 3.2-mile circuit, and obtained AAA sanction for a 250-mile race for street-legal family saloons built in 1935 or 1936.

City Hall didn’t want to be involved again, but Haugdahl went ahead and organised a second race for 1937. He doesn’t seem to have been involved in stock-car racing after that but his associate, a chap called Bill France, kept the flag flying.

#92 Mark Dill

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 20:39

Michael,

I believe I met his son when I spoke at the closing dinner of the Ormond-Daytona centennial of speed celebration in 2005. I am sure someone affiliated with that group can put you in touch with his son and his children.

Contact them through this URL: http://www.birthplaceofspeed2006.com/

#93 Vitesse2

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Posted 31 October 2009 - 20:44

Junk Formula 1926-1938 (cont.-10) In early July 1936 it was announced that a new and major two mile concrete speedway was going to be constructed at the Los Angeles Municipal Airport. The whole plant would cost about $1,400,000, and have the basic shape of the letter "B"; with just one long straightway, six left hand turns, and two right turns. The site was where the older Mines Field track had been. This new venture would be named the "Los Angeles Speedway". Its first event was to have been a 500 miler scheduled for November 29, 1936. Other variant track sizes given in the contemporay sources are 3.38 and 3.033 miles.

The whole project seems to have been to create a major new three race circuit featuring 1. Long Island (Westbury), 2. Indianapolis, and 3. Los Angeles itself, using mostly AAA Championship cars and foreign road racing machinery driven by both U.S. and European drivers. The whole scheme seems an early anticipation of the now defunct USAC "Triple Crown Series" of 500 mile races which began in 1971, and staged one big 500 miler each in the East (Pocono), the Mid-West (Indianapolis), and the Pacific Coast (Ontario).

Zack J. Farmer, a former organizer of the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games and a noted southern Californian sportsman, was the new Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Los Angeles Raceway, Inc. As usual Art Pillsbury and Eddie Rickenbacker were mixed up in the project as well. By September 1936 it was reported that construction had begun on the proposed site.

What happened next is uncertain but by October 1936 the new Los Angeles Raceway had been relocated to Long Beach, CA and its first race rescheduled for February or March 1937. The construction on the Long Beach site was to begin the in the middle of November 1936, but nothing had been done by December except that its first racing date for the "International Grand Prix" had been set for March 28, 1937. Then in January 1937, Ted E. Allen, then the Secretary of the AAA Contest Board, proclaimed that whole Los Angeles Raceway project and proposal had been abandoned.

I've been trying to get my head around this proposed series.

Particularly what formula it was to be run to. Given that the AAA still insisted on riding mechanics in both 1936 and 1937, does anyone know the original intention? It's my impression - although I haven't been able to confirm it - that by late 1935 the Contest Board were ready to adopt whatever new International Formula the CSI mandated for 1937-39 to replace the 750kg Formula, but were wrong-footed when that was delayed until 1938.

As a compromise, apparently in order to attract the Europeans, they readmitted superchargers for four-stroke engines for 1937, still keeping the 366ci limit. But at the same time, they abandoned their previous fuel economy rules and also insisted on pump fuel rather than racing blends - a move guaranteed to alienate the Europeans. Not to mention the fact that single-seaters were ineligible!

The 1937 Indy regulations were peculiar - in both senses of the word. Can we make sense of this?

#94 john glenn printz

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Posted 18 November 2009 - 21:30

Dear "Vitesse2";

You might take a look at the thread "1946 AAA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP", under my caption "1946 AAA season (cont.-32)" post for December 26, 2006 (No.102). There were major changes in the rules for AAA Championship racing during 1936 and 1937 and the formulas used during these two years tended to vary from race to race. Certainly these two years, 1936 and 1937, represent a transition away from the standard junk formula rules of 1930-1935 initiated by Eddie Rickenbacker.

Sincerely, J.G. Printz

Postscript of December 8, 2010: THE 1937 AAA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RULES. The situation for 1937 can be confusing. There were only three AAA National Championship contests for 1937: 1. Indianapolis (May 31); 2. Vanderbilt Cup (July 5); and 3. Syracuse (September 12), but all three had different rules. The 366 cubic inch limit was retained for Indianapolis and Syracuse but not the Vanderbilt Cup. The Vanderbilt Cup had a limit of 396.65 cubic inches, i.e. 6 1/2 litres, to accommodate the German Grand Prix entries. In 1937 Grand Prix cars were built to a weight limit and had no piston displacement limits.

But one and two man cars could run at the Vanderbilt Cup and at Syracuse but Indianapolis in 1937 still required the use of two-man cars with an accompaning riding mechanic. For 1937 riding mechanics were mandatory at Indianapolis, were probably optional at the Vanderbilt Cup, and their use entirely banned at Syracuse. The regulations at Indianapolis in 1937 were exactly the same as in 1936, except that all fuel restriction limits, in use at the Speedway during 1934-1936, were now entirely dropped. In 1937 supercharging was legal at all three AAA National Championship events.

Edited by john glenn printz, 08 December 2010 - 14:22.


#95 Michael Ferner

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Posted 19 March 2010 - 17:27

Items of interest from the Contest Board of the AAA, retrieved from "THE ALTOONA MIRROR-THURSDAY, JUNE 12, 1930":

Race cars cannot be named after any manufacturer or other person without the written consent of the manufacturer or person. If named after a manufacturer, with permission, the engine and transmission must be designed by the manufacturer. The car can be named after the owner or owner-driver. A machine can also be named after an accessory firm, provided that the accessory is used on the car. Cars cannot be changed after once being registered unless sold to new owners.


In all A. A. A. championship races the number assigned to the driver of that car must be painted on both sides ot the hood and on both sides of the tail. On all cars not eligible for A. A. A. championships the numbers must be printed with black block letters on a white disc, 20 inches in diameter, painted on both sides of the hood and
left side of the tail.


"Mechanics will not be permitted to ride on any board speedway, nor in dirt track meets of less than 100 miles," reads a rule of the A. A. A. But this was modified at the request of Altoona, the rule being eliminated to give Altoona the two-seated machines. And it took a special meeting in New York, which lasted two days, to bring it about, too.



#96 Michael Ferner

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Posted 20 March 2010 - 18:36

What happened to Lou Schneider in 1930?

For some reason, Lou Schneider was not credited with the 415 points and the resulting 6th place won in National Championship competition in 1930, but what had happened? Phil Harms in his famous box scores refered twice to this subject in very terse prose, namely under the notes for the first two Championship events:

Langhorne: "3) Schnieder awarded 14.8 points for relieving Shaw but points were revoked by AAA for conduct at Altoona race."

Indianapolis: "6) Schnieder awarded 400 points, which were revoked for conduct at Altoona."


What "conduct" was he refering to? :confused:

As usual, there two races at Altoona in 1930, the "Flag Day" event on June 14 and the "Labor Day" event on September 1. In June, Schneider failed to complete a time trial during the two days of qualifying, but was allowed to start anyway from the back row of the 16-car field. Instead, he gave his car to Freddie Winnai, who was badly burned when a fuel line came adrift during the race. Presumably, Schneider gave the race a miss because of possible injuries received in the Detroit crash five days earlier, and apparently he did not drive again until the second Altoona event, with Billy Arnold and Wilbur Shaw also driving the car in between. Since he was still listed in the point standings before the September race, it is probably safe to assume that there was nothing wrong with his "conduct" in June!

For the September race, Schneider qualified on the first of three days with a marginal time of 41.2", and was "bumped" from the field two days later. Interestingly, for some reason only twelve cars were allowed to start the "Labor Day Race" (as opposed to 16 for the "Flag Day Race"), and that in a field of twenty-two! I have never found an explanation for this ruling, and can only guess that it may have had to do with the deteriorating state of the track. On the other hand, there does not seem to have been a limit on starters for the last two races on the track in 1931, though! Lou Moore and Jimmy Gleason occupied the last row for the 1930 "Labor Day Race", both with an identical time of 41.0", which means that Schneider was bumped by the smallest possible margin (the timing was done by one-fifths of a second, as usual in those days). Did Schneider perhaps start an argument over this?

Another angle is that Schneider had entered a second car for this race, presumably the car with which he would go on to win next year's '500'. He gave the new car to local driver Gordy Condon, who was reported as practicing in it, but was eventually listed as "did not qualify" - since Schneider was listed under the same heading, perhaps Condon did qualify, only too slow to start the race. Whatever, no other mention can be found in the material available to me, until Schneider's entry for the Syracuse race five days later was rejected because the driver was now "suspended"!

What's the story? :confused: