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Before We Forget or A Collaborative History Effort


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#1 Don Capps

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Posted 22 March 2004 - 19:20

The current "Situation" in American racing at the "premier open-wheel" level is one in which raw emotions and opinion seem to dominate -- overwhelm -- the discussion and it all too easily becomes the usual cow-pat tossing fest that makes one long for the relative peace and tranquility of the FIASCO War.

As a historian, I find that dialogue between No. Six and No. Two -- "What do you want?" "Information." -- seems to be more my level of interest than the barbed exchanges which, while entertaining many, does so without enlightening them one iota.

Historians routinely play the "Blame Game" in order to get attention, correct the record, alter the record, confuse the record, create the record, or simply because they have an exe to grind -- the usual motivation for a thesis is to simply get it over with rather than any deep desire to broaden the intellectual level of the populace -- on a particular subject or topic. With the history of motor racing residing in that region which the disciples of Clio usually relegate subjects that even geneology lords over, perhaps it is easy to understand why so little real knowledge gets used in the contemporary, on-going debate.

What I would like to suggest is that we have a collective effort to corral a body of facts and relevant information which future historians -- and current ones as well -- could use to help sort all this out and someday paint a picture of what happened before and during the "Situation." I will either edit threads or delete them entirely if they wander into territory that I think is best placed here: http://forums.atlasf...&threadid=66925

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The current, ongoing IRL and CART -- now OWRS -- "Situation" has been dragging on for years now. The formation of the IRL in 1994 and the resulting stipulations placed by the IMS/IRL for entries for the 1996 International Sweepstakes did not simply drop out of the sky and materialize one day. The collapse of CART and its resulting sell-off of its assets during the Winter of 2003/2004 did not abruptly leap into being with the snap of a finger. Moreover, once you begin to trace the fault lines, you begin to get a feeling that there is certainly nothing new about conflcits within the American racing scene.

The merest and sketchiest of outlines

1899 -- ACA formed
1902 -- AAA formed
1904 -- GK Vanderbilt Cup first run and uses AAA sanction
1908 -- ACA runs Grand Prize at Savannah; AAA Contest Board formed
1909 -- National Championship Trail begins
1911 -- Grand Prize & Vanderbilt Cup combined with joint ACA & AAA involvement; first International Sweepstakes race
1916 -- 1st AAA National Championship held
1928 -- EV Rickenbacker president of both IMS and Contest Board; "Junk Formula" announced
1930 -- 1st year of "Junk Formula"
1936 -- new Vanderbilt Cup event on Long Island
1938 -- International Formula comes into effect for AAA
1945 -- Tony Hulman buys IMS
1952 -- NASCAR Speedway Division formed
1955 -- USAC formed when the AAA Contest Board abruptly announces its withdrawal from its role as the ASN for the USA effective the end of 1955
1957 -- ACCUS formed
1961 -- Kimberly sponsors Jack Brabham and Cooper Coventry Climax to enter International Sweepstakes
1963 -- Ford Motor Company and Team Lotus enter the International Sweepstakes; rear-engined car wins first USAC event
1964 -- SCCA committee recommends the creation of OW classes, Formula SCCA
1965 -- Formula SCCA entries begin to show up in the SCCA Regions; USAC adds road course to the National Championship Trail for the first time since 1937; rear-engined car wins first Indy 500
1967 -- SCCA creates the SCCA Grand Prix Championship using Formula SCCA
1971 -- USAC splits the National Championship Trail into two parts, one for paved ovals (later Gold Crown) and the other for dirt events (later Silver Crown) and road courses are dropped
1974 -- USAC and SCCA co-sanction F5000 championship
1976 -- USAC terminates its role in F5000 and SCCA pulls plug on F5000
1978 -- White Paper Paper written by Dan Gurney; the creation of CART; airplane crash kills many USAC officials
1979 -- CART and IMS/USAC go to court, 35 on grid for the International Sweepstakes; separate USAC and CART championships
1980 -- Championship Racing League formed with USAC and CART cooperating, but ends mid-season
1981 -- USAC uses Silver Crown cars in its Gold Crown series which extends into 1982; result of Indy 500 contested and not known for months
1984 -- Long Beach GP now CART event
1989 -- new management at IMS
1994 -- IRL formed
1996 -- CART boycotts Indy 500; IRL begins operating own championship
1998 -- CART offers IPO and floats stock
2003 -- CART declares bankruptcy

Naturally, there is more -- much more, but we have to start somewhere....

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#2 Dennis Hockenbury

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Posted 22 March 2004 - 23:54

Originally posted by Don Capps
The current "Situation" in American racing at the "premier open-wheel" level is one in which raw emotions and opinion seem to dominate -- overwhelm -- the discussion and it all too easily becomes the usual cow-pat tossing fest that makes one long for the relative peace and tranquility of the FIASCO War.

As a historian, I find that dialogue between No. Six and No. Two -- "What do you want?" "Information." -- seems to be more my level of interest than the barbed exchanges which, while entertaining many, does so without enlightening them one iota.

Yes Don, I have been reading quite a lot on this subject as of late on the internet as well, and I agree that emotions and opinions are running very high and to be blunt, not to my taste.

Finding the underlying facts of the "Situation" is something that I have spent but a brief amount of time on at this juncture, but I would like to know more of the real information as well.

Originally posted by Don Capps
What I would like to suggest is that we have a collective effort to corral a body of facts and relevant information which future historians -- and current ones as well -- could use to help sort all this out and someday paint a picture of what happened before and during the "Situation."

A very worthy endeavor Don. I only wish that I was enough of a historian to make a serious contribution.

I can only offer a few of the more informative links that I have found in my meager search for some facts of the matter.

The Definitive Unofficial IRL FAQ

Gurney's White Paper

Jeremy Spiering Column - 1/29/04 - History of the Open-Wheel Racing Feud

Be Seeing You.

#3 Lotus23

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 00:24

I concur with your opening statement, Don. And I agree that TNF members should be able to fill in many of the "what happened?" blanks without being clouded by the Red Mist of emotion.

It's always difficult looking at things through the wrong end of the telescope, but that doesn't mean the effort shouldn't be undertaken. If for no other reason than to benefit those who'll eventually end up looking through the other end.

IMHO, filthy lucre is a factor which cannot be understated in this discussion.

#4 Gerr

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 01:26

Okay, Don.......
I'll add to your outline. I happen to have an old "Autoweek" ( Feb. 22, 1993 ) on my desk that has these quotes from an article by Quentin Spurring.

"Mosley proposes radical new F1 rules that include oval racing"

"FISA has been talking vaguely about a commitment to oval racing for a couple of years, and there are a number of projects on line to build such circuits in various countries outside the U.S. However, these are seen as incidental to Mosley's main purpose, which is to secure the Indianapolis 500 as a FISA event. Mosley said recently that Indy was the only existing U.S. race that interested him, and apparently he has no designs on the rest of the PPG IndyCar World Series.
Reaction from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to the Formula One Commission's pointed changes vis-a-vis oval track racing has been sparse. A spokesman for the Speedway confirmed that track officials had received a copy of the report from FISA. "


Is this the kind of thing you are after ?

#5 Don Capps

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 13:00

Originally posted by Gerr
Is this the kind of thing you are after ?


Certainly. Thank you.

Just trying to build a set of information which might be useful for those looking into the background of this issue and some of the context into whichit rests.

#6 Don Capps

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 17:30

I don't care about IRL vs OWRS/CART. I don't care what caused the split or why it has perpetuated. The simple fact is that CART was mismanaged and that's why it went bust. All I am interested in at the current time is whether OWRS can put on a decent show this year. I've been watching CART since before the split. I enjoyed it because it was good, close racing. I even enjoyed the ovals. What I'm interested in now is not the history of some stupidity (on both sides). What I am interested in is seeing whether OWRS can bring back some good open wheel racing for me to watch.

And, as I've already said: the history of WW2 has nothing to do with OWRS in 2004, so please take those discussions elsewhere.


I've included this comment -- which was taken from another part of the Great Atlas F1 Empire -- as perhaps being a typical example as to why we have this forum. Personally, I find it difficult -- if not impossible, to not want to know as much about the background and the context of an issue as possible. After all, the very first thing we address in the first paragraph of an Operations Order is the Situation. Naturally, this varies in detail dependent upon the urgency of the operation or the level at which you are dealing with things.

However, I also understand that in racing and in the eyes of many who follow racing, there are legions of folks who are in full agreement with Henry Ford and his assessment that history is "bunk."

Notes on the Spiering article:

1. The National Driving Championship was not established by the AAA in 1909, the National Championship Trail was. The AAA was not the first racing sanctioning body, the ACA doing this before the AAA was even established.

2. In addition to the Le Mans tragedy, the death of Bill Vukovich at the IMS and additional deaths in AAA over the past several years also paid a role. However, the biggest factor was that the Contest Board did not meet the requirement of being self-supporting and the AAA had been looking for an excuse to bail out for at least two decades.

Very straight forward and factual until the last two sections, where he adds some personal comments.

The Unofficial IRL FAQ is from 1999 so there are some points that reflect what was current at that time. It is interesting to note that the FAQ says that the IRL traces its history from the 1995-1981 CART events, the 1980-1956 USAC evets, and the 1955-1911 AAA events. CART was formed in 1978, not 1979, and sanctioned events in 1979 as well as USAC.

#7 Don Capps

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 17:49

Current/recent ACCUS membership: NASCAR, USAC, NHRA, SCCA, and PSC (IMSA/ALMS). No IRL? No CART/OWRS?

#8 Seppi_0_917PA

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Posted 11 April 2004 - 14:23

Originally posted by Don Capps
What I would like to suggest is that we have a collective effort to corral a body of facts and relevant information which future historians -- and current ones as well -- could use to help sort all this out and someday paint a picture of what happened before and during the "Situation."

As far as my own records, once On Track stopped publishing, I have no paper trail of CART history - it's all been the internet. CART has archive of news back to 2001.

(I wish they went back further. For me, the best are the play-by-play write-ups of each session. For example:

http://www.cart.com/...cle.asp?ID=2168

CART have doing these press notes for years; I'm sure that these are the source documentation for many race reports.)

Not to be doom and gloom, if CART.com goes poof, then it's all gone. Does anyone remember OmegaTiming?

http://www.omegatimi...evt17/index.htm

Look around - it's neat - check out the race lap chart for example. Some of the pages are still there but the index seems to be gone. Poof!

Is anyone saving this stuff on their own? Does the Watkins Glen museum? Would Atlas consider doing this? (Business decision for Atlas.)

It's probably wrong for me to bring this up if I'm not willing to do something myself. But is anyone else thinking along the same lines? Maybe someone here is already collecting this or there is some sort of mirror of the CART site on the internet.

(Oh, let me amend my opening statement, I do have a little more paper trail - the Autocourse CART annuals. But here again, is the 2003-2004 version released? I have seen this advertised but is it available?)

#9 Seppi_0_917PA

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Posted 11 April 2004 - 14:40

And what about CART's original documents for events? CART and OWR are different legal entities; just because OWR takes on the CART events doesn't mean they take on caretaking for CART's old paperwork. If CART dissolves, it would be good to see this end-up somewhere that future historian can find them such as the Watkins Glen Museum.

There is a little story in the book Cobra-Ferrari Wars about Carrol Shelby in about 1970 throwing all the paperwork about the Cobra race efforts into a 55-gallon drum and having it taken to the dump. Will that happen with CART's paper trail?