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American racing 1894 to 1920


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#101 john glenn printz

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 13:07

U.S. Racing 1894-1920 (cont.-45) The new one mile asphaltum Narragansett Park Speedway (Providence, RI) held its first races on September 18, 1915. It was two weeks after the Twin City inaugural, Sept. 4, and three weeks before Sheepshead Bay's first race on October 9. The site of the new Narragansett Park Speedway was exactly where the very first U.S. oval track auto races had taken place on 7, 8, and 11, 1896. (Consult above our 22 Sept. 2006 entry on this very thread.) Frederick E. Perkins was the owner and President of this new Narragansett Park Speedway while Frederick H. Perkins is listed as the Secretary and Treasurer.

This track's cost was over $225,000 and was paved using white asphalt. It's smooth surface had no joints, unlike the concrete Twin City Motor Speedway. Richard Kennerdell and F.A. Croselmire inspected this new facility on September 10, 1915 and Kennerdell had this to say, "I have never seen a cleaner built track. Automobile enthusiasts should see some spectacular racing here and they will appreciate the care that has been taken for their safety. I can also see that the builders of the Narragansett Park Speedway have had the sport in mind rather than financial gain." (Source: HARTFORD COURANT, Sept. 11, 1915, page 4).

Three separate contests were staged on September 18, 1915; (1.) a 100 mile Sweeptakes automobile race for cars with a piston displacement of 450 cubic inches or less; (2.) a 25 mile "Free For All" for automobiles; and (3.) a one hour motorcycle race. The total prize money for the two automobile contests was $11,000, and the total purse for the motorcycle event was $1000.

The 100 mile main event had 13 starters and was won by Eddie Rickenbacker in a Maxwell at an average of 67.11 mph. Eddie's elasped time was 1:29:24. Bob Burman (Peugeot) was 2nd, Willie Haupt (Duesenberg) 3rd; and Ralph DePalma (Stutz) 4th. 40,000 spectators showed up and Eddie won $4000 for his first place finish. In a lone trial, Bob Burman was given credit for breaking the one lap record for a flat circular one mile oval at 45:73 seconds in his Peugeot. Burman also won the 25 miler which had 8 starters.

There was no major AAA race held here in 1916, but in 1917, another 100 miler was run on September 15, with 14 starters. A rising new star, Tommy Milton (1893-1962), won with a Duesenberg. Ira Vail (Hudson) placed 2nd, Eddie Hearne (Duesenberg) 3rd; and Dave Lewis (Duesenberg) 4th. Milton's time was 1:24:42.23 or 70.84 mph. No further AAA events of major importance or significance were staged here at Providence, RI after Milton's win and I have no contemporary data on the Narragansett Park Speedway after 1917.

Of the seven major U. S. speedways (five board and two paved) put up with a great deal of hope and hoopla in 1915, only Tacoma lasted beyond the 1919 season. Tacoma's last race, a big 250 mile AAA National Championship contest, was staged on July 4, 1922. It was won by Jimmy Murphy (1894-1924) in his hybrid 183 Miller/Duesenberg, dubbed the "Murphy Special".

Both of the Des Moines and Omaha board speedways, built by Jack Prince, were fabricated with very poor quality lumber and they both quickly deteriorated. Des Moines ran only in 1915-1916 and Omaha during 1915-1917. The Chicago (Maywood) and Sheepshead Bay 2 mile tracks were both major efforts, and were located in highly populated metropolitan areas, but both failed financially. Neither was a Jack Prince track. Chicago was built by George H. Shank and Sheepshead Bay by Blaine H. Miller. Chicago lasted from 1915-1918 and Sheepshead Bay from 1915-1919.

The Cincinnati two mile board oval, built by Harry Hake, went up in 1916. It held just four races total, one for each year it lasted, i.e. 1916, 1917, 1918, and 1919. The 1919 winner on Oct. 12 in a 250 miler, Joe Boyer (1890-1924), received just 6 cents for his victory at 101.69 mph in a Frontenac.

Running "big-time" AAA races during 1915-1919 did not prove to be generally profitable and World War I (1914-1918) probably didn't help the situation one bit either.

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#102 john glenn printz

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Posted 27 March 2008 - 20:19

U.S. Racing 1894-1920 (cont.-46) HARRY S. HARKNESS. Harry S. Harkness (1876-1919) died on 23 Jan. 1919, from the world wide flu epidemic. Harry was the only son of Lamon V. Harkness (1839-1915), a Standard Oil made millionaire, who had been interested in horse racing and big game hunting. Lamon also dabbled in horse breeding, orange groves, mining, and real estate. Upon his father's death, on Jan. 17, 1915, Harry inherited it is said, $30,000,000. Harry was into yachting, horse racing, aviation, opera, theater, the concert hall, and automobiling. In December 1902 Harkness, along with C. W. Matheson, Louis P. Mooers, Percy Owen, and Alexander Winton, were among the five remaining candidates for the three American drivers to run in the upcoming 1903 Gordon Bennett Cup race. However Harkness never showed up for the April 15 and 19, 1903 preliminary ACA elimination trials to select the final three pilots. On 12 July 1904 Harkness won the Mount Washington, NH 8 mile hillclimb, using a 60 horsepower Mercedes, against 20 other competitors. Riding with Harkness that day was Joseph "Joe" Jagersberger (1885-1952) who was a starter in the first Indianapolis 500. Jagersberger, at Indy in 1911, was part of a three car team entered by the J. I. Case Threshing Machine Company of Racine, WI.

The original President of the new (1915) two mile Sheepshead Bay Speedway had been Carl G. Fisher, who was also at this time, the President of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Fisher quit his Sheepshead Bay post on 8 August 1915, before any races had been held. On 26 August 1915, Harry S. Harkness was elected President of the Sheepshead Bay track to replace the departed Carl G. Fisher. The inaugural Sheepshead Bay race was the big 350 mile Vincent Astor Cup staged on 9 Oct. 1915. This time the Stutz team triumphed over the French makes of Delage and Peugeot. Gil Anderson (Stutz) was 1st at a 102.59 mph clip and his teammate Tom Rooney (Stutz) was 2nd. The Cup itself was donated by William Vincent Astor (1891-1959), whose father John Jacob Astor IV (1864-1912), had gone down on the Titanic on April 15, 1912. Vincent thereby inherited c. $200,000,000. A second Astor Cup race, this time for 250 miles, was contested on 30 Sept. 1916. The victor was Johnny Aitken (Peugeot) with a 104.184 average.

In early 1916 Harkness also imported three 1914 Grand Prix Delages which ran in the 1916 AAA Championship races with drivers Carl Limberg (1883-1916), Jack LeCain (1878-1939), and Jules DeVigne (1878-1939). When the Sheepshead Bay track got into acute financial difficulties in 1917, Harry got the speedway out of it at his own expense and took over its ownership.

There were also three Sheepshead Bay races, all 100 milers, for the annual Harkness Gold Cup. The three winners were; (1.) Dario Resta (Peugeot) at 105.395 mph; (2.) Johnny Aitken (Peugeot) at 105.956 mph; and (3.) Louis Chevrolet (Frontenac) at 110.390 mph. The respective dates were (1.) 2 Nov. 1915; (2.) 28 Oct. 1916; and (3.) 22 Sept. 1917. Harkness, on 17 Sept. 1918, announced that the Harkness Gold Trophy would not be staged in 1918 and that no more automobiles races would be held at Sheepshead Bay until the world war was over.

When Harry Harkness died, his remaining fortune was said to have been $9,000,000. It was stated on 11 Dec. 1919 that the Sheepshead Bay board speedway would be razed, as it had been a huge financial drain on the Harkness estate. The Sheepshead Bay Speedway had been built at a cost of $750,000, but by late 1919 according to C. J. Sullivan, a counsel for the Harkness estate, Sheepshead Bay represented a total investment outlay of $3,500,000. The plant's 430 acres would now be subdivided for housing. The track's last race for automobiles was a 150 miler run on 20 Sept. 1919. The winner was Gaston Chevrolet (Frontenac) at 108.998 mph. And so the Sheepshead Bay Speedway disappeared also.

Edited by john glenn printz, 22 September 2010 - 19:45.


#103 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 13:25

As an aside, Sheepshead Bay was the neighborhood in Brooklyn where Vince Lombardi grew up. In one of the books or articles on Lombardi, there is mention of the supports for the speedway still being part of the neighborhood landscape long after the speedway had been demolished.

#104 john glenn printz

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 19:08

U.S. Racing 1894-1920 (cont.-47) THE YEAR 1919, AN AAA INTERREGUM SEASON. With the signing of the Armistice Treaty with Germany on November 11, 1918, the Great War came to an end for the U.S. And so indigenous American motor racing, after a decided slide during 1917 and 1918, again assumed a more dignified form for 1919. Already in December 1919 there was much comment about the "revival" of automobile racing in the U.S., with the renewal of the Indianapolis 500 on May 31, being the crown jewel of the new and upcoming 1919 AAA season. In 1919 the Santa Monica and Elgin road races and the Indianapolis 500 were all resuscitated; but nothing at all appeared in late 1918 or early 1919 concerning an official or unofficial 1919 AAA National Championship Driving "point" Title.

1919 had a full season of events run under the now long standard Class E 300 cubic inch limit. U.S. racing quickly revived in early 1919, with two contests on the West Coast, i.e. The Santa Monica 250 (March 15) and the Ascot 150 (March 23). The most important car makes now running were Duesenberg, Frontenac, Packard, and the new Ballots at Indianapolis; along with the older model Hudson, Mercer, Miller, Peugeot, and Stutz machinery. There was also a diverse and varied comcomitant of "Specials", usually powered by Miller or old, castoff Duesenberg motors.

The major U.S. automobile races and their winners for 1919 were:

1. March 15 Santa Moncia 250, Durant, Cliff, Stutz, 81.28 mph R 301 cubic inch limit

2. March 23 Ascot 150, Sarles, Roscoe, Duesenberg, 70.62 mph D 301 cubic inch limit

3. May 19 Uniontown 112.5, Milton, Tommy, Duesenberg, 96.21 mph B 301 cubic inch limit

4. May 31 Indianapolis 500, Wilcox, Howard, Peugeot, 88.05 mph BR 301 cubic inch limit

5. July 4 Tacoma 80, Chevrolet, Louis, Frontenac, 97.00 mph B 301 cubic inch limit

6. July 4 Sheepshead Bay 100, Chevrolet, Gaston, Frontenac, 110.53 mph B 301 cubic inch limit

7. August 23 Elgin 301, Milton, Tommy, Duesenberg, 73.50 mph R 301 cubic inch limit

8. Sept. 1 Uniontown 225, Gaston Chevrolet/Joe Boyer, Fronteanac, 93.54 mph B 301 cubic inch limit

9. Sept 20 Sheepshead Bay 150, Chevrolet, Gaston, Frontenac, 108.99 mph B 301 cubic inch limit

10. Oct. 12 Cincinnati 250, Boyer, Joe, Frontenac, 101.69 mph B 301 cubic inch limit

There had been no races held on the Santa Monica road course since the November 1916 Vanderbilt Cup and American Grand Prize events. In the March 15, 1919, Santa Monica 250.24 mile revival, Cliff Durant and Eddie Hearne placed one-two, using a pair of revamped 1915 Stutz's. Cliff led all 34 laps, among the 14 starters, and averaged 81.28 mph. Durant's two reconditioned 1915 Stutz's ran under the misleading appellation or designation of "Chevrolet". This win was Cliff Durant's biggest victory ever. Roscoe Sarles (Duesenberg) crashed on his 4th lap, going meanwhile through a barricade of sandbag protective barriers. Roscoe always laughed later about his miscue here; for Sarles could see all the fightened spectators running, in all directions, for their lives. But no one was hurt, however earlier the inexperienced driver, Walter Melcher (1894-1919), crashed fatally on his second circuit when his Hudson overturned, plowed up the roadway for 50 feet, and then struck a pole.

CLIFF DURANT (1890-1937) Russell Clifford "Cliff" Durant was the son of William Crapo Durant (1861-1947), who founded General Motors on 16 September 1908. In 1910 W. C. Durant lost control of General Motors to the bankers who now took over for a time. In 1911 W.C. Durant commissioned Louis Chevrolet (1878-1941) to design a new passenger car which would be named after Louis' last name. Louis had been a very well known racing driver, with his speed career spanning 1905-1910, but Chevrolet had retired from all racing after a bad crash in a Marquette-Buick at the 1910 Vanderbilt Cup staged on October 1. The Buick marque or car had been one of the leading makes in W. C. Durant's new General Motors empire of 1908, and Louis Chevrolet had been a member of the Buick racing team during 1909-1910 seasons, beginning work there on 5 March 1909. So Durant and Chevrolet had both known each other prior to 1911. By late 1911 a Chevrolet prototype passenger car had been completed and actual production commenced in late 1912.

In 1914 W.C. Durant sent his son, Cliff, to California as an agent to promote and sell Chevrolet cars. Cliff had much success and decided to stay and reside in California. The Chevrolet car proved profitable and was in much demand. By October 1914 W.C. Durant was talking about building various Chevrolet assemby plants all across the U.S., to save the cost of shipping the Chevrolets across the U.S. Most of the Chevrolet parts were then manfactured in Flint, MI. On December 22, 1915 W.C. Durant regained control of GM and was named its President in June 1916. In late 1916 a new GM-Chevrolet assemby plant was erected at Oakland, CA. Norman DeVaux was in charge but Cliff was named as the Vice-President of the Chevrolet Motor Car Company of California. The Chevrolet make soon became a separate division of General Motors.

I have always strongly suspected that Cliff was siphoning off General Motor's Chevrolet advertising money to pay for all his racing forays during the period July 1916 to September 1920. Cliff was always considered to be a great patron of automobile racing but I don't think it ever cost him a dime between mid-1916 and mid-1920. Cliff probably had a similar arrangement during the years 1922-1924 with regard to the then famous Durant racing team. In this case the parent company being the Durant Motors, Inc., which was also formed and managed by his father, starting in 1921.

Cliff Durant began his career in motorsport by entering a stock Chevrolet passenger car in the November 9-11, 1914 Los Angeles, CA to Phoenix, AZ, 673 mile "Cactus Derby" road race. There were 20 starters, 8 finishers and Cliff did very well by finishing 4th overall behind (1.) Barney Oldfield (Stutz); (2.) Louis Nikrent (Paige); and (3.) Beaudet (Paige). After the Cactus Derby adventure Cliff ventured to enter two slighty modified stock Chevrolet passenger cars in the 1915 San Francisco American Grand Prize and Vanderbilt Cup races of February 27 and March 6 respectively. The matching up of two stock Chevrolet models against the likes of the thoroughbred racing marques of Duesenberg, Maxwell, Mercer, and Stutz, not to mention such foreign imports as Bugatti, Delage, and Peugeot EX3, bordered on insanity.

In the Grand Prize, Durant was flagged off in 12th position, having completed 91 laps. The winner, Dario Resta, had completed the full 104 laps, 23 minutes earlier. Durant's teammate, Jack LeCain (1879-1939) had withdrawn after 81 circuits because of the heavy rain and was listed as finishing 16th overall. In the Vanderbilt Cup they did much worst. Durant and LeCain both went out on the 8th lap, Durant with stripped gears and LeCain with a busted piston. Of the 31 starters, Durant placed 30th and LeCain 31st.

Sometime in 1915 Cliff hired Fred Comer (1893-1928) as the mechanic for his racing machines. Comer had previously worked for Walter M. Brown, an owner of a Stutz agency in Los Angeles. Comer also acted generally as the riding mechanic when Durant was in actual competition. Comer remained the head chief of the Durant racing car preparation efforts, until late 1923, when Cliff named Comer as a pilot in the upcoming Altoona 200 of September 4, 1923. Thereafter Comer became an active AAA Championship driver until his demise on the Salem (Rockingham), NH boards, on October 12, 1928.

Cliff now wanted more powerful, useful, and suitable equipment. In 1916 he bought Barney Oldfield's old chain drive Fiat "Cyclone" which Barney had used on his various barnstorming excursions. This had been a very famous car. Emanuel Cedrino (1879-1908) had been killed in it at the one mile Pimlico horse track (i.e. Baltimore, MD) on 29 May 1908. Thereafter Ralph DePalma had taken the Fiat Cyclone over and piloted it during 1909 and 1910 in various beach and dirt contests. With this old, antique, and venerable Fiat, Durant took 4th place in the April 8, 1916 Corona 301 mile race. This was the event in which Bob Burman and his riding mechanic, Eric Schroeder, were both killed using a 1913 EX3 Grand Prix type Peugeot. For the 1916 Memorial Day classic at Indianapolis (May 30), Cliff was enlisted as a possible relief driver for Oldfield, who was using a 1914 Grand Prix Delage, but Barney drove the entire 300 mile distance without needing any help to place 5th.

On 16 June 1917 Cliff took 3rd position, in a field of 27, at Chicago in a big 250 miler, using Oldfield's 1914 Delage chassis, now installed with a new 289 cubic inch Miller 4. Later, on 3 Sept. 1917, Frank Elliott (1890-1957) would win a 112.5 mile race at Uniontown using this same crossbred Miller/Delage. Elliott's victory was the first major win for a Miller powered car.

In late 1916 or early 1917 (?) Durant acquired a 1915 Indy type Stutz for his use in the forthcoming 1917 Indianapolis 500. This was of course aborted by the cancellation of the Memorial Day race on 23 March 1917. But Durant had two outings with this Stutz in 1917, both at the Tacoma board speedway. On 4 July 1917 he finished 2nd to A. H. Patterson (Hudson) in a 150 miler; and on September 3rd he placed 2nd again, this time to Earl Cooper (Stutz), in a 100 mile contest which had only five starters. In the only important race meet run in the West in 1918, i.e. Tacoma July 4, Durant ran his 1915 Stutz again and won two of the three contests staged, to claim the overall victory for the day. It also gave Cliff the pretension to being the Pacific Coast Champion for 1918. Sometime in 1918 Durant bought a second 1915 Stutz, and he and Eddie Hearne drove them in 1919 and early 1920 before the AAA 300 cubic inch limit expired in May 1920 at Indianapolis.

With Durant himself a high official at the Oakland Chevrolet assemby plant and with GM Chevrolet advertising money perhaps paying all of Cliff's racing expenses, he could hardly use his Stutz racing cars as Stutz's, in such a context. And so they were raced as "Chevrolets". It was all a ploy too, to mislead the public and it did so, as well as some modern racing historians. The AAA Contest Board in this instance looked the other way with regard to this subterfuse, as well as later, when Cliff raced Miller machinery under the names "Chevrolet" and "Durant" Specials during 1920-1924. GM Chevrolet's paid publicists, among them Al Gilbert Waddell, quite shamelessly asserted and/or certainly implied, that the two 1915 Stutz's and the 1920 Miller 183 (i.e. the "Baby Chevrolet") were built and constructed entirely at the Oakland Chevrolet plant.

Edited by john glenn printz, 14 October 2011 - 18:51.


#105 john glenn printz

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 17:58

U.S. Racing 1894-1920 (cont.-48) More light on Cliff Durant's doings 1916-1919. Durant's 1916 racing activities are obscure. On Sept. 23, 1916 (Source: OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 24 Sept. 1916, page 38) it is stated that Barney Oldfield nominated Durant as his relief pilot in both the Vanderbilt Cup and American Grand Prize events to be run at Santa Monica in November 1916. It seems, from the same article, that Cliff was having a racing car built by Harry A. Miller for the 1916 Vanderbilt Cup and American Grand Prize races but Miller could not get this car finished on time. Here in September 1916 it is clearly stated that Durant's new Miller motor, when completed, would later be installed in Barney's Delage chassis. The projected original Miller motor for Durant's new car, in fact, went into Oldfield's 1914 Grand Prix Delage chassis in April 1917. This article also states that Oldfield still owned the old Fiat Cyclone when Durant drove it at Corona on April 8, 1916. Durant himself may never have owned this Fiat Cyclone but merely raced it under Oldfield's ownership. As it turned out, Oldfield did not compete in either the 1916 Vanderbilt Cup or American Grand Prize contests.

On 29 Oct. 1916 Durant entered the 1916 American Grand Prize but apparently did not name a car or a have a suitable vehicle to run. According to the FRESNO MORNING REPUBLICAN of 30 Oct. 1916, page 8 (quote), "An element of mystery surrounds the entry of Durant as he entered only under the condition that he would be able to return from New York City in time for the classics. It has been common gossip for some time that Durant has had $10,000 with which he wished to purchase a racing car and it is stated that he is making a hurried trip to New York City for the purpose of purchasing either a De Lage or a Peugeot." Rather than a Delage or Peugeot, Cliff may have instead ended up with a Stutz, for Durant drove a No. 9 Stutz in the American Grand Prize. It is just possible that this was his "first" 1915 Indianapolis type Stutz, but that is not at all certain from the data available to me currently, but it is a good guess.

Durant's "second" 1915 Indy type Stutz was actually purchased in February 1919 (Source: LOS ANGELES TIMES, Feb. 16, 1919, page VI9). The car was bought from Walter M. Brown and it was said to have been the old No. 5 Stutz. I do not know who Walter M. Brown was or how he came by the car.

P.S. Update of October 7, 2011. It is now confirmed that Durant's No. 9 run in the American Grand Prize in 1916 was a 1913 model Stutz of the same type that ran at Indianapolis in 1913.

Edited by john glenn printz, 07 October 2011 - 15:24.


#106 fines

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 19:56

I have seen pictures of the Durant Stutz at Santa Monica in 1916, and it is clearly an older model, not the OHC-type! Will have to check, but I believe it was in the Harms/Osmer book "Real Road Racing"...

EDIT: Here comes, there's a picture of the front half of the starting field for the Grand Prize on p100 in "Real Road Racing", the same picture is in Gary Doyle's "King of the Boards" (p56), bigger and in better quality. You can clearly see Stutz #9 in row 3 directly beside Stutz #8 (Earl Cooper) - #9 is one of the 1911/13 cars, and #8 a 1915 car. You can't see the exhaust (it's an offside shot), but I don't think you could put one of the newer engines in the old chassis, and besides the new cars were all still in use afaik - it has to be a T-head!

#107 robert dick

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 07:44

Originally posted by john glenn printz
... I do not know who Walter M. Brown was or how he came by the car.

Walter M. Brown was the president of the Brown-Symonds Co. and the Walter M. Brown Co., the Stutz distributors of Southern California/Los Angeles.
Earl Cooper worked for Walter Brown, and Brown was often Cooper's pit chief - for example at Corona in 1913.

#108 john glenn printz

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 12:29

U.S. Racing 1894-1920 (cont.-49) At the Ascot dirt 150 (March 28) Roscoe Sarles (Duesenberg) won with a speed of 70.54 mph in a Duesenberg sponsored by the Barley Motor Car Company of Kalamazoo, MI. Their passenger car trade name was Roamer, of which make then utilised in some models, the Duesenberg high performance 4 cylinder walking beam type motor. This 1919 Ascot win was Sarles' first major victory. Roscoe was followed over the line by (2.) Eddie Hearne (Stutz), (3.) Eddie Pullen (Hudson), and (4.) Cliff Durant (Stutz). Sarles' speed of 70.54 mph compared with Rickenbacker's old mark of 67.54 set at Ascot, also in a 150, on Nov. 30, 1916.

The only other event of any major significance held before the 1919 Indianapolis 500 was the 112.5 mile Uniontown race run on May 19. Tommy Milton (1893-1962) proved triumphant here in a factory four cylinder Duesenberg at 96.21 mph. Following Milton were (2.) Louis Chevrolet (Frontenac), (3.) Ralph Mulford (Frontenac), and (4.) Cliff Durant (Stutz). Milton had long been the official team captain of the works Duesenberg marque and he was now looking forward to his first 500 miler at Indianapolis. Milton had however previously run in a 100 mile race staged at the Speedway on 9 Sept. 1916.

One of the solid building blocks of the Indianapolis 500's success, in its earliest formative days, was the Speedway's encouragement of foreign competitors and manufacturers. In 1913 Sunbeam from Great Britain, Peugeot from France, and Isotta Fraschini from Italy sent over factory teams. In 1914 it was Bugatti, Delage, and Peugeot from France; Excelsior from Belgium; and again Sunbeam from England. In 1915 many foreign makes participated but because of the Great War, the foreign marques were now mostly in private American hands. For the upcoming 1919 Indianapolis 500, it was anticipated that three European teams would cross the Atlantic, i.e. Ballot from France, Sunbeam from England, and Fiat from Italy. The 1919 Indianapolis contest revival, was a big and great international motor race, make no mistake about that. Indeed it was the most important motor race anywhere since the 4 July 1914, 467.600 mile, French Grand Prix held at Lyons and/or the 1915 Indianapolis 500.

The Frenchman Rene Thomas (1886-1975) had always been extremely proud of his 1914 win at Indianapolis as a rookie, as well as winning the $20,000 top prize for his day's work. The World War (1914-1918) had prevented Rene from returning to the U.S. to compete in the great mid-West Memorial Day race in 1915 and 1916, but Thomas was always eyeing a second Indianapolis victory. After the Armistice of 11 Nov. 1918, Thomas talked Paris industrialist, Gabriel Ernest Maurice Ballot (1870-1937) into constructing a four car team for the forthcoming 1919 Indianapolis 500. The Ballot company had been formed in 1905 or 1906 by the two Ballot brothers, Edouard and Ernest. It was reorganized in 1910 with a new name, the Etablissements Ballot. The Ballot firm had been hitherto in the stationary, marine, and automobile engine business but had not manufactured any complete motor cars. Designer, engineer, and draftsman Ernest Henry (1885-1950), who had drawn up the fabulous Peugeot racing machines of 1912-1914, was hired to create the detailed blueprints for the new 1919 Indianapolis Ballot racers. The whole project was begun on 27 Dec. 1918 and was completed in the amazing short time of 102 days. The new Ballots featured the then novel straight 8 type of engine which Jules Goux characterized in the new Ballots as two baby (i.e. Coupe de l'auto class) Peugeot motors hooked together. On the other hand these Ballots still used two bucket seats with a barrel petrol tank mounted directly behind the two seats; that is to say there were no streamlined tails at the back, which was somewhat retrograde for 1919, especially in U.S. oval speedway events. The four Ballot drivers selected were all accomplished French veterans, i.e. Paul Bablot (1873-1932), Albert Guyot (1881-1947), Louis Wagner (1882-1960), and Rene Thomas himself.

#109 john glenn printz

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Posted 17 April 2008 - 14:22

Dear Mr. Dick and Mr. Ferner;

Good, good (!) and quite O.K. Your information and expertise have cleared up two of my problems!

Many Thanks,

John Glenn Printz

#110 fines

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Posted 17 April 2008 - 15:44

You're always welcome! :) It's we who have to thank for your posts! :up:

#111 john glenn printz

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Posted 30 April 2008 - 19:25

U.S. Racing 1894-1920 (cont.-50) Frenchman Louis Wagner was one of the old swashbuckers and ancient stalwarts of early motorsport, i.e. brave, handsome, and strong. Louis began racing c. 1903 for the Darracq firm and stayed there until 1907 when he then moved to Fiat. In 1903 he was the victor in the 169 mile Circuit des Ardennes des Voituretts (June 23) using a Darracq, against twelve other contestants. By 1905 Wagner was participating in the major European events (i.e. Florio Cup) and that year, in the U.S., he started in his first Vanderbilt Cup. In 1906 Louis was a starter in the very first Grand Prix race ever (June 26 and 27) , i.e. the French Grand Prix at LeMans, but retired on the first day with his Darracq. Returning to America, Wagner won the 1906 Vanderbilt Cup race for Darracq, on October 6, by averaging 61.4 mph for the 297 mile contest. In both the 1907 and 1908 editions of the French Grand Prix, on Fiats, he was retired early, but back in the U.S. again, he won the very first ACA American Grand Prize held at Savannah, GA on Nov. 26, 1908. Louis' Fiat averaged 65.2 mph for the prescribed 402.08 mile distance. In 1911 Wagner, still with Fiat, came to U.S. for the American Grand Prize (Nov. 30) but retired after 14 laps, of the required 28, with a broken steering gear. This was Wagner's last trip to the U.S. until his Ballot venture of May 1919.

With the renewal of Grand Prix racing proper in Europe in 1912, Wagner, using the huge Fiat type S74, placed 2nd overall in the French Grand Prix staged at Dieppe, France on June 25 and 26. Louis was headed only by Georges Boillot's faster flying blue No. 22 Peugeot type L76. Wagner did not compete in the 1913 French Grand Prix, but was on the victorious 1914 French Grand Prix Mercedes team at Lyon (July 4) and part of Mercedes' famous one-two-three car sweep. Here Louis was 2nd again in the big race, this time to Christian Lautenschlager's 1st. Wagner's 2nd place Mercedes No. 40 was soon turned over to Ralph DePalma, for Ralph's use in the U.S.A. (Consult cont.-34 above). The year 1919 was a new adventure for Wagner, as he had probably never seen the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, built originally in 1909.

Paul Bablot, Albert Guyot, and Rene Thomas had all raced in the so-called voiturette (light car) class in Europe. Bablot had contested however both the 1907 and 1908 French Grand Prixs, using Brasier cars, but had no luck. Paul however won the 1911 Coupe de l'Auto voiturette race at Boulogne for the Delage firm on June 25; took 4th in the 1913 French Grand Prix staged at Amiens on July 12; and won the 1913 Grand Prix de France at LeMans on August 5, where the Peugeot team elected not to run. Bablot raced Delages in 1911, 1913, and 1914, but at the 1912 French Grand Prix staged at Dieppe, he used a Lorraine-Dietrich.

Albert Guyot is listed among the combatants in the 1907 Kaiserpreis contest (June 14). In 1908 Guyot won a major light car contest at Dieppe, i.e. the Grand Prix de Voiturettes run on July 6, using a Delage. This 216.44 mile event had 47 contestants! At the Grand Prix contest staged on August 5, 1913, he was bested only by his Delage teammate, Paul Bablot. Albert ran at Indianapolis in both 1913 and 1914. In 1913 he placed 4th for Sunbeam. For 1914 he and Rene Thomas were allowed to travel to Indiana, with two 1913 Grand Prix type Delages and success ensued. Thomas and Guyot took 1st and 3rd respectively in the 500 mile sweepstakes.

Rene Thomas was active in voiturette racing during 1909 to 1912. In the 282.41 mile 1909 Coupe de Voiturettes (June 20) run at Boulogne, he was placed 3rd piloting a Le Gui. Thomas was a competitor at the 1913 French Grand Prix run at Amiens, piloting a French built Theophile Schneider, to take an undistinguished 9th, out of the total of the 11 cars that ran. Rene was on the official 1914 Delage French Grand Prix team, but only as a reserve driver.

In tests, as reported from France, Henry's new Ballots were said to have performance qualities much superior to that of the old 1914 Grand Prix EX5 type Peugeots. With its four experienced and veteran pilots, the four car Ballot threat at Indianapolis looked very formidable in both early and May 1919.

#112 john glenn printz

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 19:37

U.S. Racing 1894-1920 (cont. 51) In January 1919 the U.S. AAA representative in Europe, William Fletcher "W.F." Bradley (1876-1971), reported that the Fiat firm of Turin, Italy was planning a three car assault on Indianapolis, with Louis Wagner and John "Jack" Elson Scales (1886-1962) as two of their pilots. Wagner was said to have replaced driver Antonio Fagnano (d. July 8, 1918 at age 35) who died after a short illness. (Source: WATERLOO TIMES-TRIBUNE, January 28, 1919, page 6).

Back in early 1917, Fiat had built two cars for the 1917 Indianapolis 500 and were just ready to ship them to the U.S. when the Indianapolis Motor Speedway management cancelled (March 23) the 1917 race. Fiat's two 1917 Indy drivers had been Fagnano and Scales. Fagnano had been one of the three Fiat pilots, along with Alessandro Cagno (1883-1971) and Jack Scales, who had run in the French Grand Prix of 4 July 1914. The 1919 Indianapolis Fiats were most likely just the older Fiat 1917 Indy cars.

Scales was an Englishman who had worked for a Fiat import dealership in Great Britain but who c. 1909, had joined the parent Fiat firm in Turin as a fullfledged engineer. However no Fiats were ultimately entered at Indy for 1919, probably due to the endemic labor disputes and problems that Italy endured immediately after the World War. Louis Wagner then, quickly got a ride on the new Ballot team.

For 1919 the Sunbeam Motor Car Company, Ltd. of Wolverhampton, Staffs, England, under Louis Herve Coatalen's (1879-1962) direction, entered two new, six cylinder cars for the 500, to be driven by Jean Chassagne and Dario Resta. Coatalen, formerly from the Humber Car Company, joined Sunbeam in 1909 as the Chief Engineer and had quickly pushed the Sunbeam company into racing. Sunbeam's greatest racing success was their one-two-three finish in the 1912 Coupe de l'Auto voiturette event at Dieppe, run concurrently with the June 25-26 French Grand Prix itself. The amazing situation here was that the three Sunbeam cars finished 3rd, 4th, and 5th, over all the other starters, including both the Grand Prix and voiturette classes! That is, the three Sunbeams beat every Grand Prix car also, except those of G. Boillot (Peugeot) and Wagner (Fiat) in the final reckoning. The three Sunbeam pilots, on this occasion, were Victor Rigal (1879-1941), Dario Resta, and Emile Medinger. Dario Resta, in early 1919, had been a quick replacement on the Sunbeam Indy entry, for the Belgian pilot Josef Christiaens (1879-1919), who had been killed at Wolverhampton, while testing one of the new Indy cars on February 25, 1919.

Jean Chassagne (1881-1947) had run in the 1913 and 1914 French Grand Prixs and at Indianapolis in 1914, all for Sunbeam. Jean's only finish in these three contests was a 3rd in the 1913 French Grand Prix.

The Sunbeam Motor Company had entered cars at Indianapolis in 1913, 1914, 1915, and 1916. Sunbeam's best results in these years were 4th in 1913 with Frenchman Albert Guyot; 7th for 1914 using American Harry Grant (1877-1915); 10th in 1915 with Englishman Noel Van Raalte (1888-1940); and finally 4th in 1916 with the Belgian Josef Christiaens. Generally the Sunbeams were 6 cylinder jobs, but not always. Probably Sunbeam's best success in America was the Italian Jean Porporato's (1881-?) 2nd place at Chicago (Maywood) in its inaugural event, i.e. a 500 mile race held on 26 June 1915.

Such then was the overall situation for the competition coming directly from Europe itself, with regard to the 1919 Indy 500.

#113 john glenn printz

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 18:57

U.S. Racing 1894-1920 (cont.-52) There were no less than five Peugeots on hand for the 1919 Indianapolis 500. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway's two 1914 EX5 cars were unpacked, dusted off, and now prepared for the 500. They had not been run since the November 1916 Vanderbilt Cup and America Grand Prize races. Eventually Jules Goux and hometown boy Howard "Howdy" Wilcox (1889-1923) were assigned as their pilots. Goux, like Rene Thomas, was keenly looking for his second 500 win. Wilcox had been a starter in all six previous (i.e. 1911-16) Memorial Day Indianapolis events and had begun his racing career with the National team, under the tutorage of Johnny Aitken, back in 1909. Howdy's best placements at Indy had been a 6th in 1913 (Pope-Hartford), and two 7ths, in both the 1915 and 1916 races. In 1915 he used a "White Squadron" Stutz and for 1916, he had a brand-new IMS owned Premier.

Two other 1914 EX5 model Peugeots were in the hands of Art Klein (1889-1955) and Ray Howard. Klein's Peugeot was owned by Frank P. Book of Detroit, who had financed the DePalma Manufacturing Company back in early 1916. Howard had somehow obtained the EX5 Peugeot, in which Resta had won the 1916 AAA National Championship crown. Ray was an obscure dirt track driver from the eastern U.S. And lastly Andre Boillot (1891-1935), the late Georges Boillot's younger brother, had a 1914 Coupe de l'Auto Peugeot racer, constructed for a contest that was never actually held, due to the outbreak of World War I (Consult cont-41, i.e. the "little Grand Prix").

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway entered in addition, two Premiers, i.e. the old Peugeot's copies made in 1916 (See cont.-24). The Greek (born in Athens) George Buzane (1887-1919) was given one of these, but the second Premier remained unassigned. Buzane had been a riding mechanic for Eddie Hearne when Eddie raced Benz and Fiat machines, c. 1910-1911. In 1915 George, in an old DeDietrich, competed at the Elgin road race (August 21) and at the Kalamazoo 100 (August 28), without any success. For 1916 Buzane switched to Duesenberg cars and his best placements in them were 4ths at the Cincinnati 300 (Sept. 4) and at the "Harvest Auto" Indianapolis 100 (Sept. 9).

In 1917 George had only two starts and none in 1918. However at the Cincinnati 250 of 30 May 1917 Buzane took over from Eddie Rickenbacker the replica of Ralph DePalma's 1914 Grand Prix Mercedes built by the DePalma Manufacturing Company during 1916 or 1917. This Mercedes copy was still owned by Frank Book. Rickenbacker himself had not raced since the Ascot 150 of 30 Nov. 1916. However a quick call from the U.S. army changed Eddie's mind and fortunes, and he immediately enrolled in the U.S. Army rather than compete in the Cincinnati contest. Buzane then replaced Rickenbacker as the driver. Rickenbacker himself recalled some of this in his autobiography, RICKENBACKER, Engelwood Cliffs, 1967, on pages 86-87.

In 1918 Buzane was in the U.S. Army Air Service at McCook Field, located in Dayton, OH, testing the Liberty aircraft V12 motor. In May 1919 he was still in the Air Service but had obtained a month's leave to race at Indy.

The Frank Book owned 1916/17 "copy" Mercedes was a starter in the 1919 Indianapolis 500, now named the "Detroit Special", and was in the hands of Charles H. Kirkpatrick (1894-1975), who had driven in two major AAA races in 1917, namely the May 30 Cincinnati 250 and the July 4 Omaha 150. On both these occasions Kirkpatrick used Frontenacs.

#114 john glenn printz

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Posted 19 May 2008 - 18:13

U.S. Racing 1894-1920 (cont.-53) The American Duesenberg, Frontenac, and to a lesser extent, the Packard would all seem to have a decided advantage over most of the competition at Indianapolis in 1919, as they had raced continuously during the war years of 1917 and 1918. Fred and August Duesenberg, now located in Elizabeth, NJ, entered four cars; two 4 cylinder jobs and two new straights 8's. Wilbur D'Alene and Eddie O'Donnell were given the 4's and Tommy Milton and Dave Lewis were assigned the 8's. Up to now the Duesenberg racing efforts had relied on their "walking beam" four cylinder motors which since late 1915, in its most advanced form, now sported 16 valves. The two new 1919 straight 8's had a single camshaft with three valves (one intake, two exhaust) per cylinder. The new Duesenberg 8's were still being put together when the track opened. In addition there were two Duesenbergs, probably ex-1918 factory machines, entered as "Roamers". These were driven by Kurt Hitke (1889-1979) and Louis LeCocq (1881-1919).

"Wilbur D'Alene" was a nom de plume for Edwin Wilbur Aleaon (1884-1966), who was born in Indiana. D'Alene began racing in 1913. For 1914 he raced on the West Coast at such places as Tacoma WA, Seattle WA, Corona CA, and Ogden UT. He had a very serious wreck at Elgin, IL on 22 August 1914. During 1914 and most of 1915 Wilbur drove a Marmon. In late 1915 Wilbur switched over to the Duesenberg marque. By 1916 D'Alene seems to have been the captain of the Duesenberg racing equipage for a short time, but may have quit the Duesenberg brothers in September, over a $6000 dispute about the 1916 Indy 300 prize money (Source: for this dispute, FORT WAYNE SENTINEL, 9 June 1916, page 14). Wilbur finished out the year on the Crawford team (Consult: cont.-24 above).

There were all kinds of stories and tales about Wilbur being a wealthy northwestern lumber baron, which were probably quite untrue; and D'Alene also apparently claimed to be a world traveler of some sort. 1916 was D'Alene's biggest season, with nine AAA Championship starts, and a 2nd place at the Indianapolis 300 staged on Memorial Day. In 1916 Wilbur also was 2nd at the Cincinnati 300 (Sept. 4) and 3rd in the Indianapolis 100 (Sept. 9). In late 1916 he used the number 13 on his car at Omaha (July 15), Cincinnati (Sept. 4), and at Chicago (Oct. 14). Wilbur was listed 6th in the final AAA point reckonings for the National Championship Driving Title chase in 1916.

D'Alene is said to have lost two riding mechanics, one of which I can identify, i.e. Ralph Hedrich. Hedrich died on 1 Nov. 1916 from burns sustained at Chicago on 14 Oct. 1916. D'Alene's No. 13 Crawford caught fire in the early stages of the race while being refueled at the pits. Hedrich with his greasy trousers aflame, jumped away from the car, ran down the track, and fell in the front of the press box. The flames were not extinguised until most of his clothes were burnt from his body.

D'Alene was very inactive in 1917, possibly due to racing injuries. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on 16 Jan. 1918 and became an aviation motor instructor at Kelly Field, TX, and was discharged from the service on Feb. 6, 1919. In August 1919, Wilbur opened an automobile parts accessory shop in Fort Wayne, IN with his brother in law.

Eddie O'Donnell (1885-1920) was making a comeback at the 1919 Indianapolis 500. Eddie hadn't raced since a bad spill at the 1 1/8's mile Kansas City dirt track on 22 June 1916, in a very minor 25 miler. O'Donnell's Duesenberg had a steering knuckle let go and the car plowed through the fence and shot down an embankment. O'Donnell suffered a broken arm in the fray. Earlier in the day Eddie had finished 2nd in a 100 mile test, to Ralph DePalma's Mercedes, among the 12 starters. O'Donnell's arm refused to mend properly and had to be rebroken three times.

O'Donnell had started his racing career as a riding mechanic on the Duesenberg team, and by late 1914, was one of team's chauffeurs. Eddie's best season was 1915 when he won at Glendale (Feb. 3), Ascot (Feb. 7), and at Galesburg (June 9). However O'Donnell's biggest win was the 1916 non-Championship 300 mile Corona (April 8). On April 16, 1916 Eddie also won a non-Championship 150 miler staged at Ascot. All five wins here were with Duesenberg cars.

#115 john glenn printz

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 12:17

U.S. Racing 1894-1920 (cont.-54) TOMMY MILTON (1893-1962). Tommy Milton was born to a well-to-do St. Paul, Minnesota dairy farming family. During his boyhood Tommy showed a great interest in all things mechanical, especially motorcycles and automobiles. Tommy's first experiences with racing was with motorcycles c. 1911/1912, at the Minnesota State Fair (Hamline) grounds, on the one mile horse track. Here also was where he first raced automobiles. Milton began his automobile racing career in 1913 using his own Mercer stock model given him by his indulgent father. Milton soon linked up with J. Alex Sloan, the famous outlaw (i.e. non-AAA) promoter, and he stayed with Sloan's barnstorming outfit for about three and a half seasons (c. 1913 to mid-1916).

Barnstorming, as applied to U.S. automobile racing, was not always on the up and up. A full troop of racing cars and drivers would arrive by rail, at local cities and large towns, and a full program of races would be staged at the nearby dirt track usually used for horse racing. This one-day stand would provide very thrilling contests to the paying spectators, for there were continuing close duels and even closer finishes! But it was mostly pre-arranged, contrived, and fakeroo. Of course the audiences didn't know that and they usually left quite pleased by the results. The earliest, greatest, and most successful of all these American barnstorming showmen was, of course, the famous Barney Oldfield (See cont.-38 & 39 above).

By late 1915/early 1916 Milton was becoming increasingly discontented about his role of being a loser and a constant also-ran in Sloan's traveling show and motor circus. Still Milton had gained much valuable experience running on these dirt ovals. The two Duesenberg brothers, Fred and August, had moved their auto building activities to St. Paul, MN from Des Moines, IA in 1914. Milton, with his barnstorming experience with Sloan, was able to talk himself onto the Duesenberg factory racing team in mid-1916.

The American Automobile Association's Contest Board had just created in early 1916 an entirely new format for racing by introducing a U.S. National Championship Driving Title to be awarded by the cumulation of points, by the drivers, in specified AAA "National Championship" point contributing contests. The maximum piston displacement allowed generally in these 1916 AAA Title races was 301 cubic inches, i.e. Class E. The 1916 Vanderbilt Cup and American Grand Prize races allowed vehicles above the 301 cubic inch limit, but it was understood that such entries would earn no Championship points. (Consult cont.-19 to 27 above for information about the AAA's new Championship Driving Title).

Milton was supposed to commense his AAA Championship career at Indianapolis in May 1916, but his new 16 valve 4 cylinder Duesenberg was not completed in time and Tommy had to wait until a 150 miler, run at Des Moines on 24 June 1916, before making his first foray into the AAA big-time. The Des Moines event was Milton's first race on a board speedway and Milton decided to follow closely his teammate Wilbur D'Alene, in the race, so he could learn a thing or two about racing on a wooden oval. Unfortunately D'Alene's Duesenberg had a right wheel collapse on his 30th circuit and Milton, who was running directly behind him, cut sharply to the inside to avoid hitting D'Alene. When Milton's car hit the infield dirt it flipped over several times but Milton and his riding mechanic, E. Rathburn, emerged unhurt.

Milton however soon became an experienced hand at running on the board tracks. In 1916 he competed for Duesenberg at the wooden ovals located at Chicago, Cincinnati, New York, Omaha, and Tacoma; and Milton would remain officially on the "works" Duesenberg team until September 18, 1920. Although Milton missed six of the 15 AAA Championship contests held in 1916, he still managed to end up ranked 7th at the end of the year. Tommy's best 1916 placements were a 2nd at the Tacoma 300 (Aug. 5), a 3rd at the Omaha 150 (July 15), and a 4th at Minneapolis in a 150 miler (July 4).

Edited by john glenn printz, 21 December 2010 - 19:50.


#116 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 28 May 2008 - 13:52

In addition to an earlier article I found in the 4 January 1906 Racine newspaper mentioning that Barney Oldfield had the day before been awarded a gold medal by the AAA for winning the motor car championship, I have found another obscure newspaper article mentioning Oldfield. The 12 January 1906 issue of the Marshall Expounder (Marshall, MI) has a listing on page 6 of the 1906 "National Champions." Listed between "Amateur Athletics -- Martin J. Sheridan" and "Billiards -- Charles F. Conklin," is "Automobiling -- Barney Oldfield."

If nothing else, these two articles seem to indicate that there was at least some relationship between Oldfield and the/a championship in 1905.

The fun continues.

#117 john glenn printz

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 19:14

U.S. Racing 1894-1920 (cont.-55) Milton was a very active competitor in the major AAA races run during 1917 and 1918, and didn't have to enter the U.S. armed forces because he had been born blind partially or totally in one eye. In 1917 he won two races, both at the Providence, RI, one mile concrete oval on September 15. The first was a 25 mile sprint and the second, a 100 miler, which had 14 starters. To win the latter contest, Tommy had to beat the likes of Joe Boyer, Louis Chevrolet, Eddie Hearne, Dave Lewis, Ralph Mulford, and Ira Vail, among others. In addition, in 1917, Milton placed 2nd at the Omaha 150 (July 4), the Uniontown 168.75 (Oct. 29), and at the dirt Ascot 50 (Nov. 29); and took 4th at the Cincinnati 250 (May 30) and at a Chicago 50 (Oct. 13).

During the 1918 campaign, Milton was victorious only once, in an unimportant 27 mile sprint, held at Uniontown on May 16. The Harkness Handicap 100 mile Trophy race, originally scheduled for May 30, was perhaps the most important automobile race staged in the U.S., and hence the world, during 1918. Due to inclement weather, the event was postponed to June 1. Milton was the happy and declared winner followed by (2.) Barney Oldfield, Miller (3.) Ira Vail, Hudson, (4.) Ralph DePalma, Packard, and (5.) Eddie Hearne, Duesenberg.

But immediately after the event, DePalma protested and insisted that he had lapped Oldfield twice, and that he should be placed 2nd at least. The AAA race officials then began a complete recheck of the results which took until 11 p.m. The new order of finish, posted on June 2, became (1.) DePalma, (2.) Milton, (3.) Oldfield, (4.) Hearne, and (5.) Dennis Hickey, Hudson. (Compare with cont.-32).

For 1918 Tommy also took 2nd at Cincinnati (July 4) in another AAA handicap 100 miler, and later a 5th at the 112.5 mile Uniontown contest (July 18). And, as we have already noted (in cont.-49), Milton won at Uniontown on May 19, in the only major 1919 AAA race run in the eastern U.S., before the upcoming Indianapolis 500.

Dave Lewis (1881-1928) was the fourth factory Duesenberg team driver, at Indianapolis in 1919. Lewis, a U.S. Pacific coast (Los Angeles) pilot, had taken part in the first 1911 Indianapolis 500. Lewis was the mechanican riding with Teddy Tetzlaff (1883-1929), in a Lozier. On their 21st lap, their car blew a tire on the front straightaway and then collided with Louis Disbrow's Pope-Hartford. The Lozier overturned and Lewis' right leg was broken.

From 1911 to 1915 Lewis drove mostly Stutz machines, with a few exceptions. Dave was an entrant in the Santa Monica road races of 1911 to 1914. On February 16, 1914, during practice for the upcoming Santa Monica events, Dave's S74 type Fiat broke its steering knuckle, crossed the street car tracks, skidded over the curb, and rammed into the onlooking crowd. The giant Fiat capsized pinning Lewis beneath it. A Civil War (1861-1865) veteran, Louis G. Smith, age 69, was killed and three women were injured. Both Dave and his riding mechanic, Eddie R. Arnott, were badly hurt, but Lewis did start in both the Santa Monica, Vanderbilt Cup (Feb. 26) and the American Grand Prize (Feb. 28) contests. Dave was not running at the finish in either race. In the 294 mile Vanderbilt Cup his Mason retired on lap 2 with a busted piston, while in the 403 mile Grand Prize his No. 13 Fiat was out after 22 circuits with engine bearing failure.

Lewis' best results from 1911 to 1915 were 2nds at the 248.5 mile July 7, 1913 Tacoma (Montamarathon Trophy) with a Fiat and at the April 29, 1915 Oklahoma City 199.5 mile road race using a Stutz. In the 301 to 450 cubic inch "heavy car class" at Santa Monica (Oct. 14, 1911), Dave placed 3rd but there were only four cars total, running in this AAA classification.

In early 1916 Lewis was a member of the new Crawford team but switched to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway owned Premiers at the Sept. 4, 1916 Cincinnati 300 (See cont.-24 for the new 1916 Crawford and Premier cars). During 1917 and 1918 Dave drove Duesenbergs. Dave's best successes during the years 1916 to 1918 were 2nds at the Minneapolis 100 (July 14, 1917), the Chicago 50 and 100 milers (Sept. 3, 1917), and the Tacoma 24 and 50 mile contests (July 4, 1918); and a 3rd at the Tacoma 300 (Montamarathon-Potlach Trophy race) of Aug. 5, 1916. 4th place finishes were obtained by Lewis at the Des Moines 150 (June 24, 1916), the Chicago 250 (Oct. 14, 1916), the Providence 100 (Sept. 15, 1917), and the Uniontown 168.75 (Oct. 29, 1917). Dave had before 1919 only one Memorial Day Indianapolis start, i.e. 1916, where he started 18th and finished 14th in a Crawford; out after 71 laps with a loose fuel tank. Lewis was thus, in May 1919, still looking for his first major AAA win.

With four experienced and seasoned veteran pilots, plus two well tested 4 cylinder cars for D'Alene and O'Donnell and two new radical straight 8's for Milton and Lewis, the official 1919 Duesenberg team for Indianapolis would seem to have been in very good shape. However, among the other serious American entries at Indy, there was DePalma's sole V12 Packard to contend with, as well as four potent Frontenacs. The factory Frontenac team consisted of three machines, in the hands of Louis and Gaston Chevrolet, and Joe Boyer Jr. A fourth Frontenac was being driven by Ralph Mulford as a private entry.

Edited by john glenn printz, 11 June 2010 - 15:25.


#118 john glenn printz

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Posted 15 June 2008 - 16:40

U.S. Racing 1894-1920 (cont.-56) In April 1911 Harry Stutz constructed a prototype stock car and entered it in the upcoming Indianapolis 500, using Norwegian born, Gil Anderson (1879-1935), as its driver. Its engine had 390 cubic inches, small for a thoroughbred racing car of that era, but the new Stutz ran all day and placed 11th overall. Harry thereafter advertised that his vehicle was "The Car That Made Good in a Day". Stutz then leased a building located at 430 North Capitol Avenue, Indianapolis in June 1911 and production of this Stutz prototype began in August of the same year. Mr. Stutz always believed that success in genuine racing ventures was good for a marque's fame, promotion and publicity.

Gil Anderson thereafter piloted Stutz racing cars exclusively during the years 1911 to 1915, but when Harry quit all racing in late 1915, Anderson joined the just newly formed Indianapolis Motor Speedway Premier team. In a comeback attempt, in October 1917, Gil took over A. A. Cadwell's new Miller, which had first run in actual competition at the Minneapolis 100 on 14 July, 1917.

Earl Cooper (1886-1965), a west coast driver who began his racing career c. 1909, also exclusively chauffeured Stutz cars during the period 1911 to 1915, and with great success. Earl started running in the big AAA contests in 1911. Cooper did so well in the AAA races that MOTOR AGE magazine hailed him the U.S. Driving Champion for both 1913 and 1915.

There were three 1915 Stutz's on hand at Indianapolis in 1919, piloted by Earl Cooper, Cliff Durant, and Eddie Hearne. These 1915 Stutz racing cars had been obviously and originally designed with the direct eye and object of winning the 1915 Indianapolis 500, but one of them was ready early and was raced at San Francisco in the Grand Prize (Feb. 27, 1915) and the Vanderbilt Cup (March 6, 1915) by Gil Anderson, alongside his two teammates Earl Cooper and Howard Wilcox, who used the older 1913 type Stutz racing equipment. These new model 1915 Stutz's were good cars and probably were the most advanced and fastest American racing machines yet designed and put together. Their motors were designed and built by the Wisconsin Engine Company of Milwaukee (West Allis). The engine had four valves per cylinder operated by a single overhead cam and had the pecularity of the crankshaft not being located directly below the exact centerline of the four cylinders but was rather slightly offset.

At Indianapolis in 1915, the three new Stutz's were hampered by tire trouble, but finished 3rd (Anderson), 4th (Cooper), and 7th (Wilcox). Wilcox's car was greatly slowed by a broken valve spring. Earlier, Wilcox, had posted the fastest qualification speed of 98.9 mph, to start on the pole. However these new 1915 Stutz's later won at Elgin, IL, in both 301 mile contests, i.e. with Cooper (Aug. 20), and then with Anderson (Aug. 21). This Stutz design also proved victorious in the inaugural events staged at Minneapolis, a 500 miler on Sept. 4, (Cooper) and at the Sheepshead Bay 350, held on October 9. Here Anderson was the victor, at an 102.5 mph clip.

Harry C. Stutz himself, after the 1915 AAA season was over, withdrew from all racing, but eventually these 1915 Stutz racing vehicles were all sold off. Earl Cooper acquired one of them towards the end of 1916 and raced it at the Vanderbilt Cup (Nov. 16), the American Grand Prize (Nov. 18), and at Ascot (Nov. 30) in a 150. In the Vanderbilt Cup and the American Grand Prix, Cooper placed 2nd to two different examples of the 1914 French Grand Prix type EX5 Peugeot; and at the Ascot 150, Earl was 2nd again, this time to Eddie Rickenbacker, driving one of William Weightman's 16 valve Duesenbergs. During 1917 Earl continued using the 1915 Stutz and won the Chicago 250 (June 16) and the Tacoma 100 (Sept. 3). Reeves Dutton, more normally Cooper's riding mechanic, in a substitution role, won the Minneapolis 50 (July 14) in the Cooper owned Stutz as well (See cont.-33). For 1918, Earl was very inactive, running only at Tacoma on July 4; and in 1919 Cooper competed only twice all year, i.e. at the Santa Monica road race (March 15) and now here at Indianapolis.

Cliff Durant had bought one of these 1915 Stutz's in late 1916 or early 1917; and a second example in February 1919. These two Stutz's were used by Durant and Eddie Hearne at the 1919 250 mile Santa Monica road race (March 15), where they placed one-two. Cliff averaged 81.28 mph here, for the win. Durant and Hearne were also entered, with these same machines, at Ascot (March 23), and at Uniontown (May 19). And both were entered again at Indianapolis for 1919, but Durant's car was named a "Chevrolet", while Hearne's job was now dubbed a "Durant". (For Durant's activities see cont-47 and 48).

#119 john glenn printz

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 19:27

U.S. Racing 1894-1920 (cont.-57) Both of Harry A. Miller's 1917 constructed machines showed up for the 1919 Indianapolis contest and were still, up to now, the only complete cars which Harry had built (See cont.-16, 17 and 31). The new 1917 single cam Miller 289 cubic inch motor was rated at 138 horsepower at 2950 rpm. Roscoe Sarles (1892-1922), originally from the mid-west, was assigned to Oldfield's ex-Submarine; while Omar Toft (1886-1921) now had the ex-A. A. Cadwell car. Its original owner, Cadwell had raced this Miller only twice, i.e. at Minneapolis (July 14, 1917) and at Uniontown (Sept. 3, 1917), with no great results. Then this Miller passed over to Gil Anderson, whose best finish was a 2nd at Chicago on October 13, 1917, in a 50 mile event. But this race had only six starters. Gil also made a start at the Uniontown 168.75 (Oct. 29, 1917) but went only 16 laps before engine problems put him out. Here Anderson placed 13th, among the 15 competitors.

The ex-Cadwell/Anderson piloted Miller, came into Omar Toft's hands for 1918. Toft was a Uniontown regular in 1918 and with this Miller placed well in both 1918, 112.5 milers there, i.e. 2nd on 18 July 1918 and 3rd on 2 Sept. 1918. Omar raced the Miller in all three of the important 1919 AAA contests, staged before the "500". He was 6th at Santa Monica (March 15), 5th at Ascot (March 23), and a non-finisher at Uniontown (May 19).

Toft had an unsavory reputation. Omar was accused of slashing his opponent's tires before the Sept. 2, 1918 Uniontown 112.5 mile race, and Tommy Milton always thought that Toft may have murdered Mrs. Leota K. Northam's husband. Mrs. Northam was a financial sponsor and supporter of Toft. Before all that, Omar had deliberately delayed the arrival of Mrs. Northam's 1913 Grand Prix Delage from New York to Santa Monica in February 1914. The Delage was imported from France for Toft's use in all the important 1914 AAA races, including Indianapolis (Source: NEW YORK TIMES, 27 Jan., 1914, page 10). Toft was angry when he learned that Bert Dingley (1885-1966) had possibly replaced him, as the driver of the Delage. Dingley was badly injured at Tacoma on July 4, 1914 and never raced again.

Omar also apparently avowed that he was born in Denmark when, in fact, his birthplace was Bourbon, Missouri. Toft himself was out of big-time racing after 1919 and died at Phoenix, AZ on Nov. 12, 1921. It was in a minor 50 mile race won by DePalma, who led all 50 laps. Toft went over an embankment on his 24th circuit and the car caught fire. The cause of Omar's accident was not known.

Barney Oldfield's "Golden Submarine" was the first complete racing car that Harry Miller built, and its unique fully enclosed streamlined body attracted much publicity at first, but in the important 1917 AAA races, its actual results were dismal. For 1918 however Barney cut off the special streamlined bodywork that had caused all the initial fuss and faired much, much better. In the three 1918 AAA 100 mile handicap contests, Oldfield was 2nd at Sheepshead Bay (June 1), 5th at Chicago (June 22), and 4th at Cincinnati (July 4), And at the Uniontown 112.5, held on July 16, he was 6th.

The earliest of the Miller engined or powered racers, in contrast to complete Miller cars, was Oldfield's 1914 Grand Prix Delage. It was run with the 289 Miller motor replacing its original Delage engine, at Uniontown (May 10, 1917) and at Cincinnati (May 30, 1917) by Barney, while he awaited the final completion of the Golden Sub. The Sub's first outing was at Chicago on June 16, 1917. Barney's Miller/Delage was later raced by both Cliff Durant and Frank Elliott during the 1917 season.

Tom Alley's (1889-1953) "Pan-American" also first appeared at Chicago-Maywood track on 16 June 1917. Tom had put a new 289 Miller 4 into a chassis of his own devising. Alley here was sponsored by the Pan-American Motor Corporation, a small independent car maker, located in Chicago, IL. Alley had been a riding mechanic for Ralph DePalma and was with Ralph when they crashed at Milwaukee on the last lap of the American Grand Prize held on Oct. 5, 1912. Both Alley and DePalma were badly injured in this wreck. This accident was possibly caused by the 1912 Grand Prize's ultimate winner, Caleb Bragg (1885-1943). Tom was a relief pilot for George Clark (1890-1978) at Indianapolis in 1913, and beginning in 1914, Alley became a driver in his own right. Tom was on the Duesenberg team for all of 1914 and the first half of 1915, before running a separate Duesenberg for Hugo W. Ogren.

At the Chicago 250 (June 16, 1917) Alley was 15th overall, but still running, while at the Omaha 150 (July 4) Tom lost control on the 2nd lap. The Pan-American jumped the track, headed for the infield, flipped over twice, and landed upside down. But through the car was wrecked Alley, and his mechanian, Billy Salmon, emerged only slightly hurt. Later at Chicago (Sept. 3) Alley placed 5th in his Miller/Alley creation, in both the 50 and 100 mile events. At Chicago on Oct. 13, Tom won a very unimportant and short 20 mile sprint with an average of 105.5 mph.

For 1918 Alley appeared only once, i.e. at Chicago on June 22, where he placed 7th overall in the 100 miler. Alley's car was now called a "Bender" but was probably just the 1917 "Pan-American", but with a new sponsor, i.e. C. J. Bender. In this case the new money source was the Ahlberg Bearing Company of Chicago Illinois, a manufacturer and supplier of engine bearings, where Mr. Bender was the president. Tom didn't enter the earlier 1919 AAA contests but he and the "Bender" car were entrants at Indianapolis for 1919.

In September 1916 a Miller 289 motor was sold, for $4000, to Hugo W. Ogren of the Ogren Motor Car Works of Chicago and Waukegan, IL. An "Ogren Special" ran in some 1917 AAA, driven by George Mason (1890-1918) and Otto Henning. The "Ogren Special" may have used this Miller motor. In any case an "Ogren Special", was entered at Indy in 1919 with a Miller 289, as now piloted by Al Cotey (1888-1974). Al apparently tried to run this same car in some 1918 AAA events.

And to complete the earliest Miller history and all the Miller powered equipment then in existence, i.e. 1917 to 1919, I add the following. The 1917 "Erbes Special" had the ex-Bob Burman EX3 Peugeot chassis. Harry Miller, be it duly noted, built two completely different and distinct motors for this Peugeot. The first (i.e. number 1) was a two-cam duplicate or replica of its original 1913 Peugeot engine, made in early 1915 for driver Bob Burman; and number 2, i.e. the installation of a single cam 289 Miller 4 for its owner Louis C. Erbes of St. Paul, MN, after the Peugeot had been wrecked by Burman, at Corona on 5 April 1916. The Peugeot chassis was repaired and in late 1916 and/or early 1917, the new Miller 4 was put into it. This Erbes car was campaigned by Andy Burt (1890-1962) during 1917. Burt placed 8th at Omaha (July 4), 3rd at Uniontown (Sept. 3), 9th at Providence (Sept. 15), and 10th at Uniontown (Oct. 29) where he was out after 91 laps because of engine failure. After 1917 the Erbes car seems to disappear.

ON THE REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST: A THOUGHT. Perhaps Fred Offenhauser's (1888-1973) memory, confused and meshed these two separate Miller engine installations into just one, when interviewed by Griffith Borgeson; and thereby flustered Borgeson into thinking that a single cam 289 Miller 4 was put into this Peugeot in early 1915. See Borgeson's THE GOLDEN AGE OF THE AMERICAN RACING CAR, New York, 1966, pages 109-110; and cont.-16, 17, & 31 and my post of 6 Nov. 2005, above.

In sum, there were four Miller powered vehicles entered at Indianapolis for 1919, i.e. the two 1917 Miller complete cars now slated for Sarles and Toft; and the "Bender" (Alley), and the "Ogren" (Cotey). 1919 was the first year that any Miller engined cars ran at Indianapolis, unless one counts Bob Burman's 1915 Miller replica of the 1913 Peugeot motor.

Any additions, comments, or corrections to this Miller 1915-1919 history?

Edited by john glenn printz, 13 August 2010 - 17:11.


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#120 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 01 July 2008 - 01:08

John, Maybe you can fill in the gaps here: The Contest Board on 6 April 1910 had an announcement for the "National Championship Races of the AAA" to be be held on 30 May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It would follow the Grand Circuit events scheduled for 27 and 28 May. The announcement stated that there would be 14 events. Then, not much in the followup category as far as the Contest Board bulletins are concerned.

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Posted 01 July 2008 - 14:11

Originally posted by john glenn printz
Any additions, comments, or corrections to this Miller 1915-1919 history?

A very good overview, thanks Mr. Printz!

Two observations:

- according to Robert Dick (post #41 in this thread), the three 1916 Premier Indy Cars were originally commissioned by Bob Burman and built by Miller, and in fact those cars fit very well into the picture. Today, these cars are often glossed over as Peugeot-copies, which they evidently were not, they actually look much more like a cross-breed of Burman's Miller-modified 1913 Grand Prix Peugeot and the "Submarine"-type Millers! I don't suppose to have these cars called Miller henceforth, but I believe they belong into an account of the Miller 1915-1919 history.

- the Miller 289 engine that was sold to Ogren in September of 1916 was apparently the only example with an iron block, later examples all having a light-alloy ("Alloyanum") block. It was, apparently, debuted on September 30 that year at Sheepshead Bay, in a new car with a straight 1916-type Duesenberg frame (according to some sources, but I am remaining cautious here), driven either by Otto Henning (retired with a leaking manifold) or Andy Burt (finished 14th, and last). The confusion comes from the fact that Ogren had acquired a drop-frame Duesenberg in June of 1915, and both cars raced simply under the name "Ogren Special". I have seen a very fuzzy picture of the start of that race, and from deduction I could make out the two Ogrens, one with a right-hand exhaust (Duesenberg) and one with a left-hand (Miller). So, visually the two cars are very easy to differentiate, but in entry lists and race results they are not!

#122 john glenn printz

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Posted 03 July 2008 - 19:33

THE AAA CONTEST BOARD CHAIRMANS 1909 TO 1955. Just to preserve some more rather obscure AAA history, I append the following;

(1.) Frank B. Hower ; 1909
(2.) Samuel M. Butler ; Dec. 1909-Oct.1911
(3.) Theodore "William" Schimpf ; Nov. 1911-1914
(4.) Richard A. Kennerdell ; Jan. 1914-Oct. 1921
(5.) Theodore "William" Schimpf ; Oct. 1921-Aug. 1922 (Second term)
(6.) F. A. Croselmire ; Aug. 1922-Aug. 1923
(7.) Joseph Mack ; Aug. 1923-March 1924
(8.) Richard A. Kennerdell ; March 1924-1926 (Second term)
(9.) Eddie V. Rickenbacker ; Nov. 1926-1945
(10.) Arthur W. Harrington ; 1946-1955

I believe this to be close to the reality.

ADDED NOTE OF JANUARY 3, 2011: If anyone wants to know what Richard A. Kennerdell actually looked like, he is pictured (unnamed) in a May 1924 photo on page 169 of Borgeson's GOLDEN AGE OF THE AMERICAN RACING CAR (1966). Kennerdell is the gentleman wearing a white cap, standing in the first row between Barney Oldfield and Edsel Ford. Driver Fred Harder is in the second row and is clearly seen between Oldfield and Kennerdell. Standing in the second row just to the right of Edsel Ford is Alfred E. Moss, the father of Stirling Moss (b. 1929). Both Harder and Moss drove Barber-Warnock Frontenac Ford T soupups, in the 1924 Indianapolis 500. Henry Ford in 1924, was the honorary referee.

The same exact photograph appears on page 19 in MOTOR AGE (June 24, 1924 issue). Here I believe (!) that Mr. Kennerdell is incorrectly identified as the man in the second row, to the immediate left of Mr. Louis Chevrolet. My opinion is that Kennerdell is front and center. Richard's source of income and employment was from his being a Pennsylvania oil man and operator.

Edited by john glenn printz, 02 August 2012 - 15:18.


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Posted 05 July 2008 - 17:01

Thanks, this is very neat! I don't think I have seen this info anywhere else! :up: :smoking:

#124 john glenn printz

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Posted 06 July 2008 - 21:05

HARRY MILLER HISTORY 1915 TO 1919 (???). Gee...I don't think the three 1916 Indianapolis Motor Speedway owned Premiers had anything to do with Harry A. Miller. These cars were EX5 Peugeot replicas made in Indianapolis itself under the direction of George A. Weidely of the Premier company. At this time the Speedway owned two 1914 EX5 Peugeots and Weidely made these "Premier" copies from a direct commission from the Speedway itself. Consult "U.S. Racing 1894-1920 (cont.-24)" above.

Weidely, back in 1905, had designed and constructed a car for Carl G. Fisher, for Fisher's use in the 1905 Vanderbilt Cup. This Premier had a large four cylinder air cooled motor but unfortunately the vehicle proved overweight (and thus illegal) and never ran in a major international race.

The first time ever, that I am aware, of the 1916 Premiers being linked up to Harry Miller is Mr. Robert Dick's 6 Nov. 2006 entry on this very thread above. However I believe this is an error. The contemporary 1916 evidence supports the thesis that the Premier works in Indianapolis constructed these Premiers. I would say that Bob Burman was not involved in their design and Harry Miller is never mentioned in connection with these cars. (They probably used Miller carburetors however.)

There does exist a very tenuous connection between Harry Miller and the Premier-Peugeot copies, and it is Bob Burman. In some early 1916 sources it is stated that Burman might take over the captainship of the newly formed Speedway Premier team. I also believe that Bob, in early 1916, had two 301 cubic inch class E racers under construction at Harry Miller's shop in Los Angeles. Probably the money here came from Louis C. Erbes, a sponsor of Burman. But these two cars, used the new Miller 289 cubic inch single cam motor and had absolutely nothing to do with the three Indianapolis built Premiers, commissioned by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Premier cars, as replicas of the EX5 1914 Grand Prix Peugeots, had twin overhead camshafts.

As I have already stated above, I think these two 1916 Burman cars were later transformed and metaphorized into the Oldfield and Cadwell "Millers" of 1917. See "U.S. Racing 1894-1920 (cont.-17 and -31)" above.

Anyway that's how I currently read the earliest Miller engine and car construction history. This differs in some respects from both Griffith Borgeson and Mark Dees.

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 20:12

Well, thanks for that! Can we now get Robert to elaborate? :confused:

With all due respect, I still can't see where these cars were "Peugeot copies". DOHC engines alright, but that's not enough, is it?

#126 robert dick

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 08:19

Concerning Burman, Miller and the Premier racers - from "The Los Angeles Times" :

30 April 1916
"Speed king who met death at Corona successorless. The new Premiers designed by Bob are being finished for the Indianapolis classic, but the drivers have not been nominated. Mourned pilot was team captain."

1 June 1916
"Three local speed cars to enter eastern meets. Bob Burman estate to enter the three racing monsters in the eastern classics. Machines built in local factories and reputed to be fastest cars in the west. Wrecked Peugeot is rebuilt. Three powerful racing cars are to be seen in competition on the eastern speedway circuit this season as a monument to the name of Bob Burman."

#127 john glenn printz

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 12:01

HARRY MILLER HISTORY 1915-1919 (???) (cont.-1). Quite frankly, I don't think the 30 April 1916 and the 1 June 1916 LOS ANGELES TIMES notices are talking about the same cars!!! Or even the same exact events!!!

The 30 April 1916 notice is alluding to the three Premiers being constructed by and for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in Indianapolis, at the Premier factory. The newsman however is mistaken that they were designed by Burman. Nothing about Harry Miller here. The three Premiers were finished in time and ran at Indianapolis (May 30, 1916), as piloted by Gil Anderson, Tom Rooney, and Howard Wilcox. The three Premiers, be it noted, were never part of an "Burman estate", but were always and completely Speedway owned.

The 1 June 1916 statements are, I think, talking about the two new but unfinished Burman cars under construction at Harry Miller's shop; and the third car here is clearly the 1913 Grand Prix EX3 Peugeot, in which Bob at Corona was killed on 8 April, 1916. Obviously the wrecked Peugeot was now being repaired and rebuilt. No notice here of the three Burman estate cars as having just run in the 1916 Indianapolis 300 (!!!), as did all three Premiers, entered by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The wrecked 1913 Peugeot however later emerges as the "Erbes Special" in 1917 with a new Miller single-cam 289 motor installed; and the two "new" 1916 uncompleted Burman cars I believe became the 1917 Oldfield and Cadwell, Millers. These three vehicles are, in fact, the ex-June 1, 1916 Burman "estate cars", hailed here as the "fastest cars in the west". The Premiers were from the east.

So we are dealing here clearly with six different cars, not just three, i.e., three 1916 Premiers, two unfinished Millers, and one wrecked 1913 Peugeot. Which three of these, I ask you, are likely to be the "Burman estate" cars?

I surmize that Burman elected to drive a Premier car at Indianapolis because his two new 289 cubic inch Millers could not be completed in time for the 1916 Memorial Day 300 mile race. As far as I can tell, none of these three Burman estate cars at Miller's shop in June 1916, actually took part in any later 1916 AAA races, but all three machines were certainly used during 1917. The death of Burman had put the construction and completion of his two new 289 Miller cars into a state of uncertainty and confusion. Probably none of the three, if we include the wrecked Peugeot, was anywhere near race ready even on June 1, 1916. What was now needed was a great influx of more funds, to finalize these projects, i.e., to complete the two new 289 Millers and repair the damaged Peugeot.

(The following paragraph is pure spectulation but... Probably Louis C. Erbes of both Waterloo, IA and St. Paul, MN, came forward after the death of Bob and decided to complete the two new Millers and repair the Peugeot. These three cars would then run in important and later 1916 AAA races as a tribute to Burman. This is what the June 1, 1916 LOS ANGELES TIMES notice means to me, in its actual historical context, as I presently understand it. But for unknown reasons, this plan was not put into effect. The June 1, 1916 LOS ANGELES TIMES notice is therefore again, not about the three 1916 Premier cars.)

The basic problems here are that the LOS ANGELES TIMES April notice talks about the three 1916 Premiers all right, but there is nothing here linking them to Harry Miller. The June LOS ANGELES TIMES statements alludes unquestionally to Miller, but there is nothing here about the three Premiers; only about three cars contained in the Burman estate. I conclude therefore that the connection between Harry A. Miller and the three Premiers is not established in anyway whatsoever by these two 1916 LOS ANGELES TIMES references.

Much of my reconstruction of 1915-1917 events about Miller, I admit, differs greatly from Borgeson and Dees. But remember, Borgeson and Dees, are secondary sources. All that really counts is whether a given and later historical reconstruction of past events greatly contradicts the contemporary and primary source material. I don't think my new ideas about Miller do.

I have to say again, AAA racing history 1902 to 1955, is a complete and total mess.

As soon as I get the chance, I will look up Robert's two LOS ANGELES TIMES quotes, in their entirety and actual context.

John Glenn Printz

Edited by john glenn printz, 01 October 2010 - 13:32.


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Posted 09 July 2008 - 16:20

I concur with you, these two articles appear to be about two completely unrelated subjects! Surely the June notice is about the Burman wreck and the two new Miller cars, not the Premiers. Unless there's more to it in the accompanying articles, which I don't have access to, I think we can forget about a Premier/Miller connection. Robert?

#129 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 19:05

Could someone check to see if there is any mention of Barney Oldfied On/About 4 January 1906 in the NYT -- or the Boston or Chicago papers? If the AAA awarded Oldfield some sort of recognition for the 1905, the affair was held probably on the third or so from what I have dredged up.

#130 Darren Galpin

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 07:21

No mention in NY Times, Boston Globe or LA Times in the first two weeks of January as far as I could find (go to www.nytimes.com for NY Times - Post 1981 database is free to search Don. You can also search articles and get an abstract of the articles for LA Times by going to http://pqasb.pqarchi...ncedsearch.html, and Boston Globe at http://pqasb.pqarchi...ncedsearch.html).

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 08:44

Barney was in the news in the first week of January, but only in connection with a planned record run from Philadelphia to New York, as far as I can determine.

#132 dilettante

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 11:05

Hi everyone,

According to Mr. Printz, the three Premier were Peugeot-copies. To ensure a representative field for the 1916 Indianapolis 300 race, Carl G. Fisher formed the Indianapolis Speedway Team and buy two Peugeot, then commissioned the Premier Company to build three identical copies.

In 1919 Indianapolis 500 race, Howdy Wilcox won the race in a Peugeot and Jules Goux finished third on a Peugeot /Premier (engine damaged during practice), cars owned by Indianapolis Speedway Team (the two others Premier did not qualifies).

Jyl

references:
- "Les pr├ęcurseurs - 1895/1949" Christian Moity, pages 60 and 64.
- "500 miles to go", Al Bloemker, pages 133 and 142.

#133 john glenn printz

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 13:42

HARRY MILLER HISTORY 1915-1919 (???) (cont.-2) I now have, in full text, since yesterday afternoon, the two LOS ANGELES TIMES references. The two articles are short. The exact pages are; (1.) 30 April 1916, Part VI, page 8; and (2.) 1 June 1916, Sports, page 1.

(A.) There are some surprizes, but the April 30, 1916 notice makes no allusions or references to Harry Miller or to the Los Angeles area. Although the piece is published in the LOS ANGELES TIMES the article emanates from Indianapolis, IN, itself; i.e. from a news correspondent located there. It seems odd that the LOS ANGELES TIMES would employ a commentator located in Indianapolis, to report on three Premiers then being constructed in Los Angeles, CA. As the dating is April 25, 1916, one might even surmise that the Premiers, at the time, were actually being built in Indianapolis. This article is dated April 25, but not published in the LOS ANGELES TIMES until April 30.

The whole purpose and tenure of this April article however is to claim that the late Bob Burman had a very large influence on the actual design of the new 1916 Premiers. I have to say, that I am totally skeptical about it. My personal frame of reference here is that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway probably sent one of their EX5 1914 Peugeots, on loan, to the Premier factory, and the Premier engineers tore the car apart and made fresh blueprints from all the disassembled parts and pieces. Then built three new examples.

The three new 1916 Premiers were probably only slightly different from the original 1914 EX5 Peugeot design, but altered somewhat, as was to be expected because; (1.) the Peugeots were made in Europe, the Premiers in the U.S.; (2.) the Peugeots were made in 1914, the Premiers in 1916; and (3.) the Peugeot's measurements used the metric system while, I would guess, the Premiers were converted into British/U.S. type measuring units. A few other minor changes may have been made but nothing of great or superlative importance. (See the post number 51 above about what I then said about the Premier cars.)

I still maintain therefore that the 1916 Speedway sponsored Premiers are basically Peugeot copies. To say that Bob Burman designed the U.S. 1916 Premiers is thus equivalent, in my opinion, to saying that Bob designed and engineered the French 1914 EX5 Grand Prix Peugeot cars. I don't believe it. And I would say also, that this April 30, 1916 LOS ANGELES TIMES article, is thus highly and totally misleading, although a genuine and contemporary citation.

The Speedway owned Premiers and their two EX 5 type Peugeots were not raced in either 1917 or 1918 because of the World War. However the Indianapolis Motor Speedway entered two Premiers and the two 1914 EX5 Peugeots for the 1919 running of the 500. (Compare with post number 113 above.)

(B.) Now on to the June 1, 1916 LOS ANGELES TIMES entry. The June 1 article talks about three cars, one of which is clearly identified. (quote), "All three cars have been built in the shops of the Harry A. Miller Manufacturing Company." And again, "One of the cars is the Peugeot which was wrecked at Corona, killing the driver, Bob Burman, and his mechanican, Eric Shrader." The article also makes plain that the two non-Peugeot machines were still under construction and had not been raced yet. So these two could not have been any of the three Premiers that raced at Indianapolis on May 30, 1916.

And I ask, if we suppose that the two remaining non-Peugeot cars are Miller built Premiers, where is and what happened, to the third Miller constructed Premier machine? And, if the three Premiers were constructed by Miller, why were they then called "Premiers" and not "Millers"? The correct answer to the last question is that all three vehicles in question were built in the Premier factory, located in Indianapolis.

And I also think thereafter, that the two unfinished ex-Burman Millers largely languished in Harry's shop until Barney Oldfield and A. A. Cadwell became interested in them in late 1916. Both of these Miller machines first hit the AAA big time circuit in mid-1917 and were the first two complete Miller cars ever built. (Compare with the number 64 posting above.) Miller did not built another complete racing car until early 1920. This third car sported a double overhead cam, had 179 cubic inchs, and 4 cylinders.This third Miller constructed car, dubbed "the baby Chevrolet" at its inception, was made specifically for the new AAA 1920, 183 cubic inch formula, which began at Indianapolis in May 1920. The new Chevrolet "baby" was financed by the GM Chevrolet executive, Cliff Durant, stationed at Oakland, CA.

(C.) However this June 1 article also clearly shows that I have made two gross errors in my "HARRY MILLER HISTORY (???) (cont.-1)" directly above.

(1.) First off, it is stated that Burman's Peugeot had been badly bent but that it's motor was unhurt. The Peugeot now, on June 1, 1916, was totally rebuilt and (quote), "is claimed to be in perfect condition." I had formerly thought that this car was not repaired and rebuilt until early 1917, when a single cam Miller 289 motor was put into it.

(2.) Secondly, further research elsewhere reveals that the rebuilt ex-Burman EX3 Peugeot was raced by Jack Gable in at least four 1916 AAA Championship races, (1.) the 6 June Chicago 300; (2.) the 15 July Omaha 150; (3.) the 30 Sept. Sheepshead Bay 250; and (4.) the 14 Oct. Chicago 250. Its best showing was 8th in the Chicago 300. Gable hailed from Williamsport, PA and had been a past mechanician for Burman. Gable and his riding mechanic, Harry McGraff, took a bad spill at the Omaha race when the car blew a tire and flipped over three times. So the car was wrecked a second time. Gable had been with Burman during 1914 and 1915 AAA seasons.

Louis C. Erbes, who is not mentioned in this June LOS ANGELES TIMES source, was the actual owner of Gable's Peugeot in 1916. L. C. Erbes, in fact, had first met Burman in May 1914 and bought this car EX3 1913 Grand Prix Peugeot for $6800 in New York City from the Peugeot Import Company specifically for Burman's use, during early June 1914. It is said to have been Boillot's car used at Indianapolis on May 30, 1914 (Compare with the numbers 30 and 32 postings above.) Erbes had put Jack Gable in charge of the Peugeot soon after the death of Burman which occurred on April 8, 1916.

I take it as axiomatic that in its 1916 form, it still used a Miller produced replica of its original twin overhead cam 1913 Peugeot motor. At some point, in either late 1916 or early 1917, the twin overhead cam Peugeot copy, was replaced by a single cam Miller 289. This became the "Erbes Special" of 1917. It is now obvious that Louis C. Erbes was the really important factor in Harry Miller's earliest car and engine building activities (i.e., Erbes put up the money) during the period 1915, 1916, and 1917. Barney Oldfield and A. A. Cadwell just completed the two Miller cars originally financed by Erbes. Harry's next big and wealthy client, after Erbes, would be Cliff Durant beginning in mid or late 1919.

The plan envisioned in this June 1, 1916 LOS ANGELES TIMES source, i.e. to run all three cars as a memorial to Bob, never materalized. The LOS ANGELES TIMES material here further states that Teddy Tetzlaff and Tony Jennette were probably going to be two of the three pilots.

Otherwise, I stick to what I have previously stated about these topics. Oddly enough, I think the two 1916 LOS ANGELES TIMES articles, citations, and quotes, of both April 30 and June 1, actually support my main contentions, not the opposite.

Food for thought? Anyway I hope all the above is of interest and helps clarify Harry A. Miller's earliest history and situation somewhat. I myself have learned a great deal here, unexpectedly, in the last few days; all stimulated by Mr. Ferner's July 1 (number 121) and Mr. Dick's July 8 (number 126) postings above. I thank Mr. Capps, Mr. Dick, and Mr. Ferner for their concern and interest in these matters. And you too, Mr. "Dilettante", whoever you are.

Edited by john glenn printz, 21 July 2010 - 13:47.


#134 john glenn printz

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 17:52

U.S. Racing 1894-1920 (cont.-58) There were six Hudson racers entered. Among them were two factory entries, piloted by Eddie Pullen (1883-1940) and Ira Vail. Two other Hudsons were driven by Harold C. Simmon and Jim M. Reynolds. The fifth Hudson entry had no driver nominated but was also entered by Reynolds. Added to these five was William Wayne "W. W. Cockeyed" Brown's car which featured a special modified 24 valve Hudson motor designed by Brown himself. Believe it or not, mechanics Riley Brett, Cotton Henning, Eddie Offutt, and driver Harlan Fengler all came originally out of W. W. Brown's Kansas City racing emporium and workshop. Brown finished 5th in the recent (March 15) Santa Monica 250 mile road race using this same car.

In addition Denny W. Hickey's (1889-1965) "Stickel Special", a hybrid, had the ex-Hoskin's chassis that Hughie Hughes had been using at Uniontown on Dec. 2, 1916, just before he was killed, but now an ex-Mulford Hudson Super-Six engine had been installed in its frame instead of its original Duesenberg 4. Hoskin was so shaken up by Hughes' death that he sold the car to A. C. Stickel, a Connellville, PA garageman. Hickey hailed from Connellville, PA also, as did another Hudson Super-Six racer, Fred McCarthy. McCarthy is credited with winning a 56.125 mile Uniontown match race in it, on 29 Oct. 1917. Hickey drove in some dirt track events and started his first board track race at Uniontown on May 30, 1917 in a 100 lap race. (Source: CONNELLSVILLE DAILY COURIER, May 31, 1917, p. 1.)

The Hudson car was the product of the Hudson Motor Car Company located in Detroit, MI. The firm was first set up in 1908 or 1909 by auto pioneer Roy D. Chapin (1880-1936), and its first financing came from Joseph Lowthian Hudson (1846-1912), who founded Detroit's largest and, at the same time, the most famous department store in Michigan's entire history. The department store's origin dates from 1891 and was simply called the J. L. Hudson Company. J. L. Hudson had been a wealthy and very successful clothier before that, having started his clothing enterprize back in 1881.

Hudson based racing cars had been running in the big AAA contests since May 1916. Considering that all these Hudsons used a stock block, L head, high compression, Super-Six motor; they fared remarkably well. The first Super-Six Hudson racer was put together by Ira Vail in early 1916, apparently on his own initiative, but by 1917 there was an official Hudson factory team using Vail and Ralph Mulford as its drivers. Arthur J. Hill was put in charge of the team. Hill had been the former manager of Dario Resta and Alphonse Kauffman's two Peugeots (i.e. the 1913 and 1914 Peugeot Grand Prix machines) during the 1915 and 1916 seasons. It was this same Mr. Hill who had the Kauffman owned EX3 1913 Peugeot overhauled and reconditioned at Harry Miller's shop in January-February 1915, for Resta's use in the American Grand Prize (Feb. 27) and Vanderbilt Cup (March 6) contests staged at San Francisco. (Consult "U.S. Racing 1894-1920, cont.-17, above.)

Ira Vail (1893-1979), who was born in Montreal, Canada of American parents, now resided in Brooklyn, New York, was the greatest advocate of the Hudson marque and piloted them exclusively from May 1916 to the end of 1919. Vail (at age 15) like Ralph DePalma and Ralph Hepburn, had started his racing career on motorbikes. Vail's first connection with automobile racing was as a mechanician for Spencer Wishart. Vail's first start as a driver, in an automobile race, was at Brighton Beach in 1913 with a Mulford Special and later Vail campaigned the dirt tracks during 1914-1915. Ira moved into major AAA racing in 1915. His first attempt was the June 26, 1915 Chicago-Maywood inaugural, a 500 miler, but Ira failed to make the race day lineup. Vail's first actual starts in the big time occurred at the 18 Sept. Providence 100, and the inaugural Sheepshead Bay 350 run on 9 Oct. 1915. During the 1915 AAA season Vail drove a car owned and partially built by Ralph Mulford.

Ira and his new Hudson Super-Six racer took part in the very first AAA National Championship race ever run, i.e. the Sheepshead Bay 150 of May 13, 1916. It was a good start for Ira as he placed 3rd, behind Eddie Rickenbacker (Maxwell) in 1st and Jules DeVigne (1873-1935) in a Delage. Vail was not a competitor at the May 30 Indianapolis 300 because his entry was sent in late. Ira and Ralph DePalma were both refused admission to the 1916 Memorial Day 300 because of their late entries.

During the 1916 AAA Championship year, Vail, always using a Hudson, had 3rds at the Providence 100 (Sept. 18) and at the Sheepshead Bay 350 (Oct. 9). Later a three car Hudson team consisting of chauffeurs Clyde Rhoades, A. H. Patterson, and Vail ran in the 294 mile Vanderbilt Cup (Nov. 16) and the 403.2 mile American Grand Prize (Nov. 18) contests, staged at Santa Monica, CA. In the Vanderbilt Cup the Hudson team finished 4th, 5th, and 6th, with Rhoades, Patterson and Vail respectively; while in the Grand Prize, the Hudsons placed 3rd and 4th with Patterson and Rhoades. Vail retired after 9 laps with a burned piston to be reckoned 15th overall in the final standings. Rhoades is unknown to me, but A. H. Patterson was a Stockten, CA Hudson dealer.

Hudsons had two big wins in 1917, i.e. the Tacoma Montamarathon 150 on July 4 (Patterson) and the Minneapolis 100 held on July 14 (Vail). Ira, in addition, placed 2nd at the Chicago 250 (May 30) and the Providence-Narragansett 100 (Sept. 15); and further captured a 3rd at the Uniontown 168.5 (Oct. 29). The official Hudson works team was withdrawn from competition in August 1917 but seemingly reappeared for the 1919 Indianapolis 500. 1918 was not a good year for Hudson as their best overall result was a 3rd by Vail at the June 22, Chicago 100 mile handicap.

The rest of the 43 Indy entries for 1919 "500" were the various "Specials", i.e. the casted off ex-team cars, the mongol-hybrids, the home built rat traps, and the no shows.

Edited by john glenn printz, 07 July 2011 - 14:57.


#135 fines

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 18:05

Originally posted by john glenn printz
I myself have learned a great deal here...

Welcome to the club! That's why this place is so addictive, and we all keep coming back! :)

About the "Stickel Special", I recently learned that it was composed of the chassis of the "Hoskins Special" (as far as I can make out, a bog-standard 1916 Duesenberg, debuted by O'Donnell at Des Moines iirc) and the engine of Ralph Mulford's Hudson. It was a Pennsylvania entry, and Hickey a Pennsy driver.

#136 fines

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 18:36

Originally posted by john glenn printz
(...) if the three Premiers were constructed by Miller, why were they then called "Premiers" and not "Millers"? The correct answer to the last question is that all three vehicles in question were built in the Premier factory, located in Indianapolis.

Whilst I generally agree with your assessments, I don't think this particular argument holds up. The list of cars built by Miller and then entered by other manufacturers is long:

- the 1920 Chevrolet
- the Durants of 1921 to '24
- the 1921 Leach
- the 1923 HCS
- the 1924 Studebaker (which was actually an HCS rebadged)
- the 1926 Locomobile

I'm sure this list isn't even exhaustive, but all of these cars were designed and built by Miller, and not by those car manufacturers who gave their names. Nor were these isolated instances - as far as I can make out, the following cars were all designed and built by Duesenberg:

- the 1916 Crawfords
- the 1918 Roamer
- the 1919 Meteor
- the 1920 ReVere

Also, don't forget the Monroe that was actually a Frontenac. Other small and short-lived manufacturers like Ogren or Pan-American also "cashed in" on other people's ideas. It was the done thing, back then. And, to be 100 % correct, the first Duesenbergs were actually designed and built by the "Mason Motor Co."...;)

#137 john glenn printz

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Posted 17 July 2008 - 18:46

U. S. Racing 1894-1920 (cont.-59) The qualification trials were scheduled for May 27, 28, and 29. In 1919 they consisted of a single lap. The second and third day qualifiers could not line up in front of any of the May 27 qualifiers, but the second and third day qualified cars would be thrown and mixed together, in their order of speed. Only the 33 fastest cars would be allowed to start.

However before the time trials began there was some news of major interest. On May 24 the two English Sunbeams were officially withdrawn on the plea that their motors were found oversized and were therefore illegal. The whole blame was placed upon the late Josef Christaens for this blunder by Sunbeam's engineering head, Louis Coatalen. Coatalen said (quote), "Evidently Christaens and his associates made a slip-up of some sort. Exactly how it came to pass I can't tell until I get back to the factory and make a thorough investigation." (Source: WATERLOO TIMES-TRIBUNE, May 25, 1919, page 18). But there were later rumors that the real trouble was not oversized engines but excessive torsional vibrations in the crankshafts.

And on the same day the Greek, George Buzane had a bad spill in turn one, when his Premier's differential locked up the rear wheels and the car overturned, but landed upright on all of its four wheels. Buzane and his mechanic Carl Weinbrecht, were badly bruised but the Premier was repairable and it was expected that Buzane would soon return to the track after a few days passing, but nothing further transpired here. Nor did Buzane take over the second Premier entry.

Another curio is that Eddie Pullen, entered originally on the Hudson factory team, disappears also. Pullen was evidently replaced by Ora Haibe (1887-1970). Oddly enough Pullen, a big name in U.S. automobile racing from 1912 to 1921, never ever actually started a car in a Memorial Day Indianapolis race.

On May 26 Resta, now with his linkup with Sunbeam gone, joined the formidable Ballot team, with the idea of being a possible relief driver for its four anticipated starting pilots, on race day itself. Dario must have changed his mind however, as nothing more is recorded about him driving in the race. Jean Chassagne, now also out of work from the Sunbeam withdrawal, now took over Resta's brief acting role as the Ballot's team chief relief pilot.

The first day of qualifications (May 27) saw eleven entrants move into the starting lineup, but the big story was Rene Thomas' lap at 104.7 mph, which earned him the pole position. One should recall here that the great Georges Boillot in 1914, using a 345 cubic inch 1913 EX3 Peugeot, had tried to post a 100 mph lap, but could only attain to 99.86 mph. (Compare with U.S. Racing 1894-1920 cont.-41 above.) Now Thomas, in a 296 cubic inch Ballot, and on a much rougher track surface, had pushed the mark up to 104.7 mph. Rene and Howard Wilcox (Peugeot) at 100.01 mph were the only ones over a 100, the next two fastest speeds being Guyot's 98.3 mph (Ballot) and DePalma's 98.2 mph (Packard). The slowest car of the day was the Frank Book owned 1914 Grand Prix Mercedes copy, made by the DePalma Manufacturing Company in Detroit, during 1916 and 1917. As driven by Charles H. Kirkpatrick, it was clocked at an even 90 mph.

May 28 witnessed 13 more duly qualified cars, the big surprize here was that all four Frontenacs (i. e., Boyer, Gaston and Louis Chevrolet, and Mulford) posted speeds over 100 mph. Milton got in with an 8 cylinder Duesenberg, but with a very slow 89.9 mph. Everyone who posted speeds on May 27 and May 28 made the race day starting field. On the third day (May 29) the bumping process began as Jim Reynolds (Hudson) and Al E. Cotey (Orgen) failed to make the lineup by running only 83.5 mph and 82.9 mph respectively.

Dave N. Lewis, in the second 8 cylinder Duesenberg, as he sped down the back straight to start his qualifying lap, had the engine blow, and there was now no time left to repair it. Nine cars made the race line on May 29, and Jules Goux was the very last qualifier. The Speedway owned EX5 Peugeot had put a connecting rod through the block the day before, and Goux and his mechanic spent the whole night replacing it with a copy Premier-Peugeot motor. Jules ended the third day's qualifications, by posting a 95 mph average.

For the first time ever there were vehicles present that qualified at over 100 mph; indeed there were seven of them, one Peugeot (Wilcox), two Ballots (Thomas and Wagner), and four Frontenacs (Boyer, Gaston & Louis Chevrolet, and Mulford). Many thought that DePalma's race record of 89.84 mph, set in 1915, would be eclipsed.

The slowest qualifier was J. J. McCoy, at 86.5 mph, in a home made special. McCoy resided in Ortonville, MN and was said to be a prominent western Minnesota dirt track driver. McCoy had been a member of the Velie team at Indianapolis in 1911 and he also drove in a few minor races staged at the Minneapolis Twin City Motor Speedway.

The 1919 Indy lineup was a varied and mixed field. There was a bumper crop of nineteen rookies, which included Joe Boyer Jr., Gaston Chevrolet, Cliff Durant, Tommy Milton, Roscoe Sarles, and Louis Wagner. With the Frenchmen Bablot, A. Boillot, Chassagne (as a Ballot relief pilot), Goux, Guyot, Thomas, and Wagner in the field, it was the biggest collection of European racing talent, in a U.S. race, probably since the early Vanderbilt Cups of 1904, 1905, and 1907. The pre-race favorites were probably the Ballot team, and some thought that the old 1914 Peugeots still had a good shot at it. DePalma was conceded to have the fastest American machine, but many thought it wouldn't last the full 500 miles. The Frontenacs were generally ranked as the U.S.' best chance. The Duesenberg team was given an outside shot.

Edited by john glenn printz, 25 September 2009 - 13:34.


#138 Russ Snyder

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Posted 17 July 2008 - 19:05

Originally posted by fines

Welcome to the club! That's why this place is so addictive, and we all keep coming back! :)


I'll second that!

Thanks John for a good read on an incredibly important and under appreciated part of American sports history and motor racing.

#139 john glenn printz

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Posted 08 September 2008 - 19:39

U.S. RACING 1894-1920 (cont.-60) Finally, at 11 a.m., on May 31, 1919 and at the command of Elwood C. Patterson, the first major international motor race of the post World War I (1914-1918) era, got underway. Jesse G. Vincent drove the Packard "Twin-Six" pace car and after a single circuit the 33 starting cars were unleased. DePalma, in his fast V12 Packard took the lead and led the first 65 laps, until he made his first pit stop for new tires.

At 40 laps (100 miles) the running order was 1, DePalma (Packard); 2. Louis Chevrolet (Frontenac); 3. Guyot (Ballot); 4. Cooper (Stutz); 5. D'Alene (Duesenberg); 6. Milton (Duesenberg); 7. Wilcox (Peugeot); 8. Hearne (Stutz); 9. Bablot (Ballot); and 10. Thomas (Ballot). All an interesting mix of different makes, with Ballot perhaps still having the advantage. The fourth Ballot, driven by Wagner, had already fallen out with a collapsed wheel on lap 45.

Arthur Thurman (1879-1919) went out on his 45th lap also, when he lost control in turn two, and his car overturned and skidded down the backstretch. Thurman was dead when his rescuers got to him, while the riding mechanic, Nicholas Mollinaro, had a fratured skull, and was in very serious condition; but eventually he made a full recovery. Thurman had put his Duesenberg entry together himself, as a strictly private entry. Most of Arthur's racing career had been on the dirt tracks of Indiana. However the 1919 "500" was Thurman's first start in the AAA big-time. Arthur had been running in the ruck, i.e. in the 22nd position, at the time of his fatal accident.

Shortly thereafter on lap 51, Milton, while riding in the 14th position, went out with a broken connecting rod on his new experimental Duesenberg 8. Before that happened, Milton's car had greatly slowed because of misfiring, caused by a distributor problem.

On the 64th circuit, Jean Chassagne, driving in place of Paul Bablot, in the Ballot, crashed due to another collapsed wheel. In France the Ballot cars had been geared up in a manner against (it is said) the advice of Rene Thomas who was the only Ballot pilot to have had actual previous experience at Indianapolis except Guyot. At the track itself Rene proved himself to have been in the right. To correct the situation, smaller diameter wheels had to be used to rectify the incorrect gearing. Now, in the race, the new, smaller, and replacement Rudge-Whitworth wheels had become the Achilles Heel for the four Ballot cars. The remaining two Ballots of Guyot and Thomas now had to greatly curtail their pace and further, had to make constant precautionary stops for wheel inspection and their possible replacement.

Louis Chevrolet, who started 12th, had moved up to 2nd place by lap 20. Louis then ran in 2nd until DePalma made his first pit stop on circuit 66. Chevrolet then led laps 66-74 until he too had to stop, on lap 75. Then DePalma jumped back into the first position for laps 75 to 102.

On their 97th circuit, while riding in the 5th position, driver Louis Bennett LeCocq (1892-1919) and his mechanician, Robert M. Bandini, crashed in their Duesenberg in turn two. The car flipped over three times and trapped the two men in the vehicle, which caught fire immediately. Both LeCocq and Bandini were burnt and incinerated beyond recogition. The burning fuel spread across the track and several of the speeding cars were compelled to dash through the blaze.

LeCocq, c. 1913/1914, had been a worker and riding mechanic for the Duesenberg team. LeCocq commended his racing career in 1914 as a mechanic for Ralph Mulford. He turned over with Jack Callaghan (d. Feb. 8, 1915) at San Diego in 1915 and later rode with Eddie Hearne. Louis, who wanted to be a driver, joined J. Alex Sloan's traveling speed circus (IMCA) for 1915 and 1916. LeCocq began racing in 1915 with the IMCA, and moved into major AAA events only in early 1919. After a very nasty spill at Ascot on March 17, 1918, i.e. his "Roamer" flipped over twice, LeCocq joined the Naval Reserve Flying Corp, inspired he said by Eddie Rickenbacker's joining Uncle Sam's flying force in 1917. (Source: MOTOR AGE July 4, 1918, page 33). LeCocq recorded a good 3rd place in the Santa Monica 250 of 15 March 1919. Louis' Indianapolis "Roamer" was the same Duesenberg that Roscoe Sarles had driven to victory at the Ascot 150 held on March 23, 1919.

Bandini was a descendant of an old Peruvian Spanish family, and came from Los Angeles, CA. Robert owned property valued at more than one million dollars, which he had inherited from his grandmother, Mrs. Arcadia B. De Baker. Bandini was a speed freak and bought cars for drivers if they would agree to take him on as the riding mechanic. Bandini first sponsored a local California pilot, Brent Harding, in 1917; and then helped Roscoe Sarles, and lastly Louis LeCocq.

The running order at 100 laps (250 miles) was 1. DePalma (Packard); 2. Wilcox (Peugeot); 3. L. Chevrolet (Frontenac); 4. Cooper (Stutz); 5. Hearne (Stutz); 6. Gaston Chevrolet (Frontenac); 7. Boillot (Peugeot); 8. Goux (Peugeot); 9. D'Alene (Duesenberg); and 10. Guyot (Ballot). The first half of the race produced new track records, but then the pace greatly slackened. DePalma's Packard had a new speed record of 91.66 mph at 250 miles, against his old 1915 mark of 89.8 mph.

After lap 102 DePalma was greatly hampered by losing an exhaust valve on the number one left cylinder and by a front right wheel bearing failure, and thereby lost much time in the pits. On lap 103 DePalma had a 15 minute stop to replace the broken valve spring. DePalma's trouble here enabled Wilcox to take over the front position on lap 103, and Howdy led the rest of the way. Ralph also lost over 22 1/2 minutes on one stop, late in the race, just to replace the wheel bearing alone.

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#140 john glenn printz

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 19:19

U.S. RACING 1894-1920 (cont.-61). In the final results both the Duesenberg and Frontenac teams fared very poorly. Of the seven Duesenberg powered vehicles, only two got by the 250 mile mark. All three Duesenberg team cars were eventually retired; (1.) Milton at 50 laps, broken rod or rod bearing; (2.) O'Donnell at 60 laps, broken piston; and (3.) D'Alene at 120 laps, broken axle. The only Duesenberg engined machine to actually finish was the "Shannon Special", in 13th place overall. Both the single car accidents of Thurman and LeCocq occurred with used, old, and privately owned Duesenbergs.

During the first 250 miles the two Frontenacs of Louis and Gaston Chevrolet ran well, but mishaps during the last half of the race put away any chances of a victory. Now seemingly both the rough hard brick surface and the long 500 mile distance played havoc with the Frontenac chassis, wheels, and suspension systems. Generally the big AAA contests of 1917 and 1918 were all staged on the smooth surfaced board ovals and at distances no longer than 250 miles. The Frontenacs were more attuned apparently to these conditions and proved to be too fragile for the 500 miles at Indianapolis in 1919 on its now rough surface.

With regard to the separate Frontenacs, Joe Boyer was out after 30 laps with a damaged axle when his left rear wheel flew off and the car completed a 360 degree spin. Boyer and his mechanician, Ernie Ansterberg (1891-1924), were not hurt. Ralph Mulford's Frontenac retired after 37 circuits due to a broken driveshaft. After running among the leaders for approximately 275 miles, Louis Chevrolet had a broken right wheel drum. Louis pitted and his stop consumed over 15 minutes. Louis Chevrolet's No. 7 car, eventually made a total of seven stops.

Louis Chevrolet, on his original starting mount No. 7, was relieved by Salvatore Barbarino (1886-1960), and later Joe Boyer relieved Barbarino. Barbarino is said to have been a bricklayer, concrete block manufacturer, auto mechanic, and a sometime race driver. In 1923 Salvatore tried to market a new and luxurious passenger car, but nothing came out of his effort or venture.

Louis finished the race driving in relief for his younger brother, Gaston, in the No. 41 Frontenac. A wheel came off and the bare axle cut a thick copper timing wire stretched across the bare bricks. The wire snapped back and hit driver Elmer T. Shannon (1892-1961), in the throat, whose car was then running directly behind Chevrolet. Shannon sustained a nasty cut and lost a lot of blood, but was back in the pits before the event ended. Shannon's riding mechanic, E. Rawlings, took over piloting the machine. Louis, in this incident, had to replace the right steering knuckle, tie-rod, and wheel. And thus the three Frontenac team cars all suffered from constant wheel hub, chassis, and steering problems.

The Ballot team, probably the pre-race favorite, at the end could only salvage 4th (Guyot/Wagner) and 10th (Thomas). None of their four entries led a lap. Maurice Ballot had spent $120,000 on his 1919 Indianapolis venture, but went home with only $4900 in prize money, for the 4th and 10th places. It should be noted that when Jean Chassagne crashed into the outside concrete wall on lap 84, his riding mechanic, Hornigeuere, A. Romigeiere, or Romigeuere (the sources differ), sustained light head injuries.

The 1919 placements were revised and Rene Thomas was later dropped to 11th, and out of the money. So Mr. Ballot came homewith only $3500 for 4th place. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway paid prize money for only the first ten positions, in their Memorial Day races, until 1924 when all the starters began to receive at least something.

After fixing both the broken valve spring and the bad wheel bearing, DePalma again had the fastest car on the track, but he had lost too much time. Still he managed, at the end, to place 6th overall. Ralph and Joe Boyer, in latter in the No. 7 Frontenac, dueled in the race's last stages, for the 6th finishing position with Ralph winning out by just .28 of a second!

Andre Boillot, in the "baby" Peugeot and while running in 4th place, crashed on his 196th circuit, to place only 15th overall. In the only major motor race staged in Europe during 1919, i.e. the Targa Florio at the Modonia circuit (Nov. 23), Andre won in a Peugeot, perhaps the same one which he drove at the Speedway. (See THE NEW YORK TIMES, Dec. 26, 1919, page 13.)

Of the three 1915 Stutz's, Cliff Durant's was the first car to come in, with a loose radiator hose. Cliff soon pitted again with the same problem. Then his Stutz had a steering malady and was retired after 54 laps with the steering awry. Earl Cooper's Stutz was among the leaders for the first 250 miles but then valve trouble intervened and put him far down in the field. Cooper's car eventually finished 12th. Eddie Hearne, in the second Durant owned Stutz, motored on to finish 2nd.

The two 1917 Miller performances were near pathetic, if not actually so. Both cars were out by 45 laps; Sarles' retired after 8 laps with a broken rocker arm, while Toft's went out at circuit 45 with a broken connecting rod. On the other hand, Alley's Miller powered machine, the "Bender", gave a good account of itself, and took 5th overall.

The deaths of Thurman, LeCocq, and Bandini were the first in an Indianapolis Memorial Day race since that of riding mechanic Sam P. Dickson in 1911. Thurman was the first driver to be killed in an actual running of the Indianapolis 500, beating LeCocq out here, by a mere one hour and twenty minutes!

It had certainly been an eventful day, even with the rather prosaic ending; i.e. the two Indianapolis Motor Speedway owned 1914 EX5 Peugeots placing 1st (Wilcox) and 3rd (Goux), with a single cam 1915 Stutz (Hearne) wedged in between them for 2nd! The winner Wilcox made three pit stops. There were but four lead changes in the entire contest: the lap leaders being DePalma (Packard) 1-65; Louis Chevrolet (Frontenac) 66-74; DePalma 75-102; and Wilcox (Peugeot) 103-200.

Two entries who had little trouble and ran very consistently were Goux, who started 22nd and finished 3rd; and Tom Alley, who came up from 28th, to place 5th. It was duly remarked by all the veterans that the track's hard surface had gotten a lot rougher since 1916.

The final official results of the 1919 "500" (top ten) were; 1. Wilcox (Peugeot); 2. Hearne (Stutz); 3. Goux (Premier/Peugeot); 4. Guyot/Wagner (Ballot); 5. Alley (Miller/Alley); 6. DePalma (Packard); 7. L. Chevrolet/Barbarino/Boyer (Frontenac); 8. Vail (Hudson); 9. Hickey (Hudson/Hoskins); and 10. G. Chevrolet/L. Chevrolet (Frontenac). Wilcox's winning average speed of 88.05 mph did not eclipse DePalma's 1915 posting of 89.84 mph. The day's attendance was placed between 100,000 and 125,000.

#141 john glenn printz

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Posted 15 October 2008 - 14:09

U.S. RACING 1894 TO 1920 (cont.-62) After the 1919 Indianapolis 500, most of the competitors were licking their wounds. At first apparently the Ballot team decided to enter the Sheepshead Bay sprints for June 14, but then thought better of it and did not appear. (Sources: NEW YORK TIMES, June 10, page 17; MOTOR AGE, June 12, page 11; and KANSAS CITY STAR, June 13, page 15.) Instead the Ballot cars and personnel went back to France and there would be no more Ballots running in U.S. races until the inaugural 250 at Beverly Hills on February 28, 1920. The remaining major U.S. AAA contests for 1919 were mostly fought out between the official Duesenberg and Frontenac cars. Duesenberg used as drivers mostly Tommy Milton and Eddie O'Donnell, while the Frontenac team had Joe Boyer, Gaston and Louis Chevrolet. August and Fred Duesenberg spent the rest of the 1919 AAA season developing their new straight 8's, using Tommy Milton as their number one driver. The 1919 source material, which is not of the best, does not generally distinguish between the 301 cubic inch class Duesenberg 4's and 8's.

The next major event after Indy, was the Sheepshead Bay 100 run on July 4. Here Gaston Chevrolet (Frontenac) sped to victory with a record time of 54 minutes and 17.125 seconds (i.e. 110.53 mph). Following Gaston were, 2. Howard Wilcox (Peugeot), 3. Dave Lewis (Duesenberg), and 4. Ira Vail (Hudson). On the same day at Tacoma, WA three short races of 40. 60, and 80 miles were held. Louis Chevrolet won the 60 and 80 mile contests, with Ralph Mulford capping the 40 miler. There were however only five contestants in all, i.e. Louis Chevrolet (Frontenac), Cliff Durant (Stutz), Eddie Hearne (Stutz), Ralph Mulford (Frontenac), and Dario Resta (Resta/Peugeot). The July 4 Tacoma races of 1918 and 1919 were both probably what were known as "invitationals". Here the track management itself pre-selected or invited the entrants, so the races were not open to all, as was the more general and usual practice. In any case July 4, 1919 was a very good day for the Chevrolets and their Frontenacs.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway proclaimed on July 12 that the cubic inch maximum allowed for the motors in the upcoming 1920 "500" would be 183 cubic inches (i.e. 3 litres), which was in conformity to the new European rules established for the forthcoming August or September 1920 French Grand Prix, to be staged at Le Mans. Rumors about the 183 cubic inch limit had circulated at the Speedway during the entire month of May 1919. Also required was a minimum weight of 1700 pounds without any ballast, a tread of at least 56 inches, and the driver positioned on the right side. The 1920 Indianapolis qualification trials would consist of 4 laps (10 miles) and a minimum speed of at least 80 mph had to be posted. The upcoming 1920 Grand Prix and Indianapolis regulations would necessitate the production of entirely new engines and racing cars to replace the older, and soon to be obsolete, 301 cubic inch formula class equipment and machines. The 301 cubic inch limit had been in general use (but not always) in the big and major AAA races since 1915.

Driver George Buzane (1887-1919) was killed in Toledo, OH on July 14, when he stepped off a street car and was then struck by a truck.

The first hint that Richard A. Kennerdell and the AAA Contest Board would revive the AAA National Championship Driving Title appeared in an article in the LOS ANGELES TIMES on July 27, part VI, page 1. George R. Bentel, of the one mile dirt Ascot Speedway received a communique from Chairman Kennerdell, informing him of this possible fact. The last, and indeed only previous year for the AAA Title, was 1916. The most recent AAA Championship contest held had been the Ascot 150 on November 30, 1916. Bentel was now anxious and hoping to secure the first 1920 AAA National Championship racing date for his one mile dirt Ascot oval.

Again the CHICAGO TRIBUNE of August 19, page E9, under the title "Speed title to be revived next year" also recorded a possible renewal of the old, 1916 type, "points" AAA Driving Title. The first sentence reads (quote), "The national automobile racing championship, discontinued in 1917 and 1918 because of the war and allowed to lapse this year for no particular reason, will be revived in 1920 by the contest board of the American Automobile association." A third notice to the same effect is contained in the automobile journal MOTOR AGE, for September 25, on page 21.

W. D. "Eddie" Edenburn wrote in the DETROIT NEWS, on Oct. 5, 1919, Autos, page 4, (quote), "Chairman Richard Kennerdell of the American Automobile Association Contest Board expects the board to act favorably at its next meeting on the revival of the title contest on the speedways and in the major road races. The awards will be on the same basis as in 1916 when Dario Resta gained the title with a total of 4,100 points for his season's victories. Resta's total money prize in addition to the A.A.A. medal was $7,000. This money was put up by Goodrich tire makers and the Bosch magneto interests. The late Johnny Aitken drew $3,000 and $1,000 from the same accessory firms, while Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker won $2,000 and $500. The total award being $13,500. This time Chairman Kennerdell expects to have a total of $40,000 or not less than $20,000 to split among the championship contenders."

It was announced on May 18, 1919 that an Elgin road race would again be run for 1919, i.e. for the first time since 21 August 1915. The event would be held under the auspices of the Elgin Association and the Chicago Automobile Club. The 1919 renewal was scheduled for August 25, and was for a 301.824 mile distance, on the old 8.384 mile circuit. The Elgin National Trophy had been contested beginning in 1910 and for both 1910 and 1911 it had been for stock chassis only. The trophy originally was a donation of George E. Hunter of the Elgin Watch Company. For 1912 the Elgin event had been opened to all-out thoroughbred racing cars.

The Frontenac team did not enter the 1919 Elgin renewal, as had also been the case with the revival of the Santa Monica road race on 15 March 1919. Perhaps the Frontenacs were deemed unfit and unsuitable for road racing and had been designed primarily with the high speed oval speedway events in mind. Frontenacs had not been entered either, at the last major AAA road racing contests held before 1919, i.e. the Santa Monica Vanderbilt Cup and American Grand Prize races of November 1916.

For its 1919 renewal the Elgin classic had 15 entries and 13 actual starters. Cliff Durant, in his 1915 Stutz, and trying very hard to equal and emulate his earlier March 15, 1919 win at Santa Monica, flipped over three times on the very first lap! Durant had been hit by a stone thrown up by a tire, when trying to overtake another car and the rock had temporary stunned him. The Stutz knocked down three telegraph poles in its plunge and landed upside down, but neither Durant nor his mechanican, Fred Comer (1893-1928), were seriously injured.

Tommy Milton, who had never driven in a road race before, was the victor in a straight 8 Duesenberg, with an elapsed chocking of 4:30:17 (i.e. 73.5 mph). The next three finisters were 2. Roscoe Sarles (Duesenberg 4); 3. Edwin "Ed" William Schillo, 1888-1922 (Mercer), and Vail/Mulford (Hudson). Milton's winning margin was over 24 minutes!

Ed Schillo (1888-1922) is a mystery man as the only important AAA race in which he actually competed was the 1919 Elgin contest. Schillo was a Chicago Mercer dealer and was also entered in the 1920 Elgin race, where he did not start. (Sources: CHICAGO TRIBUNE, Aug. 1, 1920, part 9, page 3; and Aug. 15, 1920, Part 9, page 3.) Ed Schillo is listed as having placed 4th in a 50 mile "Trade Race" on May 21, 1916 at the 2 mile Chicago-Maywood board speedway. An Albert "Al" Gerhard Schillo was the victor here at 86.7 mph. Al and Ed were probably brothers and seemed to have jointly owned a Chicago based Mercer automobile franchise.

Edited by john glenn printz, 23 July 2009 - 13:27.


#142 john glenn printz

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 16:41

U.S. RACING 1894 TO 1920 (cont.-63) After the Elgin road race there were three important AAA contests remaining in the 1919 season. They were the Uniontown 225 (Sept. 1); 2. Sheepshead Bay (Sept. 20); and 3. the Cincinnati 250 (Oct. 12). At the Uniontown 225 it looked like another win again for Milton but on circuit 190 with a three lap lead, and just ten circuits from the finish, Milton's Duesenberg while exiting "Death's Curve", threw a connecting rod and caught on fire. The Duesenberg was completely gutted and quickly reduced to rubble. Milton himself was burned on his arms and legs, had to be hospitalized, and underwent skin grafts. Tommy's mechanician, W. D. "Dave" Kessler, was burned slightly on the right leg and both eye brows. The finishing order was 1. Gaston Chevrolet/Joe Boyer (Frontenac); 2. Roscoe Sarles (Duesenberg); 3. Louis Chevrolet (Frontenac); and 4. Ralph Mulford (Frontenac). The winning time was 2:24:19 6/8 (i.e. 93.537 mph). Boyer relieved Gaston Chevrolet for laps 118-200. In the preliminaries, Boyer (Frontenac) had set a new Uniontown lap record of 105.82 mph. Boyer's original mount went out of the race after 28 laps with ignition problems. After Uniontown, Milton didn't run at either Sheepshead Bay or Cinicinnati, as he was recovering from his burns incurred here at Uniontown. Tommy was still in a Uniontown hospital in early November 1919.

Jimmy Murphy (1894-1924) had been made an orphan by the San Francisco quake of April 16, 1906. The young Jimmy Murphy had been adopted and employed as a sort of mascot for the Duesenberg racing team beginning c. 1916. Murphy became an all-round helper, grease monkey, and riding mechanic. Jimmy rode with Eddie O'Donnell, William Weightman, and Tommy Milton, and probably other Duesenberg aces. Milton befriended this young man whose real aim and ambition now, was to become a racing driver. After riding alongside Milton at Elgin, Jimmy was at last granted his wish, when he and Milton were both entered on Duesenberg team cars at the October 12, Uniontown 225. Murphy's debut went astray however when, during his qualifying trial, he hit the outside railing and wrecked the machine. Overturning, the Duesenberg slid down the track and went through the lower railing. Jimmy emerged with bruises and a three inch gash under his chin, but Murphy's riding mechanic, Lyle Headden, was not injured.

At Sheepshead Bay on September 20, Gaston Chevrolet won again, setting a new record for the 150 mile distance of 1:22:34 1/5 (i.e. 108.99 mph), nearly 4 minutes better than the older posting obtained by Ralph Mulford (Hudson) at Chicago on 16 June 1917. Louis Chevrolet had battled Gaston for the lead, but Louis after 55 laps, had to quit when his Frontenac caught on fire. Louis drove into the pits with the Frontenac a mass of flames. The fire was caused by a broken gasoline line and a backfiring motor. Both men, Louis and his mechancian, Kenneth "Ken" Victor Goodson (1890-1950), were painfully, but not seriously burned before they could jump to safety. The finishing order here was 1.Gaston Chevrolet (Frontenac); 2. Joe Boyer (Frontenac); 3. Ira Vail (Duesenberg); and 4. Art Klein (Peugeot). This September 150 was to be the last race ever staged at Sheepshead Bay.

Harry Harkness had been the President of the Sheepshead Bay Corporation from Feb. 27, 1915 until he resigned sometime in 1916. On May 2, 1917 Harry bought the entire Sheepshead Bay track property for $1,300,000. After Harkness died in January 1919, his estate lawyers were anxious to be relieved entirely of the Sheepshard Bay oval, as it had always been a constant drain on Harry's net worth. The said property was sold and the track torn down. The Sheepshead Bay board speedway had lasted just five seasons (1915-1919).

In August 1918 the Chicago-Maywood speedway had its grandstands and most of the track itself torn down, on orders from Edward Hines and George H. Shank. The Edward Hines Lumber Company had furnished practically all of the lumber for the track's constuction in early 1915. The Hines Company had supplied 15.000,00 feet of lumber, then worth $200,000. After the razing, construction on the speedway's former site began in September 1918, for a permanent U.S. Army hospital although no U.S. government contract had yet been officially made or awarded. Eventually, through much malfeasance and politicial maneuving, Edward Hines in May 1920, got $3,500,000 for the completed hospital, from the U.S. government. Mr. Hines had begun the hospital as a memorial to his dead son, Lieutenant Edward Hines, killed in France during the war. And so the impressive 2 mile Chicago board speedway had been destroyed by late 1918.

The last major U.S. automobile race for 1919 was the Cincinnati 300 at Sharonville on October 12. The two mile "Cincy" oval had not been a success. Now in October 1919 the speedway was in receivership, as represented by A. J. Roberts. The last race held here had been a 100 mile "handicap" affair staged on 4 July, 1918. The victor had been Ralph DePalma (Packard) at a 105.2 mph clip. In part, at least, the Sharonville track's failure could be attributed to the lack of adequate transportation facilities which had depended on the urban railroad service, which during World War I, was greatly curtailed.

The financial deal with Mr. Roberts in regard to the running of the 1919 Cincinnati 300 was that 2/3's of the gate receipts, after $10,000 had been deducted for the track's expences, would go to the competitors. The track had also advanced $300 per team, for their travelling expences, before the race itself.

Ralph DePalma was to replace the ailing Milton, in the Duesenberg team car, however later it was reassigned to Jimmy Murphy. Murphy duly qualified and the Cincinnati 300 was Jimmy's first major league AAA start.

The race itself was completely dominated by Joe Boyer, who made only one pit stop. Boyer won by posting a 101.69 mph average in his Frontenac. His margin over the 2nd place Art Klein was over three minutes. The final finishing order was 1. Joe Boyer (Fronteanac); 2. Art Klein (Peugeot); 3. Kurt Hitke (Duesenberg); and 4. Dave Lewis (Duesenberg). Jimmy Murphy car's engine soon turned sour and he was not running at the half way mark.

The 1919 Cincinnati 300 had been re-scheduled on three previous occasions and the attendance on October 12 was minimal. (The first cancellation was because of a conflict with baseball's first game of the 1919 World Series held in Cincinnati, i.e. the Cincinnati Reds vs. Chicago White Sox on Oct. 1; and there were two later postponements because of rain. 1919 was also the year of the great and long infamous World Series baseball scandal.)

Joe Boyer got 6 cents total for his victory and Art Klein received 3 cents, for 2nd place! A photograph of the 3 cent check, issued to F. P. Book, is reproduced in THE DETROIT NEWS (Oct. 19, 1919, Autos, page 3). Boyer was paid at a rate of .024 cents per mile, while Klein's ratio was .012 per mile. The photo of the 3 cent check in THE DETROIT NEWS was under the headline "Cincinnati purses smash all records". This was final race on the 2 mile Cincinnati saucer, although the track was still in existence in mid-1920.

The so-called "old" Ascot, the one mile dirt oval located in Ascot Park, also disappeared, in effect, by late 1919. In June 1919 it was announced that Ascot Park had been sold and would soon house a new Goodyear plant. And on its site, in early 1920, was erected and completed an immence and modern $6,000,000 Goodyear cotton and tire manufacturing complex. The last Ascot automobile race on the one mile dirt oval was a 50 miler, won by Joe Boyer (Frontenac), on November 27, 1919. The event witnessed a truely horrific wreck involving Ira Vail (Duesenberg "Philbrin" No. 41) and Reeves Dutton (Stutz No. 8). Boyer's winning time was 41 minutes, 30 4/5 seconds (74.89 mph), while the attendance was placed as c. 40,000.

On January 9, 1920 the AAA denied to issue a sanction to George W. Bentel, for a 100 mile race at Ascot Park, to be held on January 25, 1920. The Ascot management had formerly agreed to stage no race after January 1, 1920, to give the new 1 1/4 mile Los Angeles Speedway a better chance to make its inaugual event, scheduled for February 22, a huge success.

#143 fines

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Posted 27 October 2008 - 08:57

Superb stuff, as always! :up: Just one minor quibble:

Originally posted by john glenn printz
The Duesenberg was completely gutted and quickly reduced to rubble.

I can't recall where I've seen a picture of the car after the fire (the Doyle Murphy book?), but it didn't look that damaged. In fact, I'm pretty sure it was repaired and subsequently raced by Milton, then rebuilt for the 3-litre formula and raced by either O'Donnell or Hearne at Indy in 1920. After that, it was bought by either John Thiele or Al Melcher, and raced for another couple of years before I lose track.

#144 john glenn printz

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Posted 27 October 2008 - 18:29

U.S. RACING 1894 TO 1920 (cont.-64) At some point Joseph "Joe" Boyer, Jr. (1890-1924) met Louis Chevrolet (1878-1941), probably in Detroit, MI sometime during 1914-1915. Joe's very first race occurred at the Michigan State Fair Grounds in Detroit on July 4, 1914 in a minor race meet using his own Hispano-Suiza racer. A local Detroit reporter describes Joe's first attempt at racing thusly (quote), "Joe Boyer, Jr., winning a special arranged international race...proved to be one of the best drivers on the track throughout the afternoon. Boyer took the unbanked curves in professional style and handle his machine as gracefully as any of the experienced drivers on the track." Boyer then entered other local dirt track races.

Boyer however soon became involved in both major AAA motor racing and Louis' construction of the new Frontenac 301 cubic inch class racing cars, which were being built in Detroit during late 1915 and early 1916. Boyer advanced $27,000 to Chevrolet, to keep Louis' project both solvent and afloat. Boyer was at Indianapolis in 1915 and qualified Louis Chevrolet's little Cornelian entry, although he did not drive it in the race itself. In May 1916 Boyer became a regular Frontenac team driver and Joe drove Frontenac cars exclusively from mid-1916 to 1920, before he switched to the Duesenberg marque for 1921.

Joe Boyer, Jr. came from a very wealthy and prominent family located in Detroit. His father, Joseph A. Boyer (1848-1930) was born in Toronto, Canada and was President of the Burroughs Adding Machine Company from 1902 to 1920. After that Joseph Boyer, Sr. was the Chairman of the Board at Burroughs. He is said to have been the inventor of the first really successsful pneumatic hammer. Mr. Boyer was also associated with William Seward Burroughs (1857-1898) in the design and construction of the first Burroughs adding machine.

The Boyer family resided at 637 Woodward Avenue in Detroit. (The writer and novelist, William S. Burroughs (1914-1997), and the author of the notorious and surrealist book NAKED LUNCH, is the grandson of the original inventor of the Burroughs Adding machine.)

The three 2 mile board saucers of Chicago, Cincinnati, and Sheepshead Bay had all dismally failed by late 1919. Despite being located in heavily populated areas, they all incurred heavy financial losses and setbacks. Their lack of incoming revenue resulted in their complete shutdown. It did not bode well for the future of the board speedway format, but naive and ignorant businessmen still did not heed these immediate and obvious warnings.

For instance, Cliff Durant revealed plans on July 5, 1919, to built two entirely new California board speedways, to be located in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The 1 1/8 mile Uniontown Speedway was taken as the model. Among the investors were the Hollywood movie Moguls Cecil B. DeMille (1881-1959) and Jesse L. Lasky (1880-1958). Construction of the 1 1/4 mile Los Angeles Speedway (better known as Beverly Hills) began in early September 1919. Durant's projected San Francisco oval was never built.

The project of staging a French Grand Prix for August or September 1920, ran into a major snag in November 1919, when the French automobile manufacturers stated they would not support a Grand Prix for 1920 or construct cars for it. And so the race was cancelled.

As there was no official AAA Driving Title for 1919, various ideas were put forward on the subject by others. The NEW YORK TIMES (Dec. 21, 1919, page 96) gave its nod to Tommy Milton, while the WASHINGTON POST (Dec, 21, 1919, page 14) favored Ralph DePalma; largely it seems because of Ralph's new Land Speed Record of 149.875 mph set at Daytona on February 12, 1919 in a 905 cubic inch Packard V12. The automobile journal MOTOR AGE (December 25, 1919 issue, page 8), using a point system of its own devising, hailed Eddie Hearne as the winner of the U. S. Driving Title for 1919. The top five MOTOR AGE rankings with their point totals were; 1. Eddie Hearne, 8960 points; 2. Roscoe Sarles, 7288; 3. Howard Wilcox, 6200; 4. Joe Boyer, 4730; and 5. Tommy Milton, with 4685. The MOTOR AGE 1919 selection of Hearne seems to have won general acceptance, as had MOTOR AGE's earlier choices during the years 1909 to 1915, when there had been no AAA official U.S. driving title. Consult the posts (cont.-11) of Sept. 30, 2006 and (cont.-20) of Nov. 2, 2006 above.

The January 4, 1920 (Autos, page 3) issue of THE DETROIT NEWS had the following (quote), "Eddie Hearne, veteran dirt track driver who has appeared in Detroit in many of the meets at the Michigan State Fair, has been awarded the 1919 driver's championship by Motor Age. This trade paper for years picked a champion, but did not make a selection when the A.A.A. Contest Board conducted its championship on a point basis. Due to the semi-chaotic state of the racing game in 1919 the ruling body of the major branch of the speed sport did not conduct its championship and Motor Age's selection will be accepted as official for the season."

Edited by john glenn printz, 07 July 2011 - 18:17.


#145 john glenn printz

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Posted 28 October 2008 - 14:46

U.S. RACING 1894 TO 1920 (cont.-65) THE YEAR 1920, THE REVIVAL OF THE AAA NATIONAL DRIVING CHAMPIONSHIP, AND THE END OF THE "INTERREGUM" OF 1917 TO 1919.

GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS AND AN OVERVIEW FOR 1920. The AAA Contest Board did indeed decide to reintroduce their National Championship Driving Title again for year 1920, in actual abeyance since 1916. It was understood, at the end of 1919, that the first Championship race for 1920 would be the inaugural Beverly Hills 250, to be staged on George Washington's birthday, February 22; and that the Indianapolis 500 on May 31 would also count.

However, as far as I can determine, the AAA Contest Board neither announced nor published in early 1920, a presumptive or complete listing of the forthcoming 1920 AAA National Championship events. Richard A. Kennerdell apparently determined in somewhat impromptu fashion, just what AAA contests would contribute points towards the 1920 AAA Driving Title, as the year evolved. On occasion, this method of selection may have caused some temporary confusion, but no 1920 AAA race was run without both the drivers and the general public knowing, whether it would contribute points toward the crowning of a 1920 AAA National Driving Champion or not.

The 1920 AAA Championship schedule, as it evolved under Kennerdell, consisted of just five contests. They were and with their winners added:

1. Feb. 28 Beverly Hills 250, Murphy, Jimmy, Duesenberg, 103.2 mph B (301 cubic inch limit)

2. May 31 Indianapolis 500, Chevrolet, Gaston, Frontenac, 88.5 mph BR (183 cubic inch limit)

3. July 5 Tacoma 225, Milton, Tommy, Duesenberg, 95.0 mph B (183 cubic inch limit)

4. Aug. 28 Elgin 251, DePalma, Ballot, 79.0 mph R (183 cubic inch limit)

5. Nov. 25 Beverly Hills 250, Sarles, Roscoe, Duesenberg, 103.2 mph B (183 cubic inch limit)

The total points earned by each driver were duly compiled and published after each Championship race. A careful researcher, if he or she takes the time, can still find them in the various 1920 newspapers, the 1920 motor journals, and the 1920 AAA Championship race programs. Before each 1920 AAA Championship race was run, everyone knew what the exact Championship point standings were. At no time during the entire course of the 1920 season did Tommy Milton ever lead the official AAA National Point standings.

Just what exact criterion Kennerdell or the Contest Board used in selecting certain 1920 AAA races as Championship events and others not, is not now known; but it was mainly and/or most probably the prize money put up. It can be shown that the non-Championship AAA contests for 1920 paid considerably less prize money, than those events that had the AAA National Championship ranking.

As already indicated, other AAA events were held in 1920, utilizing the same drivers and the same cars as was generally employed in the five genuine AAA Championship ranked races proper, but which were not of Championship "points" awarding stature. Of these, there were seven events, of which I will now list, with their winners:

1. March 28 Beverly Hills 50, Klein, Art, Peugeot, 110.8 mph B, first qualifying heat. (301 cubic inch limit)

2. March 28 Beverly Hills 50, Murphy, Jimmy, Duesenberg, 110.3 mph B, second qualifying heat. (301 cubic inch limit)

3. March 28 Beverly Hills 50, Milton, Tommy, Duesenberg, 111.8 mph B, final heat. (301 cubic inch limit)

4. June 19 Uniontown 225, Milton, Tommy, Duesenberg, 94.9 mph B (183 cubic inch limit)

5. Sept. 6 Uniontown 225, Milton, Tommy, Duesenberg, 96.6 mph B (183 cubic inch limit)

6. Sept. 18 Syracuse 50, DePalma, Ralph, Ballot, 73.74 mph D (183 cubic inch limit)

6. Oct. 2 Fresno 200, Murphy, Jimmy, Duesenberg, 96.36 mph B (183 cubic inch limit)

And on the afternoon of Nov. 25 at Beverly Hills, Gaston Chevrolet won the 1920 AAA National Driving Title on the same day he died, with a grand total 1030 points. Gaston's Championship point total had been accumulated from three of the five 1920 AAA Championship events; i.e. 1. Indianapolis - 1000 (1st), 2. Tacoma - 15 (7th), and 3. Elgin - 15 (8th).

Such then is the general 1920 AAA situation as presented by the now existing 1920 historical source materials, most of which admittedly consists, of the daily U.S. newspapers for that year. For a critical historian or researcher however the contemporary 1920 newspaper data is decisive. No actual or genuine 1920 AAA Contest Board documentation seems to have survived.

Edited by john glenn printz, 23 September 2010 - 16:58.


#146 fines

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Posted 28 October 2008 - 19:14

I always felt that track length played a role: the Championship events were all held on tracks of at least one-and-a-quarter miles length, Uniontown and Fresno being "mere" miles, though the Eastern track was slightly longer than that. The second Los Angeles event was a sprint meeting, and thus not considered, though that attitude changed in 1921.

#147 john glenn printz

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 13:12

U.S RACING 1894 TO 1920 (cont.-66) In early October 1919 THE DETROIT NEWS (i.e. probably Eddie Edenburn) reported that Ralph DePalma was contemplating installing a Duesenberg 8 motor into his Packard chassis. Apparently the Packard V12 motor was "totaled" at Sheepshead Bay in practice for the September 20, 1919 "150" and so on this occasion DePalma elected to pilot a "White" special. This is probably the same car Bennett Hill drove at the inaugural Los Angeles 250 on Feburary 28, 1920. The White Special is a mystery car, but its chassis seems to be that of a 1914 Grand Prix Delage.

Instead of putting a Duesenberg 8 motor in his Packard, DePalma planned to take a trip to Europe and was going to set sail on October 8 with the ship "Mauretania", but cancelled passage on it. He later took another ship to Europe. Ralph was now trying to see if he could make an arrangement with some foreign manufacturer of future 183 cubic inch formulas racing cars. DePalma planned to visit Belgium, England, France, Germany, and Italy. As it turned out DePalma made a deal with Ernest Ballot of Paris. Ralph soon returned to the U.S. and had a 296 cubic inch Ballot shipped to New York City, for his private use in the earliest 1920 AAA contests, still being staged under the 301 cubic inch limit.

After getting released from the U.S. Army in late 1919, Peter DePaolo (1898-1980) went to New York City and got a job as an auto mechanic and chauffeur to a wealthy bachelar, Albert Donovan. Then in January 1920 DePaolo met up with his very famous uncle, Ralph DePalma (1883-1956), by prior agreement just at the exact time when the new Ballot racing car was arriving from Paris to New York City. DePaolo was now to work as DePalma's helper, grease monkey and riding mechanic. In New York City, DePalma and DePaolo replaced the back section of the Ballot's body with a more streamlined tail; for the car's more efficient use in the U.S. board track events they were about to enter in California. DePaolo would remain with DePalma for all of 1920 and for 1921 up to and including the November 24, 1921 Beverly Hills 250. Then DePaolo would leave and strike out on his own. Soon DePalma, DePaolo, and the Ballot all headed for Los Angeles for the first major AAA event for 1920, i.e. a 250 miler, to take place at the new Los Angeles Speedway on February 22.

The first two important AAA racing contests, i.e. the Los Angeles Feb. 28 "250" and March 28 sprints, were still being run under the 301 cubic inch limit, but beginning with Indianapolis (May 31) all the remaining important AAA 1920 contests would be contested under a 183 cubic inch limit. This 3 litre formula remained in force until the May 30, 1923 Indianapolis 500, when the maximum limit was cut down to 122 cubic inches or 2 litres.

On February 15, 1920 in THE DETROIT NEWS (Autos, page 3), there was a reminder under the title "Racing Stars to Resume Chase for Championship", that the AAA was restoring its official National Driving Title (quote), "The stars of the speed world will resume the battle for the national driving chamionship with the race on the Los Angeles Speedway, Feb. 22, and endeavor to lower the colors of Dario Resta. This will be the first championship since the War. It is decided on a point basis and the award is made by the A.A.A. Contest Board, the governing body of major league automobile racing."

In the second half of the same paragraph is contained this particular information (quote), "The rules governing the championship control the amount of prize money offered by setting a minimum per mile. It also is provided that the five leading drivers during the season must compete in a championship event. This will prevent a star from picking his favorite courses, unless he is below the fifth man at the time."

The new 1 1/4 mile Los Angeles Speedway board oval was known as the "Taj Mahal" of the board tracks because no expense was seemingly spared, and also because of it classic decor and attention to detail in its actual construction. The 250 mile opener had the normal assortment and variety of 301 cubic inch class formula racing cars, i.e. Ballot, Duesenberg, Frontenacs, Hudson, Miller, Peugeot, and Stutz. The race was limited to 18 starters. Neither Gaston or Louis Chevrolet were present, because they were probably hard at work back in Indianapolis constructing their new 183 cubic inch class Frontenacs, but Joe Boyer entered.

Art Klein was using a 1914 EX5 Peugeot owned by Frank Book of Detroit. Klein had started using it at Indianapolis in 1919 and he had placed 2nd in it at the Cincinnati 250 of Oct. 12, 1919 and 4th at Sheepshead Bay 150 of September 20, 1919. Cliff Durant, Eddie Hearne, and Reeves Dutton were running the old 1915 Stutz's, while Waldo Stein had Barney Oldfield's ex-1917 "Golden Submarine" Miller. Tommy Milton and Jimmy Murphy were on the official Duesenberg racing team, using the straight 8 motors; and DePalma was present with his Ballot.

The top five qualifiers were 1. Milton (Duesenberg), 114.79 mph; 2. Mulford ("Meteor" Duesenberg), 113.64 mph; 3. Murphy (Duesenberg), 113.06 mph; 4. Klein (Peugeot), 110.84 mph; and Boyer (Frontenac), 109.76 mph. The new Los Angeles Speedway proved to be much faster than even the Indianapolis Motor Speedway although half its exact size, at a mile and one-quarter, because of its smooth wooden surface and its steeper banking on the turns. The inaugural 250 here was rain delayed and was held on February 28.

The 250 was dominated by the Duesenberg 8's piloted by Milton and Murphy although Eddie Pullen in the Richard's modified Hudson led circuits 87 to 121. Pullen's Hudson was the same car that W. W. Brown drove at Indianapolis in 1919. Pullen was finally put out at 170 laps with a broken connecting rod. This was Jimmy Murphy's second start in a major race and he went on to win at an average speed of 103.2 mph. Milton had retired after 53 circuits with a burned out bearing while in the lead. DePalma's Ballot went the distance but placed only 8th because of constant tire problems. The final top five placements were 1. Murphy (Duesenberg); 2. Joe Thomas (Frontenac); 3. Vail ("Philbrin" Duesenberg); 4. Ken V. Goodson/Sarles (Frontenac); and 5. O'Donnell (Hudson). Art Klein gave the crowd a thrill when a front wheel came off his black Peugeot on lap 150, the car quickly skidded into the infield dirt, but did not overturn. Both Art and his mechanic S. A. Elmore had been thrown clear, nobody was hurt, and both Klein and Elmore walked back to the pits passing two ambulances and a host of doctors that had been rushed to the accident scene.

#148 Jim Dillon

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 01:03

John, I recently stumbled across this forum and find there is quite an amazing amount of knowledge here. We met years ago at the Detroit Main Library and it is clear you have done your homework. There are so many interesting threads that it would be most difficult to get any work done in the barn. As to the Packard 299 being totaled, I can attest that such may have been a slight exaggeration but indeed it was damaged at the September 20, 1919 event. Packard built 2 of these OHC 12s and engine #1 was retained by Packard (I believe after the Sheepshead Bay 9/20/19 racedate) and I believe engine #2 was put in the redesigned 1919 299 body/chassis and shipped to Europe where it competed at Fanoe and the Alps including against Enzo Ferrari. I own engine #1 and it has a different crankcase than it carried when built in 1916. The press reported that he had connecting rod problems and I believe it probably took out at least a portion of the crankcase. I would appreciate where you found the report that it was totaled and where DePalma was considering placing a Dues in his Packard Chassis? It may help my own research data and timeline.

As to the Klein Peugeot, my research indicates this originally was the Lutcher Brown Peugeot. Lutcher Brown was a wealthy albeit young patron from Orange Texas. Lutcher Brown was a student at Princeton and he purchased the car for Mulford. He had also sponsored Mulford in building a couple of earlier Mulford specials, none of which were very successful. Whether this was the same as the former Mertz Peugeot which DePalma campaigned in 1916 I cannot document, but DePalma and his partners Frank and Herbert Book (DePalma Manufacturing Co) owned the car in 1917 and were trying to get some parts for repair from the Allison shops in 1917. The young wealthy Detroiters (Frank and Herbert Book) were DePalma's pitmen at Chicago when he was campaigning the 14GP Mercedes. When DePalma lost Patterson as his patron the Books nicely fit right in. They formed DePalma Manufacturing Co. to build racecars and campaigned DePalma's 14 GP Merc, the Detroit Special and the Lutcher Brown Peugeot and the 299 was kept in the stable until Ralph bought the car outright in 1917. The Books transformed the raceshop into war work in 1917 until 1919. They continued to make various machine parts and entered the Peugeot and Detroit Special at Indy 1919. The Peugeot was sponsored by the Detroit Athletic Club (and I have read the 299 was as well-the badge at Indy on the radiator of Klein's Peugeot is I believe the DAC badging). According to my conversations with Mrs Herbert Book, Frank kept the Detroit Special until sometime in the mid-thirties as both he and Herbert felt an attachment to this car as they built it from scratch. They sold the Peugeot and the 14 GP Mercedes in early 1920 as they embarked on the Heculean project of developing Washington Boulevard in downtown Detroit (including the recently refurbished Book Cadillac) all in honor of their recently deceased father. According to Mrs Book they were much too busy to continue with racecars although Frank would stop by and pick up Herbert and they would go for a drive about Detroit in the Detroit Special.

Recently I told Rick Rawlins the caretaker of the Bothwell/Resta? Peugeot that I believed that car to be the Brown/DePalma/Klein Peugeot, as Lindley Bothwell bought his car from Art Klein. Mrs Book who travelled to the 1919 Indy race with Art Klein also attended the early races at Los Angeles and according to her they took several cars to the race. My records show they took the Merc, the Detroit Special and the Peugeot. Although she could not swear to it, I believe the Peugeot stayed in California with Art. Like I told Rick Rawlins (who called me to get ahold of Bill Castle the owner of the Baby Chevrolet-glad I did), the Resta winning car would be nice but a DePalma car is no slouch. Keep up the good work-Jim

#149 john glenn printz

john glenn printz
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Posted 02 December 2008 - 20:02

Dear Mr. Dillon;

The source of the DePalma information about his Packard is THE DETROIT NEWS, Oct. 5, 1919, Autos, page 4, in an article entitled "FIFTEEN STARS RACE AT CINCY".

(Quote)

"Ralph DePalma will drive his first race since the start of the 1917 season in another car than his famous Packard "12". The former Detroiter wrecked his "twin-six" racer in the recent New York event and has turned to the Duesenberg, with which Tommy Milton has had such success all season. DePalma was due to sail on the Mauretania on Wednesday to visit the European factories but has cancelled his passage and may also appear in another race at New York, before going to Europe."

"DePalma recently bought a Duesenberg eight to install in the Packard chassis in place of his "twin." Until that car is ready he has agreed to drive one of Fred Duesenberg's cars. He tried one of these out in the recent 150-mile events at New York."

This is everything the article says about DePalma.

I mentioned the Book-DePalma connection above on my July 30, 2007 (Post no. 74), as you may have already noticed.

Sincerely

#150 Jim Dillon

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 22:07

John thanks for the reply-I figured it was the News with Edenburn but of course the date helps nail it down. Thanks although I would rather you call me Jim-I always looked over my shoulder when someone called me Mr Dillon-Jim