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American racing 1894 to 1920


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#251 Mark Dill

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 00:43

It was a bizarre ending to the 696-mile 1914 Cactus Derby. A Cadillac that had led the race earlier broke a steering arm. Driver Bill Bramlette and his riding mechanic spied a wood rail fence and started busting it up. They lashed wood rails to the axle and steered the wheels by using them as giant levers.

http://firstsuperspe...-cactus-derby-6


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#252 helioseism

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 06:55

Not sure if it has been mentioned, but here is a web site on the Vanderbilt Cup races.

Edited by helioseism, 24 January 2010 - 06:55.


#253 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 16:02

U.S. RACING 1894 TO 1920 (cont.-65) THE YEAR 1920: 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 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.


This might suggest otherwise:

Motor West, "Speedway Practice, Feb. 5th," 1 February 1920, p. 47:
"All the drivers who intend to be contenders in the 1920 championship of the A.A.A. will be in Los Angeles for the opening of the season on the speedway. So many points will be awarded owing to the importance of the race that no drivers could afford to stay away and have that handicap to overcome later."


Motor West, "L.A. Track Proves A Wonder," 15 February 1920, p. 50:
"The entry list for the opening championship event, February 21, reads like a directory of America's foremost racing pilots."


#254 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 18:34

As I was working on something for a future bit of writing, I happened to take a look at the Russ Catlin article on the AAA Contest Board which appeared in a 1982 issue of Automobile Quarterly and realized something which if I have not mentioned it before needs to be mentioned: in the article Catlin is an entire year off regarding the creation of the MCA, writing that it was formed in 1908, so either that or every one of the other sources I checked is wrong.

After passing a set of resolutions condemning circular racing on horse racing and racing in general on 30 November 1908 at its annual meeting, the AAA then abolished its racing board on 2 December 1908, its "vocation invested in the contest board."

I have the Motor Contest Association being formed in Chicago on 10 February 1909 (NY Times 11 February 1909 p. 8), not 1908 as Catlin has it in the article.

Although the AAA had abolished its racing board, it had created a contest board in its place, headed by F.B. Hower. It is not exactly clear why it did this, as Mr. Printz stated, but it is possible that overtures had already been made by those in the process of forming what would become the MCA. This is supposition, of course, but it does seem to be something to think about.

On 24 February the MCA and the AAA reached an agreement which gave the AAA Contest Board control over all national racing, the ACA, as part of its earlier agreement with the AAA, being the US club for international events.

There is much more, of course, but....

#255 Mark Dill

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 14:03

As I was working on something for a future bit of writing, I happened to take a look at the Russ Catlin article on the AAA Contest Board which appeared in a 1982 issue of Automobile Quarterly and realized something which if I have not mentioned it before needs to be mentioned: in the article Catlin is an entire year off regarding the creation of the MCA, writing that it was formed in 1908, so either that or every one of the other sources I checked is wrong.

After passing a set of resolutions condemning circular racing on horse racing and racing in general on 30 November 1908 at its annual meeting, the AAA then abolished its racing board on 2 December 1908, its "vocation invested in the contest board."

I have the Motor Contest Association being formed in Chicago on 10 February 1909 (NY Times 11 February 1909 p. 8), not 1908 as Catlin has it in the article.

Although the AAA had abolished its racing board, it had created a contest board in its place, headed by F.B. Hower. It is not exactly clear why it did this, as Mr. Printz stated, but it is possible that overtures had already been made by those in the process of forming what would become the MCA. This is supposition, of course, but it does seem to be something to think about.

On 24 February the MCA and the AAA reached an agreement which gave the AAA Contest Board control over all national racing, the ACA, as part of its earlier agreement with the AAA, being the US club for international events.

There is much more, of course, but....


Hi Don.

From my Vanderbilt Cup research, I have several references to a National Association of Automobile Manufacturers organization that wielded significant influence in 1908. They played an active role in the resolution of disputes between the AAA and the ACA which was triggered by AAA's decision not to comply with the new engine displacement formula adopted at the Ostend conference in July 1907. I would have to believe if there was an MCA at that time it would have been mentioned.

Mark Dill
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#256 Michael Ferner

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 21:25

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 "Indianapolis Star" reported on May 30, 1919, that J. J. McCoy was a different man to the "Kid" McCoy of 1911. "Kid" McCoy was said to have been a pugilist, and relief driver for Lewis Strang!??

Anyway, reason for this post is to find out more about the "McCoy Special". Nobody seems to know what sort of engine it had. For a small time racer, it is perhaps too much to think that he designed and built it himself, so where did it come from? It was described as a 4-cylinder 4.8-litre engine (292 CID), with a bore of 3 15/16 and a stroke of 6 inches, roughly 100*152, and photos show it to have had a left-hand exhaust. It retired early from the race with a dramatic loss of oil, and was apparently never heard of again.

Maybe someone here on TNF has a data base of pre WW1 engines, and can find an example with matching specs, or perhaps close enough that it could be the basis for the McCoy?!!

#257 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 17 February 2010 - 11:19

Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal for 1 November 1905, "Oldfield is Champion"

Postscript: Sorry, please give credit to Lee Stohr for finding this.

Edited by HDonaldCapps, 17 February 2010 - 15:28.


#258 Marticelli

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Posted 17 February 2010 - 14:30

Maybe someone here on TNF has a data base of pre WW1 engines, and can find an example with matching specs, or perhaps close enough that it could be the basis for the McCoy?!!


According to the Auto Motor Journal of 1908, two makes ran in the 1908 Isle of Man Tourist Trophy with approximately these bore and stroke dimensions, Darracq and De Dion. The Darracq team comprised Algy Lee Guiness (KLG's brother), 'Toby' Rawlinson and Arthur George and came 2nd, 3rd and 7th (messrs Lee Guiness, George and Rawlinson respectively), a pretty impressive result. The sole De Dion entry was raced by Jack Stocks, and retired on the fourth lap with clutch trouble... Both makes had left hand exhausts and ran in the Island without bonnets so pictures show the exhausts clearly. The race was run over nine laps of the so-called Four Inch Course (the cars being built to a formula of four cylinders and four inch bores) which in 1911 became more famous as the Mountain Course over which almost all subsequent motorcycle TT races were held. Algy Lee Guiness's average speed was a hefty 50mph over the 350 or so miles of the race.

As Darracqs were exported to the US, maybe the real 'McCoy' was a Darracq?


#259 bradbury west

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Posted 17 February 2010 - 15:08

I hope I am not considered to be dumbing down the quality of this thread, as I am linking to a photo archive, but on this link, if you scroll down to the bottom;
http://www.motorspor...ies.asp?S=&Y=-1
there are some 17 period shots of the 1904 Vanderbilt Cup races, and I am a sucker for period archive photographs
Roger Lund

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#260 Mark Dill

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Posted 18 February 2010 - 03:10

Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal for 1 November 1905, "Oldfield is Champion"

Postscript: Sorry, please give credit to Lee Stohr for finding this.


Thank you both Lee and Don. I'm still not sure if the championship was intended for the driver or car. Papers, of course, don't always get things 100%. But this is another wonderful find on what I believe a significant piece of history.

Mark Dill
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#261 Michael Ferner

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Posted 18 February 2010 - 08:44

According to the Auto Motor Journal of 1908, two makes ran in the 1908 Isle of Man Tourist Trophy with approximately these bore and stroke dimensions, Darracq and De Dion. The Darracq team comprised Algy Lee Guiness (KLG's brother), 'Toby' Rawlinson and Arthur George and came 2nd, 3rd and 7th (messrs Lee Guiness, George and Rawlinson respectively), a pretty impressive result. The sole De Dion entry was raced by Jack Stocks, and retired on the fourth lap with clutch trouble... Both makes had left hand exhausts and ran in the Island without bonnets so pictures show the exhausts clearly. The race was run over nine laps of the so-called Four Inch Course (the cars being built to a formula of four cylinders and four inch bores) which in 1911 became more famous as the Mountain Course over which almost all subsequent motorcycle TT races were held. Algy Lee Guiness's average speed was a hefty 50mph over the 350 or so miles of the race.

As Darracqs were exported to the US, maybe the real 'McCoy' was a Darracq?

Thanks for that! :up:

I never really thought about looking at European designs, although there's really no reason why one shouldn't consider these. I have both the Darracq and the De Dion-Bouton as 100*160, though, and 1908 looks mighty old for a post-WW1 race. Does the article have info on other features of the engines, like valve mechanism? The Darracq may have had an IOE/F head, but the Dion?

#262 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 18 February 2010 - 20:45

From Motor Age, 12 February 1920. page 50: "The A. A. A. has notified the management that this will be the first event of the- new year that will count toward the selection of the year's champion driver."


#263 JdB

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 21:52

Hi everyone,

I saw this thread, and i've got on my pc several pictures of cars and races between 1910 - 1919, but have no clue where i found them. I already found a few that are on the list, i'll have a look at more of them.

The major 1911 U.S automobile races with their victors are:

1. Feb. 22 Oakland CA 98, Bigelow, Charles, Mercer, 57.3 mph R 300 cubic inch limt

2. Feb. 22 Oakland CA 152.9, Merz, Charles, National, 66.8 mph R 600 cubic inch limit

3. Feb. 22 Oakland CA 163.84, Dingley, Bert, Pope-Hartford, 65.7 mph R FFA

4. March 28 Jacksonville FL 106, Disbrow, Louis, Pope-Hartford, 78.5 mph BE FFA

5. March 31 Jacksonville FL 300, Disbrow, Louis, Pope-Hartford, 77.07 mph BE FFA

6. May 30 Indianapolis IN 500, Harroun, Ray/Patschke, Cyrus, Marmon, 74.5 mph BR 600 cubic inch limit
Posted Image
7. July 4 Bakerfield CA 150, Herrick, Harvey, National, 48.5 R FFA

8. Aug. 6 Galveston 150, Zengel, Len, National, 71.37 mph BE FFA

9. Aug. 25 Elgin IL 169, Hughes, Hughie, Mercer, 64.6 mph R stock chassis only 300 cubic inch limit

10. Aug. 25 Elgin IL 203, Herr, Don, National, 65.6 mph R stock chassis only 450 cubic inch limit

11. Aug. 26 Elgin IL 305, Zengel, Len, National, 66.2 mph R stock chassis only 600 cubic inch limit
Posted Image
12. Sept. 3 Columbus OH 200, Knight, Harry, Westcott, 53.2 mph D

13. Sept. 9 Cincinnati OH 150, Jenkins, John, Cole, 54.0 mph R 300 cubic inch limit

14. Sept. 9 Cincinnati OH 200, Hearne, Eddie, Fiat, 56.6 mph R 600 cubic inch limit

15. Oct. 9 Philadelphia PA 202.5, Bergdoll, Erwin, Benz, 61.1 mph R 750 cubic inch limit

16. Oct. 9 Philadelphia PA 202.5, Mulford, Ralph, Lozier, 60.1 mph R 600 cubic inch limit

17. Oct. 9 Philadelphia PA 202.5, Disbrow, Louis, National, 58.3 mph R 450 cubic inch limit

18. Oct. 9 Philadelphia PA 202.5, Hughes, Hughie, Mercer, 57.9 mph R 300 cubic inch limit

19. Oct. 14 Santa Monica CA 151, Keene, Bruce, Marmon, 68.7 mph R 300 cubic inch limit

20. Oct. 14 Santa Monica CA 151, Merz, Charles, National, 74.2 mph R 450 cubic inch limit

21. Oct. 14 Santa Monica CA 101, Nikrent, Louis, Buick, 59.2 mph R 231 cubic inch limiit

22. Oct. 14 Santa Monica CA 202, Herrick, Harvey, National, 74.9 mph R FFA

23. Nov. 27 Savannah GA 291.38, Mulford, Ralph, Lozier, 74.0 mph R (Vanderbilt Cup) 600 cubic inch limit
Posted Image
24. Nov. 30 Savannah GA 411.36, Bruce-Brown, David, Fiat, 74.4 mph R (American Grand Prize) FFA
Posted Image
Posted Image


Hope you like them.

gr.Jeroen

#264 bradbury west

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 22:13

Just brilliant. Many thanks. The more the better.
Roger Lund

#265 JdB

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 22:28

The important 1910 U.S. automobile races with the winners are:


1. April 8 Playa del Rey CA 100, Harroun, Ray, Marmon, 78.8 mph B stock chassis only 300 cubic inch limit
Posted Image
2. April 8 Playa del Rey CA 50, DePalma, Ralph, Fiat, 75.1 mph B 600 cubic inch limit

3. April 17 Playa del Ray CA 100, Harroun, Ray, Marmon, 78.57 mph B stock chassis only, 600 cubic inch limit.

4. May 5 Altanta GA 200, Harroun, Ray, Marmon, 66.0 mph D stock chassis only 450 cubic inch limit

5. May 6 Altanta GA 60, Endicott, William, Cole, 59.5 mph, D stock chassis only 230 cubic inch limit

6. May 6 Altanta GA 50, Lytle, Herbert, American, 74.2 mph, D FFA

7. May 7 Altanta GA 200, Kincaid, Tom/Aitken, Johnny, National, 66.1 mph D stock chassis only 600 cubic inch limit

8. May 27 Indianapolis IN 100, Kincaid, Tom, National, 71.8 mph BR stock chassis only, 450 cubic inch limit
Posted Image
9. May 28 Indianapolis IN 200, Harroun, Ray, Marmon, 73.0 mph BR 600 cubic inch limit

10. May 30 Indianapolis IN 50, Harroun, Ray, Marmon, 70.5 mph BR stock chassis only 300 cubic inch limit

11. July 2 Indianapolis IN 100, Burman, Bob, Marquette-Buick, 74.5 mph BR stock chassis only 300 cubic inch limit

12. July 4 Indianapolis IN 200, Dawson, Joe, Marmon, 73.4 mph BR stock chassis only 600 cubic inch limit

13. Aug. 26 Elgin IL 170, Buck, Dave, Marmon, 55.1 mph R stock chassis only 300 cubic inch limit

14. Aug. 26 Elgin IL 230, Livington, Al, National, 60.6 mph R stock chassis only 450 cubic inch limit

15. Aug. 27 Elgin IL 305.03, Mulford, Ralph, Lozier, 62.5 mph R stock chassis only 600 cubic inch limit

16. Sept. 3 Indianapolis, IN 100, Hearne, Eddie, Benz, 75.0 mph BR FFA

17. Sept. 3 Indianapolis IN 100, Wilcox, Howard, National, 72.0 mph BR stock chassis only 450 cubic inch limit

18. Sept. 5 Indianapolis IN 50, Hearne, Eddie, Benz, 79.4 mph BR FFA

19. Sept. 5 Indianapolis IN 200, Aitken, Johnny, National, 71.2 mph BR 600 cubic inch limit

20. Oct. 1 Long Island NY 126.4, Endicott, William, Cole, 54.9 mph R stock chassis only 230 cubic inch limit

21. Oct. 1 Long Island NY 189.6, Gelnaw, Frank, Falcar, 58.4 mph R stock chassis only 300 cubic inch limit

22. Oct. 1 Long Island NY 278.08, Grant, Harry, Alco, 65.1 mph R (Vanderbilt Cup) stock chassis only 600 cubic inch limit
Posted Image
Posted Image
23. Oct. 8 Fairmount Park, PA 202.5, Mulford, Ralph, Lozier, 58.07 mph R 600 cubic inch limit

24. Oct. 8 Fairmount Park PA 202.5, Aitken, Johnny, National, 54.64 mph R 450 cubic inch limit

25. Oct. 10 Fairmount Park PA 202.5, Zengle, Zen, Chadwick, 57.8 mph R 750 cubic inch limit
Posted Image
Posted Image
Posted Image
Posted Image
26. Nov. 7 Atlanta GA 250, Horan, Joe, Lozier, 72.73 mph D FFA

27. Nov. 7 Atlanta GA 200, Dawson, Joe, Marmon, 68.4 mph D stock chassis only 600 cubic inch limit

28. Nov. 11 Savannah GA 190.3, Knipper, William, Lancia, 57.27 mph R 230 cubic inch limit

29. Nov. 11 Savannah GA 276.8, Dawson, Joe, Marmon, 62.99 mph R 300 cubic inch limit

30. Nov. 12 Savannah GA 415.2, Bruce-Brown, David, Benz, 70.5 mph R FFA (American Grand Prize)
Posted Image
Posted Image
31. Nov. 21 Santa Monica CA 151.5, Tetzlaff, Teddy, Lozier, 73.29 mph R stock chassis only 600 cubic inch limit

32. Nov. 24 Santa Monica CA 202.8, Tetzlaff, Teddy, Lozier, 71.72 mph R FFA


Enjoy.

gr.Jeroen

btw. i posted many more vintage racing pics in the Racing Comments section, in the "Number of days "to the 2010 Bahrain GP"-thread, have a look , it's worth it.

Edited by JdB, 21 February 2010 - 22:32.


#266 Michael Ferner

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Posted 22 February 2010 - 15:41

Enjoy.

gr.Jeroen

btw. i posted many more vintage racing pics in the Racing Comments section, in the "Number of days "to the 2010 Bahrain GP"-thread, have a look , it's worth it.


Just a question: Why is it that "we" here at the Nostalgia forum are not allowed to post pictures other than our own, while "they" over at the Racing Comments forum are free to post whatever they can find on the net or in books? Two-class society? :confused:

#267 Mark Dill

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Posted 22 February 2010 - 15:44

Enjoy.

gr.Jeroen

btw. i posted many more vintage racing pics in the Racing Comments section, in the "Number of days "to the 2010 Bahrain GP"-thread, have a look , it's worth it.


Excellent contribution and wonderful enhancement to John's information. Thank you...

Mark Dill

#268 Mark Dill

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Posted 22 February 2010 - 15:53

I have added some content to my archive of articles and images on the 1914 Cactus Derby. I don't think you can find a larger on-line archive anywhere.

This link is:

http://firstsuperspe...les/category/74

Mark Dill

#269 JdB

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Posted 22 February 2010 - 17:03

Just a question: Why is it that "we" here at the Nostalgia forum are not allowed to post pictures other than our own, while "they" over at the Racing Comments forum are free to post whatever they can find on the net or in books? Two-class society? :confused:


I'm sorry, i wasn't aware that it isn't allowed to do so, if needed i'll remove the pictures. If anyone is interested perhaps i can send them to whoever wants them.

gr.Jeroen

#270 Allen Brown

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 08:55

I'm sorry, i wasn't aware that it isn't allowed to do so, if needed i'll remove the pictures. If anyone is interested perhaps i can send them to whoever wants them.

gr.Jeroen

You don't need to remove them. Pictures taken before 1923 are now out of copyright.

#271 JdB

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 12:15

You don't need to remove them. Pictures taken before 1923 are now out of copyright.


Ok, that's good to hear. I'll have a look, i believe i have more.

gr.Jeroen

#272 Michael Ferner

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 14:57

My post wasn't at all trying to stop anyone from posting pictures here, I am merely asking why there are rules for TNF that obviously don not pertain to Racing Comments! I find that quite outrageous, and typically the board management decides to look the other way, and ignores the question. So, why do we bother?

#273 Mark Dill

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 20:35

Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal for 1 November 1905, "Oldfield is Champion"

Postscript: Sorry, please give credit to Lee Stohr for finding this.


Hi Don.

This is a more obscure reference and I cannot cite the newspaper because I found the article in Barney Oldfield's scrapbook and the person who put that together had a nasty habit of snipping off the newspaper names. However, the article is about Oldfield stopping in Hartford, Connecticut to perform in the play, "The Vanderbilt Cup," which he did with Elsie Janis in 1906. The writer quotes Oldfield reflecting on the 1905 season (where he was injured at Grosse Pointe) as saying, "But it was a good season. I made money and won the championship of America which was awarded me a month ago."

This is another reason to believe that this was not just about the manufacturer, but the driver received recognition as well...

Here's the link to the reference: http://firstsuperspe...lt-cup-broadway


Mark Dill


#274 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 25 February 2010 - 13:01

As I was working on something for a future bit of writing, I happened to take a look at the Russ Catlin article on the AAA Contest Board which appeared in a 1982 issue of Automobile Quarterly and realized something which if I have not mentioned it before needs to be mentioned: in the article Catlin is an entire year off regarding the creation of the MCA, writing that it was formed in 1908, so either that or every one of the other sources I checked is wrong.

After passing a set of resolutions condemning circular racing on horse racing and racing in general on 30 November 1908 at its annual meeting, the AAA then abolished its racing board on 2 December 1908, its "vocation invested in the contest board."

I have the Motor Contest Association being formed in Chicago on 10 February 1909 (NY Times 11 February 1909 p. 8), not 1908 as Catlin has it in the article.

Although the AAA had abolished its racing board, it had created a contest board in its place, headed by F.B. Hower. It is not exactly clear why it did this, as Mr. Printz stated, but it is possible that overtures had already been made by those in the process of forming what would become the MCA. This is supposition, of course, but it does seem to be something to think about.

On 24 February the MCA and the AAA reached an agreement which gave the AAA Contest Board control over all national racing, the ACA, as part of its earlier agreement with the AAA, being the US club for international events.

There is much more, of course, but....


....digging around and actually finding it is not all that easy.

At a quarterly meeting of the A.A.A. Board of Directors, in New York City on 9 October 1908, several proposals from previous meetings of the Executive Committee were considered and endorsed. Among these was the creation of the Contest Board.

Automobile Topics, 17 October 1908, Vol. XVII, No. 2, page 102:

1st. That the Touring Board be hereafter
called the Touring, Information and
Maps Board, and that it have its headquarters
in New York City.
2nd. That the Technical Board be hereafter
called the Contests Board, and that
it have charge of all contests other than
racing and speed contests; for instance,
all touring, technical, endurance and economy
contests, as well as hill climbs.
3rd. That the Racing Board retain its
name, but hereafter have charge of racing
and speed contests.

Powell Evans, president of the Automobile
Club of Philadelphia, was named
as chairman of the Touring, Information
and Maps Board, and Frank B.
Hower, president of the Automobile
Club of Buffalo, becomes chairman of
the Contests Board.


I hope this helps clear a few things up regarding the origins of the A.A.A. Contest Board, which is, it would seem, a bit different than most of us thought.

#275 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 27 February 2010 - 19:18

In an article entitled, "The Champions of Road Racing," which appeared in the December 1914 issue of Motor, I think I have found the origin of the Mason Point System: the author was Harold T. Mason and on page 43 he lays out the point system he used to rank the road racing champions, European and American, up until the end of the 1914 season.

"10 points for a first, 6 points for a second, 4 points for a third, 3 points for a fourth, 2 points for a fifth, 1 point for a sixth, 7/8 point for a seventh, 3/4 point for an eighth, 5/8 point for a ninth, 1/2 point for a tenth, eleventh or twelfth; 1/4 point for a thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, and 1/8 point for a place between sixteenth and twentieth. A point is deducted from the score of car or driver for each race in which he or it started without finishing."

I have been looking to see if this has been covered before, but obviously my search skills could use some help, but I could find nothing on the Mason Point System.

I found an article in the 5 March 1916 Boston Globe (pg. 78) that mentions the system. The scoring system went like this:

1st place, 10 points
2nd place, 6 points
3rd place, 4 points
4th place, 3 points
5th place, 2 points
6th place, 1 point
7th place, 7/8th point
8th place, 3/4th point
9th place, 5/8th point
10th place, 1/2 point (changed since other articles seem to agee that it was 1/2 point rather than 1/8th point. hdc)

There were 23 "road and speedway contests" that made up the events used for determining the Mason points total.

1st, Cooper with 51 points
equal 2nd, Anderson & O'Donnell with 38 points

Rickenbacher had 32 points from speedway contests. There is no listing given of the events.

The article also notes that Cooper was the 1913 champion.

The Horseless Age rankings were then given:
1 -- Cooper
2 -- Anderson
3-- O'Donnell
4 -- Resta
5 -- Rickenbacher
6 -- Oldfield
7 -- De Palma
8 -- Ruckstall
9 -- Burman
10 -- Pullen
11 -- Mulford

Interesting how there are 23 events in the Mason Point System for 1915 and 25 events listed in the Catlin article on 1915 in the June 1955 issue of Speed Age.

Coincidence?

So, there were apparently Mason Points determined for at least 1914 and 1913. Certainly not an official AAA championship, but at least gives an inkling of where Means & Haresnpe may have gone when they created their retrospective championships in the 1926/28 period, since information on this "Mason Point System" may have still been around and known by at least one of them.

Just food for thought.

Postscript.

There are two additional articles that cover much of the same material, another article in the Boston Globe on 24 October 1915 (pg. 42) and the New York Times of 12 Decemebr 1915 (pg. S 3).

The October article in the Globe lists the standings of the manufacturers for 1915:
1 -- Stutz, 127 7/8 points
2 -- Maxwell, 70 1/2 points
3 -- 65 7/8 points
4 -- Peugeot, 49 3/4 points
5 -- Mercer, 23 points

In 1913, there were 18 events used in the Mason Point System and 17 events for 1914. In Catlin's Speed Age articles for those years (the April and May 1955 issues, respectively), the number of events used was nine and 11, once more, respectively.

Also, there is some difference in the two Globe articles as the point value for 10th place, one stating it as 1/2 point and the other as 1/8th point.

Plus, while I am at it....

.... the Motor Age rankings for 1919 are based upon its own points system (Lambert Sullivan, 25 December 1919) and the top five look like this:
1, Eddie Hearne
2, Roscoe Searles
3, Howard Wilcox
4, Joe Boyer
5, Tommy Milton

For 1919, Catlin uses 21 events and Motor Age uses 29 events.

Tidbits that in and of themselves probably mean little, but when placed in a context.....


Edited by HDonaldCapps, 28 February 2010 - 11:39.


#276 john glenn printz

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Posted 28 February 2010 - 19:56

WHY AAA OR U.S. AUTOMOBILE RACING HISTORY, ESPECIALLY 1902-1920, IS SUCH A MESS. PREFACE. It is frequently the case in the historical sciences that later generations are much more concerned or interested in certain past occurrences and events, than the original and actual participants were and/or their exact contemporaries and observers were. Later individuals and investigators lament the lack of contemporary attention and notices, and the lack and absence of historical records for their own special subject of inquiry. Roman historians now pine over the loss of the many treatises of Varro and the lost books of Livy. Many an Elizabethan scholar today wishes that just someone (anyone at all!) had written an accurate and detailed life of Shakespeare at the time of his death. However, even if that had occurred, it is extremely doubtful that it would have even been published, because nobody at the time would have been interested in such material. Later generations will deem something very important, which did not seem so to its contemporaries. Certainly the historians of U.S. "big-time" AAA automobile racing 1902-1955, all 50 of us, would appear to be a decided case and example of the above.

The past history of American automobile racing has always been viewed with almost complete indifference. The subject was considered as far too frivolous to attract the attention of any critical, competent, or serious historians and, in addition, all the facts in the case were all but impossible to obtain, which didn't help the situation one iota. What little interest there was, even in the 1950s, was left to rank amateurs and second tier chroniclers. In the late 1940s and the 1950s Russ Catlin came forward as the "professor emeritus" of all the past AAA Contest Board doings, while Bob Russo started in 1953, coverage of the contemporary AAA Championship contests. In the 1950's both men worked for a publication called SPEED AGE. These two individuals would seemed to have had the entire AAA racing history covered, past and present.

The AAA Contest Board had a continuous existence from 1909 to 1955. But even when the AAA Contest Board was still in actual existence, its past history had been forgotten, confused, and left in complete disarray. For this situation the AAA Contest Board itself was partly responsible, for the Contest Board members were totally uninterested generally in its own past. As far as anyone can now tell, the Contest Board before World War II, tossed out almost all of its pre-1932 race records and documents into the trash, in probably an office clean up and/or in an endeavor to obtain more needed working space.

By 1920 all the U.S. automobile passenger car manufacturers were out of racing, and all the U.S. automobile trade journals ceased to cover automobile racing, except for the annual 500 mile event staged in Indianapolis. All these factors made it impossible, after World War II, to obtain any accurate and detailed information about big-time U.S. automobile racing, as it existed, during the years 1920 to 1941. Open wheel motor racing has never been a major sport in the U.S. As far as I can fathom, its popularity among the general public was probably at its height during 1904-1916; and the 1960s when the rear engine car revolution was in progress and the Formula I Grand Prix drivers ran at Indianapolis, i.e, names like Jack Brabham, Jim Clark, Masten Gregory, Dan Gurney, Graham Hill, Denny Hulme, Jochen Rindt, and Jackie Stewart. It is certainly no major American sport now and can't be compared even remotely with baseball, football, basketball, hockey, golf, tennis, or NASCAR in popularity.

ARTHUR H. MEANS' NEW AAA POINT CHARTS PRODUCED DURING 1926, 1927, AND 1928. In November 1926, one Arthur H. Means, a sometime secretary of the AAA Contest Board, with spare time of his hands, compiled a new Championship point chart for the 1920 season. Means had always wondered what the year 1920 would have looked like, if more races than just five had been included. Means selected five more contests for inclusion and produced a new 1920 Championship ten race reckoning. In Means' new calulations Milton had the most points, while Gaston Chevrolet dropped to 3rd, with Jimmy Murphy wedged in between them for 2nd.

Even worst, another and higher ranking Contest Board official, Val Haresnape, was so impressed by Mr. Means' work on the 1920 season, that he asked Means to compile AAA point charts for the years 1909-1915 and 1917-1919, when the AAA didn't even conduct or have a National Championship Title. 1909 was chosen as the year of demarcation here because it was the first year of the AAA Contest Board's official existence and of MOTOR AGE's first nomination ever of a U.S. National Driving Champion, i.e. Bert Dingley, for 1909. Means duly complied with Haresnape's request and put these new AAA reckonings (1909-1915 & 1917-1919) together during 1927 and 1928. They were as bogus, as actual and factual history, as Means' ten race 1920 compilation.

This is the true origin of the ten AAA National Championship years for 1909-1915 and 1917-1919. The new Arthur Means' AAA National Champions for 1909-1915 and 1917-1920 were published in an AAA Contest Board bulletin of February 2, 1929, issued by Val Haresnape and were accepted by the news media without any demur whatsoever. Thereafter, everytime a listing of the past annual AAA National Championship driver winners was issued or published, it mixed Arthur Means' 1909-1915 and 1917-1919 bogus selections with the genuine and concurrent award winners of 1916 (Resta), 1920 (Gaston Chevrolet), and the following years. Nobody complained and nobody seemingly noticed. But in fact the AAA was confusing the situation and was issuing historial and ahistorial material together in one package. The Great Depression (1929-1939) was soon upon the nation, and no one was concerned about the minutia of the AAA Contest Board's past.

For every year after 1930, everyone interested in the United States' auto racing past, just assumed that the AAA Contest Board had kept its printed historical statistics in order. It was, after all, just common sense. It was soon thought that the AAA, after running its very first National Championship point season in 1909, had just annually added the next year's AAA Champion to its listing, to keep it accurate and updated. For instance, in late 1950 the AAA added Henry Banks onto the list, which then had previously ended with the 1949 AAA Champion, Johnnie Parsons. It being thought that this exact process had been going on annually, since 1909. Nobody knew or remembered that Haresnape and Means had added ten new, but entirely bogus AAA National Champions in one fell sweep, back in the late 1920s. For a very brief time, i.e. 1927 and 1928, the AAA listed Milton as the 1920 Championship winner, but in 1929 they reverted back to citing Gaston Chevrolet as the rightful titlist.

Now was the new data put together in 1926-1928 by Arthur Means, AAA official? I would guess not, in a strict sense. In order for it to be so, it would have had to have been voted on as such, by the AAA Contest Board itself. I doubt that the AAA Contest Board members paid much attention at all to the joint Harsnape-Means project. Haresnape and Means had entered into it on their own initiative and it was nothing more than a pet project or endeavor of these two. But their new 1909-1915 and 1917-1919 reckonings soon became normative, "official", and part of the AAA's printed "historical" record.

(The more I think about what "AAA official" means, the more confused I become. So far as the actual race records themselves are concerned, I would say that only the information and data collected and recorded "on site" and on "race day" is strictly official. But of course, most of the surviving AAA evidence about their Championship ranked contests is not of this type. Most of that type of material evidence is gone forever, although some of it for the years 1932 to 1955 still exists, now owned by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.)

After Means compiled the 1909-1915 and 1917-1920 Championship point charts, they were thrown into the Contest Board files, where they probably remained largely unnoticed until Mr. Russ Catlin, historian extraordinary and the AAA Contest Board publicist, came across them after World War II, sometime probably between 1948 and 1950.

Edited by john glenn printz, 02 August 2012 - 14:31.


#277 john glenn printz

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Posted 01 March 2010 - 15:01

WHY AAA OR U.S. AUTOMOBILE RACING HISTORY, ESPECIALLY 1902-1920, IS SUCH A MESS (cont.-1) Although the Haresnape-Means additions to the AAA Championship listing have prevailed for over 75 years, I believe they should now completely, totally, and entirely be scrapped and done away with. And for the following two reasons.

1. They are not historical, and do not furnish or reflect the actual situation that obtained or was present during those AAA seasons.

2, Means' work furnishes no objective analysis, survey, or picture of those years. To wit;

(A.) First off, the races or events tabulated and picked were the work of just one man, Arthur M. Means, who greatly erred in his selections. Major races are often omitted entirely, but many minor contests are sometimes included. The events that Means picked and utilized for certain seasons seems to be way off. It is true that we do not know in just what state the AAA records for the years 1909 to 1920 were, back in 1926-1928, when Means put his tabulations together. Some may well have been missing or misfiled. However a well versed and critical historian for the period 1909 to 1920 must note the following items about Means' final selections:

1. For the year 1909 none of the important events run at the November, Atlanta meet were included.

2. For the 1910 season, the situation is much, much worst. Means fails to include anything from the (1) April, Playa Del Rey, (2) October, Fairmount Park, (3) November, Atlanta, (4) November, Savannah, and (5) November, Santa Monica race meets.

3. For 1911 Means included the ACA sanctioned "American Grand Prize" but does not include the Grand Prizes staged in 1910, 1912, 1914 or 1915. This is inconsistent. Arthur should have included them all, or none.

4. Wrong winner? On Mr. Means' 1917 AAA chart, Earl Cooper is credited as the victor in the Minneapolis 50 mile race held on July 14, 1917. This appears to be a mistake and that the real winner was Reeves Dutton, more normally Cooper's riding mechanic. Cooper it appears was not even a contestant in this event. It is of some importance for Means' calculations. For if Cooper is docked his 100 Championship points credited to him for the Minneapolis 50 win, then Louis Chevrolet emerges as the actual winner of the 1917 National Championship, according to Means' own calulations with a total of 1041, while Cooper drops to 2nd position with just 995!

5. The year 1918 is perhaps the worst of all. Here the three most important AAA contests for the entire season are missing, i.e. (1) the June 1, Sheepshead Bay, (2) the June 22 Chicago, and (3) and the July 4, Cincinnati. All three were for 100 miles and numbered no less than 15 starters. On the other hand, Means included nine 50 mile sprints, none of which had more than four competitors. None of this makes any sense to me.

6. Means new ten event chart for 1920 fails to include Jimmy Murphy's win in a heat race at Los Angeles (Beverly Hills) on March 28, 1920, but does use the other heat race staged that day, won by Art Klein. Here I think we witness Arthur Means' slobby workmanship.

(B.) Mr. Means' 1909-1915 and 1917-1919 point charts used later ideas, methods, practices, and concept philosophies, and foisted them arbitrarily, on the earlier seasons, when a National Championship Title did not exist. This is particlarly true for the period 1909 to 1912. These four seasons do not lend themselves to the treatment that Mr. Means aims at. During the years 1909-1912 the AAA ran many different race car classifications or formulas, which were based on stock chassis, piston displacement, weight, and the retail price. There was sometimes also a "free for all" class for thoroughbred racing cars proper. All these different formula categories would even on occasion, be staged, held, or run SIMULTANEOUSLY and/or CONCURRENTLY, so a given driver could only compete in one of the day's scheduled races. There was the main event, reserved for the more powerful, bigger, and faster vehicles, and the accompanying lesser status contests. (What today would be probably be considered the 'support races' to the main event.) Naturally the better and more experienced pilots would tend to be entered in the more important race classifications.

However Means has taken each race and every category as equally important, and has included them all on his point charts, as a National Championship race, even when one these minor sub-divisions numbered but one starter (!) i.e. William Sharp at Riverhead, NY on September 29, 1909. I deem this rank nonsense. Here Means has, in fact, forced the later 1920 AAA National Championship format and point system onto the earlier, but still intractable ancient data.

MR. RUSS CATLIN'S LATER ADDITIONS AND ALTERATIONS. When the AAA's fiftiest anniversity was about to occur, in 1952, Mr. Russ Catlin got a brainstorm. Wouldn't it be wonderful if there existed AAA National Championship winners for every year that the AAA itself existed? The bogus 1909-1915 and 1917-1919 AAA National Champions had long been considered canonical by the year 1951, as nobody remembered, suspected, or knew (certainly not Catlin himself) that they were actually created and manufactured by Arthur Means and Val Haresnape during 1926 to 1928. It was also obviously known in 1951, that the AAA had staged no Championship level races during the war years 1942 to 1945, so that these four missing seasons could not be filled in, in any case. So the only remaining missing years to be filled in and completed, in Catlin's scheme, were 1902 to 1908. Russ had already in 1951 changed the long traditional 1909 AAA Champion, Bert Dingley, and substituted George Robertson instead; and altered the 1920 AAA driving titlist, Gaston Chevrolet to Tommy Milton.

And so now Catlin in 1952, simply added his own picks for 1902-1908, and added them in front of the then current 1909-1951 listing of AAA National Champions. Catlin's "new" AAA Championship winners for 1902-1908 were first published in the official Indianapolis 500 program for 1952, in a one page article entitled AUTO RACING'S GOLDEN JUBILEE. Here Catlin is cited as the "Director of the AAA Contest News Bureau". Catlin acknowleges that the 1902 and 1903 titlists, i.e. Harry Harkness and Barney Oldfield respectively, were both "unofficial", whatever that means in this context. After all, Catlin had just made all the AAA Champions for 1902 to 1908, up!

Russ does go on to say (quote), "But during the next few years, with one exception, the Vanderbilt Cup determined the Championship." In the next paragraph Catlin asserts that an AAA National Championship Title, based on the assignment of points, began in 1909. Nowhere does Catlin state or even hint that the 1902 to 1908 AAA driver Champions now listed, were all created recently by himself. And Catlin made things easy for himself by making the Vanderbilt winners the year's AAA National Champions. Now all Russ had to do was fill in 1902, 1903, and 1907!

I currently know of nothing that Harkness did in 1902 that would merit him as the year's AAA Champion. Perhaps someone can clue me in here. Curiously, Russ missed the 1905 AAA sprint Championship series which actually existed, and was won by Oldfield. Catlin could not have known of it, because he names Victor Hemery, as the 1905 AAA Champion.

In 1958 Charlie Brockman, then the USAC Publicity Director, remembering that Russ had listed AAA National Champions back to 1902, in the 1952 Indianapolis program, incorporated this data into the 1958 USAC Yearbook. And even later in 1973, Dick Jordan, another USAC official put them into Carl Hungness's first Indianapolis 500 Yearbook, which covered the 1973 Indianapolis 500. The intention was undoubtedly to try and save every precious morsel of past historical data, that had filtered down. I must say however, that I believe that neither Mr. Brockman, nor Mr. Mr. Jordan, knew anything at all, about Catlin in 1952 making up and creating the 1902 to 1908 additions, to celebrate the AAA's 50 year Golden Jubilee. It was from Mr. Ken M. McMaken, c. 1978-79, that I became aware that the 1952 Indianapolis program is the oldest known reckoning of these 1902 to 1908 AAA National Champions.

So are Catlin's 1902 to 1908 choices, AAA or USAC official data? Russ, entirely on his own in 1952, added the seven additional Titles. I doubt whether anyone on the Contest Board gave it anything but cursory attention. Those who thought about it at all probably gave Catlin credit for resurrecting these ancient, but long forgotten, seven AAA Championship Titlists. Catlin would certainly know, if anyone did, for Russ' knowledge about the past AAA racing history, was then considered to be encyclopaedic.

An earnest inquirer on the internet wanted to know just what races Catlin had used to calculate the 1902 to 1908 Champions. This seems to me to be naivete of a rather immense proportion. I doubt whether Russ did any extensive research of any kind to arrive at his newly invented 1902 to 1908 selections. Probably the whole exercise took Catlin no more than two hours, if even that.

Despite all the official tampering described above, the real causes and forces, that always results in the loss of historical knowledge, are the general public's complete indifference to it all, and the gradual loss of the contemporary historical evidence.

Edited by john glenn printz, 23 January 2012 - 13:50.


#278 john glenn printz

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Posted 01 March 2010 - 20:47

WHY AAA OR U.S. AUTOMOBILE RACING HISTORY, ESPECIALLY 1902-1920, IS SUCH A MESS (cont.-2) MR. CATLIN'S FAMOUS "HISTORY OF AAA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY 1909 TO 1917" AND HIS CONFUSION ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED IN 1920. In the late 1940s and early 1950s Russ Catlin aspired to write a complete and detailed history of AAA National Championship racing. At some point Russ found all ten of Arthur Means's AAA point charts for 1909-1915 and 1917-1920, in the AAA files. Russ was ecstatic. What a find! Why here were all the original AAA point charts for the earliest seasons of AAA Championship racing. Why this priceless and precious data could easily be the solid nucleus and firm foundation around which a detailed narrative on AAA racing 1909 to 1920 could be built.

It was here though that Catlin made a tragic mistake, a quick conclusion, that would haunt him for the rest of his life. Russ jumped to the unsupported and unwarranted conclusion that the statistical information here, had been concurrent and contemporary with the season covered or involved. That is to say, the 1909 chart had been put together in 1909, the 1915 reckoning had been made in 1915, and the 1919 data had been compiled in 1919. Never was an opinion more erroneous or more incorrect than Catlin's surmise here. And so the 1909-1915 and 1917-1919 AAA seasonal point reckonings, made by Means, became an intergral and important element in Russ' presentation of those past years in his HISTORY.

And, of course, Russ also came across Means' ten race chart for 1920. At first this ten race reckoning puzzled Mr. Catlin, for as everyone then thought, Gaston Chevrolet was the 1920 AAA National Champion on the basis of just five contests. Russ wondered about his 1920 ten race chart find and eventually found the correct solution. Russ concluded that the AAA had been using a ten race Championship schedule up to, and even during the actual running, of the November 25, 1920 Beverly Hills 250. But unfortunately Gaston Chevrolet got himself killed in this contest, the very last Championship race for 1920. So as a sympathic gesture Richard A. Kennerdell, then the Chairman of the AAA Contest Board, awarded the 1920 AAA Title to Gaston immediately after the event. A little later Kennerdell concocted a wholly new and artificial 1920 reckoning and point chart, now using only five races, to make Chevrolet's 1920 AAA Title look official, legal, and legitimate. Hence the two different and extant 1920 AAA Championship point charts. Tommy Milton was thereby swindled out of his deserving and genuine 1920 AAA Championship Title, based on the original ten race AAA schedule.

How much truth was there to Catlin's conclusions and contentions about the AAA 1920 Championship season? I affirm and say, absolute zero. As it all turns out, the ten race 1920 chart is indeed much later than 1920. For we now know it was authored by Arthur Means in November 1926. In any case, Russ now went to the AAA Contest Board in 1951 and presented his sorry findings. The Contest Board decided that Russ was entirely correct in his story and righted an old injustice by replacing Milton as the 1920 AAA Champ, and now dropped G. Chevrolet to 3rd, which is where he was, in the now resurrected but "genuine" ten race 1920 reckoning. Milton was still alive in 1952 and a new ceremony was duly presented, whereby Milton was awarded a new metal, for placing first in the 1920 AAA Championship point standings. Such was record keeping at the AAA.

From the very first issuance in 1929 of all the AAA National Champions back to 1909, by Haresnape and Means, no one demurred or took any exception to any of the new information thereby offered or presented. This is indicative of both the total apathy and/or complete ignorance of the past AAA's racing history. It soon became the accepted, general, and unquestioned belief, that the AAA Contest Board had begun its National Championship series, based on a point system, during the year 1909. Russ Catlin, after World War II, was no wiser. And Russ did indeed, c. 1950, begin to write his "THE HISTORY OF AAA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACING". And to Russ' post-war discovery of all ten of Arthur Means' AAA point charts, Russ suckered himself, as he thought their data was all authentic, real, contemporary, and concurrent with the season specified. That was the general manner in which Catlin wrote up and protrayed the early AAA seasons 1909-1917, when his HISTORY's early chapters appeared in SPEED AGE between December 1954 and August 1955.

Although I am not aware of even a single individual between 1929 and 1981, who ever questioned the idea that the AAA started their point National Championship division in 1909; as an informed reinforcement, Catlin's HISTORY seemingly settled this issue for all time. For here, in plain black and white, were all the contemporary point distribution charts 1909-1917, as collected and examined by the unquestioned acknowledged expert in the field of AAA's past racing history! Catlin's HISTORY immediately became the "KING JAMES VERSION" of the AAA Contest Board's earliest years, 1909 to 1917. It fooled virtually everybody, including Charles L. Betts, Albert R. Bochroch, Beverly Rae Kimes, William F. Nolan, Bob Russo, and all the members of the vaunted AARWBA.

In the late 1970s, while in the garage area of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a man (Charles C. Bolton) introduced himself to me, who had heard I was investigating the racing history of the AAA. He whispered to me, in the most reverend tone you can imagine, (quote), "I own all the chapters of Catlin's history of the AAA." Apparently he thought it would be of supreme use to me. But it was already way too late, as I had already concluded that all of Catlin's point charts, except for 1916, were of late and dubious origin. However I didn't try to disillusion the man. I told him how valuable they were, but that I already had a copy. Which indeed I did.

Catlin's HISTORY came to an abrupt in the August 1955 issue of SPEED AGE, which covered the year 1917. SPEED AGE itself later claimed it dropped the series because of a lack of reader interest. Catlin himself said that he never received any pay checks for his work, and stopped sending in the monthy installments. I myself was sorry to see the HISTORY end with the 1917 section, and had hoped it would be revived and continued. James O'Keefe somehow came up with a typed copy of Catlin's chapter XIV, which covers 1922, and sent it to me on July 26, 1982. Whether anything more survives or not, I don't know.

About the Catlin HISTORY itself, there were always many stories and rumors. Some said it covered everything up to World War II, and others said it even dealt with the post war AAA seasons. It must be remembered that in 1954-1955 the AAA was still sanctioning the all the Championship races. Others stated that Catlin tried to get the work published as a complete book, but the various publishers always rejected it, saying the writing was too poor. Joe Scalzo once told me that he considered Catlin a very good writer and liked his style. I was always informed by others that Catlin, when someone wrote to him for specific information, generally replied that he was working on a complete history of AAA Championship racing, and would not part with information, copies of documents, or his source material, until the book was published. However far Russ actually got or had completed after the year 1917, I still think some of the now missing portions of his HISTORY might prove to be very interesting reading, especially that for the 1920 season and the 1930s.

MR. CATLIN'S RED HERRINGS. I myself have always felt that sometime in his middle or old age, Mr. Catlin realized that the 1909-1915 and 1917-1919 AAA Championship reckonings were later in date, and not contemporary. With regard to his reconstruction of the 1920 season, i.e. the Kennerdell conspiracy or swindle, I'm not so sure he ever realized his mistake. In any case, I think that Russ didn't want to be found out. To prevent this he engaged in deliberate obscurantism and the creation of numerous red herrings. His defence here had four main aspects or modes.

1. He would inordinately overpraise Val Haresnape and Arthur Means and their activity and doings during 1926-1928. For according to Russ, they had saved and rescued all the AAA records neglected by Kennerdell, and had put them back together in an intelligible order. Yes there might be some nitpicking here and there about what Haresnape and Means had put together, but all later AAA historians owe them a tremendous debt. After all they had to reconstruct the AAA's past with very little to work with. They should be not be criticized for their great efforts and magnificent work, but rather be respected and highly praised.

2. Russ always greatly denignated the use of contemporary newspapers as source material for U. S. automobile racing, saying they were always prone to mistakes, were ill informed, inaccurate, and incorrect. Wouldn't the AAA Contest Board materials and official records themselves be more likely right, true, correct, than the newspapers? (Actually and ultimately, it was the contemporary American newspapers that would do Catlin in. None of them agrees with what Catlin asserts about the real existence of the 1902-1915 and 1917-1919 AAA Championships; nor do they support Russ' contention that in 1920 there originally existed a ten race AAA Championship schedule.)

3. Always an integral part of Catlin's portrayal, story, or survey of AAA history, was the gross incompetence of Mr. Richard A. Kennerdell. Kennerdell had been the AAA Contest Board Chairman, from January 1914 to October 1921, and then served a second term from March 1924 to sometime in mid-1926. For Catlin, Kennerdell was always the arch villain, who had messed up the AAA's past historical records and record keeping. This was the disorder and confusion that Haresnape and Means were trying to correct from late 1926 to 1928. Means even had to "reconstruct" some of the past AAA point charts! Russ implied and hinted that Kennerdell was responsible for the huge AAA race record losses for the 1909-1915 and 1917-1919 AAA Championship seasons. That's why the AAA Contest Board, in the 1940s and 1950s, had very little accurate and contemporary hard core data for the Championship seasons staged during 1909-1915 and 1917-1919. It was probably all Kennerdell's fault!

(Here I would say, Russ was creating a new mythological system to support and hide his own past mistakes. All this myth had been invented, fictionalized, and manufactured by Russ, of course ONLY AFTER, he had realized that Arthur Means had made all the 1909-1915, 1917-1919, and the ten race 1920, AAA point charts. The lack of AAA Contest Board documentation for the Championship seasons of 1909-1915 and 1917-1919, was not the result of Mr. Kennerdell's maleficence, but rather was due to the actual and simple fact, that the AAA did not have or hold a Championship during those years.)

4. And if the above three considerations didn't quite quiet the opponents' doubts or shut him up, Russ would just play hard ball, and asked if the doubter in question was willing to challenge the entire tradition and record keeping efforts of the AAA Contest Board? It is unthinkable that the Contest Board would have been so incompetent. Use your common sense.

So everyone, who had any doubts or who had noticed some contradictions in the data, backed down. Unfortunately, in the late 1970s, Catlin's ploys ceased to work with everybody. Up until then they were always successful, even with the researcher Phil Harms.

5. A possible ploy number five? And lastly, it should be mentioned that Russ Catlin asserted and claimed that he and Norris Friel had saved and rescued all the pre-1932 AAA racing records in 1950. According to Russ they had all been boxed and stored in a Washington, D. C. sewer (!) and were marked for destruction by the AAA Contest Board. Russ stated he gradually carted all this important AAA information home. According to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway press room manager, J. Robert "Bob" Laycock (1914-1995), in the early 1980s Catlin had assured the Speedway, that when he died it was in his will, that IMS would get all these pre-1932 AAA records. But when Russ died in late 1983 the Speedway received nothing. The point here being, it seems to me, would any sane person dispute anything about AAA racing before 1932 with a man who was in possession of all the official AAA race records?

Here is Russ Catlin's own account of the matter. Quote:

"AAA was preparing to move from its historic old Mills Building, at 17th and Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., to its new headquarts one block away. One day Norris Friel, my co-worker, came to me with a piece of startling news. Stored beneath the Mills Building were all the old Contest Board records, reports, correspondence and other trivia from year one. It was all tagged to be burned.

What we saw down there was unbelievable. There were rooms of this material, all boxed, and reaching to the ceiling. We dressed in coveralls and carried a club for defence against the sewer rats and because the rooms were dimly lit we used flashlights. Every box carried a red tag labeled "Burn". We decided it would take years to sort all this material so we worked out a plan to speed things up. When we opened a box and it contained technical information we wrote "Meat" on the outside. If it dealt with people and events we wrote "Bull". Friel was interested in the technical and I in the administration. In that way we worked every weekend for nearly six months.

My treasure trove consisted of confidential reports, letters of applications and letters of appeals from suspension. Barney Oldfield authored at least five of these and they were real tear jerkers. Every sanction carried a report as did every accident and every inspection of a proposed race course. The reports of the board's executive sessions, if printed, would have brought ten thousand libel suits.

Some of this material I destroyed as being too personal. The rest I cross-filed and used to write a history of AAA racing for my own use. Armed with this information I was able, when traveling, to seek people out and quiz them on things I already knew about. More often than not I would shock the individual with my knowledge and out would come the true story. Some had very funny endings."

But what was actually the case and what exactly happened, I don't know. Bob Russo told me in late 1984, that he now owned everything that Catlin had had. Still the evidence for the actual existence of this pre-1932 AAA material and its being saved by Russ in 1950 is, so far, absolute zero. Who has actually seen any of this so-called "saved" pre-1932 material and where is it? Will the present owner of all this pre-1932 AAA evidence please step forward and confirm Catlin's anedote. Or is the whole story, from its very start, just a hoax so Russ could hold everyone off at arm's length?

It is to be noted that reseacher Phil Harms was also under the impression that Russ had all the AAA official records. For on the thread WHICH RACES DETERMINED THE AAA CHAMPIONSHIP? in a posting by Harms on July 19, 2003 he wrote (quote), "Catlin's article on the AAA in Auto Quarterly is very enlightening; He had access to all of the minutes of the secret meetings and when the AAA left racing after 1955, he acquired them." Phil had some direct contact with Catlin and must have gotten this information from Russ himself.

CONCLUSION. That's all I currently know. I hope the above information has proved instructive, useful, and entertaining. It should throw some light on the AAA's most confused and mischievous years, 1902 to 1920. And it is a real irony in this whole situation that the period 1904 to 1915 inclusive, is the most fully documented and recorded era for American motor racing, in the various U.S. automobile trade journals and the daily newspapers. Its just that nobody bothered to look at them, including apparently Russ Catlin.

"History is not history unless it is the truth." ABRAHAM LINCOLN

History should only "Wie es eigentlich gewesen" (show what actually happened). LEOPOLD VON RANKE

"Who does not know that the first law of historical writing is the truth." CICERO

Edited by john glenn printz, 06 February 2012 - 21:10.


#279 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 05:45

JGP,

This needs to be turned into an article and submitted to SAH.

As Fate would have it, I am addressing this issue in the next RVM.

HDC

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#280 Mark Dill

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Posted 04 March 2010 - 22:43

JGP,

This needs to be turned into an article and submitted to SAH.

As Fate would have it, I am addressing this issue in the next RVM.

HDC


Hi Don.

I hate to make a public display of ignorance, but what hell...what do the acronyms SAH and RVM stand for?

Thanks,

Mark

#281 Mark Dill

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Posted 04 March 2010 - 22:45

Can anyone tell me the basics about the 1912 Coupe de l'Ayti race? Was it held in France? For what car classification?

Thanks...

Mark Dill

#282 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 05 March 2010 - 06:53

See the PM I sent you.


#283 john glenn printz

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Posted 12 March 2010 - 14:58

You know (!!!) I think the sixth photograph posted by "JdB" on February 21, 2010 is not Playa dey Ray. It is rather Beverly Hills (the Los Angeles Motor Speedway)!!! I am absolutely certain here. This photo was probably taken in 1920.

It is a very fine photograph however, as are all the others that were posted.

Edited by john glenn printz, 12 March 2010 - 18:28.


#284 Mark Dill

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Posted 13 March 2010 - 00:35

You know (!!!) I think the sixth photograph posted by "JdB" on February 21, 2010 is not Playa dey Ray. It is rather Beverly Hills (the Los Angeles Motor Speedway)!!! I am absolutely certain here. This photo was probably taken in 1920.

It is a very fine photograph however, as are all the others that were posted.


Jeroen and I are working together to publish his photo collection on www.firstsuperspeedway.com. John, I would be honored if you or any of the readers of this forum would visit and share any information you may have through the comments function on my site.

You can find most of the photos Jeroen dates as 1910 at: http://firstsuperspe...ry/category/325

Regards,

Mark Dill

#285 fbarrett

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Posted 13 March 2010 - 01:18

Friends:

I found this terrific photo by Harry M. Rhoads, the great Denver newspaper photographer, in the Western History Department of the Denver Public Library. It shows Barney Oldfield driving a Lightning Benz at Overland Park in Denver in 1910, presumably during the railroad tours made at the time. Having set a 131.724-mph record on the beach at Daytona, this was then the world's fastest car. Can any of you tell me more about the Denver race?

As we know, these "races" were probably rigged, and the car and Oldfield traveled across the US to thrill the rubes. A friend saw a similar event in Seattle. Does a list of such races exist?

Posted Image

Overland Park was apparently a horse-racing track then but was also used for auto racing, at least into the 1930s. Today it's just a quiet golf course along the South Platte River. Harry Rhoads worked for the Rocky Mountain News for many years, and judging by the photos in his archives at the DPL. he must have been a car guy, too.

Frank

#286 Michael Ferner

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Posted 13 March 2010 - 08:34

Jeroen and I are working together to publish his photo collection on www.firstsuperspeedway.com. John, I would be honored if you or any of the readers of this forum would visit and share any information you may have through the comments function on my site.

You can find most of the photos Jeroen dates as 1910 at: http://firstsuperspe...ry/category/325

Regards,

Mark Dill


Posted Image

This picture is from Sheepshead Bay Speedway in New York, I am guessing 1919. In the front row are a Duesenberg (#9), a Hudson (#27) and the Packard of Ralph de Palma. In the background (right) there appears to be a Peugeot, and the #21 on the left is the "Stickle" or "Stickel Special", a Duesenberg/Hudson.

And John is of course right, the "Image of The Week" shows actually Los Angeles Speedway in Beverly Hills. Playa del Rey was not an oval, but a circle, and as its name suggests it was located near a beach!

Edited by Michael Ferner, 13 March 2010 - 08:46.


#287 Mark Dill

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Posted 14 March 2010 - 16:37

Posted Image

This picture is from Sheepshead Bay Speedway in New York, I am guessing 1919. In the front row are a Duesenberg (#9), a Hudson (#27) and the Packard of Ralph de Palma. In the background (right) there appears to be a Peugeot, and the #21 on the left is the "Stickle" or "Stickel Special", a Duesenberg/Hudson.

And John is of course right, the "Image of The Week" shows actually Los Angeles Speedway in Beverly Hills. Playa del Rey was not an oval, but a circle, and as its name suggests it was located near a beach!


Thanks Michael! I have made the suggestions you suggest with a shout-out to you for your help.

http://firstsuperspe...y/playa-del-rey
http://firstsuperspe...rey-areial-view

Mark Dill


#288 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 28 March 2010 - 19:28

Why automobile racing history is hard, very hard....

THE HORSELESS AGE, 22 June 1910, page 916:

"Official Records" from an "Official Organ."
The official organ of the A. A. A., the American Motorist, has a pretty cover on its June issue, and its inner appearance is much improved. Nevertheless, some of the contents in its department headed "Contest Board," bearing the official stamp of that board and designed to make known the doings of that body in relation to contests, are rather startling. Under the head of "Official Records of the A. A. A. Contest Board" — which ought to be fairly accurate — drivers are credited with records in races in which they never drove; the surprising information is conveyed that a race meet took place and records were broken on the Atlanta Motordrome in the spring of last year, before the course was built, and one or two other little errors appear. For instance, De Palma is credited with making a 10 mile record in the 451-600 cubic inch displacement class in November, 1909. At that time this driver was on crutches nursing a broken thigh. Robertson, it seems, is credited with a 20 mile mark in this class which really belonged to the first mentioned pilot.

Furthermore, it is stated that the 50, 100 and 150 mile American records were made at the Atlanta Speedway in May, 1909, at which time the construction of the Speedway had hardly more than begun. November of that year was when these records fell. Certainly, if these are the "official records," the board should do a little revising, or else the printer of the American Motorist should be a trifle more accurate. Of course, since the June number went to press new records have been made which will be credited in due course, and these are not the marks referred to. The subject of accurate records is such an important one, in view of the way certain
manufacturers in the past have issued misleading advertising, that it is not to be looked at lightly. It was promised that under the new regime records, both world's and American, would be kept correctly, something the A. A. A. had failed to do properly in the past. Hence, when the contest board gives its official records to its own organ for publication, and withholds this data from trade papers and newspapers desiring to print the facts, and the "official organ" then goes to work and makes nonsense of it all, doing an injustice to the real record holders, there is room for improvement somewhere.


#289 Michael Ferner

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Posted 29 March 2010 - 10:28

This is a bit of a shot in the dark, but does anybody perchance know Joe Boyer's 1916 qualifying time or average?

The background: this was the first race for Frontenac, and three cars were entered for the three Chevrolet brothers Louis (#6), Arthur (#7) and Gaston (#8). The two older brothers qualified on Saturday, May 27, but Gaston (in what may have been his very first appearance as a driver) was too slow the next day. Arthur then (still on Sunday) took another trial in #8 (which was still allowed that year), but wrecked the engine in so doing. The damage was not very serious, and the car was repaired and allowed to take its third trial on Tuesday morning, the day of the race. Joe Boyer drove the car and reportedly qualified "well within the eighty miles an hour average required", but then Louis broke a crankshaft in #6 while warming up, and took over #8 for the race, starting from the rear. So far, so good.

Most box scores for this race give the qualifying time/speed for Louis Chevrolet in #8 as 1'42.63"/87.69 mph, but that was the exact time for #6, as qualified by this same driver! It would appear very unlikely that Boyer would have matched this time to the one hundredth of a second, and the logical conclusion appears to be that those box scores mixed up the info from Chevrolet's time trial in #6 with the one from #8, in which he took the start! The Indianapolis Star newspaper documented the time trials very diligently, but the info on Boyer's run appears to have been lost in the pre-race hoopla. :(

FYI, here's a table of all the trials as published by the "Star" on May 29:

Posted Image

Missing are the trials of May 29 by Ralph Mulford (1'38.80") and Eddie O'Donnell (1'43.80"), which were reported on May 30 - Delno never qualified. As an aside, pictures show that most published starting grids are also wrong, since Louis Chevrolet's original place on the grid in #6 was left vacant, i.e. only three cars started from row 3. :)

#290 Michael Ferner

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Posted 29 March 2010 - 10:57

Posted Image

I have found a bigger version of this same picture, and I think I can now identify the race: it's the start of the first heat (10 miles) on June 14, 1919. De Palma (Packard #4), Vail (Hudson #27), Milton (Duesenberg #9), and out of the picture are Reynolds (Frontenac #24) and Howard (Peugeot #48), apparently making a flier from the second row which also comprises Resta (Resta #1), Thomas (Mercer #3, hidden behind the Packard) and Hickey (Duesenberg/Hudson #21), and hidden behind Thomas is Mulford (Frontenac #2) in row 3. Milton won in record time (5'20.2") from Mulford, Resta, de Palma, Howard, Thomas, Reynolds, Vail and Hickey. De Palma won the main event that day.

Edited by Michael Ferner, 29 March 2010 - 11:46.


#291 robert dick

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Posted 20 April 2010 - 11:23

Photos of a 300-inch Maxwell engine, 1915/-16, twin-cam head (Ohio Historical Society):
http://ohsweb.ohiohi...AL02925_lrg.jpg
http://ohsweb.ohiohi...AL02936_lrg.jpg

The 300-cubic-inch Maxwell (3 3/4 x 6 3/4 inches) appeared in 1915 with single overhead camshaft and four vertical valves per cylinder, the overhead camshaft being driven by a vertical shaft via helical gears. The engine was designed by Ray Harroun, the winner of the 1911 Indy 500.
But in 1915 or -16 (?) at least one engine was modified and received a twin-cam head.
In the Fall of 1915, the fleet of Maxwell racers was sold to the Prest-O-Lite Co., Indianapolis, with Eddie Rickenbacher/Rickenbacker as team captain. In 1916, the Maxwells driven by Rickenbacher and Henderson were painted white.
The car on the engine photos was dark-coloured.

When did this Maxwell twin-cam engine appear for the first time? Was it designed by Ray Harroun? Was it manufactured by the Maxwell racing department, or in a shop of the Prest-O-Lite Co.?

#292 john glenn printz

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 20:01

NOTE: I've done a bit of tinkering and straightening up on this 1894 to 1920 essay, mostly adding subtitles to it, to make everything (I hope) much more intelligible. I regard the 1894-1920 writeup as an corrective addendum to Russ Catlin's HISTORY (1954-1955) and Griffith Borgeson's GOLDEN AGE (1966). The essay also gives a somewhat different account of Harry Miller's activities 1915-1920, than is presented in Borgeson's GOLDEN AGE and Mark Dee's MILLER book. I've now added a new section at the end entitled "Post-1920 connections between Grand Prix racing and the AAA's U.S. National Championship series". And the relationships between European and U.S. automobile racing 1894-1920 are here, I believe, delineated more correctly and precisely than ever before.

Sincerely, J.G. Printz

Edited by john glenn printz, 05 October 2010 - 15:39.


#293 ReWind

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Posted 10 October 2010 - 15:25

You can find a little bit about the cars of Velie Motors Corp. from Moline, Illinois, if you follow LINK # 1 and/or LINK # 2 and also about its founder Willard Velie.

Additionally from this source we learn that the dates on champcarstats.com concerning factory employee John Stickney are not correct:
His middle name was not Harold (but Henry), he was not born in Illinois (but in New York), and he was not born in 1876 (but in 1885 - and died in 1958).

#294 Michael Ferner

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Posted 05 December 2010 - 17:52

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.


I'm trying to determine when exactly Cliff Durant bought his first two Stutz racers, i.e. the T-head (1911/13 model) and the OHC car (1915 model).

After running the two semi-stock Chevrolets in three races in early 1915, he raced a "Durant Special" in several coast races from November 1915 to April 1916, minimum, and when driving Oldfield's "Duesenberg Cyclone", the "Durant Special" was entered for other drivers like Tony Janette or Teddy Tetzlaff. Could this car already have been a Stutz? If not, what else was it? At the moment, I only have this picture showing the car on the left:

Posted Image

(posted on the Atlas/AUTOSPORT Racing Comments forum without copyright notice, so I suppose it's all right to re-post it here)


In October of 1916, he appeared with a "Stutz Special" at Bakersfield, and promptly won his first AAA main event. Over the next 12 months, he raced the "Stutz Special" several times and with good success, and pictures taken at the 1916 Santa Monica races show it to be one of the early T-head racers. If he ran this same car already before as the "Durant Special", why the name change?

His last race in the "Stutz Special" appears to have been Bakersfield in October of 1917, and two months later at the same venue, he was entered in a "Chevrolet Special", said to be a brand new car, and driven for the first time at Ascot in November. That would be his first OHC Stutz, then. BUT - he was already driving a "Chevrolet Special" in two earlier races in 1917, Ascot on March 4 and Tacoma on September 3! Maybe the Bakersfield people got it wrong, and the "Chevrolet Special" made its first appearance at Ascot in March, not November?

On the other hand, could it be possible that he raced the T-head Stutz under three different names??? I must say that I'm pretty uncomfortable with this scenario, although it's not impossible that the AAA Contest Board would have approved of these name changes - normally, they wouldn't allow it, but it was possible under certain circumstances, which are not always easy to determine without access to the proper sources.

Generally, I feel that the "Durant Special", "Stutz Special" and "Chevrolet Special" must've been three different cars, although it's quite possible they were all originally built by Stutz. The apparent move from the new "Chevrolet Special" back to the old "Stutz Special" for the Bakersfield race in 1917 may be explainable by Cliff trying to "save" his best car for the more lucrative Ascot races.

#295 john glenn printz

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 13:40

A POSSIBLE CLUE ABOUT THE DURANT OWNED STUTZ RACING CARS OR JUST IDLE SPECULATION? Cliff Durant owned at least three Stutz built racing cars, i.e. one 1913 Indianapolis type, and two 1915 Indianapolis type vehicles, none of which were ever raced by Cliff under the Stutz name. Durant raced the 1913 car in the 1916 American Grand Prize race at Santa Monica on November 18. Probably all three of these Stutz racing machines were sold to Durant by Walter M. Brown, who owned a Stutz dealership in Los Angeles. Brown had been directly involved with the Stutz racing team when it raced in the state of California, c. 1913 and 1914.

In 1915, a 1913 Stutz racing car would have been totally obsolete to the Stutz firm itself, as they had constucted new and more advanced racing machines for the 1915 AAA season. Hence the very possible sale of a 1913 car to Durant during 1915. Mechanic, and later driver, Fred Comer (1896-1928), worked for the Walter M. Brown agency as a mechanic before he switched in 1915 to work for Durant on Cliff's racing cars.

I ask, could Comer's job move here have coincided and been directly related to Durant's possible purchase of the 1913 Indianapolis type Stutz from Brown? I can't tell from the Ascot photo whether the car pictured is a 1913 Stutz or the famous Fiat Cyclone.

Edited by john glenn printz, 20 January 2012 - 16:05.


#296 Michael Ferner

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 16:59

I know that the last of the three Stutz cars was sold to Durant by Brown; it was reported in the press at the time (Los Angeles Times, Feb 16, 1919). And yes, I think it's highly likely that Comer came to Durant as part of the deal to buy the first of these cars.

#297 john glenn printz

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 20:55

I have added to and enlarged the "U.S. 1894-1920 (cont.-10)" post of September 30, 2006 (above) by writing brief bios on the four founders of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, i.e. Allison, Fisher, Newby, and Wheeler. Its about all I currently know about them-Printz

Edited by john glenn printz, 18 November 2011 - 21:06.


#298 Michael Ferner

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 11:29

EARLY HARRY A. MILLER HISTORY (?), LATE 1914 TO 1920, AGAIN. I have tried to fathom and reconstruct the earliest doings of Harry Miller, i.e. late 1914 to 1920, with regard to both his racing engines and complete cars. Actually though my ideas here differs in detail from both Griffith Borgeson and Mark Dees, my historical construction is basically very simple and in conformity to all the contemporary sources that I'm aware of. As the most important U.S. racing car constructor ever, I think straightening out Harry Miller's earliest years and ventures is of tantamount importance to all interested parties.

I believe Miller only built three basic types and/or designs of racing motors between late 1914 and 1920: i.e.

(1.) In late 1914/early 1915 Miller made a duplicate copy or two of the 1913 Peugeot EX3 motor for Bob Burman and his sponsor, Louis C. Erbes. Bob had blown his EX3 motor, needed a replacement, and Miller got the job of building a replica. Being a close copy of the EX3 Peugeot engine, it had double overhead cams. Burman used a Miller built 1913 Peugeot replica motor at Indianapolis in 1915, placing 6th; and at Corona on April 8, 1916, where he was killed. This was the first complete motor Miller ever put together and represented an epoch for both Harry Miller and Fred Offenhauser.

(2.) The next and second Miller motor was the single cam 289 cubic inch model, that was to go into the two new racing cars being built at Miller's shop in 1915 and early 1916 for Bob Burman. Probably the order for these two cars originated from driver Huntley Gordon in late 1914 but Burman and Erbes later took over this entire project, in early or mid-1915. The death of Burman in April 1916 prevented their immediate completion, i.e. the two motors and the two cars; but in mid-1917 they became metamorphosed into the new Oldfield and Cadwell, Millers. Harry also sold examples of this 289 design to others who needed just an engine, i.e. it was used in the (1.) 1916 "Erbes Special", (2.) Alley's 1917 "Pan American", (3.) Oldfield's 1917 Miller/Delage, and (4.) the Ogren Special. The "Erbes Special" was the EX3 1913 Peugeot which Burman wrecked at Corona, now equipped with a new 289 single cam Miller motor. It previously had used a Miller replica of the 1913 EX3 Peugeot motor during 1915 and early 1916; and back in 1913 and 1914, it had retained its genuine and/or original EX3 Peugeot powerplant. So there were three different engines in the same exact EX3 1913 Peugeot chassis, covering the years 1913 to 1917; the last two of which were Miller made.

(3.) The third Miller unit or type was the new twin overhead cam 180 cubic inch motor designed for the new AAA 1920 cubic inch 183 limit, to begin at Indianapolis in May 1920. These units powered (1.) Cliff Durant's new Chevrolet "baby", (2.) Eddie Maier's "T.N.T.", and (3.) Barney Oldfield's old 1917 Miller chassis. And also the second and twin "T.N.T." car, if there ever was such. This 180 cubic inch Miller motor proved to be a complete failure and there was no attempt to run it after the 1920 AAA season. Its last try in actual competition was Waldo Stein's No. 5 Miller entry (Oldfield's car or a "T.N.T"?) in the Beverly Hills 250 of Nov. 25, 1920. This Miller No. 5 failed to qualify however. All three types of Miller motors listed above, 1914 to 1920, were four cylinder jobs.

As to the construction of complete cars, there were only four or five during the entire period 1915 and 1920. The first two were the 1917 Millers for Barney Oldfield and A. A. Cadwell. The next two were Cliff Durant's "baby" Chevrolet and the "T.N.T." for brewer Eddie Maier. I think also that Ira Vail's 1921 "Leach Special" and/or Miller, may have been a 1920 "T.N.T." chassis, now however installed with the 181.48 cubic inch, 1921 straight 8 Miller motor, for which Milton and Vail had put up the money in early 1921. So the basic situation here, 1914 to 1920, is not that overly complicated. Obviously too, Miller was improvising in all his racing car and engine building endeavors during 1914 to 1920. Secondary material (Borgeson and Dees), along with incomplete and faulty memories (Offenhauser and Goossen), has greatly confused and mixed up the whole situation, 1914 to 1920, if my reconstructions here are in anyway correct. Anyhow, these are my current thoughts on this puzzling subject.

Dees in his book THE MILLER DYNASTY (Scarsdale, N.Y., 1981) maintains that Durant's "Baby" Chevrolet contained a single overhead cam, driven by a gear train, type motor. I deem this totally incorrect as I believe the "baby"s engine had double overhead cams driven by a chain. Likewise the photograph of a Miller engine, contained on the lower right corner on page 57 of Dees' book, is not that of Durant's "baby" as Dees surmizes, but rather is a picture of the single cam 289, designed and made in 1915/early 1916 for the two Burman/Erbes machines undergoing construction at Miller's shop. And I also revert back to my earlier thesis that the picture contained in the May 1915 issue of MOTOR AGE on page 27, is that of a single cam 289 Miller, that was to go into one of the two new Miller racers then under construction for Burman and Erbes.

Confused? Who wouldn't be...

Compare with the posts, numbers 30, 32, and 42, above.

"When Sigmund Freud (1850-1939) got done analyzing a joke, it was no longer a laughing matter." MODERN ADAGE


I have found an article that made me go back to the early (Harry A.) Miller history as discussed several times in this thread, most notably by John Printz. To start off, here's the article as it appeared under the heading "Sport Sputterings by William M. Henry" in the Los Angeles Times (May 11, 1917):

It's dollars to dandruff that Billy Taylor was the most surprised and excited person at the Uniontown track yesterday after he won the big race. All of which reminds us that this is really Billy's first appearance at the wheel of a speedy car. His Newman Special is a Stutz chassis surrounding the Peugeot-type motor which Harry Miller was building for Bob Burman at the time that the late speed king met death at Corona. Billy's car was stiff and new at Ascot when he made his first appearance a few weeks ago, but even then the pair showed speed. The car looks like a truck, but it can go like Sam Hill and Billy's first victory may be followed by many others.


(My emphasis)

This harks back to the June 1, 1916 article in the same newspaper (as discussed before), which ended in the paragraph:

The motors of the other two cars are copied to a certain extent after the original Peugeot motor and were built by Harry A. Miller of this city.


I note the following:

The "Newman Special" is generally believed to have been powered by a DO Wisconsin engine, namely a copy of the L56 Peugeot that was apparently originally ordered by Burman and his sponsor L. C. Erbes, leading to a law suit over same. This version of the story has been published many years ago by historian Joe Freeman, and has been generally accepted so that the car appears in many modern day box scores as a "Newman-Wisconsin Special", but that name was never used in period, as far as I can determine. It seems that either Freeman or this William M. Henry got it wrong, somehow - let's look at the evidence:

- Billy Taylor was a Californian, and the "Newman Special" first ran in California - in fact, apart from three races in early 1917, it spent its entire "racing career" in California, and was later sold to a party in the Pacific Northwest. Also, it is widely accepted that Earl Cooper, another Californian was the previous owner of the chassis. In the light of this evidence, it appears more likely for a Californian than a Wisconsin engine builder to have been involved.

- The "Newman Special" appears to have been owned by Roscoe Sarles in 1919, who at the time was heavily involved with Miller, driving the Golden Sub at Indy that year.

- Earl Cooper was involved in a serious accident at Corona, just four days before Burman's fatal wreck at the same venue. Reports of the day clearly indicate that Cooper transfered the engine from the wrecked racer to another Stutz chassis. Could the engineless wreck have been acquired by Burman and Erbes right there?

This is all far from conclusive, but it made me think about and reconstruct the early Miller history, tentatively, as follows (my version will draw heavily on previous research done by Mark Dees and John Glenn Printz, for which I owe thanks, but I will also try to close a few gaps in the timing sequence, which to me is unsatisfactory in both accounts):

After severing his links to the Master Carburetor Co. sometime in late 1913 or early 1914, Miller set up shop as the Harry A. Miller Manufacturing Co., commencing with the production of the Miller Carburetor and adding "race shop" work to his agenda, like the manufacture of light alloy pistons. Early customers probably included Huntley Gordon (with his Mercer/Wisconsin mongrel) and Frank Elliott, who drove a hot Ford at the time. Thus, Miller made a name for himself that attracted the "big customers" during the 1914/15 winter season, with both the Kaufman and Erbes Peugeots receiving service in the Miller shop at the time. Kaufman's car, apparently, got new pistons and con-rods for Dario Resta's winning drives in the Vanderbilt and Grand Prize events in February/March, while Erbes and Burman singled out Miller for a more complex job, the one they had initially commissioned Wisconsin to fulfill: the building of "three improved, short-stroke copies" of the Peugeot (see Miller Dynasty, p32). Miller's shop was not quite ready for that kind of engineering job, so they went ahead rebuilding the existing Peugeot engine around a new block, to make it eligible for the new 300 cubic inch formula.

With that one finished in early April, Miller then went into partnership with Silas Christofferson to design and build the SO six-cylinder aircraft engine. Both Christofferson and Miller must've seen this joined project as a practice ground to further their knowledge about the designing, engineering and manufacturing process. Erbes and Burman certainly followed the project with interest, as evidenced by the appearance of the latter in a picture of the completed engine, along with Miller and Christofferson (see Miller Dynasty, p35). Miller's design team probably switched to the Erbes project as soon as production commenced, and the work shop team presumably followed likewise after finishing the job. Evidently, though, Burman soon realized that Miller didn't progress fast enough for a participation at Indy in 1916, and so he joined the Premier effort for that race, all the while hoping that his original enterprise would pay dividends later on. Then came Corona, and the death of the "speed king".

According to both Dees and Printz, Miller's next project after Burman was the SO 289 CID engine that didn't run until the summer of 1917 (with the possible exception of the Ogren/Miller), which I believe is a theory that doesn't hold up, especially not when thought of as the continuation of the Erbes/Burman project (see quote of the John Glenn Printz post above) - that seems an awful long time for the genesis of such a (relatively) straightforward engine; the timing just doesn't fit. Furthermore, like Robert Dick I am firmly of the opinion that the 1915 Motor Age picture shows the rebuilt Peugeot DO engine with the top end removed, and not a single-cam engine. I don't think that, at the time, a single-cam was on Miller's mind, the Christofferson engine notwithstanding - that was "merely" a confidence building job. I also contend that this aircraft engine was "the first complete motor Miller ever put together", rather than the Burman Peugeot which was effectively just a repair job - I very much doubt if Miller and his team manufactured or even redesigned such important items as the crankshaft or the timing gear. It's also noteworthy that the ruling of the AAA Contest Board at Indianapolis in 1915 appears to support this view.

Instead, I believe that the "Peugeot-type" engines under construction at the Miller plant in 1916 were of the DOHC type - what else could have been seen as "typically Peugeot" at the time? About the identity of the chassis, further research is necessary, but it is evident from the wording that we don't need to assume that the cars were "all Miller" - the June 1, LA Times article, for example, mentions at first that "all three cars have been built in the shops of the Harry A. Miller Manufacturing Company", and then later somehow admits that "one of the cars is the Peugeot which was wrecked at Corona" - maybe, one of the others was already the (Newman) Stutz? In any case, it seems that the DO engine project was suffering from unexpected problems, and Miller may have tried to cut some of the losses by building the SO "Iron Four" in the interim. The design probably wasn't that different, just a bit less complex with the SO engine, and it may have convinced the team to go ahead with a series of the simpler engines in order to "get going", while trying to sort out the DO powerplant. This theory leaves us with the question, however, what became of the other "Peugeot-type" engine, and why Miller didn't pick up the DO design after the Newman Special had won at Uniontown. On the other hand, the SO engines for the Golden Sub and the Cadwell car must've been (close to) finished by then, and his next automotive engine project was, indeed, a DO - the 1920 "Baby Chevrolet", which was essentially merely delayed by the war projects Harry worked on in the meantime.

There remain also the intriguing possibilities of Harry Miller involvement in the Ben Hur and Resta Specials, respectively. Apart from Burman's Peugeot, the Miller shop also serviced Barney Oldfield's S-type Delage and Dario Resta's EX5 Peugeot during the winter of 1915/16, according to the LA Times. Shortly thereafter (March), the Ben Hur enterprise was announced in Chicago, with a clear reference to the design of the 1914 Delage - of the four existing cars, three were owned by Harry Harkness, owner of the Sheepshead Bay Speedway in New York, which makes it basically unthinkable that the Ben Hur team (which consisted mainly of members of the Chicago Speedway Association) had had any access to these cars in order to study the design. Which leaves only Oldfield as the potential impetus for this project! The timing, however, ís not really favourable to this theory, if the newspaper reports are to be believed; however, that is a very big "if" knowing the general accuracy of newspaper reports of the time! The Chicago Tribune reported on March 30, 1916, that "a revolutionary type of motor (...) will be submitted to a dynamometer test today", but with the car never even appearing in an entry list until October that statement may well have been somewhat 'optimistic'. In any case, Harry Miller would appear to have been the man to look to when contemplating such an exercise, and the fact that his name was withheld may be seen as a measure to avoid trouble with Erbes and Burman, whose project would or should have been assigned number one (if not sole) priority at the time.

The Ben Hur possibility would also strengthen Miller's link to the Chicago "scene", where two of his engines would end up in very short order, namely those for the Ogren Special and the Pan-American/Bender Special. Tom Alley, a Hoosier who lived and worked in Chicago for years already, was involved with both these efforts, and was reportedly in conference with Miller in August of 1916, possibly even earlier. Looking at Alley's on-track appearances over the years, one notices that he left the works Duesenberg team in August of 1915 to drive a drop-frame Duesenberg for Hugo W. Ogren. In June of 1916, however, Alley left the Ogren team and announced plans to build his own car for the speedways, racing an assortment of (in)different cars for the rest of the year. In the meantime, he was reportedly visiting Harry Miller in Los Angeles during early August, and was the recipient of the "Iron Four" engine in September, yet didn't appear with his own Pan-American/Miller on any race track until June of 1917 - what of that?

Again, let's look at the available evidence: on September 22, 1916, the Chicago Tribune flashed the following news:

Chicago will be represented by two Ogrens in the Vincent Astor cup race to be held on the Sheepshead Bay speedway a week from tomorrow. Andy Burt will be at the wheel of one of the local speed creations, a rebuilt car that Tom Alley campaigned last season, while Otto Henning will be entrusted with a new job that was assembled this week.


Note that in all press snippets that I was able to find, the "Ogren Specials" were ALWAYS refered to as plain Ogrens, and as genuinely Chicago-built cars, with no mention at all as to the real origins of the chassis and/or engine, not even in the plainly evident case of the bog-standard Duesenberg that served them during 1915 and later on (even though the Duesenberg brothers operated out of Chicago in 1916, they had ceased production of the drop-frame chassis by then). So, we are left with a considerable amount of guesswork to be done when discussing these cars; nevertheless, some more or less definite information can be gleaned from period pictures of the cars, as evidenced on page 48 of "The Miller Dynasty", where author Mark Dees dispelled any notions about the 1919 Ogren having been powered by a Duesenberg engine, as published in the leading secondary sources about the Indy 500 for years. Dees correctly observed that the position of the exhaust was all wrong for that to have been true, and further concluded that the engine had to be a Miller.

Luckily, a somewhat fuzzy picture exists of the start of the 1916 Astor Cup race at Sheepshead Bay, which I found uncredited on the now defunct "rumbledrome" site:

Posted Image

And as luck would have it, both the "Ogren Specials" are prominently visible in the foreground, #33 (Otto Henning) and #37 (Andy Burt)! It's impossible to overlook the steaming exhaust sticking out on the left side of #33, and the somewhat Duesenberg-ish bodywork, possibly still unpainted, but that's as far as our eyes will carry us. Basically, the car in the picture matches the description given by Mark Dees ("a straight-frame Duesenberg chassis with a Miller SOHC 289 CID engine"), and with the knowledge that the "Iron Four" had just previously arrived in the Windy City, all the jigsaw pieces fall into place - well, almost all. How does Tom Alley fit into these developments?

A possible explanation could be: Alley contacted Erbes and/or Miller after Burman's death, and arranged to take over one of the "Peugeot-type" cars/engines in the process of being built in Los Angeles. During his visit there in August, he may have learned about the difficulties Miller was apparently experiencing with the DO engine, and was perhaps (literally!) sold by Harry on the idea of owning the "interim solution", meaning the "Iron Four" which was meanwhile taking shape in the Miller shop. Whether this engine was originally devised for the Ben Hur project or not, in concept it was basically identical to the rebuilt engine in the Burman Peugeot, except for the simpler valve gear and the slightly shorter stroke - it may have been drawn and built up quickly and "on the side". Armed with this engine, but possibly without a suitable chassis for it to go into, Alley may then have considered his options for the rapidly closing 1916 season, and brokered a deal with the Ogren group with which he was, obviously, well acquainted - perhaps in the knowledge that Miller had further developments in line, like the "Alloyanum" version of the same engine, or in the hope that the DO engine was going to come around in the end.

When the 1916 championship season wound up in California, there was no sign of Alley, nor did the Ogren and Erbes teams venture west, which is interesting to say the least. A goodly number of the top teams, however, lodged in Harry Miller's shop preparatory to the Vanderbilt and Grand Prize races; amongst them Bill Weightman's Duesenberg équipe and Dario Resta, again. The "Los Angeles Times" had some interesting observations to report on November 8:

(Resta's) Peugeot was sprawled out on the floor of Harry Miller's machine shop and several loving mechanics were carefully protecting it from the public gaze. When a Times photographer attempted to snap a picture of the speedster, the attendant in charge nearly fainted. He hastily bundled the wagon up in a piece of oil cloth and yelled for police to clean out the crowd.


While the demeanour of the shop attendant may have been slightly exaggerated for dramatic effect, an accompanying picture showed the Peugeot bare of its radiator and engine cover, but with a large canvas covering the entire motor - what were they trying to hide? It's not like the Peugeot engine was an unknown quantity on the speedways, nor were its inner workings a riddle to be solved - four of those cars had been in the US for well over a year now, subjected to the curiousity of pressmen, mechanics and engineers alike! However, nothing can be learned from subsequent articles other than that the car was "equipped with one of the new model Miller carburetors", and returned to the Miller shop for a complete tear-down after each of the races. Food for thought, if nothing else...

More precise are the reports about Barney Oldfield's S-type Delage, which the "master driver" had entered in the Vanderbilt and Grand Prize events, and whose ups and downs (mostly the latter) kept the news corps busy for well over ten days (ibid.):

The real feature of Miller's shop, however, is the machine which Barney Oldfield hopes to drive in the coming Santa Monica classics. With one exception this car is ready for the track. This exception is the engine.
Almost the entire force in the shop is working on Oldfield's new speed engine. It is the only thing which threatens to keep the machine out of the race. And most of the engine parts are complete at that. The casting of the crank case is what is causing the trouble. The original casting, which was completed several days ago, did not cool properly and two destructive cracks appeared. Consequently, a new casting entirely had to be made. If this is completed within the next few days the master driver will get in the races at Santa Monica. Otherwise he will sit in the grand stand.


Another (grainy) picture shows Miller and a few of his men "preparing the mould for Barney Oldfield's new crank case". Would that it showed the top end of the engine! Popular wisdom has it that it was an "Alloyanum" SO, and the reports leave hardly any doubt about the (troublesome) nature of its casting material, but could it have been one of Burman's "Peugeot-type" engines, or even the Ben Hur copy of its original power unit?? Be that as it may, the car never ran that month (or winter, for that matter), and was finally withdrawn the day between the two great events on account of a "cracked cylinder casting". No end of casting problems... which recalls a story from "The Miller Dynasty", where Dees remarks that "Ed Winfield, the last man alive to have been employed in Miller's Los Angeles St. plant, told me on two occasions that liner leakage was such a problem in the Aluminum Four that Miller went to a Peugeot-type seperate crankcase and iron block." While acknowledging the fact that this was exactly the layout of the "Iron Four" prototype, Dees fails to draw the correct conclusion, in my humble opinion. Even if the (much) later engine of the Baby Chevrolet was of the same layout, which is doubtful to say the least, this observation, if true, would point to the existance of an "Alloyanum" engine project before the "Iron Four" was built, i.e. to the "Peugeot-type" engines for the Burman/Erbes team! And, it would offer a near perfect explanation as to why this engine project turned out to be so troublesome, and why it took so long to make it to the track! Voilà!

Edited by Michael Ferner, 28 May 2012 - 15:53.


#299 Michael Ferner

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 20:27

Before I continue, can I make a plea for a copy of the original Joe Freeman article that explains the genesis of the Newman-Stutz? I believe that it was originally published in "Automobile Quarterly", but any version will do. I need to evaluate the evidence here, as it's only too possible for the author of the LA Times article to have confused matters; i.e. he may have been told that the engine was originally built for Burman, and made up the Miller part himself. On the other hand, on further investigation, even Griff Borgeson (2nd edition of "Golden Age", p127) mentions a different LA newspaper claiming that engine to have been "the ex-Burman Peugeot"!


Early Miller history, my take (part II):


In 1917, finally, several Miller-engined cars appeared on the tracks, and amongst them two that had been built in their entirety by Miller. It is my belief, however, that these two cars were conceived only in 1917, and not "left-overs" of the Burman project in 1916, or even the Huntley Gordon project in 1915. Earlier reports speak of "cars" when, as is obvious in a few of them, only engines were meant, and that is not at all unusual for the times. Gordon, for example, had only just modified a former works Mercer raceabout into a highly developed special, and may not have felt the need for a costly new chassis; he just needed an engine to conform with the new rules. I also wonder if Miller already had the required staff and tooling to build complete cars before 1917, his chassis repair work and alleged improvements on the Peugeot notwithstanding, as one would think that if he had, he surely would've made use of it in some way or other. But, the cars he eventually turned out in 1917, like all of his engines, bore a certain kind of special Miller ingenuity that is not apparent in any known cars that were around in 1916 or even earlier. And the possibilty that he had all the necessary means to build complete cars in 1915 or '16 already, but that it took him until the summer of 1917 to accomplish it, doesn't really look plausible to me, either. It is my impression from research of his later cars, that it took far less time to build a rolling chassis complete with bodywork, than to build an engine, and I venture to guess that he started no earlier than spring of 1917 on the two Sub-type racing cars, probably right after the casting and possible other problems with the engines were finally solved.

I am also quite certain that the original impetus for the building of the complete cars must've come from none other than cinematographer A. A. Cadwell, who apparently approached Miller with the idea sometime in 1916. Up until then, Cadwell had been campaigning a Marmon (or perhaps even two) in road races and on dirt tracks of the Pacific Coast for himself and other dirvers. Apparently, Miller tried to impress the "Golden Submarine" concept on him, but Cadwell would have none of it, and Harry thus went to one of his already existing customers, Barney Oldfield - a brilliant match, indeed! I would also guess that Barney contacted Cliff Durant (who had driven Oldfield's "Duesenberg Cyclone" in a few events in 1916) for help with the financing, thus providing another important cornerstone of future Miller success - Barney Oldfield, at least as much as Tommy Milton, "made" Harry Miller!

With the Sub-type cars ready for on-track action in the summer, there's still enough time left for the design and manufacture of the V12 aircarft engine and the engine for the Resta Special, if indeed Miller was involved in that, but it would actually be a striking coincidence if not: Miller went east in May of 1918, perhaps with the finished engine in his suitcase, so to speak, and set up shop ten miles from Resta's "HQ" in New York - and by the last of that month, the Resta Special was up and running on Sheepshead Bay! May of 1918 is also an important point in the timeline of events, which I will now try to list in more detail, as up until then Miller ran his machine shop on "full steam", whereas it is somewhat more difficult to ascertain the circumstances after his return to Los Angeles in February of 1919, what with war having negative impacts on the number of employees as well as customers. I will get back to Miller's postwar doings right after this:

N.B. This is an attempt at an approximation of a tabulated list of the ongoings in Harry Miller's shop per month during the years 1915 - '18, with an emphasis on the three departments design (D), manufacture (M) and workshop (W). No attempt will be made at listing events for 1914, as in that year Miller's shop was probably fully occupied with small jobs for numerous customers - carburettors, pistons, con-rods etc. Those jobs probably went on during the following years, filling lulls between the more important projects discussed here. Also keep in mind that Miller's staff probably increased more or less constantly, speeding up processes and opening new opportunities. No reliable information about the number of employees at the time is known to exist, but estimates of a workforce in excess of fifty people in 1916 already are probably not far off the mark.

1915

January: (D) & (M) of parts for both Peugeots, i.e. mainly pistons and con-rods

February: (D) of new block and parts for Erbes/Burman Peugeot, (M) & (W) assembly of parts for both Peugeots

March: (D) as before, (M) of parts for Erbes/Burman Peugeot, (W) assembly of engine around original and repaired block

April: (D) as before, (M) as before, (W) other jobs (?)
Burman wins at Ascot and Oklahoma City with repaired Peugeot engine

May: (D) of Christofferson engine, (M) as before & other jobs, (W) assembly of parts for new block & other jobs


N.B. I think I know now the reason why the new "Burman" engine is pictured in Motor Age (May 13, 1915, p22) and in more recent publications (e.g. Gordon Kirby's "Offenhauser", p14) without its top and lower end - those parts were still in the Peugeot car, together with its repaired original block! Miller repaired the car for Burman to use at Ascot and Oklahoma City with the original 5.6-litre Peugeot block, and shipped the new 5-litre block to Indianapolis in May exactly like the photos show! Burman then disassembled the original engine and rebuilt it around the new block at Indy.

Contrary to an earlier statement of mine, it seems that Miller did manufacture a new crankshaft for the engine, but that doesn't change my point of view of the engine as a repaired Peugeot. Every engineer will tell you that "the head of an engine is the engine", meaning that the means of inlet and exhaust as well as the shape of the combustion chamber are the most important items on any engine. There's no doubt that Miller modified and (probably) improved the engine to a considerable extent, but he didn't (yet) tackle the really important features.


June: (D) & (M) Christofferson, (W) other jobs

July: (D), (M) & (W) Christofferson

August: dto.
Christofferson/Miller plane announced in press, complete with pictures of cylinders and crankcase

September: dto.

October: (D) Erbes/Burman DO engine, (M) & (W) Christofferson

November: (D) & (M) Erbes/Burman, (W) as before & servicing of Oldfield Delage

December: (D) as before, (M) Erbes/Burman & Oldfield, (W) servicing of Resta and/or Oldfield cars

1916

January: dto.

February: (D) & (M) Erbes/Burman DO engine, (W) servicing of Burman Peugeot
Burman signs with Premier, presumably because of problems with the DO design/manufacture

March: (D) DO redesign, SO "Iron Four" and/or Ben Hur (??), (M) & (W) Erbes/Burman DO

April: (D) as before, (M) same, (W) rebuilt of Burman Peugeot

May: dto.

June: (D) & (M) as before, (W) same

July: dto.

August: (D) of "Alloyanum" SO, (M) & (W) as before

September: dto.
"Iron Four" shipped to Chicago

October: (D), (M) & (W) Alloyanum SO

November: (D) & (M) as before, (W) same & servicing of Resta Peugeot
Articel states "approx. 100 people are employed in the (Miller) factory"

December: dto.

1917

January:

Edited by Michael Ferner, 29 May 2012 - 17:54.


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#300 john glenn printz

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Posted 19 July 2012 - 14:58

VEXING MILLER QUESTIONS (?) FOR 1915-1917. In my opinion, there was only a relatively brief gap between Burman's death on April 8, 1916 and the first installation of the new single cam Miller 289 racing motor in a vehicle. With the death of Burman, it took Louis Erbes a while to decide what to do next. Finally the decision was made to rebuild the wrecked 1913 Peugeot and to install a single cam Miller 289 motor in it. The work seems to have been done during late 1916 or early 1917. The car then became the Andy Burt driven "Erbes Special" of 1917. (See the post 119 of June 7, 2008 above.) Erbes at the same time I think dropped further financing of the two still uncompleted new single cam 289 racing cars, but soon Harry Miller got two other sponsors for them, i.e. Arthur A. Cadwell and Barney Oldfield. Such is my best guess.

I certainly would think that a "Peugeot type motor" would have to have and feature a double overhead camshaft layout, but what a possibly uninformed newspaper man (i.e. William M. Henry) would mean by the expression in June 1917, I don't know. There is too much spectulation and too little concrete contemporary info about Miller's doings for 1915 to 1917. The maxim, "Entities are not to be multiplied without necessity" (i.e. Ockham's razor) must always be kept in mind by a historian.

It is still my opinion that the Burman and Erbes had two new single cam 300 cubic inch formula racers under construction at Miller's shop in late 1915 and early 1916. This project, which was already months behind schedule, got halted temporally because of the death of Burman in April 1916. Later these two former uncompleted Burman/Erbes 289 single cam Millers, now abandoned by Erbes, became the Cadwell and Oldfield owned Millers of 1917. I can't "prove it" perhaps, but that is what I think and surmise happened. It seems a reasonable and possible historical scenario to me. Miller had no reputation as an ace race car constructor in 1915, 1916, or 1917; that idea would not arrive until late 1921 with Miller's superior 183 straight 8 motor. In 1921 Harry had the developmental help, ideas, and testing of Frank Elliott, Tommy Milton, and Ira Vail to guide him. In early 1922 he added Jimmy Murphy and Ernie Olson to his list of mentors. All to the good. Wizard Leo Goosen seems to have joined up with Miller in 1919 and Fred Offenhauser began working for Miller in 1913.

In 1916 and 1917 Harry Miller was basically still a carburetur manufacturer but as early 1914 and 1915, as an additonal sideline, he began repairing and updating race cars. The successful repairing of Burman's blown 1913 Peugeot motor in late 1914 or early 1915 was thus an important epoch in Miller's career. It eventually led to the construction of entire cars, which first occurred in actuality, in early 1917. As far as I can fathom, Miller's first attempts to construct complete cars were, in early 1915, one for Huntley Gordon; and in late 1915, two for Bob Burman and Louis Erbes. None of these three was ever completed for, and/or, was delivered to their original sponsors, i.e. Gordon, Burman, and Erbes. The latter two (I think) went eventually to Cadwell and Oldfield, when they supplied the needed money to finish them up. Here Miller was improvising as best he could, to get rid of two unfinished 300 cubic inch formula racing vehicles in his shop.

Initially, when commissioned by Erbes, it seems that Miller bit off more than he could chew as a car builder, and Harry couldn't get the two single cam motored cars ready for Erbes-Burman in time for the early 1916 AAA season or even for Indianapolis in late May. All this took place when Burman was still alive. So Burman was forced eventually to sign with the Indianapolis based Premier team, if he wanted to run in the upcoming Indianapolis 300, held on Memorial Day. But Bob never made it to Indy in 1916, as he was killed in April. Burman's vacant Premier was now given to Tom Rooney (1881-1939) who ran it in the 1916 Indianapolis 300 miler.

I don't think Miller built a double overhead cam motor of his own design until 1919, when he constructed such a motor for Cliff Durant's new "baby" Chevrolet racer. The new 183 formula motor, made for Durant, proved a complete failure and never ran correctly. William Henry's stray, though contemporary statement, is not enough evidence to assert that Miller was trying to build double overhead cam fours during 1916-1917. An offhand and unthinking comment or remark often leads latter to a false reconstruction of the past. To link up Miller with the Ben Hur and Resta specials seems to me even more bizarre. Not everyone was beating their paths to the door of Harry Miller during 1916 to 1919.

As a final note, both Michael and I, will have to hope that more contemporary evidence surfaces, that will shed more light on all these these obscure doings, questions, and variant historical reconstructions.

Edited by john glenn printz, 01 August 2012 - 14:53.