Originally posted by HDonaldCapps
Michael, you have pretty much summed up the problem with "Indy" -- it keeps blocking out the light for the rest of the story. The over-emphasis on Indianapolis has to be the toad in the road for much of American racing history. The clever way the IMS played the media and the American racing scene, along with the fusing of the IMS and the Contest Board in the late Twenties has skewed the way much of the rest of American racing is viewed: generally as irrelevant.
Trying to redress the balance - excerpt from my project "AAA Big Car Racing - The 1933 Season", a defining moment in autoracing history:April 16 (Sun), Alhambra (CA)Exit Carey, Enter MaysTriplets abound, but no sign of Triplett!!!
Whoever it was who devised the PR gimmick of the pair of triplets that pervaded the 1933 Easter programme at the Legion Ascot Speedway, he must have been deeply disappointed at the news that the most important of the Triplet(t)s would not be present! Apparently, a mix-up in communications had led to the White crew pulling the engine out of the monoposto, ready to drop it into the newly built “Floating Power Special” Indy Car fairly well in advance of the 500-mile classic, in the mistaken belief that the 150-mile race at the Oakland Speedway a week hence would be a National Championship affair for two-seaters! Almost unbelievably, the error was detected too late to rectify the situation, and the runaway championship leader had to be posted a non-starter! This, in turn, seemed to reduce the holiday programme to a two-horse race, with the pair of Miller 255-engined cars of Bob Carey and Babe Stapp heavily favoured, but tragedy intervened early in the afternoon, when the Hoosier entered the North Turn on his qualifying run, only to find the throttle of his Marks/Miller sticking wide open, the resulting crash against and over the iron guard rail killing the reigning National Champion within minutes of it happening.
Coming only a fortnight after the Forsyth fatality, and taking a driver from the very top of the pile this time, the accident really shook up the racing community, which went almost numb with grief and carried on its business as if in trance, preparing for what now seemed certain to turn into a distinctly one-sided affair, with Stapp easily outpacing the field in a 26.01” qualifying run, only two tenths of a second slower than Triplett’s daytime record, established in February. With defending Easter Sweepstakes winner Wilbur Shaw also giving the event a miss this year, owing to the fact that Duray’s Miller could not be repaired in time, it was Bill Cummings who took up the challenge in the Helmet Dash, but Stapp had little trouble in romping home a winner in the good time of 53.73”, although quite a bit down on Carey’s record. Still, the Babe established a record of his own, receiving no less than three victory kisses from triplet sisters Marge, Frankie and Marilyn Foster, with honorary referees and triplet brothers Howard, John and Bill Hertel looking on bemusedly!
Class B action then saw Chris Vest, Louis Tomei and George Connor take a five-lap heat race each, with Bob Austin and Guy Deulin, Al Reinke and Frank Suess, as well as Tom Cosman and Art Walker following them home, respectively. Come the start of the main event, and it was Cummings who shot to the front from the outside, leaving Stapp to fend off the other ten drivers, which he did with ease to concentrate his efforts on upsetting the leader. But Cummings held on to his slim advantage with determination, and with the McClurg/Miller in close attention, the pair of them slowly but surely drew away from the field, where most of the action centred around the Fromm/Hispano-Suiza of Rex Mays. Starting from seventh spot, the young Californian soon made his presence felt, as he moved through the pack like the proverbial hot knife and the butter! Going high or low, using even the track apron to the horror of the AAA officials, Mays took position after position, outsmarting some of the best and most seasoned veterans in the business to run as high as third by lap 23 already.
Spurred on by the new threat in his wake, Stapp renewed his attacks on the leader, until he finally slipped by on lap 36. Cummings tried to hold on, but soon lost contact, yet managed to stay clear of Mays, who finally overdid things on lap 70 and nearly spun out. Having built up a bit of a cushion, however, he was able to continue in fourth position, with only Les Spangler speeding by, and soon Mays was on the heels of the De Paolo/Miller, putting the 1932 Championship and Easter Sweepstakes runner-up under intense pressure. Whether it was Spangler’s still delicate physique, or some oversight in the preparation of the car, it doesn’t really matter, but on lap 94 the red car got out of shape and broke an axle, and whether the result of or the cause for the skid, it slowed down the car considerably, with the result that Mays easily re-passed to finish an excellent third, while Spangler was left to virtually crawl home over the last six laps, being relegated to fifth place on the very last circuit by a late spurt of Kelly Petillo. Johnny Kreiger, debuting the new Watson/Miller, the third in the growing line of 255 cid racers, finished a disappointing eighth, far behind the winner with an identical engine, who lowered Carey’s two months old track record by a few seconds, beating Cummings by about half a lap.
Racers have their own way of dealing with disaster, and though it may appear cold and soulless to the outside world, they usually don’t dwell upon it and go on with their business before long. So it was that the Marks crew headed home for Indiana, preparing to repair their potent monoposto and on finding a new chauffeur for their Indianapolis entry, while seemingly everyone else left the speedway premises with a feeling of having witnessed something special. The triplet gimmick had been neat, and Stapp had taken a well deserved and popular win, but it was Rex Mays the 7,500 fans were talking about on their way home – a new star was born, as if to make amends for a total eclipse. Rest in peace, Robert Elwood Carey.Easter Sweepstakes, Legion Ascot Speedway, 100 laps (101 km)
1 E. G. Stapp (CA), McClurg/Miller (McClurg), 45’37.0” (132 kph)
2 W. C. Cummings (IN), Sparks/Miller (Sparks & Weirick)
3 R. H. Mays (CA), Fromm/Hispano-Suiza (Fromm)
4 C. M. Petillo (CA), Ward/Miller (Ward)
5 L. Spangler (IN), De Paolo/Miller (De Paolo)
6 S. Palmer (CA), Miller (Cantlon)
How do you like it?