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#1 DCapps

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Posted 11 February 2017 - 17:31

"Among historians, revisionism means nothing more than asking questions of new information or new questions of old information." -- Robert Post, Who Owns America's Past? The Smithsonian and the Problem of History (The John Hopkins University Press, 2013), 286-287.

 

Given the often rather harsh, even vitriolic way in which the term revisionism is viewed within what might constitute the auto racing history community*, coming across this bon mot by Post made a recent remark by a writer on the F1 series, who has an undergraduate degree in history, even more amusing. This unnamed writer essentially tossed off the notion of scholarly history, with its shifting interpretations and revisions or different ways of viewing the past among scholars as being little more than, in his words, "intellectual masturbation." He is, of course, certainly entitled to his opinion, but this lowly opinion of history and historians in general  appears to shared by many, far and wide, across the spectrum, if you will.

 

Why does revisionism tend to be seen as an epithet among the auto racing history set?

 

Of course, this viewpoint is shared with various other communities, as the furor over the Enola Gay exhibit at the Smithsonian in the 1990s suggests, this clash between who controls the past being a never-ending one.

 

 

 

* One could suggest that "history" in this instance of its use tends to be defined in only the most general use of the term, not necessarily as academic scholars might otherwise define their use of the term. As it was once observed, "Writing about the past is not the same as writing history." (In this instance, Professor Richard Mandel, c. 1972.)



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#2 Muppetmad

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Posted 11 February 2017 - 17:57

As a lover of history, I myself am intrigued by this topic. As you note, there does seem to be a stark divide between scholastic and lay approaches to revisionism. To put it briefly (and fully recognising that this paints with broad strokes - there's a lot of nuances I'd like to add to this if time permitted), this perhaps stems from different perspectives on epistemology: scholars are often receptive to shifting conceptions of "truth", which may be a multiform beast and which any scholar worth their salt will recognise is a construct of human perception. Meanwhile, there is what we might call a normative trait of heterogeneous lay perspectives that "truth" is a monolithic entity external to human perception and intransigent to change; therefore, revisionism can be seen here as a subversion of a sole external, immutable reality.

 

So, I'd say the different meanings of "revisionism" reflect different audiences with different interests and approaches to historical phenomena.


Edited by Muppetmad, 11 February 2017 - 18:01.


#3 Allen Brown

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Posted 11 February 2017 - 18:52

That's not always what "revisionism" means.  It can also mean placing a new interpretation on well-known facts to fit in with the author's political agenda.  Or it can mean forcing facts to fit into a particular framework.  That sort of revisionism can be seen as unnecessary fiddling or as a breath of fresh air, depending on the viewpoint of the reader.  

 

I've just torn up much of my page on 1967 Gerhardts because I've found that there was one (maybe two) hybrid 1966/67 cars that do not fit the nice neat framework I had developed.  If that is revisionism, then I'm guilty and have no plans to change my ways.  However, if you want to call the Surtees TS5 a Leda LT17 because you have a Len Terry world view, then I think you're trying to impose your agenda on history, and I will argue against you.  

 

By the way, is there really an "auto racing history set"?

 

 

For the record, I am not aware of anyone who wants to call the Surtees TS5 a Leda LT17.



#4 Vitesse2

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Posted 11 February 2017 - 20:17

That's not always what "revisionism" means.  It can also mean placing a new interpretation on well-known facts to fit in with the author's political agenda.  Or it can mean forcing facts to fit into a particular framework.  That sort of revisionism can be seen as unnecessary fiddling or as a breath of fresh air, depending on the viewpoint of the reader.

I'm sure Don would agree with that, Allen! But I'm sure you'd agree that there are many myths which have made it into motor racing history and which are now near-impossible to eradicate.

 

In my own researches, which are currently focussed on a fairly narrow time period (1938-46) I am trying, as far as is possible, to go back to original sources, as I've found that they have often been simply ignored or not pursued with sufficient vigour. British writers seem to have relied almost exclusively on either their own memories (I always bear in mind that the diplomat Duff Cooper called his memoirs Old Men Forget) and/or just one source (usually Motor Sport or The Motor or The Autocar or Light Car) - there is seldom any attempt to contrast or compare even within those four, let alone foreign-language press reports, however authoritative. Obviously the internet has made this immeasurably easier, but it appears that most people have been loath even to cross the Channel, let alone venture further!

 

Like it or not, some of the 'accepted history' is just plain wrong and/or contradictory, simply because it comes from supposedly trusted and reliable sources. Usually written by 'the right sort of chap'. ('History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it' - WS Churchill)

 

And when you look at it in more detail, admittedly with the advantage of hindsight, those errors and contradictions often stick out like a sore thumb. You will never, for example, find a word of criticism of Brooklands in Bill Boddy's writings. Nor in John Bolster's. Yet if you look at their descriptions of what happened to the track and its sale to Vickers Armstrong (in Boddy's Brooklands; a History and Bolster's Motoring is my Business) you find a version which fits their narrative that what Bolster calls "dear old Brooklands" could have been revived by 1947 at the latest and continued as before. Reports in The Times and The Guardian, not to mention a photo essay in The Motor, reports in The Autocar and a newsreel film made by Earl Howe in January 1946 give a completely different picture - the estimate at the time was that even if the money had been available (it wasn't - the 1935 company formed after Lady Locke-King relinquished it had never made a profit and virtually none of its shares had been sold!) it would take at least five years and in any case the government would still have had the option of buying the site at 1939 prices - less than the price Vickers-Armstrong actually paid. Even Boddy himself had cast doubt on its future in 1942 in Motor Sport - something he doesn't mention in the book. Google Earth has historical imagery from 1946, showing the enormous gap which had been cut in the banking and - like the newsreel, which also shows several maturing trees sprouting from the banking - the several factories built on the track. Oh, and the remains of an enormous bomb crater near The Fork! Boddy also bemoans its loss as a standard test track, but even before the war the industry had been looking elsewhere, having seen the likes of Lingotto, the Opelbahn and Dearborn in action.

 

I could provide many other examples, but the one currently in my mind is the deaths of Jean and Ettore Bugatti. I've recently found on Kindle a book on Bugatti by Boddy, published by Sports Car Press in 1960. Its description of Le Patron's declining years is very much at odds with WF Bradley's in his biography of Bugatti - as is the account of Jean's death. Boddy claims that the cyclist involved was a postman and was riding down the centre of the road, whereas every other version I've read says that the cyclist (possibly drunk) emerged from a side turning. I shall shortly be going back to look at contemporary French press sources - thank you Gallica!

 

Now, if that's 'intellectual masturbation', then I plead guilty, your honour!



#5 DCapps

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Posted 11 February 2017 - 22:26

That's not always what "revisionism" means.  It can also mean placing a new interpretation on well-known facts to fit in with the author's political agenda.  Or it can mean forcing facts to fit into a particular framework.  That sort of revisionism can be seen as unnecessary fiddling or as a breath of fresh air, depending on the viewpoint of the reader.

 

Those are constructs of revisionism that lie outside the realm of scholarly historians, reflecting the sort of viewpoints that are reflected within the realms of personal and political opinion or orientation, such as Newspeak and "alternate facts," not to mention that of buff historians. So, no, I do not agree Allen's remarks at all as they might relate to the use of the term as historians might use it.

 

If the Leda LT17 was indeed the basis for the Surtees TS5, would not mentioning this be a form of the very "political revisionism" you appear to deplore, forcing facts to fit a particular framework, in this case, one influenced by an author's "political" agenda?

 

Taxonomic frameworks that allow for what are perceived to be anomalies by being rethought and perhaps changed simply reflect the sort of revisionism that historians often face, that new information raises new questions that need to be addressed. This is the sort of contextual nuance that creates a new interpretation of the past. To paraphrase Barbara Tuchman: "While research might be endlessly seductive, conducting the analysis and developing interpretations is hard work, not always cooperating and often truly messy."

 

As for Richard's point regarding "accepted history," alas, the more one looks, the more one begins to ask questions regarding that "accepted history." There has long been a tendency to defer to what he correctly suggests as being "the right sort of chaps" when it comes to what we might loosely refer to as "auto racing history," usually someone from, shall we say, Airstrip One, who formed one of the core constituencies of that field, the other constituency being across "The Pond" and characterized by someone such as Russ Catlin, for example. Richard's examples only begin to scratch the surface of the issue. There is also the related issue of the lens through which this "accepted history" has been projected, there being views of scribes from the perspective of Airstrip One, for example, tend to be either dismissive or uninterested in aspects that "the right sort of chap" should not be bothering with, especially all the "political" stuff behind the scenes.

 

Perhaps, there is simply a huge gulf between (scholarly) historians and how buff historians and those only interested in the nostalgic aspects of the past view that past, one that seems no closer to being resolved than it was 17 years ago.



#6 Jim Thurman

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 02:26

Don, there are many, many issues you've brought up here and it's quite worthy of thoughtful discussion, but there seems to be a blurring of lines, not seeing the forest for the trees and throwing of both baby and bath water with some of the usual broad stereotyping of different groups (well, maybe not that broad in some cases :) ).

 

For starters, before I could comment on this particular writer you refer to, he would have to be named and I would have to see precisely what it was he wrote in full context. And, even then, I hardly believe this one writer (or some others you've dealt with) are representative of the opinion of all motorsport writers. Same for the blanket covering of "buffs" and the "nostalgists." The "buffs" might be considered more "enthusiasts." It only takes a curiousity and interest for an enthusiast to become whatever perjorative term you want to use. I know, because I once was one. I assume the same applies to Michael as well. Nostalgists are a bit of a different kettle of fish, but even they don't share a common brain or unanimous belief.

 

When it comes to why "revisionism" is considered such a negative term by the "nostalgists" category, Allen is spot on in his assessment, as is Muppetmad. This is particularly true if you're referring to some folks at a certain other forum/message board. A subset of those folks don't like change of any kind and view any change to their accepted knowledge as someone taking it away from them. This gets them more than a bit upset. I hate to say it's solely down to or simply reflects their political viewpoints, but it might be solely down to that. They can't accept change and react badly when confronted with it, viewing it as "revisionism" in the negative sense.

 

I'd truly like to get to the bottom of the real issues at that other forum. I certainly have made the effort to have an open dialogue, but rarely get any response. They slink off into the shadows until you, Michael or I come in to correct and then throw their spitwads and take their little potshots. All of which we're apparently supposed to ignore, because if we reply in kind, they get very upset. I'm of the belief that some truly hope to drive us from that forum so they can rule their roost unchecked. I hate to play pop psychologist, but since they won't do any self-assessment, I think there are signs of anti-intellectualism on display there. They view anyone "smart" or knowledgeable as making them look "dumb" and for some, it might even remind them of teachers or parents verbally, or even physically, abusing them over their shortcomings. So, they take it personally and deeply. Recently one poster kept sniping at me for bringing facts into a discussion and then replied: "No one wants to be told what to think." Let that sink in for a moment. Also, see the last U.S. election and the cries of one side against "the elites." Let that too, sink in for a moment.

 

Of course, all of this is taking the anti- sentiment at that forum far too seriously, because if you or Michael said the sky was blue, I can think of a couple of posters there that would insist it was green. Despite the open hostility shown at times towards you, Michael and myself, there are several people there who seem to appreciate our input and a few more seem to step forward after each go-round. So, I do not agree with your blanket assessment of all parties in any of these groups, even disheartening as it all can be. There are always exceptions, both good and bad. That applies to writers, buffs, enthusiasts, nostalgists and, yes, even historians.


Edited by Jim Thurman, 12 February 2017 - 21:29.


#7 ReWind

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 07:44

... before I could comment on this particular writer you refer to, he would have to be named ...


Joe Saward, it seems.



#8 Stephen W

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 09:50

There have to be at least two versions of "revisionism". One that sees history change as more period documentation is unearthed or suddenly a car emerges from a barn or garage that changes the way we look at a particular model or series of models. The second where an 'historian' moulds history into the shape he wants so it fits with his agenda.

 

Of these the first has to be embraced but I can understand that some people may be upset. This may be because their picture perfect view has been shattered or that they suddenly have a less valuable car than they thought! As for the second then that sort of revisionism must be opposed for if it is not then future generations will be ill served by the twisted views.



#9 Michael Ferner

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 10:44

If this thread is supposed to be about Revisionism, we should perhaps, in the best scholarly tradition, define what we all understand as the meaning of that word. There is one in colloquial English, which can be looked up in any number of dictionaries, and is pretty consistent with what Allen wrote in his post. If there is another meaning of the word in the academic world, and I for one was truly unaware of that prior to reading your OP, then I suppose it will be difficult to get your point across in this non-academic environment. That said, a number of interesting observations have already been made, notably by "Muppetmad" and Jim Thurman.

In a way, we're all guilty of fitting facts into a particular framework to suit our agenda. I know I am. Truth, as "Muppetmad" has correctly identified, is not a "monolithic entity", yet it's not a futility either. My agenda is then, to identify where interpretations of the past are a hindrance to the act of understanding what actually happened, the multi-layered actions of a multitude of persons that ultimately shape "history". All too often, it's easy to overlook one particular strand of activity because you're so enamoured with another that you can't see the forest for the trees. This is a particular problem with motor racing history, as there's a definite tendency to view the world through the eyes of the drivers alone, and ignoring the complex web of interests of car owners, mechanics, track owners, promoters, officials, sponsors, spectators and so on. There's so much more to racing than the chequered flag, and it baffles me at times how people can ignore all that intricacy, and still enjoy the sport. But they do, and it's something we have to deal with.

Edited by Michael Ferner, 12 February 2017 - 11:12.


#10 Vitesse2

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 11:51

There have to be at least two versions of "revisionism". One that sees history change as more period documentation is unearthed or suddenly a car emerges from a barn or garage that changes the way we look at a particular model or series of models. The second where an 'historian' moulds history into the shape he wants so it fits with his agenda.

 

Of these the first has to be embraced but I can understand that some people may be upset. This may be because their picture perfect view has been shattered or that they suddenly have a less valuable car than they thought! As for the second then that sort of revisionism must be opposed for if it is not then future generations will be ill served by the twisted views.

Good points, Steve. To introduce a musical analogy, perhaps one could say that both Don and Allen are singing from the same sheet, but each in a different key? Don's concentration is primarily on events, followed by how the people and machinery fit in to those events, whereas Allen's is primarily on the machinery and how its story is influenced by the people and - to a lesser extent - events.

 

(In this context I am using 'events' in the broadest sense, taking in what happened in the wider world, rather than just individual competitions. Motor racing history - and indeed sporting history in general - tends to exist within its own bubble, ignoring the wider world, but I find that the more you dig down into the subject rather than skimming across the surface, the more little gems you can unearth.)

 

If this thread is supposed to be about Revisionism, we should perhaps, in the best scholarly tradition, define what we all understand as the meaning of that word. There is one in colloquial English, which can be looked up in any number of dictionaries, and is pretty consistent with what Allen wrote in his post. If there is another meaning of the word in the academic world, and I for one was truly unaware of that prior to reading your OP, then I suppose it will be difficult to get your point across in this non-academic environment. That said, a number of interesting observations have already been made, notably by "Muppetmad" and Jim Thurman.

In a way, we're all guilty of fitting facts into a particular framework to suit our agenda. I know I am. Truth, as "Muppetmad" has correctly identified, is not a "monolithic entity", yet it's not a futility either. My agenda is then, to identify where interpretations of the past are a hindrance to the act of understanding what actually happened, the multi-layered actions of a multitude of persons that ultimately shape "history". All too often, it's easy to overlook one particular strand of activity because you're so enamoured with another that you can't see the forest for the trees. This is a particular problem with motor racing history, as there's a definite tendency to view the world through the eyes of the drivers alone, and ignoring the complex web of interests of car owners, mechanics, track owners, promoters, officials, sponsors, spectators and so on. There's so much more to racing than the chequered flag, and it baffles me at times how people can ignore all that intricacy, and still enjoy the sport. But they do, and it's something we have to deal with.

The OED has two current definitions for Revisionism:

 

 1. The policy or practice of revision or modification; departure from the original interpretation of a theory, etc.; esp. the revision of Marxism on evolutionary socialist or pluralist principles (as opposed to its original revolutionary principles). From the early 20th cent. the term was applied (usually in derogatory sense) to the critique of the theoretical premises and political strategies of Marxism put forward in the 1890s by German political thinker Edward Bernstein (1850–1932), who argued that it was possible to move towards socialism by electoral, collaborative, and other gradual means—an idea rejected by orthodox Marxists. In later use also applied to other reinterpretations and modifications of communist or socialist theory.

 

 2. The theory or practice of revising one's attitude to a previously accepted situation or point of view; spec. (orig. U.S.) a movement or process involving the revision of an established or accepted version of historical events

Ignoring the obviously irrelevant Marxism references, I would suggest that Allen's definition is closer to sense 1, while Don's is closer to sense 2.

 

Taking up your point about 'guilty of fitting facts into a particular framework to suit our agenda.' Yes - I'm sure we're probably all guilty of that. But you have to always be aware that the framework - and it's sometimes a framework built by someone else - may have faults and be prepared to - if necessary - repair it, modify it or even tear it down and rebuild it from the ground up.



#11 DCapps

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 17:27

"Among historians, revisionism means nothing more than asking questions of new information or new questions of old information." -- Robert Post, Who Owns America's Past? The Smithsonian and the Problem of History (The John Hopkins University Press, 2013), 286-287.

 

 

This is the operational definition of "revisionism" offered by Post and the one that I would suggest that best fits how the vast majority of trained historians, those with academic appointments as well as the Independent Scholars, actually go about their studies.

 

The formal study of the past, history, has evolved rather dramatically since at least the latter decades of the 19th Century. Aspects of the past have been examined and reexamined and reexamined once again in some cases. When I began my graduate studies 45 years ago, the study of topics such as gender, sex, sports, and whole gamut of other topics were still considered part of what was then considered as "Radical History," with rumblings regarding the very nature of how to study the past present around the globe. It was not until 1960 that the first dissertation on a sports topic was accepted by an American university, Harold Seymour's (and, to be fair, his wife Dorothy Seymour's since she did a significant amount of the work as his researcher) work on baseball. Richard Mandell, one of my former professors, wrote a book on the 1936 Olympics (The Nazi Olympics, 1971), one of the few monographs on sports history at the time, something that he got away with given that its topic was on the Olympics, a topic which was deemed to transcend "mere sport."

 

Social history, oral history, cultural history, the history of technology, sport history, and so on have all emerged as accepted fields of historical study and inquiry within roughly the past half century. The notion of "history from below," which we generally include in our historiography classes, is usually attributed to E.P. Thompson's, The Making of the English Working Class (1963), just as one of the catalysts for the development of the field of the history of technology was Thomas Kuhn's, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), the monograph which introduced the term "paradigm" to the lexicon.

 

My field, military history, was in largely in disarray at the time, for any number of reasons, in large part thanks to its devotion to nostalgia (for example, memoirs), deference to "history from above," and resistance to reevaluating the past (revisionism). By the latter 1980s/ early 1990s, this was in being successfully challenged, both in the USA and elsewhere.

 

An interesting unintended consequence of the changes and shifts in the study of history over the past half dozen decades has been what I would suggest as an often better level (a subjective term, of course) of "general history" being produced in various fields, with context, nuance, and other aspects of events being incorporated in such works; some now even include notes regarding the sourcing of statements.

 

Left almost literally on the fringes four decades ago, sport history slowly gained scholarly recognition, but even so, it still somewhere down on the bottom rungs of Clio's domain. Recently, Amy Bass (College of New Rochelle) suggested in her review of the field of sport history in The Journal of American History (June 2014) that sport history should embrace what she termed the "cultural turn" in historical studies as a means of moving more into the mainstream. Needless to say, motor sports never got a mention in either the main article or in the supporting comments. This would suggest that, to no one's surprise, motor sport history is down on the bottom rungs of a bottom rung field. Time and again, any mention of motor sports in monographs on sport history are fleeting at best, often mentioning the same subjects -- the Indianapolis 500, NASCAR, Formula 1, and demolition derbies(!) -- time and again.

 

So, what?

 

That the history of motor sport has largely been left to buff historians and enthusiasts is simply a matter of there being a void, these people then stepping in to fill it. In some cases, their work has been little short of disastrous, but there are other cases in which their work has been exemplary, ranging from the hands-on to the sorting through musty archives, both resulting in excellent work. Yet, this field is pretty much where other fields of historical inquiry were a half dozen or more decades ago, much as the ant frozen in amber. Slowly, very slowly, the number of Independent Scholars and academics joining the journalists, enthusiasts, and buff historian doing work in the field of motor sport is beginning to grow. I have been encouraging others to consider framing the way forward as, The Cultural Turn Meets the First Turn. This takes us back to Robert Post's definition of revisionism, one that suggests that the asking of questions is in and of itself a form of revisionism, such as looking anew at artifacts, wondering why the emphasis on personalities, even expressing curiosity as why the infrastructure of the sport appears to garner little interest, as just a few examples.

 

At any rate, several of us now think that down the line that the people who will have the opportunity to "save" the study of motor sport once the buffs and enthusiasts begin to die off and fade into the shadows just might be -- or, perhaps, will be -- the scholars.



#12 cabianca

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 22:31

It would seem revisionism is part and parcel of U.S. life. In the last few days, Yale has decided to change the name of one of its residential colleges because it is named for white supremacist, John C. Calhoun. It will henceforth be named for Grace M. Hopper, a Yale graduate (PhD) who rose to become a Rear Admiral in the Navy and a pioneer in software development. The question becomes, is this revisionism, because the dude the place was named for in 1933 is still the same guy they buried in 1850. My hope is that the stained glass window that depicts him will not also be removed, and if it is, carefully.

 

On a more on-topic discussion, motor racing is another matter. It hasn't been around very long by historic standards and new material is constantly being discovered. I am presently working on a project concerning hundreds of historic documents that have not been seen for years. Many of them contradict what has been written in a car book and then repeated in other books over the years. I am looking forward to correcting the historic record with documentary evidence. It seems to me that this is necessary "revisionism".



#13 DCapps

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 00:50

It would seem revisionism is part and parcel of U.S. life. In the last few days, Yale has decided to change the name of one of its residential colleges because it is named for white supremacist, John C. Calhoun. It will henceforth be named for Grace M. Hopper, a Yale graduate (PhD) who rose to become a Rear Admiral in the Navy and a pioneer in software development. The question becomes, is this revisionism, because the dude the place was named for in 1933 is still the same guy they buried in 1850. My hope is that the stained glass window that depicts him will not also be removed, and if it is, carefully.

 

On a more on-topic discussion, motor racing is another matter. It hasn't been around very long by historic standards and new material is constantly being discovered. I am presently working on a project concerning hundreds of historic documents that have not been seen for years. Many of them contradict what has been written in a car book and then repeated in other books over the years. I am looking forward to correcting the historic record with documentary evidence. It seems to me that this is necessary "revisionism".

 

In the first instance, Calhoun Hall at Yale, it might be suggested as being more akin an instance of "presentism" rather than "revisionism," suggesting yet another of the issues that is constantly being grappled with by the community of scholars. It also suggests that the running gun battle over "who owns the past" has another component. One could suggest that the Calhoun buried in 1850 and for whom the hall was named in 1933 is not the "same person" today; his legacy in 1933, when the Particular Institution and its defenders tended to hold sway in how Calhoun and others like him were interpreted, those interpretations now being quite at odds as to how Calhoun and others are viewed today, much as the Dunning School has been discredited. A century and a half after his death, the role of Calhoun, his followers, and their role in the circumstances that led to the War of the Rebellion are seen as being quite different than they were in 1933, an era when white supremacy, segregation, and Jim Crow were commonplace, even within the academy. Personally, I have no problem with the name change, Grace Hopper being more the sort of person to emulate than Calhoun, even if as close I have even gotten to Yale was using a Yale lock.*

 

In the second instance, this certainly aligns with the definition that Post offers and an excellent example of how historians might actually view "revisionism." Motor sport history appears to be a very rich environment for such work.

 

 

 

* Full Disclosure: An exaggeration, given that I have attended attended several conferences held at Yale University. In addition, I did attend a luncheon where Grace Hopper was the guest speaker and was impressed to no end with her during our short conversation after the luncheon. Then again, given the continuing struggle for ownership of the past, Calhoun seems to be making a comeback in certain quarters.



#14 PCC

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 15:49

The question of why motor racing history, unlike many other previously marginalized topics, hasn't gained much traction as a topic of academic study is an interesting one. It could be because not enough work has been done to place the sport within a broader historical and cultural setting. Uncovering what happened in the past is just part of the job; an academic would also be expected to explain the significance of the event in terms that make it historically illuminating, rather than interesting only to those who love racing (I don't know, Paris-Dakar analyzed through a postcolonial lens, anyone?). I am completely ignorant of the scholarly literature on racing, so perhaps more of this has been done than I realize. But most of what I have read on racing history is clearly aimed at people who would rather be watching races than studying history. That's not a criticism, just a possible explanation for the subject's lack of academic presence.

 

Another possible reason is the academic 'market'. Emerging academics tend to pursue research that is likely to impress peer-reviewers and grant juries, which, paradoxically, entrenches a rather slow-moving conservatism in a field which also depends on revisionism (in Post's sense) for its oxygen. Seismic change does occur, as Don points out, but it can take decades.



#15 Vitesse2

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 17:46

Paris-Dakar is actually a very good example of what could be done, Peter. Its roots are in the work of a French army engineer officer called Meynier, who started as a humble lieutenant, proving and mapping routes across the Dark Continent before the Great War and eventually retiring as a general. He inspired a group called the Amis du Sahara (whose quarterly journal is available on Gallica). There were other parallel projects in the 1930s - John Duff proposed a race from Algiers to the Cape in 1934, Louis Gérard failed in an attempt to do London-Cape Town in late 1938 (only got to Tanganyika before giving up - fun story!) and then Humfrey Simons did a run from London to Cape Town in early 1939, There were also road races from East Africa to the Cape, rallies across the Sahara and probably much more. It could make a fascinating history, but of course much of the source material is only available in French.



#16 DCapps

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 19:14

Car racing remained a significant sport in the 1920s, but the automobile's primary role in sport was mainly transporting fans to ball games and golfers to the links. -- Steven A. Riess, Sport in Industrial America, 1850-1920, Second Edition (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013), 44. Bernard Brommel Research Professor, emeritus, Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago, editor, Journal of Sport History.

 

Difficult to determine just how Riess determined that car racing was a "significant sport" given the scarcity of attention he devotes to it in this monograph, a total of three paragraphs on pages 43 and 44, out of 273 pages of text.

 

This rather typical of what one finds in the sport history monographs written by academics. At least in this case Riess spared us the usual recitation of ABC's Wide World of Sports and demolition derbies, which he and others seem to think sums up motor sport history, along with a paragraph or so, at most, on NASCAR, along with the obligatory mention of the 1911 Indianapolis 500 mile race.

 

Barbara J. Keys (University of Melbourne) manages to only mention Bernd Rosemeyer in passing (119) in her monograph, Globalizing Sport: National Rivalry and International Community on the 1930s (Harvard University Press, 2006), in which an entire chapter is devoted to a discussion of National Socialists and their use of international sport (Chapter 5, Dictatorship and International Sport: Nazi Germany), with boxing and football being the focus, along with the Olympics (the focus of the next chapter, the 1936 games). The only mention of motor sport in the entire monograph is that Rosemeyer and boxer Max Schmeling were friends. That said, Keys does provide a larger context within which to place the efforts of Auto-Union and Daimler-Benz in order to develop a better perspective of the role of sport during this period.

 

This is, I am afraid, a rather telling comment: "It could make a fascinating history, but of course much of the source material is only available in French." That many here and within the community of scholars are capable of at reading and comprehending another language is commendable (alas, my language skills have largely ossified, but I still manage at times to wade, albeit slowly, through the books in my collection in languages other than English).

 

I would suggest that, without exception, most of those here are certainly bright, intelligent, and highly capable people (certainly more so than me, I would suggest). Far more than a few here have produced excellent material wrung from their research efforts. Indeed, this subforum easily contains far more scholarship on motor sport history than can be found literally anywhere else on the planet. My prodding and poking here is to either provoke some of the thinking that is generally and conspicuously absent on such fora or at least have some thoughts begin to percolate that there is more to this than, well, nostalgia. Peter is correct that this is a game of long duration, that change is, to be polite, glacial. However, you have to start somewhere....



#17 cabianca

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 20:39

The question of why motor racing history, unlike many other previously marginalized topics, hasn't gained much traction as a topic of academic study is an interesting one. It could be because not enough work has been done to place the sport within a broader historical and cultural setting. Uncovering what happened in the past is just part of the job; an academic would also be expected to explain the significance of the event in terms that make it historically illuminating, rather than interesting only to those who love racing (I don't know, Paris-Dakar analyzed through a postcolonial lens, anyone?). I am completely ignorant of the scholarly literature on racing, so perhaps more of this has been done than I realize. But most of what I have read on racing history is clearly aimed at people who would rather be watching races than studying history. That's not a criticism, just a possible explanation for the subject's lack of academic presence.

 

Another possible reason is the academic 'market'. Emerging academics tend to pursue research that is likely to impress peer-reviewers and grant juries, which, paradoxically, entrenches a rather slow-moving conservatism in a field which also depends on revisionism (in Post's sense) for its oxygen. Seismic change does occur, as Don points out, but it can take decades.

I have some rather offbeat theories. First is that for a long time, the high scholars came from places like Boston, New Haven, NY and Philadelphia. These all had superior public transportations systems and having lived in three of them, I know plenty of academics who either didn't have a drivers license or, if they did, didn't own a car. Under these circumstances, enthusiasts were less likely to appear within academia.

 

The second is that the car is viewed by scholars as the enemy. The device that destroyed the inner cities by dint of creating the suburbs, and then adding insult to injury by polluting the skies during the daily commute. I have had experience with a very prestigious unnamed institution that tried to encourage the Liberal Arts section to look at the automobile as a subject. Perhaps music and cars, how cars somewhat alleviated the Great Depression by creating a more mobile labor force, automotive design and its relationship with larger arts sensibilities of a given era, etc. The effort drew tepid response from the Liberal Arts section, but there were multitudinous submissions by the Urban Design Department, all negative on the great enemy. Perhaps there's a fighting chance. Since the dollar rules all in the US, perhaps with auction prices approaching $50 million, at least some cars will be elevated from industrial design to fine art. I'm not holding my breath.



#18 Allen Brown

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 21:16

I like your theory, but isn't it motor racing, rather than motoring in general that is being neglected?  My first attempt at anything remotely scholarly regarding cars was as a spotty seventeen-year-old writing a "study" of the shambles that the local (Birmingham) car industry had fallen into.  There were many detailed and thoughtful reviews of the relatively recent history of BMC/BL in Birmingham Library.  Warwick Uni - IIRC - houses an enormous archive of primary sources and is well mined by academics.  These are primarily academics from the business and economics spheres of course, so they were not necessarily interested in the actual vehicles themselves.  Birmingham academics - and don't mock, they did exist - would never have consider the car the enemy of course, as much of our economy depended on it.  

 

BTW, my final-year undergraduate thesis - or whatever the hell we called those things in those days; I suspect I'm using too grand a term - was an update of the Jim Clark Foundation's survey of motor racing accidents.  Three copies were printed, and two of them were duly deposited in certain places of learning.  I doubt they have been opened since.  The third used to be in a box in my garage but I'm not sure I've seen it for the last decade...



#19 DCapps

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 21:42

At the 3rd Biennial Automotive History Conference of the Society of Automotive Historians held in March 2000 at the Petersen Automotive Museum, Dr. Pat Yongue (University of Houston) delivered a paper entitled, "Auto-Phobia in American Literature: the Challenge for Motorsports." Much of the "demonization" of the automobile that Michael is suggesting in his example regarding the reluctance of any study of the automobile as a topic, especially motor sports, was discussed by Pat in her paper. Indeed, Pat actually referred to it as "demonization." That even within the SAH that there is certain reluctance to take motor sport as a serious topic should say much, with even buff automotive historians giving the topic a wide berth.

 

My efforts over the past several years to generate interest in motor sport history as a serious topic has met very mixed results, to say the least. Although we have had, so far, a very successful series of what are now the Michael R. Argetsinger Symposium for International Motor Racing History held at the International Motor Racing Research Center in Watkins Glen, New York, realistically, other than the odd paper or two presented at the PCA/ACA or NASSH conferences or elsewhere, the Mike Argetsinger Symposium is it for the foreseeable future. In other words, we are not holding our breathe that the AHA or OAH will suddenly embrace motor sport history and have panels dedicated to the topic; anything remotely related to the automobile rarely pops up at these meetings. Not even the Southern Historical Association has taken much of an interest in stock car racing, the Randal Hall article some years back being just about it.

 

We are seriously investigating the possibility of finally creating a journal of motor sport history, with a university press expressing some interest in the prospect. It will have to be a digital, cloud-based effort given that the costs to do otherwise are utterly staggering. Hopefully, this will allow articles that otherwise inhabit the realm of deleted files elsewhere to see the light of day. I plan to have this emblazon on the masthead: The Cultural Turn Meets the First Turn.

 

We are also looking at, again, finally establishing an organization that takes motor sport history seriously. At the moment, rather imaginatively, I am calling it the International Motor Sport History Association. We are planning on having a formal organizational meeting in conjunction with the 3rd Mike Argetsinger Symposium in November.

 

So, this where the notion of revisionism as it is considered by historians (see, Post in Post No. 1) comes in. Let's take a look at motor sport history anew, rethinking what has long been accepted as well as what is also being ignored. There is enough on this forum to keep us busy for an issue or two as well as a few Mike Argetsinger Symposiums.


Edited by DCapps, 13 February 2017 - 21:44.


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#20 PCC

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 16:20

I have some rather offbeat theories. First is that for a long time, the high scholars came from places like Boston, New Haven, NY and Philadelphia. These all had superior public transportations systems and having lived in three of them, I know plenty of academics who either didn't have a drivers license or, if they did, didn't own a car. Under these circumstances, enthusiasts were less likely to appear within academia.

 

The second is that the car is viewed by scholars as the enemy. The device that destroyed the inner cities by dint of creating the suburbs, and then adding insult to injury by polluting the skies during the daily commute. I have had experience with a very prestigious unnamed institution that tried to encourage the Liberal Arts section to look at the automobile as a subject. Perhaps music and cars, how cars somewhat alleviated the Great Depression by creating a more mobile labor force, automotive design and its relationship with larger arts sensibilities of a given era, etc. The effort drew tepid response from the Liberal Arts section, but there were multitudinous submissions by the Urban Design Department, all negative on the great enemy. Perhaps there's a fighting chance. Since the dollar rules all in the US, perhaps with auction prices approaching $50 million, at least some cars will be elevated from industrial design to fine art. I'm not holding my breath.

Very interesting ideas, but I can't agree. As Jim pointed out above, the category of 'scholars' is hardly a homogeneous one. As an urban, car-less academic in the liberal arts who has also followed racing since the 1960s, I offer myself as Exhibit A.

 

Moreover, lifestyle decisions like whether or not to own a car do not determine one's research path. I am not and have never been a church-goer, but I have researched, taught and published on the history of church architecture for nearly 20 years. There is no simple, linear connection between how I live and what I find fascinating to study.

 

Finally, the elevation of automotive design to 'fine art' is neither here nor there, since the discipline of art history is no longer exclusively concerned with that category. My own discipline, the history of architecture, has gradually expanded to embrace 'non-pedigreed' and vernacular architecture, and is starting to consider all aspects of the built environment. The question is not 'whether the thing is art or not', but whether the thing, by virtue of how it is designed, made and used, has interesting and informative cultural information embedded in it. And the answer is very often yes, thus the gradual drift from the somewhat restrictive notion of 'art history' to the broader one of 'material culture'.

 

In that light, it seems a no-brainer that cars fit into the category of material culture, and valuable historical insights could be gained (and probably have, I don't know) by studying them. Whether or not car racing is similarly useful is less clear, but judging from Don's comments a lot of people seem to be unconvinced. If racing could be convincingly connected to a broader theoretical framework the way cars can be connected to material culture studies, then I think a lot of productive work could follow.



#21 Vitesse2

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 16:58

 

In that light, it seems a no-brainer that cars fit into the category of material culture, and valuable historical insights could be gained (and probably have, I don't know) by studying them. Whether or not car racing is similarly useful is less clear, but judging from Don's comments a lot of people seem to be unconvinced. If racing could be convincingly connected to a broader theoretical framework the way cars can be connected to material culture studies, then I think a lot of productive work could follow.

On motoring history generally, I think it's very difficult to draw a line in the sand. Yes, it's certainly material culture, but it's also industrial history, architectural history (Lingotto again! Plus all the other innovatory factory buildings), technological history and so much more. Then you could get into the history of legislation, plus all the cross-cultural references which go into marque and model names, leading to all sorts of philological avenues ... and believe me, I've been down a few!

 

As another example, in June 1939, Rodney Walkerley - somewhat disillusioned and frustrated with the whole thing - published a short note in The Motor about the forthcoming change to the International Formula in 1941 (which of course never happened). It was headlined Quo Vadimus? Now Walkerley wasn't in the habit of using Latin tags as headlines, so I found this rather odd. On investigation I found that a then-current bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic was a collection of humorous essays by EB White, entitled Quo Vadimus? (Or, The Case for the Bicycle). Now, of course quo vadimus usually just means 'where are we going?', but White had rendered it more forcefully as 'where the hell are we going?', so I'm pretty sure that force was what Walkerley wanted to convey.

 

White had possibly pinched the title from Stephen Leacock (who in turn may have got it from a French writer called Géris). A writer in The Times also used the phrase only a few days after Walkerley but it then sinks from view for several decades, although White's book sold many thousands of copies across the world over the next ten years. Today, of course, EB White is perhaps best known for the children's books Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little.



#22 PCC

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 18:06

On motoring history generally, I think it's very difficult to draw a line in the sand. Yes, it's certainly material culture, but it's also industrial history, architectural history (Lingotto again! Plus all the other innovatory factory buildings), technological history and so much more. Then you could get into the history of legislation, plus all the cross-cultural references which go into marque and model names, leading to all sorts of philological avenues ... and believe me, I've been down a few!

Yes, absolutely, there are many possible academic doors that should be open to automotive history. And yes, that could include architectural history – a colleague of mine recently published a scholarly study of Canadian hockey arenas, so sports infrastructure can certainly be a subject of rigorous academic research and analysis. Of course, his book is not really aimed at hockey fans. It's for readers who are interested in hockey not just as a sporting spectacle but as a cultural one – which could certainly include plenty of hockey fans, but would also include plenty who are not. Which is to say that scholarship on motor racing is not necessarily going to be written by, or for, people who like going to races. Its route to academic acceptance likely lies in its integration into fields like the ones you list, rather than as a discrete subject.



#23 DCapps

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 20:08

Peter,

There appears to be some budding interest in motor sport venues as historical artifacts, one of the papers at the 2016 Argetsinger being focused on the notion of space as it relates to racing, Peter Westin's, "Race space: The Transformation of Iconic Motorsports Circuits from Public Space Into Large-Technological Systems, 1950 – 2010." Indeed, one of the questions that I have long had is why the absence of much, if any, interest in the racing venues as cultural artifacts. Having picked up an interest in vernacular architecture thanks to, among other things, Chester Liebs' Main Street to Miracle Mile: American Roadside Architecture (1985) and work in urban spatial systems, where I was introduced to the concept that one of the best sources for American vernacular architecture was model railroad magazines. Although there are a number of books on racing circuits, it could suggested that they tend to miss seeing the cultural forest for all the trees.

 

Thanks to Richard for bringing up, Quo Vadimus? This was emblazoned upon one of the samplers that I stared at for a year as a graduate student whenever I worked in my lead professor's office doing the usual grudge work that was our lot as grad assistants. It was one of the themes he used in several of his classes when discussing modernity and issues of interpretation. This is the first time in many years that I have seen this phrase, so full points to Richard, said in my best Jack Longland matter.



#24 Doug Nye

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 20:29

Forgive me for acting the part of the uneducated yokel blundering into a centre of suddenly lofty scholarship, but some here seem to me to be demonstrating the symptoms of simply not having enough to do...  

 

There is a predominantly American academic habit of self-regard which sits uncomfortably with simple country boys who just like racing and racing cars and racing people.  

 

Even research activities complying with the most rigid of academically-acceptable practise might still accord too much significance to some hitherto undiscovered scrap of evidence - producing a 'revisionist' view which, upon more objective consideration, is probably unjustified.  Or conversely first-person witness accounts might underpin a contrary 'revisionist' view, which in fact might well be justified.  That, surely, is all part of the fun, which is why most of us have been interested in these subjects - for all our adult lives.

 

Frankly, just broadcasting faux-philosophical pseudo-academic bollocksspeak as an apparent exercise in self-admiration seems to me not particularly worthy... 

 

DCN



#25 PCC

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 20:50

Frankly, just broadcasting faux-philosophical pseudo-academic bollocksspeak as an apparent exercise in self-admiration seems to me not particularly worthy... 

 

DCN

Well, I suppose this is at least partly directed at me, and I am guilty as charged... but I take exception to the 'pseudo' bit!



#26 E1pix

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 00:27

There is a predominantly American academic habit of self-regard which sits uncomfortably with simple country boys who just like racing and racing cars and racing people.

DCN

Pardon me for saying so, Sir, but that is one offensive pile of self-gratuitous manure.

#27 PCC

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 01:47

Pardon me for saying so, Sir, but that is one offensive pile of self-gratuitous manure.

I see your point. To call out academic pomposity is fair game, and often richly deserved. But to suggest that one country has a monopoly on it is hilarious.


Edited by PCC, 15 February 2017 - 04:00.


#28 DCapps

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 04:49

Exactly 48 years ago, I was trying to figure out how to achieve my then current number one goal of living long enough to have a 22nd birthday in few days, a task greatly complicated by numerous people trying to ensure that this would not happen by their achieving their goal of denying me accomplishing that feat. Prior to that then momentous achievement, one month later to the day, I managed to walk -- crawl and then stagger is probably more accurate -- away from what would be the second of three times that I got shot down. My number one goal then became being around long enough to have a 23rd birthday. Thanks to the fortunately abysmal marksmanship of the NVA and NLF Main Force units we encountered, I managed, albeit barely, to achieve that goal. As a working class draftee, college dropout, and general, all-around poor student, my role in the grand scheme of things was to serve as cannon fodder in Viet-Nam. True, I was a slightly higher form of cannon fodder, of Lurp and Ranger sort, but still pretty much expendable.

 

It would be quite correct to suggest that any notion of future academic endeavors took a backseat to more pressing matters. After being shot down, sunk, shot up, and blown up more than a number of times, any idea of being a self-regarding, out-of-touch academic babbling bollocks regarding pseudo-topics was definitely not on my agenda. Only with a certain reluctance and much persuading did I finally return to the challenging task of trying to salvage what I could from the disaster that was my undergraduate career to date. I came to greatly admire and envy Sisyphus, since he only had to contend with a boulder rolling over him and not trying to balance schoolwork and literally working every available moment when not in class. However, despite virtually no margin for error grade-wise, I somehow managed to earn an undergraduate degree. To my utter shock, I was informed that I could enter graduate school. I was a sergeant with a graduate degree who earned a commission at the age of 30. Certainly not the brightest bulb in the box, maybe only 25 watts to everyone's 250 watts -- especially here, but there you go.

 

Beginning in the mid-1950s, I discovered automobile racing (along with airplanes, ships, trains, and the usual schoolboy fascinations). At some point in the mid-1980s, my thinking about motor racing and its past began to shift, a process that evolved and evolved and evolved some more, particularly as I began to view the sport quite differently than I had for many decades preciously. Once I began to seriously consider motor sport history as a trained historian (although I am sure some here might take exception to that description), it was literally impossible to approach it otherwise, especially in light of the almost uniform dismissal (not always polite) of the topic within the academy, but also elsewhere.

 

Sorry, but I can do no other.

 

I simply think that there should be at least another way of approaching motor sport history, one that frames the sport differently than the way it has been in the past. Regardless of whatever support or the lack thereof that there might be for this approach, it is far too late in life for me to change the azimuth of this endeavor. We dumbass Rangers are like that...



#29 E1pix

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 06:02

With all appreciation for your contributions around here, more importantly, Thank You for your Service.

#30 Michael Ferner

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 12:56

It's sad to see how one single Trump Age comment has seemingly killed off this entire thread. It may not be everyone's cup of tea (and, frankly, I wouldn't want to discuss this day in, day out, either), but at a time when The Motorsport Quiz is by far the most interesting thread going on TNF, it definitely was a breath of fresh air.

#31 DCapps

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 14:25

Sorry, but it appears that Elvis has already left the building...



#32 PCC

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 14:41

It's sad to see how one single Trump Age comment has seemingly killed off this entire thread. It may not be everyone's cup of tea (and, frankly, I wouldn't want to discuss this day in, day out, either), but at a time when The Motorsport Quiz is by far the most interesting thread going on TNF, it definitely was a breath of fresh air.

I agree, Michael. Surely TNF, with 30,089 threads, can afford one on this topic.



#33 Ray Bell

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 17:27

Originally posted by Michael Ferner
It's sad to see how one single Trump Age comment has seemingly killed off this entire thread. It may not be everyone's cup of tea (and, frankly, I wouldn't want to discuss this day in, day out, either), but at a time when The Motorsport Quiz is by far the most interesting thread going on TNF, it definitely was a breath of fresh air.


I don't know about that...

There are two threads I started recently which have failed to draw much in the way of comment. One of these, about Tasman racing memories, should have evoked a great deal of comment from (particularly) the British contingent and the Kiwis, but thus far there has been none.

The other, on Rennmax, was started in response to a suggestion and has had a similar response.

#34 Bob Riebe

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 17:39

They are just white men with forked tongue using double speak to cover up what they a really doing.

The problem is the word revisionism does not mean this, never has, never will:  "Among historians, revisionism means nothing more than asking questions of new information or new questions of old information."



#35 Allen Brown

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 19:05

The problem is the word revisionism does not mean this, never has, never will:  "Among historians, revisionism means nothing more than asking questions of new information or new questions of old information."

 

I completely agree!  

 

 

I don't know about that...

There are two threads I started recently which have failed to draw much in the way of comment. One of these, about Tasman racing memories, should have evoked a great deal of comment from (particularly) the British contingent and the Kiwis, but thus far there has been none.

The other, on Rennmax, was started in response to a suggestion and has had a similar response.

 

Maybe notifications aren't working the way they were.  I shall head off to find that Rennmax thread after dinner.



#36 DCapps

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 21:57

They are just white men with forked tongue using double speak to cover up what they a really doing.

The problem is the word revisionism does not mean this, never has, never will:  "Among historians, revisionism means nothing more than asking questions of new information or new questions of old information."

 

 

I completely agree! 

 

Of course, this sort of remark does tend to suggest continued support for Richard Hofstadter's ideas regarding anti-intellectualism.

 

Post states very clearly that is how historians define and use the term revisionism.

 

Feel free to suggest what you personally wish regarding the term, but, if possible, keep in mind such notions have nothing to do with the study of history, simply reflecting one's worldview or an opinion, as in this case.

 

Then, again, had the remark been a suggestion offering that there might be other ways in which the term could be understood, absent the admonition of "never has, never will," of course, outside the context of the study of history, such as suggested above, such as within the realm of political thought, that could have been taken as a valid point.

 

Why is there such a, shall we say, visceral response to the question of revisionism within the scope of motor sport history? Is there an innate anti-intellectualism with the sport that creates often hostile responses when the topic is presented? Is there an unfamiliarity with the concept as historians employ in their work, seeing the term in other, political or social meanings that then becomes the catalyst for what are generally negative reactions to the topic, which then, in turn, become negative, hostile responses? Or, is the study of motor sport history generally considered to be outside the realm of scholarly study by both those within the academy (academic auto-phobia, per Yongue) and those who consider the sport as merely something that is "fun" or an entertainment? Or, what? Why, even providing a narrow, operational definition of the term as used by historians does the term revisionism provoke such negative reactions? Or, is this simply --and quite literally -- the wrong forum for any discussion on a concept such as historical revisionism?



#37 DCapps

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 23:41

As Yogi Berra might put it, it is difficult to write history, especially about the past. -- Gordon Wood

 

There is a very good reason that this is part of my signature: a reminder of Wood's admonition regarding the challenges of pursuing knowledge about the past and how to interpret that knowledge often being seen through ideological or deterministic lenses, intellectual glaucoma, if you will.



#38 SJ Lambert

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Posted 17 February 2017 - 12:47

............................but at a time when The Motorsport Quiz is by far the most interesting thread going on TNF, it definitely was a breath of fresh air.

 

 

Why thank you Michael!

 

- I think my favourite thread is                Mal Simpson - A Lotus Time Sheet

 

http://forums.autosp...t/#entry7269970


Edited by SJ Lambert, 17 February 2017 - 13:18.


#39 E1pix

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Posted 17 February 2017 - 15:57

It's sad to see how one single Trump Age comment has seemingly killed off this entire thread.

With apologies to Mr. Capps, I must ask who you are referring to.

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#40 DCapps

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 15:57

January 2010: Press Release for Launch of the Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Team

 

The event opened with a welcome speech by Dr. Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars before Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg presented the new Silver Arrows livery for the 2010 season on last year’s car. The team’s 2010 car, the MGP W01, will make its track debut at the first Formula 1 test in Valencia on Monday, February 1.

 

The legacy of the Silver Arrows goes back to the 1934 Eifelrennen when, on the evening before the event, the white paint was sanded off the Mercedes W25 race cars to meet the weight regulations of 750kg formula and the silver colour of the aluminium surface of the car appeared. This season, with the return of the Silver Arrows, the MGP W01 will shine in silver combined with a flow of iridescent silver shading. On the nose and on other parts of the car traces of black carbon fibre visible are visible.

 

https://joesaward.wo...es-mercedes-gp/

 

 

From the Mercedes-Benz Museum, 2017

 

Mercedes-Benz W 25 750-kg racing car

The W 25 was the original Silver Arrow. Originally painted white, it arrived at the Nürburgring for its first race one kilogram too heavy for the 750-kg (1,650-pound) formula. The mechanics sanded down the paintwork in order to reduce its weight, exposing the bare, shining silver colour of its body. Suitably relieved, the team was able to line up at the start with the W 25. The car went on to win the race and later picked up its nickname Silver Arrow.

 

https://www.mercedes...nz-w-25-750-kg/



#41 PCC

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 16:26

Why is there such a, shall we say, visceral response to the question of revisionism within the scope of motor sport history? Is there an innate anti-intellectualism with the sport that creates often hostile responses when the topic is presented? Is there an unfamiliarity with the concept as historians employ in their work, seeing the term in other, political or social meanings that then becomes the catalyst for what are generally negative reactions to the topic, which then, in turn, become negative, hostile responses? Or, is the study of motor sport history generally considered to be outside the realm of scholarly study by both those within the academy (academic auto-phobia, per Yongue) and those who consider the sport as merely something that is "fun" or an entertainment? Or, what? Why, even providing a narrow, operational definition of the term as used by historians does the term revisionism provoke such negative reactions? Or, is this simply --and quite literally -- the wrong forum for any discussion on a concept such as historical revisionism?

I can't say that I have observed any more resistance to 'revisionism' in the motor sport community than anywhere else. Most people dislike having their mythologies questioned, be they sporting, national or religious. Similarly, there's plenty of 'anti-intellectualism' to go around - now, perhaps, more than ever. In both cases, the tone of the questioning can do a lot to make the problem better or worse.

 

As for whether a forum like this is the right place to discuss it, I don't see why not. But an internet forum is more like a pub than a seminar room. Not everyone's going to feel like talking about Plato, and that doesn't mean that something's wrong.



#42 Vitesse2

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 17:33

January 2010: Press Release for Launch of the Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Team

 

The event opened with a welcome speech by Dr. Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars before Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg presented the new Silver Arrows livery for the 2010 season on last year’s car. The team’s 2010 car, the MGP W01, will make its track debut at the first Formula 1 test in Valencia on Monday, February 1.

 

The legacy of the Silver Arrows goes back to the 1934 Eifelrennen when, on the evening before the event, the white paint was sanded off the Mercedes W25 race cars to meet the weight regulations of 750kg formula and the silver colour of the aluminium surface of the car appeared. This season, with the return of the Silver Arrows, the MGP W01 will shine in silver combined with a flow of iridescent silver shading. On the nose and on other parts of the car traces of black carbon fibre visible are visible.

 

https://joesaward.wo...es-mercedes-gp/

 

 

From the Mercedes-Benz Museum, 2017

 

Mercedes-Benz W 25 750-kg racing car

The W 25 was the original Silver Arrow. Originally painted white, it arrived at the Nürburgring for its first race one kilogram too heavy for the 750-kg (1,650-pound) formula. The mechanics sanded down the paintwork in order to reduce its weight, exposing the bare, shining silver colour of its body. Suitably relieved, the team was able to line up at the start with the W 25. The car went on to win the race and later picked up its nickname Silver Arrow.

 

https://www.mercedes...nz-w-25-750-kg/

giphy.gif



#43 werks prototype

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 18:05

Maybe the problem then is a lack of revisionism in the face of new knowledge?



#44 Vitesse2

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 18:51

Maybe the problem then is a lack of revisionism in the face of new knowledge?

"When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." Maxwell Scott in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

 

"A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes."  Mark Twain



#45 PCC

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 19:58

"A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes."  Mark Twain

I think that's what happened last night in Sweden, isn't it?

And every day on Twitter.



#46 Jerry Entin

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 20:32

Let's have a look at another concrete example.

During racing reunions of the past few years, when Jim Hall came to the speaker's podium, he had one story from his racing days that everybody in the audience lapped up with great enthusiasm.

Jim story goes that when he raced a Lister/Chevy in 1959, the belt of his Latham supercharger came off repeatedly at a race at San Marcos or Hondo [his story varies]. Both tracks were in Texas, but it was actually Hondo.

As per Jim, he removed the engine from his pick-up truck, put it in the knobbly, won the race and put the engine back in the pick-up truck after the race.

It is a great Tall Texas Tale, and of course it never happened. The incident took place at Hondo Airbase on April 5, 1959. The Lister did drop out in Sunday's preliminary, with the above mentioned supercharger belt problem. Jim was also severely understaffed, since both his regular mechanics, Red Byron and Frank Lance, were still in Florida that weekend to take care of Hap Sharp's 2-liter Maserati, entered in USAC's Daytona's 1000 KM..

Three sources told me what really happened. Bill Janowski's Monsterati Special had dropped out in the same race with rear-end problems. He offered Hall the use of his intake manifold, including three 2-barrel Holley carburetors, for the feature race, which was to start in only two hours.

Since the Chevy engines were similar, Hall accepted the idea, and in two hours the Monsterati's intake manifold was installed on the Lister's engine. The work was done, not by Hall, but by Janowski, his mechanic Bob Gast and the only Hall employee around, Bob Schroeder. Janowski and Schroeder both confirmed this to me, as well as Delmo Johnson, who specified that Gast was mostly involved in supplying the beer. It was a warm day apparently.

Well, Hall went on his merry way in the feature, which his Lister won. Unfortunately Hondo was not covered in the national media or the SCCA magazine, so apart from the San Antonio and Dallas newspapers, the manifold switch was never mentioned by the press.

Janowski got his manifold back after the race and the Hall Lister never ran with the supercharger again. But it is a shame that the bad memory of one of the leading drivers of those days has led to a very improbably story, which today is repeated as gospel on a regular basis..

The same is true about Dan Gurney's current "gravity" version on how he won the 1962 Daytona Continental 3 Hours, although there the newspaper and magazine reports describing the real story ["starter motor"] were abundant.

all research : Willem Oosthoek

#47 Michael Ferner

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 22:16

It's not always "bad memory" - if you tell a story often enough, it becomes alternative facts. In the olden days, young American wannabe drivers used a simple trick to get started in the "racing game": roaming the pits to find an unassigned car, they would tell the East coast Big car owner about their success driving Midgets in the West, or vice versa. Len Duncan got started in East coast Midgets by telling the car owners how well he did racing Sprint cars at Ascot Speedway in California. Only he didn't. But he told that story as long as he lived, he probably believed it himself in the end.

#48 Stephen W

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 11:09

It's not always "bad memory" - if you tell a story often enough, it becomes alternative facts. In the olden days, young American wannabe drivers used a simple trick to get started in the "racing game": roaming the pits to find an unassigned car, they would tell the East coast Big car owner about their success driving Midgets in the West, or vice versa. Len Duncan got started in East coast Midgets by telling the car owners how well he did racing Sprint cars at Ascot Speedway in California. Only he didn't. But he told that story as long as he lived, he probably believed it himself in the end.

 

I am sorry but made up stories are not "alternate facts". Here is my take on alternative facts: Firstly "Trump won the election to become President." The alternative fact is "Clinton lost the election to become President." Both these statements are fact (i.e. true).



#49 Allen Brown

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 13:35

The term "alternative facts" was used by Kellyanne Conway recently to describe the Trump administration's remarks that more people had watched Trump's inauguration that any previous one.  That's why this phrase is being used when "urban legend" would previously have been a very polite way of describing the same scenario.

 

As with the Silver Arrows and other topics, the truth can be less interesting than the alternative.  This means that the interesting story lingers in the memory better; it then becomes more likely to be reproduced in books, newspapers and on websites, and then it is reintroduced to a new audience.  If Trump keeps us all distracted, it is distinctly possible that 50 years from now, people will still be able to read that Trump's inauguration was seen by more people than any other.  Meanwhile, a whole new generation will be reading about the white paint on the Silver Arrows.  The answer to this could be to ban all books, and to ensure that all information can only be taken from a single source which is constantly reviewed and updated.  We'd need a government body to take care of that of course.  We could call it the Ministry of Truth so everyone knows they can trust it implicitly.  Anyone see any potential problems?



#50 Michael Ferner

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 13:42

The answer to this could be to ban all books, and to ensure that all information can only be taken from a single source which is constantly reviewed and updated.


Yesterday's news, it's already happened. They call it "Wikipedia".