At The Old Motor, David Greenlees wrote this comment when referring to the Blitzen Benz at Brighton Beach in 1912 (http://theoldmotor.com/?p=165781
One thing to keep in mind here is some of the cars mentioned in the period press reports were owned by the Ernest Moross “traveling racing circus” promoted by William Pickens. Both were shady characters, and the races were scripted and rigged. Secondly, most race results in the press at the time were inaccurate due to the rush to meet deadlines; many reporters phoned in their story and when printed the facts were often inaccurate. In most of the races a “new record” was set and if the races lasted two or more days another faster “record” would be set each day.
I think that Greenless expresses the general opinion of Moross and Pickens held by most those today, although one could suggest that it is perhaps more than a bit over-broad and tinged with more than a tad of presentism when it comes to at least Moross. Plus, one can suggest that there would seem to be quite a difference between races being scripted from those being rigged.
Although Greenlees does make a case for looking with a bit of askance at the reporting for this event in the examples he provides, I have some serious reservations regarding his broad assertion about the press and race meeting results: "...most race results in the press at the time were inaccurate due to the rush to meet deadlines; many reporters phoned in their story and when printed the facts were often inaccurate." While one certainly does encounter some reports that often read more akin to a modern infomercial regarding an upcoming event or the report of a race meet, in my experience I have to admit that, overall, the automotive journals of the era and the newspapers tend to do a very credible job when it come to reporting motor sport events. Again, there are some that are essentially nonsensical space-fillers (to say nothing of fantastical whoppers at times), but read enough of these contemporary articles and one tends to be impressed by how much they actually get correct. Perhaps having now read literally thousands upon thousands of contemporary race meet reports from the period prior to 1921, I can sense the wheat from the chaff, if you will.
What really struck me, however, is the general notion that contemporary reports for race meetings during this era are suspect. This, of course, is the basis for the Russ Catlin School of Auto Racing History. The Betts, Bob Russo, and even Charles Lytle among others defending Catlin, as well as others today continuing to defend and accept his version of things. While The Old Motor, among others, certainly has done some excellent work regarding digging through the past and sorting out more than a few puzzles, that it can still make such broad generalizations is not very heartening. While I am certain Greenlees is miffed with me, the issue is not what he attempted to do, which was point out the many issues regarding the ways the Benz machines were represented in the press, but making such a general statement about these reports apparently based upon the single race meeting. Yes, the reports offered do raise the eyebrows, but...
I admit that when I was still a racing fan and enthusiast and initially delving the topic of early US racing, I kept Catlin's skepticism fully in mind and generally approached the material with that mindset. Once I doffed being a racing fan/enthusiast and approach the topic as a historian, it was soon quite obvious that Catlin and others greatly exaggerated any issues with the contemporary reporting of race meetings. Indeed, as mentioned, I still tend to be impressed by how much they get correct versus the errors that are often inherent in writing that proverbial "first draft of history." Plus, one also realizes that there are corrections and revisions made, especially in the automotive journals, which one discovers after reading enough of them.