The Battle for the Glidden - 1910

The first four attachments below contain articles that originally appeared in the Indianapolis Star during March 1910 and concern the efforts of the Hoosier capital city to secure the honor of being the point of departure for that year's Glidden Tour. Their efforts were regarded as too late in the game as commitments to Cincinnati prevailed.
Attachment Glidden030210 was published March 2 and reports on deliberations occurring at the American Automobile Association (AAA) offices in New York. AAA Contest Board Chairman Sam Butler's office was reportedly swamped with letters and telegrams lobbying in favor of Indianapolis, referring to it as "no mean city."
Chairman Butler is quoted, "The contest board had practically decided to start the national tour this year in Cincinnati but Indianapolis has made such a splendid fight that we feel it is entitled to great consideration. I have received telegrams from Mayor Shank, the Commercial Club, and manufacturers from Indianapolis, while many letters from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway management and others have reached this office. Some of the Indianapolis boomers have called in person at my office to present claims for the tour's start, Detroit, Buffalo and Cleveland great manufacturing centers, have been awarded the starts in past years, and while the Indianapolis fight has been made at a late hour it would not surprise me greatly to have that city named this year."
The article also reports on a controversy that had developed regarding the official "pathfinder" car of the event. This car was a kind of pace car and it served to mark the course for the field of competitors by starting hours ahead of the others and marking the path by scattering confetti behind it. This was important given the condition of roads at the times which were many times little more than rough cow paths. These official vehicles were also frequently referred to as "confetti cars." Chalmers-Detroit had secured the honor of providing a car for this capacity at the 1910 Glidden.
Apparently, another manufacturer had issued a car to venture forth to do an unofficial tour of the course in advance of the race despite the fact that the precise route had not been announced. Chairman Butler issued a statement reaffirming Chalmers as the official marques for the role and denouncing the other company's unauthorized initiative that was creating confusion in newspapers. That manufacturer was not named in the article.
As with previous articles the unpopularity of past Contest Board Chairman Frank Hower is noted. While it is unclear what generated animosity for him, the positive feelings of having Butler in the role is stressed. In general, the article indicates a shared belief that the tour rules would be enforced in a manner that would be better accepted by the manufacturers.
Published March 4, 1910, attachment Glidden030410 contains two extremely brief articles of just a few sentences. The first is most significant as it shared that a decision concerning the point of departure was expected on the following Tuesday at a special meeting in Boston which was March 9, less than a week away. The article speculated that since two of the five members of the AAA Contest Board were from Indianapolis the likelihood of a Hoosier success was strong. The second brief item reports on speculation by auto racing journalist and photographer Ed Spooner who indicated that "reliable sources" were saying Indianapolis would be announced as the starting point.
The article in attachment Glidden030910 is a true artifact illustrating the way mass communication was managed in 1910. Published on March 9 the article reports that Cincinnati had prevailed as the point of departure for the Glidden Tour but it is prefaced with a "bulletin" sharing that despite the article's assertion of Cincinnati's success the decision was still in doubt and that the scales could still tip in the favor of Indianapolis. This means the news in the bulletin arrived sometime after the type had been set for the larger article. The bulletin contained news that was not definitive and therefore did not effectively invalidate information contained in the article but did suggest there might be a change of direction. The bulletin read:
"Boston, Mass., March 8 - It was announced late tonight that there is still a chance for the Glidden Tour to start from Indianapolis. The fact that the matter has been referred back for a definite decision to the contest board is taken as the sign for renewed hope for Indianapolis boosters. It is urged that Cincinnati has not one logical claim."
The body of the article read as if it was a fait accompli that Cincinnati had won the honors. An unidentified AAA official is quoted, "Indianapolis is conceded the logical ace, all right, but the promise had already been given Cincinnati, so we could not back out. If Indianapolis had started sooner with its good boosting work there could have been no doubt of its having won."
The meeting had a broader agenda than a resolution of the Indianapolis versus Cincinnati matter. The article reports healthy growth of the organization as the AAA consolidated the operation of motoring clubs on the national level. Florida's nine independent auto clubs had been welcomed into the AAA fold as was the Savannah Automobile Club which was seen as an important step to establishing statewide operations in Georgia. The annexation of other state organizations from Oregon, North Carolina, South Carolina and New Hampshire was predicted.
The AAA's good roads board filed a report through President George C. Diehl. Diehl shared that collaborative efforts were underway with organized farming through the National Grange and the Farmer's Union of the South and Southwest. Former New Hampshire Governor Nahum Bachelder (his name is misspelled in the article) headed the grange while the Farmer's Union was headed by President Charles Simon Barrett. Plans were in place for a good roads conference in the autumn of 1910.
The final attachment contained here (Glidden031110) contains the definitive article on the Indianapolis versus Cincinnati issue. The article, published March 11, confirms that Cincinnati won the battle. Contest Board Chair Butler announced the decision along with the start date of June 15.
Indianapolis waged a brave battle, so compelling that Butler was moved to call upon the Cincinnati Automobile Club to withdraw. This was probably unreasonable as the Ohio club rightfully replied that too many plans had been set in motion to stop the momentum at such a late date. Exactly why the forces in Indianapolis procrastinated in making their case is unclear as it seems that as a major manufacturing center in the day they would have been embraced. It is purely speculation on my part to wonder if they were overconfident. Indianapolis manufacturers had committed eight entries if the start took place in their city.
Butler had hoped that an offer to spend an entire weekend of the tour in Cincinnati (referred to as the "Queen City" in the article) would ameliorate any discontent. Obviously, this was an insufficient salve. Apparently, AAA President Lewis Speare had earlier committed to the top Cincinnati AAA official Dr. A.B. Huyl that the inception of the Glidden Tour would take place in this hometown.
With respect to the points about prior agreements with Cincinnati noted above, two attachments GliddenNews020310 and GliddenNews022410 contain articles published in the Indianapolis News during February, pre-dating those analyzed above. Both discuss the commitment to Cincinnati.
The February 3 article begins with a discussion on the likely route of the course, and even admits that Indianapolis is "not on the Glidden map this year." The method of distributing tickets of performance is discussed and it is noted that there was no plan to award a trophy. One of the challenges of the event was that manufacturers wanted perfect scores whether they deserved them or not. Nobody wanted their product cast in a negative light. Otherwise, they weren't interested in participating.
This was a problem for the organizers. The purpose of the event was to help consumers assess the quality of a product. If results were candy-coated, they were not credible.
The article notes the interest of Indianapolis-based manufacturers, especially Marmon and Premier. Industry watchers were confident other Hoosier factories would follow suit. As an aside, note that Cincinnati is referred to as, "Porkopolis."
The article reports that the course would cover 2,300 miles and be sanctioned by the AAA. From Cincinnati, the route turned to Louisville, then south through Kentucky to Nashville, Tennessee. From there it turned west to Memphis, then to Little Rock, Arkansas for a layover. The next leg was through Dallas, then Oklahoma City. From there it was on to Kansas to pass through Wichita and Topeka. The plan called for the tourists to proceed to St. Joseph, Missouri and then into Iowa to visit Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and Davenport. The final leg was to be between Davenport and Chicago.
The article notes that no decision had been made on what company would provide the "Pathfinder," which was effectively the pace car of the event. Speculation was that the company to be selected to supply the Pathfinder would come from "the West."
The February 24 article discusses not only Hoosier schemes to "steal" the Glidden Tour starting line, but also to wrest the annual auto show date from Detroit. The latter is the focus of the lead, which discusses an "open-air show." If you don't understand the context of the times, you could easily interpret that to me they were discussing an aviation show, which, coincidentally, was another ambition of Speedway management. Instead, the concept of an open-air show was a way to get around the fact that the Hoosier capital city lacked a convention hall large enough to house all anticipated exhibitors.
It's unclear how much of a real competition this was because both cities hosted automobile shows during 1910. Indianapolis, which leaned heavily on the appeal of the Speedway, hosted their show in March 1910. It was spectacular. H.O. Smith and Carl Fisher were headed to New York for meetings with various automobile organizations to plead the case for Indianapolis as a show venue.
Other meetings concerning the Glidden Tour were planned with the AAA. At the time of the article, the Pathfinder car and the course were yet to be announced - but rumors were everywhere. There was a general understanding that the course would head south and west, but competition for the point of departure was heated.
As far as the Pathfinder car, the rumor was that the Moline Motor Car Company was the favorite to earn the honor. We also learn that Frank X. Zirbles was reconnoitering the potential route in a Mitchell Ranger - starting from Cincinnati. The report affirms, however, that the Ranger would not be the Pathfinder, even though it had served in that capacity at similar events. 
Finally, there is an interesting note identifying a Nordyke & Marmon Company executive, Albert Glidewell. Glidewell was the featured speaker that evening at the motor class of the Y.M.C.A. school of instruction. He was to speak about magneto ignition technology.
Also, the Indianapolis Automobile Trade Association (IATA) was planning another meeting that evening at the Denison Hotel - a truly grand and amazing downtown Indianapolis landmark edifice. The automobile show week was the featured topic.

Glidden030210.pdf974.12 KB
Glidden030410.pdf157.73 KB
Glidden030910.pdf445.65 KB
Glidden031110.pdf193.14 KB
GliddenNews020310.pdf926.83 KB
GliddenNews022410.pdf2.6 MB