Brickyard Seeks AAA Marquee Events - 1910

This gem of an article (Attachment Moross010410) about the work of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway leadership to obtain the choice events of the 1910 racing season was published in the January 4, 1910 Indianapolis Star. Leading the charge was Speedway Contest Director Ernie Moross.
Moross had left by train the previous evening for New York where the annual auto show was underway. Such a gathering of the leading lights among the motoring interests was a great lobbying opportunity. One of the big ideas from the Speedway was to host what they called "the first international amateur automobile race." Citing the great 1907-1908 civil war between the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the Automobile Club of America (ACA) including the truce they agreed to that precipitated the formation of the Motor Cups Holding Company. That group was comprised of members of the Northeastern United States society elite most interested in automobiling. Headed by William K. Vanderbilt, Jr. they made the decisions primarily about the management of the ACA's premier event, the Grand Prize as well as the famous Vanderbilt Cup, America's first international auto race.
The contention of the article was that "foreign cars could not be driven in this country by foreign drivers." Where this impression was obtained is difficult to fathom. The reality is that the Grand Prize was seen as America's only true international event and part of the ACA-AAA resolution was that the ACA was the official representative of the United States to the International Congress of Recognized Automobile Clubs. The AAA, on the other hand, was assigned responsibility for all domestic auto racing - virtually everything aside from the Grand Prize.
The reality of the politics was that if the Brickyard wanted to host an event of foreign teams with their exotic marques like Fiat, Mercedes, Benz and Isotta they would have to go through ACA sanction. The ACA had a reputation for being elitiest, not particularly proactive and frequently difficult to work with. On the other hand the Speedway could host private American owners of such marques with AAA sanction albeit with none of  the most current cars or factory support.
Among the amateur drivers listed as likely participants - with the anticipated car make - in such a race for millionaires:

The above men were from New York but another candiate was Chicago's Eddie Hearne with his Fiat. In addition to those millionaires with foreign-made cars other well-to-do daredevils with American equipment were expected to enter. All those expectations would fade as the race, which might have proved interesting, never occurred.
This article also discusses the Speedway's proclivity for stock chassis racing based an expressed belief that it was what the public wanted to see. That may have been disingenuous as it certainly was what most manufacturers prefered in order to avoid the expense of preparing special purpose-built cars. Despite this assertion however the article concedes that all classes of cars provided for in the 1910 AAA rulebook would be raced. One manufacturer in particular, Marmon, saw value in special race cars and was already developing what would become the iconic Marmon Wasp that would eventually win the first Indianapolis 500 more than a year later.
The article notes competition for the prime dates of the racing season - especially around the summer holidays of Memorial Day, July Fourth and Labor Day. The Brickyard's primary competition, the Atlanta Speedway seemed accommodating as they sought spring and fall dates. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway had a strong position as it rapidly emerged as America's top racing facility and not just a new age venue but also the track with the most costly, state-of-the art design. 
In addition to the holidays noted Moross was lobbying for the August 12 and October 7 dates. According to the article Moross had allies in New York from the Indianapolis-based automobile industry. Those listed include: Cecil Gibson, H.O. Smith, George Dickson and Howard Marmon. Note that the Speedway had a display at the New York show that included the major trophies that had been presented at the inaugural auto races at the track during the tragic race meet in August 1909. The "unawarded" Wheeler-Schebler Trophy that Jackson Automobile Company had unsuccessfully claimed was among those present. As an aside an Indianapolis Star follow-up article on January 16 reports that Speedway founders Carl Fisher and James Allison also attended the New York show.
The attached article reports that the AAA intended to award 100 sanctions but does not mention its new "National Circuit" program. Note that the intention of the sanctioning body was to at the very least diminish unsanctioned contests staged by people they call "barnstormers." I think it is significant that they actually use that word in this article. The poster boy for the barnstormer crowd was the inimitable Barney Oldfield whose rebellious attitude made him a thorn in the side of AAA leaders.
In addition to approaching leaders of the automobile world Moross also was reportedly reaching out to the Aero Club of America in New York. He was pushing for both international balloon and aviation events. In both cases he would fail but the Speedway would host their own aviation show in June as well as a ballooning competition in September. Moross also planned a trip to Europe to drum up interest in Speedway events.
Moross planned to attend the Chicago Auto Show following his New York tour. His specific agenda there would be to attract the Chicago Auto Club's coveted Cobe Trophy race to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Even though it had only been staged one time - in 1909 - it was referred to as the "Western Classic." It was, with the Indiana Trophy, the first major auto race ever held in Indiana. The article notes that proud forces in Chicago were in chagrin over outsourcing their event to the Hoosier capital but their goal of developing a like speedway in Chicago in just a few months was seen as impossible.
An Indianapolis News article published about a month earlier than the one reviewed above covers similar territory but in much less detail. You can find it in attachment IMSNews120809. The article starts with a call-out box listing six competition events planned for the track in 1910. Five of the six were auto races, but one, planned for July 23, was an aviation meet. They had been submitted to the AAA Contest Board for approval by the Indiana AAA representative, Charles Sedwick.
The proposed dates were as follows:

  • May 27, 28, and 30 - auto race meet.
  • July 1,2, and 4 - auto race meet with balloon race support event.
  • July 23 - aviation meet.
  • August 12 and 13 - auto races, including a 24-hour endurance race.
  • September 3 and 5 - auto races.
  • October 7 and 8 - auto races.

The July aviation meet was to be sanctioned by the Aero Club of America. This was an effort to attract an international event, perhaps even for the James Gordon Bennett Cup.

Moross010410.pdf731.81 KB
IMSNews120809.pdf925.37 KB