Butler, Hower, AAA Leadership

This article in attachment AAA091509 originally appeared in the September 15, 1909, Indianapolis Star. The subject is an anticipated transfer of power at the American Automobile Association (AAA) as Samuel "S.M." Butler was expected to become the new chairman of the sanctioning body's Contest Board - replacing Frank Hower. The change was driven by the Manufacturers' Contest Association (MCA) - the voice of the automobile factories that wielded considerable influence. Butler was secretary of the Automobile Club of America (ACA) at the time the article was published.
Apparently, members of the MCA had it in for Hower as early as the previous February when they were first organized. An unidentified member of the organization is quoted, "If the manufacturers can induce Butler to accept the position it would be a long step forward in the right direction and would bring order out of chaos in the AAA."
Another prominent sanctioning body official of the day, David Beecroft of Chicago is called out as the likely head of a formally organized and compensated technical committee. The article is complimentary of Beecroft, calling him "one of the straightest and best-informed men in the automobile industry."
The close of the article offers a strongly negative insinuation about Hower's competency by asserting that the appointments of Butler and Beecroft would produce a marked improvement in management performance - saying that with those men "at the helm, the AAA control of racing would cease to be the joke it is said to be at the present. Hower is perhaps best known for establishing the Hower Trophy as an additional prize in the context of the Glidden Tour.
Attachment AAANews120209 contains an article the confirms the appointment of Butler to succeed Hower as chair of the AAA Contest Board. The announcement was made at the AAA annual meeting in New York. A.G. Batchelder was elected chairman of the executive committee. Lewis Spear (I think the correct spelling of his name was Speare, with an "e" at the end) of Boston was re-elected the president, and Frederick H. Elliott was re-elected secretary.
The article is good reference material as it lists AAA officers, obviously prominent people of the age. Here are the names.

  • Robert Hooper, Philadelphia (second vice president)
  • F.C. Donald, Chicago (treasurer)
  • H.A. Bonnell, East Orange, New Jersey (chairman of the legislative committee)
  • Charles T. Terry, New York (chairman of the touring information board)
  • Powell Evans, Philadelphia (chairman of good roads)
  • George B. Diehl, Buffalo (executive committee member)
  • A.H. Knoll, Buffalo (executive committee member)

This article closes by stressing the power of Butler's position, which was extensive. It reported his authority was virtually unlimited. He was reported to have "ruling power" over all AAA automobile contests, including the Glidden Tour, events at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Atlanta Speedway, as well as the Vanderbilt Cup, the Cobe Trophy and all other major road races.

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