Call To End Short Oval Racing - 1908

Thanks to auto racing history researcher Ken Parrotte we have the attached Automobile Topics article from June 1908 discussing the appropriateness of venues for auto racing. While there can be no doubt the use of horse tracks, with their thin railings, limited protection for spectators, and unconditioned running surfaces, were dangerous, the reality was that all forms of the sport were extremely dangerous for everyone involved in these early days.
The underlying story here is the cultural differences between short track racers and road racers that still exist today. In some ways, it reflected the regionalism of the United States that has always existed - and probably always will. The Northeast, where there were better roads - some even paved - naturally tilted to road racing. This is where many national trade newspapers were located as well as wealthy Americans who looked to Europe for culture and the top premium products. In the time, there was an East-West schism as those in the East used the term, "Westerners," with derisive intent. Anything West of Philadelphia, qualified as West in their minds.
Racers in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and further West typically focused on horse tracks as venues for their speed contests, although there were exceptions such as hill climbs and, eventually road races - especially in California. This is where Barney Oldfield emerged as a cultural icon, the grassroots star racer of Western/rural America.
The article, which is presented here in two attachments, uses the recent fatal accident to popular racing star Emanuel Cedrino at Pimlico to state its case for the end of the horse track as an auto racing venue. Interestingly, it discusses new rules and requirements for anyone seeking the American Automobile Association (AAA) sanction. So, there was some latitude if such tracks were upgraded with safety features by track owners and promoters.
In addition to the Cedrino incident, the article also reflects on the outcry precipitated by the career-ending injuries suffered by Webb Jay and Earl Kiser. Oldfield also suffered serious injuries, and all three occurred within a month's time in 1905.

Automobile Topics 6.6.1908 Curse of Horse Track Racing.610.pdf405.86 KB
Automobile Topics 6.6.1908 Curse of Horse Track Racing.611.pdf440.93 KB