Hoosier Race - 1907 & 1908

In 1907 the Indiana-based automobile manufacturers were great in number and prolific. They saw the value of motorsport and wanted to show off their wares in competition at the best venue possible. At that time the Long Island Motor Parkway was under construction in New York as a response to a tragic accident involving a spectator death during the 1906 Vanderbilt Cup Race. The idea was to build a Parkway that could not only operate as a private toll-based roadway but also could be utilized to stage the annual Vanderbilt Cup Race in the ongoing effort to test and improve automotive performance through international competition.
Overly optimistic projections by Parkway leadership predicted it would be completed in time to stage the race in the autumn of 1907. There was no race in 1907 due to construction delays and the struggle for rights of way. Eventually the organizers had to recalibrate their projections and what proved to be the first modern highway was finally opened in time for the 1908 Vanderbilt Cup Race. Even then, though, it only accounted for about a third of the course, meaning most of the circuit returned to public roads - unguarded and fully exposed to the whims of spectators who frequently ventured onto the running surface in the heat of competition.
The top leaders of the movement for a race of Indiana manufacturers were Edgar and Elmer Apperson of the Apperson auto company. The call for a Hoosier auto industry focused race in New York, which on the surface of it sounds a bit absurd, quieted with the 1907 delay. Nonetheless this expression of interest foreshadowed a call for an Indiana-based major automobile competition two years before the birth of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the running of the first major auto race in Indiana - the June 1909 Cobe Trophy and its associated support race, the Indiana Trophy.
The article in attachment HoosierRace040807 was published in the April 8, 1907 Indianapolis Star. This is apparently the article that broke the news that the automotive forces of the Hoosier State carried weight on a national scale and appeared ready to launch a new and major auto race on the national stage that was the Long Island Motor Parkway - the site of the vaunted Vanderbilt Cup races from 1908 through 1910.
Leading that charge for the Indiana contingent was Edgar Apperson of the Kokomo-based automotive firm of the same name. Also in the forefront was George Weidley, the senior engineer of the Premier Motor Company. The two men were added to the widely respected board of automobile engineers already consulting managers of the event.
A meeting was planned for later in the month when Frederick H. Elliott, secretary of the American Automobile Association (AAA) planned a visit to Indianapolis. Another AAA secretary with the last name of Hotchkiss is also mentioned. Jefferson De Mont Thompson, chair of the AAA Racing Board, was expected to attend the meeting as well. 
The major point of discussion was that this new race featuring cars from Indiana manufacturers was to be a stock car competition. This was an ongoing issue of the age as most American manufacturers lobbied against what they viewed as the needless expense of purpose-built race cars they derided as "freak" machines. The real value, they insisted, was to pit the actual cars consumers could purchase at dealerships against each other to see if they could survive the grind of high speed stress and how they would fare in the performance comparison.
Another point that is discussed through much of the article is a shift in technical regulations away from maximum weight to focus on the cubic inch displacement of engines. In the earliest days of auto racing officials were primarily concerned about the maximum weight of cars. The reason was that typically weight equated to engine size and beefed up frames to withstand the punishment of bouncing over rough roads. Bluntly put, the top engineers and mechanics of the day simply became more sophisticated with their thinking and the idea of restricting the displacement of engine cylinders became more popular.
As for the race being pushed by the Indiana-based companies, their vision was to stage the contest shortly after the Vanderbilt Cup. Reading between the lines, I believe they were thinking about a timeframe of within a month. They wanted the event to include an elimination competition which would reduce the field for the main event. Their plan was for the primary competition to take place over two days running races of 200 miles. 
Entry fees for the contest were projected to be $1,000 and manufacturers were to be limited to two cars. Among the car companies who had already expressed an interest were Franklin, Apperson and Premier. Leaders of the effort expected 30 to 40 entries, all of which, by the way, were to be American.
Note that in the conclusion of this article there is a list of cars recently sold by various dealerships in Indianapolis.
The article in attachment HoosierRace042607 reports on the meeting anticipated in the article described above. The meeting took place at the Indianapolis Columbia Club. Note that the club was not housed in their current building on monument circle, which opened in 1925. The Indiana auto industry leadership was represented by Edgar Apperson of Haynes-Apperson, Harold O. Smith, the presdent of Premier and George Weidley, also of Premier. These men met with the engineering consulting board of the AAA. This article reports that Smith and Apperson were "founders" of the new race - although it had not yet taken place, and, as history shows, never did.
The members of the consulting board were an impressive list, including Henry Ford, E.R. Thomas (Thomas cars), and A.L. Riker, who founded Riker Electric and was the top engineer at Locomobile. The following excerpt underscores the emphasis these people put on stock car racing:
"The stock touring car race promises to be one of much interest to the automobile world. It is a new test for cars and requires new regulations which only experts can form. It is the purpose of this event to test the cars which the various companies are putting on the market - a thorough, strenuous test, that will leave no doubt as to the weaknesses and imperfections of the machines that are being sold every day. Heretofore the auto races have been merely contests between racing shells and not struggles between the kind of cars that were sold to the public."
Another excerpt illustrates the pride the Indianapolis-based industry took in their initiative:
"This fall stock touring car event is attracting much attention and has brought Indianapolis and Indiana autoists into the front rank of the auto world. It has resulted in this being made the meeting place of officials of the AAA, the controlling force in automobiling in America, and the name of the city and State being spread throughout the country."
Attachment HoosierRaceNews120707 contains an article from months later and relevant but not entirely related to the other attachments here. We know something the Indiana automotive leadership didn't in the first half of 1907 - that despite the promises of Vanderbilt Cup Race Founder William K. Vanderbilt Jr. and his top professional manager Art Pardington, the Vanderbilt Cup that year never took place. This obviously affected the viability of the Hoosier racing boosters' plans.
By the end of year when this article was published in the December 7, 1907 Indianapolis News, Indianapolis leadership looked ahead to 1908 and apparently believed it best to take matters into their own hands. They may have become disenchanted with the Vanderbilt Cup organizers and it is understandable that the credibility of the Long Island establishment was at an all-time low.
This article discusses plans to stage a 600-mile auto race in June 1908. Like the Vanderbilt Cup, a long distance (28 miles) public roads course was under consideration. It was northwest of the Hoosier capital. Like the event discussed earlier, this was to be a stock car competition. This time future Indianapolis Motor Speedway Founder Art Newby - who also founded the National Motor Vehicle Company - is noted as one of the organizers along with the previously mentioned Smith and Apperson.
A meeting with the AAA technical board in Chicago triggered this article. N.H. Van Sicklen, the chair of the technical committee, took on the task of developing a recommendation for moving forward with the event. The men on the rules committee included those mentioned here earlier (Ford, Riker, Thomas and Apperson) plus someone named H. Souther of Hartford, Connecticut. Newby, Apperson and Smith took on the task of identifying the course and obtaining the rights to use the roads.
I want to call out a reference to something I have noticed through the years of my research. That is the regionalism that was evident in the era and the view held by the most prominent leaders in the Northeastern United States that Indiana was a Western State. People living there were frequently referred to as "Westerners." I believe this was sometimes - but not always - a derisive reference carrying a charge of ignorance, lacking in social graces or general backwardness.
The article discusses the manufacturer preference for stock cars and points to Smith as the leader or spokesman for that philosophy. It makes the point that when the time of the year for the Vanderbilt Cup drew near, executives turned their attention to building special racing cars. This, according to the article, pushed American companies to play the European manufacturers' game, where the emphasis was on performance and speed.
The proposed event reportedly was seen as important to Indiana's auto industry. Predictions about "throngs" of people coming to the state and especially its central region. Interestingly, without naming names, the article reports that there were a "half dozen" automobile manufacturers in Indianapolis and six more in other cities around the State.
The article then transitions away from discussions of a Hoosier road race to the closing of the Chicago Auto Show. That event was staged at the Windy City's Coliseum and their First and Seventh Regiment armories. While the three paragraphs do not delve into specifics, it notes year-over-year sales and general commerce was flat. Still, the prediction called for a return next year. Finally, the article asserts that as a result of the Chicago gathering American cars were proven the equal or superior to European imports.

HoosierRace040807.pdf1.62 MB
HoosierRace042607.pdf150.83 KB
VCRPremier061707.pdf244.34 KB
HoosierRaceNews120707.pdf1.57 MB