Jackson Automobile Co. Protest

This attached article (attachment jackson082209), published in the Indianapolis Star on August 22, 1909, concerns the protest Jackson Automobile Company over the decision of American Automobile Association (AAA) and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to call off the Wheeler Schebler Trophy race despite the completion of 235 of the scheduled 300 miles. This controversial race was to be the closing contest of the first auto meet at the Speedway conducted the previous day on August 21, 1909. The company ran an ad (attachment IMSjackson082409) two days later declaring themselves winner of the race. 
The decision effectively made the race "null and void." It was triggered by the tragic and massive accident that killed riding mechanic Claude Kellum and two spectators: James West and Homer Jolliff. These fatalities came on the heels of two deaths in the first day's biggest event, the Prest-O-Lite Trophy - driver William Bourque and riding mechanic Harry Holcomb.
The attached article reports that Jackson Company's Indianapolis representative, C.C. Rundell, filed protest of the officials' decision on behalf of his employer. Their reasoning was that their entry, driven by Leigh Lynch, was safely in the lead and almost a certain winner. Lynch required four hours, 31 minutes and 51.4 seconds to complete the 235 miles.
Apparently Jackson's protest was filed with Speedway management as the article indicates that if the matter was not resolved to their satisfaction they planned to take it up with the AAA Contest Board. The Speedway had reportedly planned to re-stage the race as part of an event that would also include a 24 hour grinder on the track in a few weeks.
The Speedway planned to re-pave the track to develop a safer running surface. In the typical impatient fashion of Speedway President Carl Fisher apparently believed the work could be done in about a month - which is the same kind of rush job thinking that delivered the unsafe track responsible for the dangerous conditions of both the August motorcycle race meet and the first auto race meet a few days later.
The track was eventually paved with brick. The first competition was a time trial held in frigid conditions in December 1909.
The article closes with a segue to a different topic. This was about how the Marmon race team was pleased with the results of their efforts during the race weekend. Howard Marmon, the company's top engineer, said, "If the purpose of these dangerous as well as tiresome long distance is to test the endurance of cars and not of drivers, the Marmons go the full benefit Saturday."
The Jackson Company advertisement is extremely interesting. Here are some highlights:

  • It makes no reference to the protest.
  • Aside from touting its success in the Wheeler-Schebler Trophy, the ad speaks to technical design aspects of the car such as eliminating push rods to place valves in the head and positioning the cam shaft on top of the cylinders. All of this, Jackson claimed, meant superior reliability.
  • The "winning" car was a private entry by owner C.D. Paxson of Cleveland, Ohio.
  • The car had over 20,000 miles on the engine in everyday road use entering the race and was not, in the lexicon of the day, "doped up."
  • The car was priced at $2,000 and superior to competitive product costing as much as $6,000 the ad claimed.
  • Driver Leigh Lynch is referred to as a "test driver," and not a professional.

Note that by September 4 according to the Indianapolis Star Speedway Director of Contests Ernie Moross was lobbying the AAA to disallow the Jackson protest on technicalities.

jackson082209.pdf339.87 KB
IMSjacksonad082409.pdf302.5 KB