Moross: New Epoch in Racing - 1910

Originally published in the Sunday, March 20, 1910 Indianapolis Star, this article by Indianapolis Motor Speedway Director of Contests Ernie Moross was part of  a special supplemental section about the upcoming March 28 Indianapolis Automobile Show presented by the Indianapolis Automobile Trade Association (IATA). Key features of the event were the Floral Parade, contests at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and concluding banquet at the Denison Hotel.
This article provides outstanding perspective on the state of auto racing both in the United States and Europe during this era. The qualifier is that the author is Ernie Moross, who as a top official at the Brickyard had a clear bias for his employer and American auto manufacturers. Still, the information provided here is extremely useful to anyone seeking to understand the global climate for motorsport and, secondarily, the auto industry at the time.
Moross pointed to a new "epoch" of auto racing predicting a net gain over 1909 of 50 percent of cars entered for competition in the coming months. He reflects on the early years of the sport - just six years before the time of his writing  the article - in 1904. He reports that there was only one major auto race event at the time - the Vanderbilt Cup - as well as "a few events on mile circular tracks." This was not entirely true as the speed festival in Ormond Beach was most certainly an important contest of the times. However, Moross' point is valid in the sense that things were just getting started in the United States.
Moross is in significant error, though, in his assertion that there were only three American entries in the 1904 Vanderbilt Cup. In fact there were five:

Moross reports that France had 26 car vying for three spots allowed per country for the 1905 James Gordon Bennett Cup race. In America foreign cars were overwhelming in the Vanderbilt Cup and Moross posits that such marques held dominate market share among high priced vehicles in the United States as a result.
A study of history proves the racing landscape changed significantly in just a few years. The James Gordon Bennett Cup was abandoned after 1905. Perhaps more surprisingly the French Grand Prix, established in 1906 as the manufacturers in that country expressed frustration that only three of their slate could compete in the James Gordon Bennett Cup, was cancelled after a German victory in 1908. The great point-to-point races such as Paris-Vienna were long since a thing of the past after the disastrous Paris-Madrid race was aborted mid-contest in 1903.
Suggesting that declining interest in Europe could be linked to their use of purpose-built race cars, Moross pointed to stock car chassis racing in the United States as the reason for the sport's increasing popularity in America. He asserted that America led the world in automobile racing at the time. His article calls out top USA road races of the previous year, 1909:

He also notes top hill climb events which were considered great sport in the day:


Moross points to the rise of speedways with the two dominant facilities, the Brickyard and the Atlanta Speedway. The evidence he cites to support his contention first centers on manufacturer involvement. Asserting that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway attracted 62 entries to its tragic inaugural auto race meet in August 1909 he claimed it was the largest assembly of cars anywhere in the world for competition up to that time. Adding Atlanta's entry list of 34 machines Moross points out that 96 cars had particpated in the two speedway events.
Additional evidence of the rise of interest in speedways was the value of awards provided. The pirzes awarded across all European and American road and hill climb events paled in comparison to the value of the speedway rewards. Leading the way was the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Wheeler-Schebler Trophy, the Tiffany-designed 500-pound troy silver cup valued at $10,000. Other Brickyard prizes mentioned are the Prest-O-Lite Trophy, the G&J Trophy, the Remy Grand Brassard as well as Overland's gold-plated car. In total along with lesser medals the Speedway presented prizes in excess of $20,000. Atlanta offered its $8,000 City of Atlanta Trophy along with the Coca-Cola Trophy and other awards valued at $19,000.
Moross* is careful to note that Indianapolis led the country with the first speedway and in doing so encouraged others to follow suit. He predicted five more speedways to be constructed in 1910. Distinguishing the Indianapolis Motor Speedway - according to Moross - was that it was the only fenced aviation park (the Speedway held a successful air show in June 1910)and only balloon park in the world. Another advantage the contest director stresses was the durability of the Speedway's brick surface, able to hold up under the pounding of relentless testing by factories - a huge advantage over Atlanta's Georgia clay surface. This, Moross said, allowed Indianapolis to lead the way in manufacturer entries in motorsport. The irony of this claim is that the Atlanta track's real estate is now part of the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
*Note: I have attached the Sprint Car Hall of Fame's bio of Ernie Moross.

IMSchangesMoross032010.pdf1.32 MB
Moross-Ernie-bio.pdf1.07 MB