National Champion Title Coveted - 1910

The attached article orginally appeared in the May 22, 1910 Indianapolis Star as part of the build-up to the May 1910 race meet at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This was the Sunday edition of the paper just five days prior to the beginning of the meet and as such was packed with articles concerning the event in anticipation of subscribers spending more time with the paper over coffee on their day of rest.
Because this article was previewing the May 1910 "national championships," a newly-announced distinction by the American Automobile Association (AAA) for select race meets, car manufacturers were keen to make a great showing. What I find particularly interesting is that this article at least insinuates that races at this meet would definitively crown their winners as "national champion" for the year. This is curious as the meet was at the beginning of the 1910 season and there were other "national championship" races on the AAA schedule duirng the year - some at the Speedway. The context for this was that this was an age hyperbole, yellow journalism and Barnum & Bailey. 
The article posits that manufacturers headquartered in cities beyond Indianapolis - Among them Detroit, Dayton and Hartford, Connecticut - were a bit in awe of the performance of race teams representing the Hoosier capital. This was based on the dominance in particular of Marmon, National, American and Cole in race meets of recent weeks at the new speedways in Atlanta and Playa Del Rey, a Los Angeles-area board track.
Leading the Detroit entries was the ten-car team of Buick, organized by Dr. Wadsworth Warren with top drivers Bob Burman and Louis Chevrolet. Drivers Johnny Aitken of National and Ray Harroun of Marmon are noted as leading the Indianapolis contingent. Caleb Bragg, an independent driving his personal Fiat, is referred to as the "conqueror of Oldfield" in reference to his match race success over American's most charismatic and first true race-driving star Barney Oldfield at Playa Del Rey. Some of the motivation for that may have been that Oldfield's entry was still in doubt as the self-promoting driver was negotiating for bigger prize money for time trial events he could be expected to enter with his world land-speed racer, the Blitzen Benz. Should track management and Oldfield not come to terms it would be well within the predictable reaction of Speedway Contest Director Ernie Moross to blunt the impact of the cigar-chomping driver's absence by effectively diminishing his prowess through a promotion of Bragg's triumph over him. This is just specultation on my part but a point to consider.
Note, too, a sidebar article that lists prizes for the race meet's various events - valued at a total of $22,000. The list appears as below:

  • Wheeler-Schebler Trophy, May 28, $10,000 trophy with $1,000 cash award.
  • Prest-O-Lite Trophy, May 27, $1,400 trophy.
  • Remy Grand Brassard, May 30, $2,500 with $75 weekly "salary" for driver until next running.
  • Speedway Helmet, May 27, $100 trophy (helmet) with $50 weekly "salary" for driver until next running.
  • Gold-plated Overland auto for fastest mile time trial, $1,200 value.
  • Championship medal, May 30, $2,220 value.
  • Gold and silver medals, May 30, $500 value.
  • Cash awards for meeting, $3,655.
  • Amateur trophies, $300 value.
IMSmakers052210.pdf890.53 KB