The Wives of Three Speed Kings

I pulled this content from Barney Oldfield's personal scrapbook and like virtually all the material in the collection it is poorly organized and not in the best condition. There are two articles, but it is unclear whether they were published in the same newspaper or even came from the same time period. This is because like most of the content in Oldfield's scrapbook the names of the newspapers are snipped off from the clipping.
However, the main article, which discusses the feelings of three wives of race drivers, was obviously printed in 1914 as it was part of the build-up to the Vanderbilt Cup Race that was conducted that year. Also, a portion of the date appears with the article indicating that the year was 1914. To be clear, the scrapbook was so poorly assembled that even that is not conclusive proof as news reports as much as 10 years apart were pasted to the same page at times. In this case, though, after reading the article I am very confident this is a prelude piece to the 1914 Vanderbilt Cup - where Oldfield finished second.
The three wives are Mrs. Barney Oldfield (Bess), Mrs. Earl Cooper and Mrs. Frank Verbeck. The item is a good time capsule in communicating the evolution of women's roles in American society. Clearly the expectation was that these three women would love and support their men and the extent of their active involvement in their careers was limited to emotional support. A slight exception is indicated in the words of Bess Oldfield who is described as having more technical knowledge than other two. She comments that "the best way to help a man is to know." That comment is subject to interpretation but I took it to mean that by familiarizing herself with the technology of the cars and the strategies employed in driving she could have meaningful conversations with her husband as he sorted out his approach to a race. Another turn of phrase, though, is interesting in its self-deprecation when whe says, "But I am just a woman."
There were other women of the era that had a higher profile. Perhaps the most impressive is Joan Newton Cuneo, who won races against men from 1905-1908 and was a skilled driver in the Glidden Tour endurance runs. Dolly Mulford, the wife of driver Ralph Mulford, served as his riding mechanic when officials allowed. Emanuel Cedrino's wife was also known for her mechanical prowess. Still, these were exceptions. More typically, women were expected to stay in the background. No greater evidence of this can be offered than the American Automobile Association's (AAA) 1909 decision to ban women from racing after Cuneo's success proved embarassing to some.
A smaller item in this collection reports on Barney Oldfield preparing for a speed record trial in his 300 HP front wheel drive Christie racer. This is probably the racer he used to set the first 100 MPH lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1916.

Oldfield_Cactus_Derby_16.pdf1.03 MB