Oldfield Retires - Again

This collection is a hodgepodge of clips demonstrating the lack of organization and sourcing in the Barney Oldfield scrapbook. Perhaps the most interesting artilce is one that announces one of Barney Oldfield's many retirements from auto racing. Throughout he suggests that he has simply lost interest. My best guess is that this article is from 1907 because it references his stint in Vaudeville and Broadway, which was late 1905 and early 1906. Oldfield's career is most poorly documented in the 1906-1907 time frame and I believe this is due to two factors. One, he predominately focused on barnstorming county fair tracks at this point. While that received a lot ink in secondary markets, it wasn't part of an organized series and none of the races were the extravaganzas of the big road races at the time: the Vanderbilt Cup or the road races in Savannah, Lowell and Briarcliff in 1908. Even at the time serious racers derided Oldfield's antics even as county fair goers marveled.
The haphazard combination of this collection is apparent as other articles mention Oldfield preparing for the James Gordon Bennett Cup - which he tried to unsuccessfully - in 1904. Also, there is another item about Winton Motor Carriage Company preparing an exceptionally powerful car for Oldfield, which would have been published in late 1903 or early 1904. Finally, there is an item on Oldfield driving a stock car for Harlan Whipple at Briarcliff. He did that in 1908.
Apart from the organization of the articles, the item on one of his retirements provides the most insight to the man. He was keenly aware of the danger of his profession. He had already been involved in three very serious accidents and was very lucky to have escaped with relatively minor wounds. In September 1903 a tire let go and he crashed through a fence to kill a man and injure his brother. In 1904 at the Louisiana Purchase Trophy in St. Louis he was blinded by dust and crashed through a fence to kill two other spectators. In 1905 he again blew a tire and mowed down a fence receiving a concussion and a broken rib in the process. On top of all that, the newspapers sensationalized every aspect of the tragedies and some ignorant souls blamed Oldfield as a bit of a bloodthirsty madman. That pounding by the press had to heighten his sense of angst about when his number would be up. The AAA and track promoters were not demonstrating a lot of effort in safety breakthroughs. Drivers really had to take care of themselves. Oldfield gravitated toward barnstorming, where he could entertain crowds for big money and exercise more control over the proceedings, which mitigated risk. When he did organize less scripted contests, he focused on match races, where he was paired against a single competitor which again minimized the risk as he had only one other machine to keep an eye on.

Oldfield_Green_Dragon_Retires.pdf1.24 MB