Oldfield Wins 1905 Championship!

This material has been prepared by First Super Speedway contributor and auto racing history researcher Ken Parrotte. It includes an article first published in the November 1, 1905 Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal. Ken has also prepared an original document (attachment 1905AAAChampionship-1) where he cites sources and presents a breakdown of the races and first three finishers in what is the first American auto racing championship determined by points. The series was sanctioned by the American Automobile Association (AAA) and was reserved exclusively for oval dirt tracks.
The events of this championship produced unintended consequences. Several accidents involving top drivers of the day: Barney Oldfield, Webb Jay, Earl Kiser and Paul Sartori were both devastating and met with harsh criticism from newspapers - even a call to disband what they referred to as "track racing." The accidents involving Jay and Kiser were career ending. Jay suffered a severe concussion but eventually recovered and while he stopped high-speed competition he continued in the automobile business. Kiser lost a leg in his accident and retired. Sartori's accident resulted in a spectator death - a teenage boy. Oldfield suffered a serious head wound and wrenched shoulder after being thrown from his car and initially planned to retire from the sport. As the most famous driver in America, this close call yielded significant attention.
The Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal is a significant research find because it documents that Oldfield was recognized as the driving champion of the year. Some historians have suggested that the championship was not a driver's contest but a competition awarding points to the cars, and effectively, their owners. This brief article asserts that Oldfield was the first national champion of American auto racing based on a point scoring system.
As for the championship it was full of twists and turns. Louis Chevrolet, new to the sport and even America at the time, appeared to dominate in his Charles Miller-owned Fiat racer. However, after the Sartori accident in a sister car, Miller appears to have lost his resolve and ceased entering cars. The mercurial Miller was known as having more financial resources than good sense and evidence of this is his decision to abscond with Julia Gifford Fitzsimmons the wife of the famous boxing prizefighter Bob Fitzsimmons. Webb Jay, in the high torque steam engine racer, "Whistling Billy," at times appeared unbeatable. His devastating accident in August at Kennilworth Park took him out of play. Even Oldfield did not compete in all the national championship races which indicates that the competition was not seen as a tremendous priority at the time.

Barney1905.pdf99.46 KB
1905 AAA Championship-1.pdf306.4 KB