To Race Or Not To Race?

This article was published in the March 21, 1909 Indianapolis Star and is an editorial discussing the merits of auto racing primarily concerning its contributions to the development of the automobile. The upshot of the article is that racing could make contributions but needed to be conducted in a responsible manner. In particular it calls out the use of public roads as being excessively dangerous. This may have been motivated by the craziness witnessed at the Vanderbilt Cup where in 1906 a spectator - Curt Gruner - was killed and in 1908 a young man - David Schull - was injured (broken leg) when both were struck by race cars. The problem was that in the case of courses of 20 miles or more over public roads it was nearly impossible to police them and protect people from venturing out onto the racing surface. With crowds in the tens of thousands on Long Island, New York, the Vanderbilt Cup had an almost impossible situation. The reality is that the most amazing fact is that there were not more deaths and injuries in that irresponsible environment.
This article suggests against such events but then places a condition on them - that proper precautions are made for crowd control and that in population centers speed laws be adhered to. The Association of Licesnsed Automobile Manufacturers (ALAM) is credited with providing due diligence and reasoned judgment to the organization of high speed races. The article makes the point that advocates of high speed racing potentially could do more harm than good to advancing the "cause" of automobiling when it comes to risky events that could result in tragic consequences. Cruriously, the article does not mention the American Automobile Association (AAA), with its contest board the premiere auto racing sanctioning body in the United States. It also fails to acknowledge the Indianapolis Motor Speedway - which was under construction at the time this item was published. The Speedway should have been highly relevant as it was/is a huge facility that was relatively easy to police and took racers off public roads.

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