Savannah Stock Cars - 1908

These articles discuss plans for a stock car race on the emerging road course located in Savannah, Georgia. This road course would  host the first American Grand Prize later that year. Under construction in the spring of 1908 for a stock car race there was also talk of hosting the Vanderbilt Cup which had struggled with crowd control issues throughout its history since 1904, resulting in a spectator death in 1906. Part of the motivation for establishing the course was to attract the Vanderbilt Cup - America's first international road race and the most important auto race in the country up to that time.
The article in attachment SavannahPrep020908 was published by the Indianapolis Star on February 9, 1908. It reports on a commissioned trophy - a bust of the Native American Chief Tomachichi of the Yamacraw Tribe, who was credited with a role in founding the city would be one of the awards at the races. It also notes that convict labor was put to work in preparing the course - a fine Southern tradition.
Attachment SavannahRace021608 contains an Indianapolis Star aticle dated February 16, 1908. The main thrust of the article was the rumor of a side bet of sorts between V.A. Longacre of the American Motor Car Company of Indianapolis and one of the Apperson brothers from the Apperson Brothers Automobile Company out of Kokomo, Indiana. More details were forthcoming in another Indianapolis Star article (March 8, 1908, Attachment SavannahRace030808) where the fact the upcoming event would offer several races for different classes of cars - very common in the day. The races were for stock cars which was a preference of manufacturers who resisted the inevitable pull for purpose-built racers due to expense and the general belief in the media and much of buying public that speed events only had meaning if they pitted machines typically found on showroom floors against each other.
Among the entries mentioned for the races are: E.H. Furman's six-cylinder Stearns for driver A.L. Leland and a six-cylinder Thomas Flyer for driver George Seligman. Anticipated but not delivered by the publication of the above article was a Benz entry by the Bergdoll Motor Company of Philadelphia. The name of the main event's trophy was also announced - the Southern High Power Trophy - which must have been seen as a placeholder because according to the article the move fueled speculation that the Savannah organizers were positioning to host the Vanderbilt Cup as noted above. It did not come to pass, however, as the 1908 race remained in Long Island, N.Y.
One other noteworthy item speaks to the focus on all things stock car as the American Automobile Association (AAA) ruled that demountable rims were permitted in the race because the technology had finally been embraced for commercial use at least as an option in many car models. The first noteworthy use of these rims came in the first French Grand Prix (1906). Instead of tires being directly affixed to wooden wheels and requiring that tires be removed (sometimes the mechanics clinched knives in their mouthes and then used them to cut the old rubber off) and attached rims were developed so the outer ring of the wheel could be unbolted and a new rim (outer rim) with a pre-attached, inflated tire could be simply bolted on. This made for much faster pit stops and proved to be the difference in that first Grand Prix.

SavannahPrep020908.pdf371.19 KB
SavannahRace021608.pdf180.09 KB
Savannah030808.pdf448.48 KB