Speedway Wins AAA Favor

This article first appeared in the January 16, 1910 Indianapolis Star and is a super-outstanding follow-up to another article that appeared on January 9, 1910. These articles discuss what is represented as the successful negotiations conducted by representatives of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to meetings with American Automobile Association (AAA) in New York to secure race meet sanctions for the coming racing season. The Speedway representatives were Founder and President Carl Fisher; Founder and Secretary James Allison and Director of Speedway Contests Ernie Moross. I want to note that this article was written by the great early motorsport journalist Peter Paul "P.P." Willis.


Willis reports that there was great contention for the "plum" dates the Speedway sought, especially the summer holidays of Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day, with 50 applications by venues across the country. Moross apparently did the heavy lifting, spending several days in New York before Fisher and Allison showed up to close the deals. The Speedway at this point was awarded the May and July holiday dates as well as August 12 and 14 for a 24-hour event. Their application for the July holiday was held in abeyance contingent on the ability of organizers in Lowell, Massachusetts to stage a road race. In the end the Lowell event did not happen and the Speedway got all the choice summer holidays. However, the 24-hour race never materialized.


The article stresses that the reality of the Speedway and its preeminence as America's first real speedway was a massive advantage. An excerpt from the article is amusing: "Indianapolis had the jump on them all, however, because, instead of having a speedway only on paper, backed with a limitless supply of talk, it has the real article that cost several (hundreds of) thousands of dollars and has proven to be the fastest in the land."


Another interesting point was that the article reported that the AAA anounced a "national circuit" of recognized, sanctioned races. This was a strategy to diminish the significance of "barnstorming" events the like of which Barney Oldfield was famous for. Many of these events were largely staged thrill shows with match races and record runs with just a handful of cars. For the most part the results of such "competition" was pre-determined. To dull the promotional value of such events for any manufacturer supporting them the AAA announced it would no longer recognize speed records acheived at such shows.


The first announced race for the national circuit - clearly a precursor to a national championship - was to be an April 10 affair at the first wood plank speedway, Playa Del Rey, near Los Angeles. Atlanta Speedway was next up with a meet for May 5-7. The Memorial Day holiday timeframe for the race meet at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was seen as a huge success for the new speedway and likened in importance to the famous and established Vanderbilt Cup. William K. Vanderbilt, Jr. was announced as one of the judges.


The ongoing debate about the definition of what, exactly, is a stock car was yet again addressed. The article, however, provides no detail except to say that a "sliding scale" was recommend by the Manufacturers Contest Association (MCA).


A small sidebar story notes that Carl Fisher was in the market for one of the supercars of the era, in particular a Fiat or Benz. While in New York he visited the import companies for those firms. In particular he was considering the Blitzen Benz that Victor Hemery drove to records at Brooklands the previous fall. Apparently Fisher even considered driving one of these cars himself although his serious high-speed days were behind him, probably a concession to his poor eyesight. The Blitzen Benz eventually ended up in the hands of Oldfield who consequently added to his fame by setting land speed record runs at Daytona and new speed records at the Brickyard in the May 1910 meet.

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