States Battle for Cobe Trophy

Attached are two articles concerning the contest among venues to stage the second running of the Cobe Trophy. The first article was published January 16, 1910, in the Indianapolis Star. The owner of the cup was the Chicago Automobile Club or more specifically one of its most prominent leaders, Ira Cobe, who collectively would determine its fate.
The first race was held in and between Crown Point and Lowell, Indiana but the public roads proved a bit lacking in quality but more damning was a financial loss probably attribute to the remote nature of the northwestern Indiana course. Apparently, it wasn't close enough to the huge population center of Chicago to attract a sufficiently sizable audience.
Wisconsin was the new contender in the competition with M.C. Moore, president of the Wisconsin State Automobile Association marshaling the effort from dairy state. His team had deployed a "scout car" to map a course on public roads between Racine and Lake Geneva. In Illinois, Frank B. Wood led a team from Elgin who offered up a road course. While Elgin failed to secure the Cobe Trophy the organizers went on to produce their own event which was ultimately more successful than the Cobe race.
Elgin's big industry was watchmaking and Wood rallied support from that industry as well as the area farmers who owned or bordered much of the land on which any such event would be staged. The venue is described in the article as west of town and within a mile of its center point. A streetcar line ran to within a quarter mile of the proposed grandstand where a good view of a stretch and hairpin turn could be obtained. The circuit conformed to the generally expected length of 10 miles.
Attachment CobeNews012210 contains an Indianapolis News article published January 22, 1909. This article asserts that Cobe and the entire Chicago Auto Club were optimistic about constructing a new speedway near the big lakeside city. The track was to be modeled after the Indianapolis Motor Speedway but plans called for it to be shorter in distance at two and an eighth mile.
The article makes it clear that final arrangement for financing the project was not in place. Also, no one was sharing the proposed location. Neither of those facts should surprise historians today because we know the track was never built. A board speedway was later constructed in Chicago (1915).
Another brief article on the Chicago speedway topic is in attachment CobeNews012410 - published in the Indianapolis News on January 24, 1910. This report indicates that private investors outside the Chicago Auto Club were vying for the opportunity to build speedways. There were two investment groups. Both were reaching out to the Chicago Auto Club for rights to the Cobe Trophy race.
The next attached article was published in the February 6, 1910, Indianapolis Star. The timing of this report coincided with coverage of the Chicago Auto Show and notes that large signs calling for submissions of road courses for the Cobe Trophy were prominent at the Coliseum and First Regiment Armory where the event took place. Interestingly the article suggests that the Chicago motorists were desperate to see a speedway constructed near their city because prevailing wisdom was that another road race would mean another financial bath.
Hours south the Indianapolis Motor Speedway beckoned. The article posits that the Chicago faithful would choke on their pride to take their event to the Hoosier capital. Speedway Director of Contests Ernie Moross was evident at the show in his efforts to bring the Cobe Trophy to the Brickyard. Moross' value proposition was compelling - a guarantee of profitability. Moross also highlighted challenges to the Windy City contingent: 1) the autumnal Vanderbilt Cup would absorb all the energy of any other event that time of year and 2) any attempt to construct a proper speedway over the subsequent months would fall short for lack of time. He sweetened the deal further to allow the Chicago club all authority on the race's management and offered a large block of tickets to be sold in their city.
Leadership preferred a speedway race believing it would be easier to manage and provide crowd protection as well as increasing the entertainment value to spectators. As for approved American Automobile Association (AAA) sanction dates, the event had been awarded June 25.
The continuance of the Cobe Trophy and its 1910 location had been a topic of debate for months prior to the January Indianapolis Star article analyzed previously. This is evidenced in the additional attachments with Indianapolis News articles that predate the January 1910 articles we have reviewed.
Attachment CobeNews102009 contains an October 20 article that affirms rumors that had been circulating that Cobe and the Chicago Auto Club officials held out little hope of returning competition for the trophy back to Crown Point. Evidence of this was the decision to dismantle the main roadside grandstand. The grandstand had a reported seating capacity of 10,000 and was constructed by the D.A. Root Company of Crown Point. Plans called for the lumber to be salvaged and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway apparently had an interest in it as their expansion continued. It was estimated that there was enough lumber to fill 18 freight cars.
We learn that estimated losses on the inaugural event came in at roughly $30,000. They originally anticipated attendance around the entire 23.6-mile course more in the order of the Vanderbilt Cup's 100,000. Post-race estimates came in at 30,000 to 40,000.
Attachment CobeNews102209 has an article published October 22 that confirms that a Cobe Trophy Race would again take place in 1910, but the venue was still undecided. This was the reporter's conclusion after learning that the Chicago Automobile Club applied to the Manufacturers' Contest Association (MCA) and the AAA for event dates in June. The 1909 races were held in June. There were strong expectations that wherever the event was staged, it would be in Indiana.
Attachment CobeNews110509 from November 5, 1909, confirms that Wisconsin motorists had thrown their hat in the ring to provide a host city. As stated above, Wisconsin State Automobile Association President M.C. Moore announced the club's intentions to pursue the event. He ordered a "pilot car" to reconnoiter the area's public roads for an appropriate course. The country in the area of Beloit and Lake Geneva near Chicago was cited as a high potential venue.
A good point is made that helps readers and researchers understand the realities of these long road races presented over lengthy courses. Spectators at the first Cobe race complained of the tedious waits during the contests caused by the 23.6-mile course. Officials were determined to use a shorter course.
A short item on the New York Herald-Atlanta reliability run is also provided. Four Indiana cars, the Premier of Indianapolis, the Apperson of Kokomo, the Maxwell of Newcastle, and the Studebaker of South Bend are noted for making perfect scores. I believe baseball legend Ty Cobb made his debut as a professional driver in this event for Chalmers-Detroit. Unfortunately, he is not mentioned so this is speculation born of deductive reasoning.
Attachment CobeNews120809 contains another Indianapolis News article published December 8, 1909. This article reiterates the Wisconsin Automobile Association's interest in hosting the race. They selected two routes in the southern part of  Walsworth County, Wisconsin. The article reports that there was a consensus among motorists that the roads of the two courses were among the finest in the Midwest - requiring little improvement to accommodate the racing of the day.
The towns in the area of one of the options were Whitewater and Elkhorn. The other course was described as six miles long, triangular in shape, and part of a stretch running parallel with the Milwaukee Road. The thinking of AAA officials at the time was to focus on courses closer to the Chicago area than the 1909 course was.
Another item appears as a sidebar. This focuses on emerging laws for New York state focusing on issuing driving licenses. This included developing written and behind-the-wheel examinations. Keep in mind that many car owners did not drive their vehicles at this point in history. They hired chauffeurs whose jobs extended beyond operating the machines but also serving as the mechanic. Also discussed in this article are proposals for taxes on automobile ownership. Those proceeds would presumably cover administration of the licensing process and also road maintenance.
Attachment CobeNews021010 contains an article from the February 10, 1910, Indianapolis News that reports on Ernie Moross taking to the Chicago Auto Show meet with executives of the Chicago Auto Club. His goal was to disabuse them of the notion that they could construct a local speedway in a timely fashion and that working with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was the right choice.
He apparently planned to underscore how fast the Brickyard was - and how it would showcase manufacturer product and great competition for fans. The plan at the time was to convince Chicago Club President Ira Cobe that he should bring his prize to IMS for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend race meet. Cobe eventually agreed to the IMS proposition but elected to run the event over their July 4 weekend meet.
It's always great to hear directly from the personalities of the generation, so take a look below at what Moross was quoted as saying.
"I understand the officials of the Automobile Club contemplate running the next Cobe race over a speedway which is still in the making. But I am of the opinion they will meet a thousand obstacles in this work. In the first place, the speedway cannot be completed earlier than September and he is in proper condition for the speed machines. Then, in the event the officials undertook to stage the race, say, in the fall, it would conflict with the Vanderbilt, the Lowell, and the Fairmount Park contests. Most of the big drivers would be in the east, where the courses in the post have been to the liking of the racing cars. My proposition to the Automobile Club is simply this: If the officials consent to having the race held on the Indianapolis course the management will do everything in its power to bring about the success of the meeting. My plan is to send several thousand tickets to the club to be sold among motorists in Illinois and surrounding states, and when the big count is taken the Chicago Club will receive 50 percent, of all the money realized from sales of tickets in this city or in the states allotted the local officials."

Cobe011610.pdf531.15 KB
CobeNews012210.pdf426.73 KB
CobeNews012410.pdf214.46 KB
CobeNews102009.pdf822.55 KB
CobeNews102209.pdf457.3 KB
CobeNews110509.pdf587.61 KB
CobeNews120809.pdf1.09 MB
CobeNews021010.pdf1.56 MB