Apperson Foreshadows the Age of the Specials


Edgar Apperson and his brother Elmer were partners with Elwood Haynes in an automobile business in the 1890's. They were affiliated with one of the nine cars entered in America's first auto race, the 1895 Chicago Times-Herald race held on Thanksgiving Day. 
The car was a Haynes-Apperson, the product of a small business that had been founded in 1894. By 1901 the partnership was dissolved and the Appersons formed the Apperson Automobile Company in Kokomo, Indiana.
Anderson "Jack Rabbit" roadsters were a force in American auto racing during the first decade of the 20th century. By 1910, though, Edgar Apperson was re-thinking the whole business of auto racing.
Click thru the link below and you will be enthralled by Edgar Apperson's voice as you have the opportunity to read an article he wrote in January 1910. Here he posits that the business value of auto racing was declining. His point was that the industry had matured and there was less to learn and improve products through the stress of speed and competition. He also felt the sport had diluted the impact of any one race by staging too many. He estimated that there 150 contests scheduled under AAA sanction in the coming year.
Obviously, business value has been an ongoing debate as automotive firms have assessed the ROI on any involvement in motorsport through the decades up to an including today. Companies have achieved goals and moved on, sometimes coming back or moving to a different branch of the sport. Also, the turnover in management and the inevitable politics played in budget battles have played a factor not always obvious to the public.
As for Apperson, his words were somewhat prophetic. In 1910 and prior, most American automobile companies were involved in competition of some form, but within just a few years all this would change. The top Indianapolis 500 fans are well aware the first two manufacturers to win the iconic race (Marmon & National) withdrew from competition immediately following their success.
As the American manufacturers diminished their role, the era of the "specials" emerged. The term "Special" has been misapplied in recent years because people don't understand the word has real meaning and significance. Essentially, these were the products of determined racers who loved the competition and the challenge of being fastest. 
These garages produced race cars that were sometimes one-of-a-kind, certainly not production vehicles of factories. The swing to the purpose-built race car was in full swing as the age of Harry Miller was dawning. His precision machines would take on one of the few manufacturers with full-on teams - Duesenberg. This would unfold in the 1920's.
Back to the definition of a "Special." Inherently, a spec race car is anything but a "Special."
No one could know at the time Edgar Apperson was inadvertently foreshadowing fundamental change as the sport matured. That's why this is a can't miss article you must read on First Super Speedway.