The Market & Marketable Driver - 1910


The New York auto show has been an ongoing, international event dating all the way back to 1900. In 1910, the show was divided into two camps. On one side were the companies licensed by George Selden through his Selden Patent claim to having invented the internal combustion engine for cars. These companies were under the umbrella of the American Licensed Manufacturers' Association (ALMA). The other side huddled under the banner of the American Motor Car Manufacturers' Association (AMCMA), led by Henry Ford, who metaphorically flipped Selden - a lawyer who never in his life built an automobile - the bird.
Assembled at First Super Speedway you will find a collection Indianapolis newspaper articles published in December 1909 and January 1910 taking the Hoosier Capital City's perspective about the big auto show. Indianapolis and all of Indiana possessed a critical mass of automobile manufacturers, the second largest in the nation.
These were the burgeoning days of the auto industry and much was at stake for regional economies across America. With the Industrial Age well underway, the factories that produced automobiles were the biggest sources of job growth.
Dig into our analysis of the package of in-period articles describing the enthusiasm of Hoosiers headed to New York. Among the top dogs of the Indianapolis auto companies were Arthur C. Newby of National Motor Vehicle Company, Joseph Jarrett Cole of the Cole Motor Car Company, the Marmon brothers - Howard & Walter - of Nordyke & Marmon, Harry Stutz of Marion, William Brown of Overland, H.H. Hassler of Empire and a team from Waverley, who were renowned for the electric cars.
Dozens of Indiana automotive firms were established in 1909. Among them was the Parry Automobile Company, and that's why you see an image artifact of a photograph of racing superstar George Robertson here. We've talked about Robertson before, almost certainly the most talented American driver of the first decade of the 20th Century who did not ever compete in the Indianapolis "500."
Robertson suffered career-ending injuries in 1910 while giving a jittery newspaperman a ride around Long Island's Vanderbilt Cup road course. The man panicked, grabbed at the steering wheel from the riding mechanic's seat and the car landed on its side. Robertson suffered nerve damage that weakened one his arms, making it impossible for him to continue on in the physically exhausting world of early auto racing - a period that required upper body strength.
Robertson won the 1908 Vanderbilt Cup - his only appearance in that classic. He dominated the Fairmount Park road races and won the 24-hour "grinders" of Brighton Beach. He won and set time trial records at Atlanta Speedway, and was one of the speed kings of Daytona Beach time trials.
Robertson was not a Hoosier. He lived in New York. His connection to nascent Parry Automobile Company is fogged by the passage of time.
Don't get the idea that accomplished race drivers of this pioneering era pre-dated the use of celebrity to market wares. Robertson, an energetic man who went on to an impressive business career. Among his accomplishments in that realm was a stint at Duesenberg, where he led the team that gave America victory in the 1921 French Grand Prix.
Even before his driving career was abruptly aborted, Robertson was leveraging his reputation for commercial success. When Parry announced their market entry in 1909 they prevailed upon him to both drive their race cars and be the sales agency - dealership - for their touring cars.
Yes, you guessed it, there is so, so much more. It comes alive at First Super Speedway so take a deep dive!