John A. Wilson & His Trophy

This image of American Automobile Association President John A. Wilson is from the April 2, 1914 issue of Motor Age. First Super Speedway investigated Wilson because he was listed as the donor of a trophy for the May 1910 race meet at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Curiously, he is reported to have donated the trophy because he did not believe anyone could meet its requirements: to drive 60 mph for a mile in a stock car carrying three passengers. Apparently, he knew what he was talking about as Barney Oldfield tried and failed on May 30, 1910 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Given that he was willing to post a trophy it is a curiosity that he did not attend the May races at the young Brickyard. Not only that he was quoted as saying that he had little interest in motor racing and never witnessed competition events. That said, he supported the organization of such contests and openly admired the work of Carl Fisher.
Wilson's trophy was never awarded. Oldfield was the only driver that attempted the challenge and as he fell short in his Knox stock racer.
Wilson was reportedly the cousin of fellow Princeton University graduate and United States President Woodrow Wilson. John was in the class of 1873. He played baseball at Princeton are returned to the game years later at the professional level as a National League empire. He boasted that he arranged for standout player Del Darling to enter the sport. Know to friends and colleagues as "Uncle John," he was also an accomplished trap shooter. As a motorist he was a confirmed Apperson man who participated in tours - large groups of drivers in cars who ventured out into the countryside on organized, mapped journeys through networks of roads and back. Such exercises were adventurous as most roads in the country were primitive dirt paths by today's standards. Today we could consider such an adventure off-roading.
Wilson was not on the leading edge in the touring endeavors. He confined himself to eastern regions closer to his Pennsylvania upbringing. He never ventured further west - seen by many in the east as excessively crude - or into Europe where he had traveled by the time of his AAA presidency a reported 72 times. Wilson, as was virtually everyone associated with the AAA, a confirmed advocate for the good roads movement. At the time of his AAA presidency he was considered a man of advanced years in his 60's.

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