IV Michael Argetsinger Symposium

The IV Michael R. Argetsinger Symposium for International Motor Racing History will be held from the evening of, Thursday, 8 November to the afternoon of Saturday, 10 November 2018 at the International Motor Racing Motor Research Center (IMRRC) and Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, New York.

The Argetsinger Symposium is sponsored and supported by the IMRRC, the International Motor Sports History Section of the Society of Automotive Historians (SAH), and the Vehicular Culture Area of the Popular Culture Association (PCA)/American Culture Association (ACA).

The Argetsinger Symposium has an enduring theme, The Cultural Turn Meets the First Turn, with this year’s conference featuring a unique roundtable discussion on the issues, challenges, and overlooked aspects relating to the history of stock car racing. The roundtable will be include Dr. Scott Beekman, Dr. Dan Simone, Dr. Pat Yongue, Dr. Mark Howell, and several others including the invited guest of honor and keynote speaker, Buz McKim, the former historian at the NASCAR Hall of Fame Museum in Charlotte.

There is a Call for Papers that is open until Friday, 10 August 2018. Presentations of papers should be approximately 20 minutes in length. Proposed topics, a 250-300 word abstract, should be sent to the Executive Director of the IMRRC, Tom Weidemann (tom@racingarchives.org) and any questions regarding the symposium directed to H. Donald Capps (cappshd@gmail.com).

1905 Ormond & Daytona Races Scrapbook

1905 Ormond Daytona Meeting

This is a scan of a scrapbook on the 1905 meeting held on Ormond Beach and Daytona Beach. The scrapbook contains material pertaining to the event ranging from the entry listing to the results of the individual events, as well as additional events added to the meeting.

The scrap book is part of the archival material located at the IMS Hall of Fame Museum that was placed on microfilm by Gordon White in the 1980s.

AAA Contest Board Reports on Certification Sanctions, 1911 to 1929

AAA Contest Board Certification Sanctions 1911 1929

In addition to issuing sanctions for various automotive contests, the Contest Board of the American Automobile Association (AAA) also issued sanctions for certification tests and trials conducted by automotive industry manufacturers. Here are scans of reports of some of those sanctions issued by the Contest Board from 1911 to 1929. This should help fill in a gap in the activities of the Contest Board.

These scans are from material located in the archives of the IMS Hall of Museum and placed on microfilm by Gordon White in the 1980s.

AAA Contest Board Sanctions, 1 to 3408

AAA Contest Board Sanctions 1 to 700

AAA Contest Board Sanctions 701 to 1403

AAA Contest Board Sanctions 1404 to 2103

AAA Contest Board Sanctions 2104 to 2608

AAA Contest Board Sanctions 2609 to 3408

Here are sanction numbers 1 through 3408 as issued by the Contest Board of the American Automobile Association (AAA). They run from the 1909 season (with a few carrying over from 1908 and 1909 prior to the establishment of the Contest Board in March 1909) through to the 1936 season.

They are from scans made from the microfilm commissioned by the historian of the Atlantic Coast Old Timers Auto Racing Club, Gordon White, in the 1980s of the archival material held by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum.

American Sports Revisionism: Football Champions & CHampion Drivers

In 1905, Caspar Whitney, a co-founder of Outing magazine and one of the creators of collegiate football’s All-American Team, named Yale as the season’s “national champion” in college football. Four years previously, The (New York) Sun had named Harvard as the 1901 collegiate football champions. Although the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) was established in 1906, it first named national champions only in 1921, starting with track and field. Despite naming national champions in literally dozens of intercollegiate sports since then, the NCAA has not and still does not name a national champion in what is now the Football Bowl Subdivision, formerly known as Division I or Division I-A Football.

This, of course, has not stopped those in the sports world from naming national champions in collegiate football. Beginning with The Sun and Caspar Whitney at the turn of the 20th Century, roughly three dozen systems have endeavored to select the national champion in collegiate football. Several of these have used statistical data to retroactively select national champions all the way back to the very first season for collegiate football in the United States, 1869. In 1926, professor Frank Dickinson, of the economics department at the University of Illinois, created what seems to be the first mathematical system to determine the national championship, with the nod going to Stanford. The system devised by Dickinson attracted the interest of the coach at Notre Dame, Knute Rockne, who persuade the professor to apply the model to several previous seasons, with the result of Notre Dame becoming the retroactive 1924 national champion and Dartmouth the 1925 champion.

According to the listing of national championships provided by the NCAA, there are five colleges with claims to the national title for the 1926 season. The first is Alabama, with nine systems ranking it as the national champion: the Berryman (QPRS) System, which began in 1990; the Billingsley Report, 1970; the College Football Researchers Association, 1982 and 2009; Helms Athletic Foundation, 1941; National Championship Foundation, 1980; and, the Poling System, 1935. The school with the second high number of rankings, four, as the national champion was Stanford: the Dickinson System, 1926; Helms Athletic Foundation, 1941; National Championship Foundation, 1980; and, the Sagarin Ratings, 1978. Navy was selected by two systems as the 1926 national champion: the Houlgate System, 1927; and, the Boand System or Azzi Ratem System, 1930. The other two schools with selections as the national champion for 1926 are: Lafayette, Parke Davis, 1933; Michigan, Sagarin, 1978.

While it quite probably simply a coincidence that after naming Stanford as the 1926 national champion that professor Dickinson then used his formula to create retroactive champions for the 1924 and 1925 systems, that the Contest Board of the American Automobile Association (AAA) seems to have done something similar in 1927 is quite striking. One could suggest, however, that it might not be quite as coincidental that several automotive journals and newspapers named champion drivers from 1909 to 1915.

While it is entirely possible that we may never know exactly what prompted members of the AAA Contest Board to create retroactive champion drivers in 1927, nor why they were apparently so readily accepted, the many efforts to create retroactive collegiate football national champions might suggest that this inclination in the sports world is not unheard of. If professor Dickinson’s model of 1926 was used to determine the possible national champions of 1924 and 1925, this was also the case with several of the other systems used to select a national championship team.

A year after the Dickinson System was introduced, 1927, Deke Houlgate, created another mathematical model to determine the national championship team, which was used to determine championship teams beginning with the 1885 season. First used in 1930, the system devised by William Boand, the Boand or Azzi Ratem System, created national champions for the 1919 to 1929 seasons. In 1933, Parke Davis, a former player for Princeton and coach at Wisconsin and several other colleges, created a listing of national champions that began with the 1869 season until the 1933 season. Another former player, Richard Poling, devised yet another rating system based upon a mathematical model beginning with the 1935 season, creating championship teams back to 1924.

I would suggest from this consideration of historical revisionism in American collegiate football that the revisionism undertaken by the AAA Contest Board and its national champions is not necessarily unique in the field of American sports history. It might also help in understanding why the retroactively-created champion drivers seems to have been accepted with few qualms, only the Chevrolet-Milton and Dingley-Robertson issues apparently drawing any attention over the decades.

Another Russ Catlin Conundrum

Another Russ Catlin Conundrum

 In the program for the 1952 edition of the annual Memorial Day 500 mile race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Russ Catlin introduced a listing of American Automobile Association (AAA) national champions that began with the year 1902, the year that the AAA was formed in Chicago. The formation of the AAA also resulted in the formation of the organization’s Racing Committee, the outcome of one of the tenets of the program establishing the AAA. In the article, Catlin creates several “unofficial” national champions of the AAA, beginning in 1902 with Harry Harkness as the first such champion driver.

According to Catlin, there were the records of four race meets during the 1902 season that could be found in the archives of the Racing Committee: Cleveland, Providence, Grosse Pointe (Detroit), and Toledo. According to Catlin, Harry Harkness, using a Mercedes, edged out Charles Shanks, who drove a Winton, for the “unofficial AAA National Championship title.” Thus, Harry Harkness was crowned as the first AAA champion driver, fifty years after the fact.

However, in a worksheet that Catlin apparently used to calculate the 1902 championship standings, one can actually see Catlin’s work. This worksheet, part of the Russ Catlin/Bob Russo collection of the Racemaker Archives in Boston, tells a slightly different story. Here are the points standings for 1902 as found on the worksheet:

  1. Charles Shanks, 36 points
  2. Alex Winton, 32 points
  3. Harry Harkness, 26 points
  4. L.P. Mooers, 24 points
  5. Barney Oldfield, 20 points
  6. Percy Owen, 16 points
  7. W. Hawkins, 10 points
  8. Tom Cooper, 8 points
  9. H.F. Brown, 6 points
  10. Buckman, 6 points
  11. Carl Fisher, 6 points

Although I was quite tempted to attempt to see if I could replicate the scoring that Catlin came up with for his points for 1902, I thought it was simply a waste of time and effort, there really not being any rational basis for doing so. Not that it matters, of course, given that this is simply one of a number of champion drivers that created from whole cloth from his imagination, but whether Catlin’s math was highly suspect or simply that he wanted Harkness to be the champion driver regardless of the math, either way, there remains the fact that the AAA Racing Committee did not – nor anyone else for that matter – name a champion driver in 1902.

Catlin states that thanks to his success in match races, Barney Oldfield was recognized as the unofficial AAA national champion in 1903. With the exception of one year, however, the winner of the Vanderbilt Cup was also the winner of the AAA national championship, unofficially, of course.

Here is the listing of the Russ Catlin “Unofficial” champion drivers of the AAA from 1902 to 1908:

1902 – Harry Harkness

1903 – Barney Oldfield

1904 – George Heath

1905 – Victor Hemery

1906 – Joe Tracy

1907 – Eddie Bald

1908 – Louis Strang

It should be noted that Russ Catlin did not merely select a champion driver for each season, but did so on a points system. Really. For the 1903 through 1908 seasons, Catlin, with one exception, of course, does provide points for each season’s national championship.

 

1903

Catlin does not provide any information regarding the events that may have been included in his imaginary AAA national championship.

  1. Barney Oldfield, 276 points
  2. Henri Page, 128 points
  3. Harry Cunningham, 59 points
  4. Tom Cooper, 52 points
  5. Peter Schmidt*, 48 points
  6. Joe Tracy, 42 points
  7. Grosso, 42 points
  8. Earl Kiser, 38 points
  9. William Graham, 32 points
  10. LaRoche, 32 points

* It is actually Charles Schmidt, not Peter Schmidt, an error Catlin also repeats in 1904.

 

1904

Apparently, Catlin made some sort of adjustment in his calculations for the points for the Vanderbilt Cup, along with what might be considered as something of a presentist adjustment to the results, given that recognition was only given by those to those finishing the full distance of an event. But, then again, such trifles did not seem to ever bother Catlin and his oft-overworked imagination.

  1. George Heath, 768 points
  2. Albert Clement, 614.4 (612.8) points
  3. Herbert Lytle, 597.6 (588.2) points
  4. Peter Schmidt, 460.8 (467.6) points
  5. A.L. Campbell, 385 points
  6. Barney Oldfield, 308.6 (246.6) points
  7. Henri Tarte, 307.2 (306.4) points
  8. William Luttgen, 230.4 (229.8) points
  9. P. Satori, 200 points
  10. H.L. Bowden, 197.6 points
  11. Fernand Gabriel, 192 (191.5) points

It is unclear as whether the results of the Vanderbilt Cup itself or that its supposed large number of points tipped that balance, not that it really matters, it is simply make-believe. At any rate, the results of the Vanderbilt Cup and the final rankings by Catlin do raise an eyebrow.

 

1905

  1. Victory Hemery, 566 points
  2. George Heath, 452.8 points
  3. Joe Tracy, 396.2 points
  4. Vincenzo Lancia, 339.6 points
  5. Paul Satori, 311.4 points
  6. Ferenc Szisz, 283 points
  7. Barney Oldfield, 244.6 points
  8. Felix Nazzaro, 226.4 points
  9. Walter Christie, 222.2 points
  10. Fletcher, 200 points

 

1906

  1. Joe Tracy, 683. 1 points
  2. Herbert Le Blon, 623.7 points
  3. Vincenzo Lancia, 605.2 points
  4. Louis Wagner, 594 points
  5. Harding, 415.8 points
  6. Antoinne Duray*, 415.8 points
  7. Walter Christie, 414.4 points
  8. Albert Clement, 356.4 points
  9. Frank Lawwell, 297 points
  10. Camille Jenatzy, 297 points

Although Wagner won the Vanderbilt Cup, it was Joe Tracy that Catlin managed the points to become the AAA national champion for the season.

* This is actually Arthur Duray.

 

1907

  1. Eddie Bald, 1,003 points

That is it for 1907, Eddie Bald.

 

1908

  1. Louis Strang, 2,386.6 points
  2. Herbert Lytle, 1,716 points
  3. George Robertson, 1,215 points
  4. Emanuel Cedrino, 1,184 points
  5. Harry Michiner*, 887. 4 points
  6. Al Poole, 867 points
  7. Louis Wagner, 806 points
  8. Harry Bourque, 804 points
  9. Louis Bergdoll, 742.4 points
  10. Bob Burman, 738 points

Given that the Briarcliff event in April and the Savannah events in November were events sanctioned by the Automobile Club of America, whose split from the AAA was anything but pleasant that year, one could raise questions regarding the points supposedly earned by Strang and Wagner towards the AAA national championship. Naturally, it is doubtful that Catlin let such trivial matters intrude upon his fantasies. This would also appear to be another occasion for which the winner of the Vanderbilt Cup did not emerge as the unofficial AAA champion driver.

* This was actually Harry Michener.

This would all be little more than a chuckle and simply another example of more make-believe at work in the development of yet more American champion drivers who never were had it not been for someone along taking this fantasy of Catlin’s seriously. Despite comments to the contrary, I have been unable to discover any evidence that the Contest Board accepted these 1902 to 1908 champion drivers that Catlin created as being official. While Russ Catlin might have convinced the Contest Board to drop Bert Dingley and replace him with George Robertson as the 1909 champion driver, while once again stripping Gaston Chevrolet of his rightfully-earned 1920 championship, replacing him once again with Tommy Milton, it seems that it never placed these supposed champion drivers among its other false champion drivers.

Unfortunately, for reasons that simply defy any modicum of logic or sense of history, the United States Auto Club (USAC) incorporated these Catlin creations into their listing of the other champion drivers, real and imagined, of the American Automobile Association. As late as its 1982 yearbook, USAC began its listing of national champions with Harry Harkness. This is an excellent example as to why there might be good reason to approach much of the written history of American champion drivers with great caution.