The Racing Rules of the Automobile Club of America, 1901,
and the American Automobile Club, 1903
Here are the Racing Rules, as amended, of the Automobile Club of America as of late 1901. They are taken from the August 1901 issue of The Automobile, with the amendments being found in the January 1902 issue. Although the amendments are listed separately, they have been incorporated into the Racing Rules to reflect the rules as they were for 1902. This the earliest – and only – complete set of ACA Racing Rules that I have managed to discover to date.
The Racing Rules of the ACA were adopted by the Racing Board of the American Automobile Association (AAA) when it was formed in April 1902 for the 1902 season. The ACA Racing Rules would then form the basis for the Racing Rules issued by the AAA Racing Board beginning with the 1903 season.
Racing Rules of the Automobile Club of America
INTERPRETATION OF WORDS AND PHRASES
- A “Recognized Meeting” is a meeting held under a license granted by the Automobile Club of America, or under the sanction of any authority whose jurisdiction is recognized by the Automobile Club of America, and which gives effect to sentences imposed by the
last named club.
- “Automobile” means any carriage propelled by mechanical means.
- A “Driver” is the occupant of an automobile in a race, who has the exclusive control thereof.
- The “Racing Committee” is the committee chosen by the Board of Governors of the Automobile Club of America to whom they have delegated the supervision of all races within the jurisdiction of the club.
- By “Organizer” is meant any association or club licensed by the Automobile Club of America to organize a race meeting.
- A “Nominator ” is the person in whose name an automobile is entered for a race.
- An “Owner” is one who owns the whole or any part of an automobile.
- A “Race” is a speed test sanctioned by the authorities in the first paragraph, and it is the spirit of these rules that it is won by a combination of the driver and the automobile, who must not be separated during the race.
- A “Walk-over” is when two automobiles, in entirely different interests, do not compete for a race.
- A “Month” means a calendar month, and a “Day” twenty-four hours.
- The program for proposed races together with all the necessary matters in relation to it, shall be sent to the Racing Committee for their approval.
- The program shall contain (1) the number of prizes and their value, (2) the amount of entrance fee, (3) the amount of forfeit, if any, (4) the place at which entries are received, (5) the date and hour of closing of entries, (6) the distance, (7) the manner of starting, (8) a classification of automobiles for the race in question, and (9) the complete and exact itinerary if it be a road race.
- After publication of the program, no modification shall be made as regards prizes or the nature of the races announced. Mention shall be made on the first page that the meeting is held under the rules of the Automobile Club of America. In a road race no change of itinerary shall be made without the consent of the Racing Committee.
- A copy of the program and rules shall be sent to each competitor on the acceptance of his entry.
REGULATIONS FOR RACE MEETINGS
- The number of starters in a track race shall be limited by the width of the track at the starting post. Between every automobile there shall be a space of at least two feet. (a) In record races and contests, automobiles shall be classified according to weight. (b) Bicycles, tricycles and tandems shall not compete against four-wheel vehicles.
- In case of fire or other reasons, races may be run over another course.
- If any one races at any unrecognized meeting, he is disqualified for all races to which these rules apply.
POWERS OF THE GOVERNORS
- Powers of the Governors of the Automobile Club of America. They shall, at their discretion, grant and withdraw licenses.
- They shall, at their discretion, veto the appointment of any racing official.
- They shall have charge of the forfeit list.
- They shall inquire into and deal with any matter relating to racing, and disqualify any person concerned in any fraudulent practice.
- At their discretion they may hear cases on appeal, or make any ruling or decision of their own motion or at the suggestion of another, and their decision shall be final.
- Whenever the word steward or stewards is used, it means steward or stewards of the meeting in question or their duly appointed deputy or deputies.
- The stewards for each meeting shall be appointed subject to the approval of the Racing Committee.
- Each steward may appoint a deputy in case of necessity or emergency.
- Every complaint shall be made to the stewards in writing, signed by the complainant.
- The stewards shall have full power to vary or alter or make any arrangements for a meeting which they deem advisable.
- The stewards shall have power to regulate the conduct of officials, owners and drivers for the best interests of the sport, and to this end, they may disqualify, suspend or punish at their discretion, and subject any person to a fine not exceeding $100, for conduct which they may deem injurious to the sport.
- The stewards may have races, where there are too many entries, run in heats. They shall arrange the heats in semi-final and final, and from their decision there can be no appeal.
OFFICIALS OF MEETINGS
- The officials of a meeting shall be appointed subject to the veto of the racing committee.
- The starter shall give all orders necessary for securing a fair start.
- He shall report to the stewards any conduct injurious to the sport.
- For establishing records on any track or road, the organizers, shall have a qualified surveyor prepare a certificate of measurement.
- The judges shall occupy the judge’s box at the time the automobiles pass the winning post, and their sole duty shall be to place the automobiles. They shall announce their decision immediately, which shall be final, unless an objection to the winner or the second
automobile is made and sustained. This rule shall not prevent the judges from correcting any mistakes.
- The winning of a race is judged by the front wheel or wheels of all automobiles.
ENTRIES, DECLARATIONS, RULES, ETC.
- Every person racing under these rules is required to know them, and he agrees to accept, without dispute, the decision of the stewards on any question relating to the race or racing.
- The entries of any person may be refused at the discretion of the stewards or of the racing committee.
- The entries shall close at the advertised time, and no entry shall be admitted thereafter. No entry shall be accepted unless accompanied by the proper fee.
- Entries and declarations shall be made in writing signed by the owner. The organizers shall provide blanks for these purposes.
- Entries and declarations made by telegraph shall be equally binding, on condition the entry fee or forfeit immediately follows the telegram.
- No one shall be allowed to race under an assumed name.
- No sign or advertisement shall be displayed on any automobile.
- If the hour is not stated, entries may be mailed or telegraphed up to midnight of the day of closing.
- At the discretion of the proper authorities, proofs may be required as to the time of sending the entry.
- Competitors shall be responsible for all damages, civil or criminal.
- The forfeit list shall contain the names of persons from whom arrears are due.
QUALIFICATION OF STARTERS
- So long as the name of a person is on this list, he shall not be allowed to take part in any race, and any one taking part in such race, through error or otherwise, shall be ipso facto disqualified there from.
- No one shall be qualified to start in a race unless he has been announced as a starter and has complied with all the conditions of the program and is not on the forfeit list.
- No one shall take part in a race unless the stewards are satisfied as to his qualifications to handle his automobile.
- Every owner who is scheduled to start in a race and who does not do so must explain his conduct to the satisfaction of the stewards, otherwise he is subject to a penalty.
- Any driver not at the post, ready to start on the scheduled time, shall be fined.
- The position of each automobile when starting shall be determined by lot. A start may be made as follows: ( 1 ) Standing. (2) Standing and at intervals. (3) Flying. (4) Flying and at intervals.
- Once in the hands of the starter, no automobile shall receive any further care, except from its driver, or his assistant.
- A start in front of the starting post is void.
- A starter shall have authority over all drivers necessary for securing a fair start, and any attempt to take an unfair advantage shall be punished by him, subject to appeal to the stewards.
- A leading automobile is entitled to any part of the course, but when there is a clear opening on each side of him, he shall not impede another automobile by crossing so as to compel the latter to slow up.
- Any one crossing over so as to impede his opponent, shall be disqualified, unless the one impeded was also guilty of a like intent.
- Any one impeding another shall be disqualified, unless the one impeded was partly in fault, or the trouble was solely caused by the fault of some other one in the race.
- Any one who slows up with a view to complain, or who complains frivolously, may be punished.
- Any intentional foul driving shall disqualify the guilty person, and also any one in league with him.
- If a race has been run over a wrong course or a wrong distance, or when the judges were not in the stand, the race shall be run over again.
- In walk-overs, the automobile shall go over the whole course, and in a long-distance race it must do so within a given time, if deemed advisable.
- In heat racing, any driver obliged to leave the track by reason of an accident, cannot be allowed to compete in another heat. (a) During the running of a contest or record race, the driver must have exclusive control of the steering and power of his automobile.
- Any one leaving the track, must start again at the point where he went off.
- In road races, the approach of a competing vehicle must be notified by a horn or bell.
- In record races, vehicles with two seats need carry only one passenger, but in all other races two passengers are compulsory.
67 Competitors must make themselves acquainted with the route, and no allowance will be made for mistakes. Moreover, if any competitor takes a shorter or easier route, other than the one prescribed, he will be disqualified. The stewards shall be the sole judges of the comparative distance or ease of the routes followed. (a) No time shall be considered official unless the time is taken by an official of a “recognized meeting,” or by one appointed subject to the approval of the racing committee.
- In a dead heat the prizes shall be equally divided.
- When the dividing owners cannot agree as to which shall have the cup or other prize which cannot be divided, the question shall be determined by lot what sum of money shall be paid by the owner who takes such cup or other indivisible prize to the other owner.
- On a dead heat for a match, the match is off.
DISPUTES, APPEALS, ETC.
- Every objection shall be decided by the stewards, subject to appeal to the Racing Committee.
- The Racing Committee may call upon any one under their jurisdiction for his assistance.
- Every objection must be made to the stewards in writing and signed by the one who objects.
- No objection may be withdrawn without leave.
- All costs and expenses in relation to any objection or inquiry shall be paid by such person causing the same to be made, and in such proportions as the board shall direct.
76.. A deposit of $25 may be required before any objection will be entertained, which may be forfeited if the objection is deemed frivolous or vexatious or if the objection is not sustained.
77.. An objection to the distance of the course officially designated must be made before the race.
78.. Protests shall be made as follows: ( 1 ) Protests as to classification of competitors or machines or as to validity of entry and payment of entrance fees, before the race. (2) Protest as to unfair running, errors of route, or any other irregularities on the route; within twenty-four hours after the race. (3) Protests as to fraudulent starting of a competitor in a race for which he was not qualified, eight days after the race. (4) Protests in races on the road, eight days after the finish of the races. (5) Any other protest, within twenty-four hours after the race, unless otherwise provided.
- The right of protest is in each competitor, but the stewards at their discretion may always interfere officially.
- A competitor lodging a protest must substantiate it, and the one against whom the protest is lodged has the right of being heard in opposition thereto.
- Any corrupt practices or conspiracies shall be punished by the stewards subject to appeal.
- Where no penalty is specified, the Racing Committee shall have power to impose any at their discretion, and they may modify, change or omit any penalty, disqualification or fine imposed.
- In any case not provided for by these rules, it shall be determined by the Racing Committee in such manner as they think best and conformable to the usages of the sport.
- No cognizance of bets is taken.
- The interpretation of these rules by the Racing Committee shall be final, except as provided for in Rule 23.
- These rules may be amended at the pleasure of the Board of Governors.
Amendments to the Racing Rules of the A.C. of A.
RULE 53 has been amended to read as follows: “Once in the hands of the starter, no automobile shall receive any further care, except from its driver, or his assistant.”
15a. In record races and contests, automobiles shall be classified according to weight.
15b. Bicycles, tricycles and tandems shall not compete against four-wheel vehicles.
63a. During the running of a contest or record race, the driver must have exclusive control of the steering and power of his automobile.
67a. No time shall be considered official unless the time is taken by an official of a “recognized meeting,” or by one appointed subject to the approval of the racing committee.
These amendments have been incorporated into the body of the Racing Rules as presented above.
The Racing Rules of the American Automobile Association
Here are the “new” racing rules that the Racing Board of the AAA introduced for the 1903 season, which were adopted on 12 May 1903.
- Any person, association or club (hereafter referred to as the Promoter) desiring to hold a race or races under the rules of the American Automobile Association shall first obtain a sanction from the chairman of the racing board. No announcement of such race or races shall be made until such sanction shall have been obtained. Infraction of this rule shall perpetually disbar the offending promoter from obtaining a sanction from the racing board.
- The application for such sanction shall be made to the secretary of the racing board, and shall be accompanied by a fee of $50 for non-members of the American Automobile Association, or $10 for members, and shall set forth the name and address of the promoter, a schedule of the events and distances, the number and value of the prizes, the amount of the entry fees and de-tails of the course. If the event is to run on the road the board may require evidence of the permission of the proper legal authorities. The racing board may refuse a sanction without as-signing a reason for such refusal.
- After a sanction shall have been granted no change shall be made in any of the details required to be set forth in the application for the same.
- No sanction shall be granted to a promoter who shall have previously transgressed the racing rules of the American Automobile Association or permitted another to transgress them at a meeting under his management.
- On receipt of a sanction the promoter shall prepare an entry blank, which shall show the de-tails set forth in Rule 2: the date of the closing of entries; the address to which entries must be sent; and which shall require the entrant to supply the name of the operator, the machine he will drive, the name of the maker, the motive power, the weight, supplies included; the number of cylinders, the rated horse power, and the date of mailing the entry. It shall bear upon its face the words, “ Under the rules, and with the sanction of the racing board of the American Automobile Association.” A copy of the entry blank shall, immediately upon its issue, be forwarded to the chairman of the racing board. A copy of these rules shall be sent by the promoter to every entrant.
- The acceptance of the entries shall be limited to those persons who have not, since January 1, 1903, taken part in any automobile race or hill climbing test not sanctioned by the racing board of the American Automobile Association; and who have never knowingly competed with a person not eligible under the rules of the racing board; who agree, by their signatures to the entry blank, to recognize the jurisdiction of the racing board of the American Automobile Association in racing matters; and who have not been debarred from competition in events over which the American Automobile Association or the governing bodies of other nations have jurisdiction. The act of competing at an unsanctioned event, shall disqualify without further action of the racing board, and such disqualification shall remain in effect until removed by formal action of the racing board.
- An entry shall consist of a combination of operator and car, the latter being described at the time of the entry. No change of car shall be permitted after an entry has been filed, nor of operator without the consent of the referee.
- No entry shall be accepted after midnight of the day set for the closing of the entries; no entry shall be accepted unless accompanied by the entry fee and all the details required to be set forth in the entry blank. The acceptance of an entry under other conditions shall be sufficient reason for the refusal of a subsequent sanction to the offending promoter.
- An entry under an assumed name or failure to supply correct information in an entry blank shall result in disqualification.
- A person who enters and once fails to start may, after having been warned by the racing board for a subsequent offense, be suspended for any term not exceeding three months, and in the event of repetition of the offense be suspended for the rest of the season.
- Competitors shall be responsible for all damages – civil or criminal.
- Motor cars shall be classified as follows: A. (1) All weights and motive powers, no restriction as to operators. (2) All weights, supplies included, under 1,200 pounds, all motive powers, no restrictions as to operators. B. (1) All weights, steam, gasoline, electricity, other motive powers. (2) All weights, supplies included, under 1,800 pounds, steam, gasoline, electricity, other motive powers. (3) All weights, supplies included, under 1,200 pounds, steam, gasoline, electricity, other motive powers. (4) All weights, supplies included, under 800 pounds, steam, gasoline, electricity, other motive powers.
- To be eligible for competition in Class B, except mile straightaways, cars must be equipped with double acting brakes, compensating and reversing devices, body and hood sufficient to cover mechanism and provide accommodation for one person alongside the operator.
- In all events under Class B, cars may be classified as to motive powers (steam, gasoline, electricity) as well as to weights.
- An automobile, motor car or car within the meaning of these rules, is a four wheeled track or road vehicle propelled by self-contained mechanical means.
- The principal officer at a meeting shall be the referee, whose duty it shall be to exercise general supervision over the affairs of the meeting and act as the representative of the racing board. He shall, if necessary, assign the judges, timers, umpires, clerk of the course and start to their respective positions and instruct them as to the rules. He shall receive all protests and render decisions thereon, subject to appeal to the racing board. It shall be his duty to enforce the rules and make a full report to the chairman of the racing board of transgressions thereof either by promoters, contestants or officials.
- There shall be three judges whose position shall be on or at the edge of the track, two at one end and one at the opposite end of the tape. The numbers of the placed cars shall be taken, one each by the three judges respectively. The decision of the judges as to the order of finishing shall be final. The judging of the cars shall be determined by the instant of contact of the tires of the front wheels with the tape.
- There shall be three timekeepers whose sole duty it shall be to accurately calculate, report and record the elapsed time of placed contestants. In the event of disagreement of the watches, two agreeing, their time shall be official. Shall all the watches disagree, the middle time shall be official. In a time handicap the time shall be taken from the start of the scratch contestant.
- There shall be a clerk of the course, with as many assistants as may be necessary. It shall be his duty to notify competitors, in due time, of the events in which they are entered; see to the arrival of the competitors at the starting point on time and to place them in their respective positions.
- It shall be the duty of the starter, after he has been advised by the clerk of the course that the contestants are ready, to ascertain that the timers are ready, and then give the signal to start by firing a pistol. He shall have absolute control of the competitors from the time they are re-ported by the clerk of the course until the start has taken place. In the event of a flying start, the starter alone shall have power to decide what is a fair start, and may use a flag instead of a pistol as a signal to the contestants to start, having previously warned the timers of his intention to do so.
- There shall be two of more umpires, whose duty shall be to take positions assigned to them by the referee, to note carefully the progress of the race and be prepared to report upon claims of unfair driving by contestants.
- No persons other than the officials, contestants and one assistant for each contestant shall be allowed upon the track. Contestants and attendants must leave the track as soon as the event in which they are engaged has ended. The stands are for the use of the referee and timers. No other persons shall be permitted therein.
- The program shall bear upon its face the words: “Under the rules and with the sanction of the racing board of the American Automobile Association” and shall set forth the distance of each race; description of prizes and their value; a copy of the rule relative to the classification of automobiles for racing; the manner of starting; a list of the names of the officials strictly in accordance with the rules relating to same; and a list of the entrants and their numbers.
- In the event of a match race the position of the contestants at the start shall be decided by lot. In open events the positions shall be allotted on the program, the lowest number taking the inside with at least 4 feet intervening between hubs. Entries shall be numbered by the promoter in the order of their receipt. A contestant who fails to respond promptly to the call of the clerk of the course shall forfeit his right to his position and shall take the outside. There shall be no delay at the start on account of absentees and no contestant shall be permitted to take a place in the line after contestants have been reported to the starter by the clerk of the course.
- The start shall be determined by the instant of contact of the tires of the front wheels with a tape laid across the track.
- Starts may be either standing or flying. Due notice of the method must be given on the pro-gram, but in the event of failure to state the method a standing start shall prevail.
- All track races shall be run with the left hand of the operator toward the rail.
- The referee shall have absolute power to prohibit any car which he considers unsafe, unsuitable or of improper construction to start in any event.
- The referee may, in case there are a larger number of entries than can be safely started in one race, divide the contestants into two or more heats of as nearly equal numbers as possible and a final.
- A competitor may, if he elects, carry one assistant as a passenger. After having been passed by the clerk of the course no car shall receive attention at the hands of any person other than the competitor and his assistant.
- It shall be the duty of the operator of the leading car to hold the inside as nearly as may be practicable. One contestant overtaking and passing another, must pass on the outside unless the car in front shall be so far from the inside as to render it safe to pass on the inside. After having passed to the front a competitor shall not take the inside, or cross in front of the competitor passed, unless a lead of a full length has been established, under penalty of disqualification.
- Intentional foul driving shall be punished by disqualification for all subsequent events at the meeting, as well as the event in which the foul practice occurs, and may be punished by the racing board by suspension not exceeding six months for the first offense and permanent suspension for a second offense.
- In road racing the rules of the road, which require a car to keep to the right when overtaken, shall be observed and a competitor when overtaken must allow as much room as the road permits to his competitor in which to pass.
- A competitor who leaves the track or road, for any cause, must, if he desires to continue the race, start from the point at which he withdrew. A competitor who leaves the track or road, or is unable to continue, in a race run in heats, shall not be allowed to compete in a subsequent heat
of the same race.
- The promoter or the referee may, if they consider it advisable, require a contestant to demonstrate his ability to properly handle the car he proposes to drive.
- No sign or advertisement of any description other than official designation shall be displayed on a car in any race, whether on road or track.
- In road or track races the overtaking car must give proper signal by bell or horn.
Record and Time Trials
- No time shall be accepted as an official record unless taken by at least three timers, and no private trial shall be recognized unless the timers shall have been approved in advance by the racing board.
- Claims for records must be accompanied by a surveyor’s certificate as to the correctness of the distance measured, if on the track, three feet from the pole, and if on the road, at its centre, together with evidence that the course is level.
- The fact that a contestant attempts to lower the record for a given distance and fails shall not prevent the acceptance of records at intermediate distances, either standing or flying start, properly attested by the timers.
- In case of a dead heat the event shall be run again, unless the contestants agree, between themselves, as to the disposition of the prizes.
- In the event of a walkover it shall be optional with the referee whether the contestant shall be required to go the whole or part of the distance. The referee may impose a reasonable time limit.
- Protests of every kind must be made to the referee within twenty-four hours of the finish of a race. The complainant must deposit with the referee a fee of $10, which shall be forfeited to the promoter if the protest is not sustained. A protest may be lodged only by a contestant, and once
lodged can only be withdrawn by consent of the racing board.
- In the event of a protest relative to classification of a car, or other matter which shall affect the right of a car to start, the referee may, unless able to render an immediate decision, allow the car to start and render his decision as soon after the event as may be possible.
- The making or laying of bets shall not be recognized.
- The racing board reserves the right to veto the appointment of any official; to select the timers in private record trials; to assign dates; to inquire into and deal with all matters relating to racing, subject to the rules; to disqualify, either temporarily or permanently, persons guilty of in-fraction of the rules; to determine who are and who are not eligible to compete; to interpret these rules and to decide any point not covered herein as it may consider advisable.
- These rules may be amended by the board of directors of the American Automobile Association.
 “Racing Rules of the Automobile Club of America,” The Automobile, August 1901, 706-712.
 “Amendments to the Racing Rules of the A.C. of A.,” The Automobile, January 1902, 166.
 This originally read before being replaced: “Once in the hands of the starter, no automobile shall receive any further care except from its driver.”
 “New Racing Rules of A.A.A.”, The Horseless Age, 20 May 1903, 611-613; “A.A.A. Adopts New Racing Rules,” Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal, June 1903, 26.