American Champion Drivers

What if, I thought, one were to compose a listing of all the national champions of the American Automobile Association, real or imagined, along with those also named as champion drivers during those years? As it turned out, this is how the listing looked:

1902   Harry Harkness                               1903   Barney Oldfield

1904   George Heath                                   1905    Barney Oldfield, Victor Hemery

1906   Joe Tracy                                           1907    Eddie Bald

1908   Louis Strang                                    1909   Bert Dingley, George Robertson

1910    Ray Harroun, Ralph Mulford, Ralph De Palma

1911     Ralph De Palma, Harvey Herrick, Ralph Mulford

1912    Ralph DePalma, Teddy Tetzlaff, Bob Burman, Louis Disbrow, Joe Dawson

1913    Earl Cooper                                       1914    Ralph DePalma

1915    Earl Cooper, Eddie Rickenbacher, Gil Anderson, Dario Resta

1916    Dario Resta                                       1917    Earl Cooper

1918    Ralph Mulford                                  1919    Eddie Hearne, Howard Wilcox

1920   Gaston Chevrolet, Tommy Milton

1921    Tommy Milton                                1922    Jimmy Murphy

1923    Eddie Hearne                                   1924    Jimmy Murphy

1925    Peter DePaolo                                  1926    Harry Hartz

1927    Peter DePaolo                                  1928   Louis Meyer

1929    Louis Meyer                                      1930   Billy Arnold

1931    Louis Schneider                               1932    Bob Carey

1933    Louis Meyer                                     1934    Bill Cummings

1935    Kelly Petillo                                      1936    Mauri Rose

1937    Wilbur Shaw                                     1938   Floyd Roberts

1939    Wilbur Shaw                                     1940   Rex Mays

1941    Rex Mays                                           1942-45  No Racing: World War II

1946    Ted Horn                                           1947    Ted Horn

1948   Ted Horn                                           1949    Johnnie Parsons

1950    Henry Banks                                   1951    Tony Bettenhausen

1952    Chuck Stevenson                             1953    Sam Hanks

1954    Jimmy Bryan                                   1955    Bob Sweikert

For the period from 1902 to 1920, I then decided to assign the origin or source of each season’s champion driver. In those cases when there were several sources, I then selected the earliest publication date for a source naming that champion. That led to some interesting sources being listed, along with some instances where another source might have been more familiar to some. Here is that listing:

1902   Harry Harkness (Russ Catlin)

1903   Barney Oldfield (Russ Catlin)

1904   George Heath (Russ Catlin)

1905    Barney Oldfield (AAA)

1905    Victor Hemery (Russ Catlin)

1906   Joe Tracy (Russ Catlin)

1907    Eddie Bald (Russ Catlin)

1908   Louis Strang (Russ Catlin)

1909   Bert Dingley (Motor Age)

1909   George Robertson (Russ Catlin)

1910    Ray Harroun (Motor Age)

1910    Ralph Mulford (Motor Age)

1910    Ralph De Palma (The Horseless Age)

1911     Ralph De Palma (The Automobile)

1911     Harvey Herrick (Motor Age)

1911     Ralph Mulford (Arthur Means)

1912    Ralph DePalma (Motor Age)

1912    Teddy Tetzlaff (Los Angeles Times)

1912    Bob Burman (New York Times)

1912    Louis Disbrow (The Horseless Age)

1912    Joe Dawson (The Horseless Age)

1913    Earl Cooper (Motor Age)

1914    Ralph DePalma (The Horseless Age)

1915    Earl Cooper (The Horseless Age)

1915    Eddie Rickenbacher (The Horseless Age)

1915    Gil Anderson (Motor Age)

1915    Dario Resta (MoToR)

1916    Dario Resta (AAA)

1917    Earl Cooper (Arthur Means)

1918    Ralph Mulford (Arthur Means)

1919    Eddie Hearne (Motor Age)

1919    Howard Wilcox (Arthur Means)

1920   Gaston Chevrolet (AAA)

1920   Tommy Milton (Arthur Means)

I then added the other possible contemporary sources, whether a publication, an individual or an organization, that was in agreement with the cited source regarding that season’s champion driver. I also allowed for the naming of multiple champion drivers during a season by a source. In addition, I then added whether the American Automobile Association (AAA), the United States Auto Club (USAC), Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART), or the INDYCAR organization recognized that champion driver. That resulted in this very interesting and even informative listing:

1902   Harry Harkness (Russ Catlin) (AAA, USAC)

1903   Barney Oldfield (Russ Catlin) (AAA, USAC)

1904   George Heath (Russ Catlin) (AAA, USAC)

1905    Barney Oldfield (AAA)

1905    Victor Hemery (Russ Catlin) (AAA, USAC)

1906   Joe Tracy (Russ Catlin) (AAA, USAC)

1907    Eddie Bald (Russ Catlin) (AAA, USAC)

1908   Louis Strang (Russ Catlin) (AAA, USAC)

1909   Bert Dingley (Motor Age) (Arthur Means, AAA)

1909   George Robertson (Russ Catlin) (AAA, USAC, CART, INDYCAR)

1910    Ray Harroun (Motor Age) (Arthur Means, AAA, Russ Catlin, USAC, CART, INDYCAR)

1910    Ralph Mulford (Motor Age) (New York Times)

1910    Ralph De Palma (The Horseless Age)

1911     Ralph De Palma (The Automobile)

1911     Harvey Herrick (Motor Age)

1911     Ralph Mulford (Arthur Means) (AAA, Russ Catlin)

1912    Ralph DePalma (Motor Age) (Chicago Tribune, The Horseless Age, Arthur Means, AAA, Russ Catlin, USAC, CART, INDYCAR)

1912    Teddy Tetzlaff (Los Angeles Times)

1912    Bob Burman (New York Times)

1912    Louis Disbrow (The Horseless Age)

1912    Joe Dawson (The Horseless Age)

1913    Earl Cooper (Motor Age) (The Horseless Age, Arthur Means, AAA, Russ Catlin, USAC, CART, INDYCAR)

1914    Ralph DePalma (The Horseless Age) Motor Age, MoToR, Arthur Means, AAA, Russ Catlin, USAC, CART, INDYCAR)

1915    Earl Cooper (The Horseless Age) (Motor Age, MoToR, Arthur Means, AAA, Russ Catlin, USAC, CART, INDYCAR)

1915    Eddie Rickenbacher (The Horseless Age) (Motor Age)

1915    Gil Anderson (Motor Age)

1915    Dario Resta (MoToR)

1916    Dario Resta (AAA)

1917    Earl Cooper (Arthur Means) (AAA, Russ Catlin, USAC, CART, INDYCAR)

1918    Ralph Mulford (Arthur Means) (AAA, Russ Catlin, USAC, CART, INDYCAR)

1919    Eddie Hearne (Motor Age)

1919    Howard Wilcox (Arthur Means) (AAA, Russ Catlin, USAC, CART, INDYCAR)

1920   Gaston Chevrolet (AAA)

1920   Tommy Milton (Arthur Means) (AAA, Russ Catlin, USAC, CART, INDYCAR)

I then eliminated, except for those years that the origin for a champion driver was the AAA, the original source for a champion driver. Where there was not a supporting person or organization for that champion, I eliminated that driver. That led to this listing:

1902   Harry Harkness (AAA, USAC)

1903   Barney Oldfield (AAA, USAC)

1904   George Heath (AAA, USAC)

1905    Barney Oldfield (AAA)

1905    Victor Hemery (AAA, USAC)

1906   Joe Tracy (AAA, USAC)

1907    Eddie Bald (AAA, USAC)

1908   Louis Strang (AAA, USAC)

1909   Bert Dingley (Arthur Means, AAA)

1909   George Robertson (AAA, USAC, CART, INDYCAR)

1910    Ray Harroun (Arthur Means, AAA, Russ Catlin, USAC, CART, INDYCAR)

1911     Ralph Mulford (AAA, Russ Catlin)

1912    Ralph DePalma (Chicago Tribune, The Horseless Age, Arthur Means, AAA, Russ Catlin, USAC, CART, INDYCAR)

1913    Earl Cooper (The Horseless Age, Arthur Means, AAA, Russ Catlin, USAC, CART, INDYCAR)

1914    Ralph DePalma (Motor Age, MoToR, Arthur Means, AAA, Russ Catlin, USAC, CART, INDYCAR)

1915    Earl Cooper (Motor Age, MoToR, Arthur Means, AAA, Russ Catlin, USAC, CART, INDYCAR)

1915    Eddie Rickenbacher (Motor Age)

1916    Dario Resta (AAA)

1917    Earl Cooper (AAA, Russ Catlin, USAC, CART, INDYCAR)

1918    Ralph Mulford (AAA, Russ Catlin, USAC, CART, INDYCAR)

1919    Howard Wilcox (AAA, Russ Catlin, USAC, CART, INDYCAR)

1920   Gaston Chevrolet (AAA)

1920   Tommy Milton (AAA, Russ Catlin, USAC, CART, INDYCAR)

I then compiled a listing of those champion drivers recognized in some form or fashion by the AAA, USAC, CART or INDYCAR. That resulted in this not entirely unfamiliar listing:

1902   Harry Harkness (AAA, USAC)

1903   Barney Oldfield (AAA, USAC)

1904   George Heath (AAA, USAC)

1905    Barney Oldfield (AAA)

1905    Victor Hemery (AAA, USAC)

1906   Joe Tracy (AAA, USAC)

1907    Eddie Bald (AAA, USAC)

1908   Louis Strang (AAA, USAC)

1909   Bert Dingley (AAA)

1909   George Robertson (AAA, USAC, CART, INDYCAR)

1910    Ray Harroun (AAA, USAC, CART, INDYCAR)

1911     Ralph Mulford (AAA)

1912    Ralph DePalma ( AAA, USAC, CART, INDYCAR)

1913    Earl Cooper (AAA, USAC, CART, INDYCAR)

1914    Ralph DePalma (AAA, USAC, CART, INDYCAR)

1915    Earl Cooper (AAA, USAC, CART, INDYCAR)

1916    Dario Resta (AAA)

1917    Earl Cooper (AAA, USAC, CART, INDYCAR)

1918    Ralph Mulford (AAA, USAC, CART, INDYCAR)

1919    Howard Wilcox (AAA, USAC, CART, INDYCAR)

1920   Gaston Chevrolet (AAA)

1920   Tommy Milton (AAA, USAC, CART, INDYCAR)

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