Nostalgia, History, and the Record Books

Nostalgia: wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition. History: a branch of knowledge that records and explains past events. Record: a collection of related items of information (as in a database) treated as a unit. All these definitions come from the 11th Edition of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (2003).

If, as I pointed out, the Championnat du Monde des Conducteurs that the Commission Internationale Sportive of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile established in late 1949 and which took effect with the 1950 season was terminated (suppressed) with the end of the 1980 season, then so did its records. Or did they? As some argued, quite forcibly in several instances, when I noted the legal demise of the CSI world championship for drivers, it made no difference since no one (that being defined as the fans in this case) noticed and things continued very much they were. There were also those who pointed out that it really did not matter since the FIA scarcely blinked and continued to march forward with its version of history in 1981, which looked just like that from 1980.

All this ruckus took place nearly a quarter of a century after the FIA ditched the Old Championship – actually, championships since the Coupe Internationale des Constructeurs Formule 1 got tossed on the rubbish heap of history well as well — and replaced it with the New Championships, Championnat du Monde de Formule Un de la FIA, one for Conducteurs and another for Constructeurs. The 1981 edition of the FIA’s Annualiare du Sport Automobile (Year Book of Automobile Sport) makes it very clear that this is a new world championship.

Other than the FIA now owning the commercial rights to the New Championship, the Concorde Agreement, and the poachers now doubling as game wardens, one might be quite happy to readily agree with the notion that things rolled right along without missing a beat. This, naturally, makes explaining the rise of Bernie Ecclestone and the role of CVC Capital Partners a bit more challenging. All this, as they say, is a story best told elsewhere, one that is infinitely more interesting than anything that has taken place on the tracks in recent years.

It is the history or the records that concerns this musing, however.

I would suggest that history ended at the end of the 1980 for the Old Championship and began anew in 1981 for the New Championship. Were I to construct such a history, that is how I would do it. Of course, the conniption fits, bellyaching, and outrage of the F1 Faithful, the Enthusiasts, and the Fanboyz (and FanGirlz), along with the mutterings regarding such a thing by the F1 “racing historians,” would be deafening. But, so what? I would suggest that there is far more to being a “racing historian” than compiling box scores of races and being enthusiastic about the sport. That the usual concepts associated with History do not apply to racing is, of course, a given. One need not have a clue as to how to approach explaining or researching the past to be a “racing historian,” such things often spoiling the fun.

Well, that is a bit harsh, given that everyone needs to start somewhere and professional, academically-trained historians are scarcely loved within the greater domain of sports history, especially when they do not display the necessary reverence or requisite appreciation of the topic. While historians do engage in nitpicking, being a nitpicker does not necessarily make one an historian.

The FIA’s rather cavalier attitude towards history is shared by its fellow-travelers, the various journalists and the many others beholden to and gobsmacked by the sport. Many know no better and others could care less, the past being that murky, hazy area residing in the past, with nostalgia often being mistaken of history.

As in the case of the FIA, the INDYCAR organization has make something of complete mess out of the past. Given that the Indy Racing League was created on 11 March 1994 and held its first event in January 1996, it is difficult to fathom how its history goes back beyond that. In the beginning, both the United Sates Auto Club (USAC) and the Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) dated their histories from 1956 and 1979, respectively. Both then reached back to include others who preceded them. The Champ Car World Series (CCWS) of 2004 to 2008 was something quite separate from CART, given that CART was legally dissolved. Then there was the American Automobile Association (AAA), whose Racing Board (1902-1909) and Contest Board (1909-1955) served as the national sanctioning body for the United States, taking the seat from the Automobile Club of American (ACA) on the CSI in 1928 as the representative of the United States on the commission.

More to follow on all this.

RIP CSI WCD 1950-1980 and long live FIA F1 WC 1981-present

A long, long time ago, I suggested in one of my columns in the now long-defunct AtlasF1 Journal that the Championnat du Monde des Conducteurs that dated from the 1950 season was terminated at the end of the 1980 season by the FIA. I also created a thread for this interesting decision on The Nostalgia Forum ( Re-reading the discussion some years later, especially in light of my departure from AtlasF1/TNF (2004) and then my subsequent (still unexplained) banishment from TNF (2010), it is interesting to realize just how little such things mean to most racing fans/enthusiasts. It is as if the thinking is, I-Didn’t-Pay-It-Any-Notice-Therefore-It-Didn’t-Really-Happen.

Fortunately, Mattijs Diepraam picked up the ball and then provided one of the few actual, in-depth discussions on the FIASCO War to be found anywhere, in print or digitally ( It was the FIA-FOCA conflict, best described as the FIASCO War, that of course led the FISA/FIA to terminate the existing world championship in 1980. Although several of those on TNF certainly got the gist of the point that I was providing, muddled as it may have been in retrospect, there were others that seemed to not care, their worship of Formula One such that their vision was blinded by its radiance. At least with the articles on the FIASCO War the Diepraam wrote, someone can actually read them; my old RVM four-part series on the FIASCO War, “Back to the Future: The FIASCO War,” is hidden behind the paywall of and not readily accessible. Besides, I think that the 8W series is much better than my effort.

Of course, history tends to be seen in a completely different light to racing fans than it does to, well, historians. Although it a topic that seems to be teeming with no end of those supposedly interested in its history, I do not believe that I have come across a book or monograph or whatever that tackles the many questions that would seem to present themselves regarding the International Racing Formula No. 1. Although the whole topic of starting and prize monies began to change in the mid-Sixties, it is rarely explored in any depth or even discussed in detail. The same with the actual regulations, both technical and sporting, for the formula and the championship. Then, of course, there are the various  meetings and conferences and whatnot that took place relating to various issues over the years which are rarely mentioned, with only an occasional mention in a racing publication to whet the appetite. As hopelessly over-saturated as Formula One/Grand Prix is with those writing about its past, it seems to have attracted few actual historians, meaning that there is very much still to be written that probably will not see the light of day.

One of the aspects of the death of the Championnat du Monde des Conducteurs that bothered me then was why did I not realize it at the time? That Something Happened (apologies to Joe Heller) between 1980 and 1981 in the world championship was apparent, given the fate of the South African Grand Prix and the creation of the Concorde Agreement, but no one seemed to take the time to point it out back then. Or, if they did, it may have been in passing and, therefore, easy to miss.

Russ Catlin and Hofstadter’s “Paranoid Style”

In his essay that appeared in Harper’s Magazine in 1964, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” Richard Hofstadter offered readers what could be described as a scholarly discussion on the role of conspiracy theories in American history, which coming in the aftermath of the assassination of president John F. Kennedy in Dallas in November 1963, garnered much attention within the academy and the public. Hofstadter defined the “paranoid style” as being characterized by the following: “a distorted way of viewing the world, characterized by delusional thinking, excessive suspicion, shoddy scholarship, exaggeration of facts, and unjustified leaps of imagination.”*

Using Hofstadter’s criteria, one might suggest that most of these characteristics could be applied to Russ Catlin’s work regarding the AAA Contest Board, chairmen William Schimpf and Richard Kennerdell, and the secrecy – the conspiracy – surrounding the AAA national championship from 1909 to  1920. It appears that Catlin was quite capable of spinning an elaborate tale of secrecy and suspicion to support his contentions that the championships were legitimate, but that their existence was withheld from the public for various reasons.

Catlin’s vendetta against Richard Kennerdell is especially vicious at times, his attacks being libelous on occasion. The story that Catlin weaves regarding the conspiracy to deprive Tommy Milton of the 1920 AAA national championship could be the poster child for shoddy scholarship – along with several other characteristics of Hofstadter’s “paranoid style.”

That the Catlin version of national championship history was finally challenged by John Glenn Printz and Ken McMaken with solid, well-documented research and should have been soundly refuted, but was not, is a tale that is still with us, decades later. That it was Printz and McMaken who were rebuked and chastised is remarkable. That it is Catlin’s version of history that is being embraced by INDYCAR is shameful and a disgrace.

* “Richard Hofstadter’s Brilliant Essay Misled Us About the Paranoid Style of American Politics,” Richard Brotherton, History News Network, 21 February 2016, accessed 26 February 2016, at

The Catlin-Russo Files

Here is an overview of what material can be found in the Catlin-Russo Files that at part of the Racemaker Archives in Boston.


  • There is nothing from the 1909 season in the material.


  • Chapter 2, The Ray Harroun Year – 1910. Pages 67 to 115. Typewritten draft with a number of corrections made to the text.


  • Championship 1911. A worksheet on a ledger page for the 1911 season. Apparently used by Arthur Means to develop the standings for the 1911 season.
  • Chapter 3, The First Ralph Mulford Year – 1911. Pages 117 – 182. Typewritten draft with a number of corrections and changes to the text.
  • Chapter 4, Oakland – Jacksonville – Indianapolis – Bakersfield – Elgin – Cincinnati – Philadelphia – Santa Monica – Savannah. A typewritten draft for the 1911 with a number of changes and corrections to the text. Pages 1 to 24.
  • Chapter 4, Oakland – Jacksonville – Indianapolis – Bakersfield – Elgin – Cincinnati – Philadelphia – Santa Monica – Savannah. A typewritten text of what appears to be a corrected copy of the previous draft. Pages 1 to 25.


  • Championship 1912. A worksheet on ledger paper for the 1912 season, entitled, Championship Point Standing 1912. Apparently used by Arthur Means to develop the points standings for the 1912 season.
  • Several pages, a total of four, apparently from a chapter on the 1912 season: numbered, 198, 200, 235, 236.
  • Several pages, apparently from a chapter on the 1912 season, listing race results. The results are apparently enumerated by the ordinal sequence in the national championship from the beginning. Events 65 through 81 are provided.


  • Championship Point Standing 1913. A worksheet on ledger paper apparently used by Arthur Means to determine the point standings for the 1913 season.
  • Page 90, 8 January 1913 issue of The Horseless Age. Material relates to 1912 season.
  • Pages 44 and 45, 9 July 1913 issue of The Horseless Age.


  • Championship 1914. A worksheet on ledger paper entitled, Championship Point Standing 1914; apparently used by Arthur Means to determine the point standings for the 1914 season.
  • Page 49, 8 July 1914 issue of The Horseless Age.
  • Page 474b, 13 September 1914 issue of The Horseless Age.
  • Page 607, 21 October 1914 issue of The Horseless Age.
  • Page 641, 28 October 1914 issue of The Horseless Age.
  • Sioux City, Iowa, 300 Mile. Typewritten report on the Sioux City race.
  • Corona – 1914 and Galesburg – 1914. Handwritten reports on these races.
  • Need To Complete 1914. Typewritten page listing five events with references (Elgin, Kalamazoo, Galesburg, Minneapolis, and Corona) and Review of Year with references.
  • 16 handwritten pages of notes for events and other information relating to the 1914 season. These are apparently notes made by Arthur Means.


  • Championship 1915. A worksheet on ledger paper apparently used by Arthur Means to determine the point standings for the 1915 season.
  • Page 46, 13 January 1915 issue of The Horseless Age.
  • Page 593, 5 May 1915 issue of The Horseless Age.
  • Pages 794 and 795, 6 May 1915 issue of The Automobile.
  • Page 43, 14 July 1915 issue of The Horseless Age.
  • Two pages of possible handwritten draft of article; mentions Ralph De Palma and Dario Resta. Apparently written by Russ Catlin.


  • Page 29, 30 March 1916 issue of Motor Age.


  • A worksheet on ledger paper apparently used by Arthur Means to determine the point standings for the 1917 season.
  • Part of a column, “Exhaust Fumes,” written by Sheppard Butler, taken from 23 May 1917 issue of the Chicago Tribune.


  • A worksheet on ledger paper apparently used by Arthur Means to determine the points standings for the 1918 season. Has note by Means dated 11/9/32.
  • Chapter X, Of Rickenbacker and War – 1918. Apparently a typewritten draft of the chapter covering the 1918 season by Russ Catlin. The chapter does not include the results of 1918 events. It is 15 pages in length.


  • Championship 1919. A worksheet on ledger paper apparently used by Arthur Means to determine the point standings for the 1919 season.
  • Chapter XI, Indianapolis Makes a Champion, Howdy Wilcox – 1919. A typewritten draft of the chapter on the 1919 season. Pages numbered 1 through 15, but includes page 10A.


  • A worksheet on ledger paper apparently used by Arthur Means to determine the point standings for the 1920 season. Has note attached written on personal notepad – From the desk of Russ Catlin – stating, “Haresnape’s worksheet for 1920.”
  • Page 446, from Fourth Quarter 1982 (Vol. XX, No. 4) issue of Automobile Quarterly: “Controversy Continues for AAA Contest Board.”
  • Pages 43-45 of January 1987 issue of IndyCar Racing, “Perspective: The 1920 Championship,” by Bob Russo.
  • The 1920 Championship Debate: Chevrolet or Milton. Typewritten article by Russo for Indy Car Magazine.
  • Pages From the Original Los Angeles Speedway (Beverly Hills) Race Programs for the Year 1920 owned by Ken M. McMaken. Copies of pages from programs for 28 February and 25 November events.
  • Chapter XII, The Official Mystery, Milton or Chevrolet – 1920. Typewritten copy of draft of chapter on the 1920 season. Pages 1 through 15.
  • The Unfortunate 1920 Championship Goof. Two copies of typewritten draft for article submitted to Speed Age magazine on the 1920 season. Includes a copy of the cover letter dated February 8, 1958, on Darlington International Raceway letterhead stationery. The article was not published.


  • Chapter XIII, Tommy Milton, Champion, Competitor, Repeater – 1921. Typewritten copy of draft of chapter on the 1921 season. 16 pages.


  • Chapter XIV, Jimmy Murphy Comes Into His Own – 1922. Typewritten copy of draft for chapter on the 1922 season. 16 pages.


  • Chapter XV, A Veteran, Eddie Hearne, Triumphs – 1923. A typewritten copy of draft for chapter on the 1923 season. 15 pages.


  • Chapter XVI, A Year of Tragedy – and Murphy, 1924! A typewritten copy of the draft for the chapter on the 1924 season. 16 pages.


  • All Famous Race Drivers 1909 – 1928 Inclusive. Large printed sheet listing drivers and points placings, as developed by Arthur Means, from 1909 to 1928. A typewritten cover note by Catlin is included.


  • Typewritten cover note referring to memo inserted in the record by Arthur Means in 1926, correcting “erroneous results of the 1920 season.” States worksheet is attached. Memo and worksheet missing.
  • Typewritten cover note referring to telegram sent by W.C. Edenburn to Contest Board regarding 1920 point standings. Telegram not attached.
  • Typewritten cover note referring to worksheet of Means and Val Haresnape. Catlin mentions that George Robertson is listed as 1909 champion rather than Bert Dingley.
  • Typewritten cover note for 1911 worksheet and tissue copy of worksheet. Tissue copy or 1911 is attached.
  • “Unofficial” AAA Point Standings Compiled by Russ Catlin. Typewritten sheet with listing of 1902 to 1908 champions as developed by Catlin.
  • Peter the Great, King of Speed. Copy of article by C.G. Sinsabaugh appearing in January 1926 issue of American Motorist, pages 16 and 17.
  • Record of Champion Drivers 1909 – 1928 inclu. Page from Enclosure to 8 February 1929 edition of Contest Board AAA Bulletin, Vol. IV, No. 6.
  • 1916 Championship. Copy of folder. Points schedule with notation, “Taken from 1916 worn out folder.” Points schedule for 1916.
  • The Great Milton by Russ Catlin. Typewritten draft of article on Tommy Milton. 18 pages.
  • National Driving Champions. A page listing national champions. No reference as to origin. AAA champions begin with 1902.
  • Page from AAA Record Book – 1950. Subject of page is Henry Banks.
  • A.A.A. National Champions, 1909 – 1950 Inclusive. Page listing national champions, number as page 4.
  • Champion Race Car Drivers 1951. Cover page of Contest Board publication. Page 6 has listing, “A.A.A. National Champions 1909 – 1951 Inclusive.”
  • 1952 Contest Board Activity and Press Reference (Including International, National, Track Records). Cover page for Contest Board publication. Page six has listing of “A.A.A. National Champions,” the listing beginning with 1909.
  • 1946 AAA Eastern Big Car Races. Two page listing of 1946 Big Car events.
  • 1946 AAA National Drivers Point Standings, As of November 29 1946. Listing of 1946 points standings with provisions for changes in points as a result of decision of Contest Board during 13-14 meeting regarding the 2 September Atlanta race.
  • Final AAA National Drivers Points Standing, As of December 31, 1946. Two pages.
  • CART Media Guide Correction, Driver Listing. John G. Printz and Ken M. McMaken, dated 11/10/92, pages 1 – 7.
  • CART Media Guide Correction, Race Listing. John G. Printz and Ken M. McMaken, dated 11/10/92, pages 1 – 10.
  • Lowell Courier. Three pages from 1909 regarding the 1909 Lowell races.

The First Circuit Race in North America?

In an article in the December 2001 issue of Vintage Oval Racing magazine[1], the Buffalo Transportation/Pierce Arrow Museum makes the very interesting claim that its research indicated that an event using the Fort Erie horse-racing track as part of the Pan-American Exposition in September 1901 was the first auto racing event held on a circuit in North America. Held over three days, 26-28 September, the event was promoted by the Buffalo Automobile Club using a sanction from the Automobile Club of America. The event was held in the wake of the assassination of President McKinley, being postponed from its original date of 14 September, to coincide with the completion of the New York City to Buffalo endurance contest. The track was located in Fort Erie, Ontario, just across the river from Buffalo, perhaps the reason for the staff of the Buffalo museum suggesting that it was the first North American auto race held on a circuit track rather than the first in the United States.

Perhaps the staff of the Buffalo Transportation/Pierce Arrow Museum should have done a somewhat better job in the research, the question mark in the title of the article being justified as it turns out. Prior to the Fort Erie event in September 1901, there were about two dozen (probably as many as 26) race meetings held using race tracks in North America. Holding an automobile race meeting on a circuit such as the Fort Erie Race Track was, therefore, scarcely a novelty by then. Not sure how the staff managed to overlook the event held at Narragansett Park in September 1896, the first actual automobile race to incorporate several of the elements now familiar to many of those who follow automobile racing: a closed circuit and use of the mass start being the primary ones.

Here is a listing of the other events probably held in the United States/North America using track circuits prior to the Fort Erie race meeting:

  • Narragansett Park, Cranston, Rhode Island – September 1896
  • Narbeth, Pennsylvania – September 1899
  • Galesburg, Illinois – October 1899
  • Red Bank, New Jersey – May 1900
  • Davenport, Iowa – July 1900
  • Branford, Connecticut – July 1900
  • Portsmouth, Rhode Island – September 1900
  • Ingleside, California – September 1900
  • Rochester, New York – September 1900
  • Guttenburg, New Jersey – September 1900
  • Taunton, Massachusetts – September 1900
  • Washington Park, Chicago, Illinois – September 1900
  • Trenton, New Jersey – September 1900
  • Reading, Massachusetts – September 1900
  • Frederick, Maryland – October 1900
  • Attleboro, Massachusetts – October 1900
  • Los Angeles, California – October 1900
  • Atlanta, Georgia – April 1901
  • Los Angeles, California – May 1901
  • San Jose, California – May 1901
  • Brookline, Massachusetts – June 1901
  • Dallas, Texas – July 1901
  • Long Branch, New Jersey – July 1901 (twice)
  • Rogers Park, Illinois – August 1901
  • Newport, Rhode Island – August 1901
  • Lewiston, Maine – September 1901

Several of these were rather minor events, to be sure, but it does give one an idea that racing on circuits such as horse-racing tracks was becoming well-established prior to the race meeting in September 1901 at the Fort Erie Race Track.

Incidentally, the article was in a copy of the magazine which was selected entirely at random while conducting research during a visit to the International Motor Racing Research Center, which is located in Watkins Glen, New York.

[1] Bob Harrington, “The First Circuit Race in North America?”, Vintage Oval Racing, December 2001, 32.

The 1905 Racing Rules of the Racing Board, American Automobile Association

Here are the Racing Rules in effect during 1905 of the Racing Board of the American Automobile Association:

Racing Rules of the American Automobile Association[1]


  1. Sanctions. A person, association or club (hereinafter designated the Promoter) desiring to hold a race or series of 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.
  1. Applications. Application for such sanction shall be made to the Chairman of the Racing Board and shall be accompanied by a fee of fifty dollars for non-members of the American Automobile Association, or ten dollars 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 details of the course. If the event is to be run on a public highway the Board may require evidence of the permission of the proper legal authorities.
  1. Refusal. The Raving Board reserves the right to refuse a sanction without assigning a reason thereof.
  1. Evidence of Precaution. Promoters, before sanctions will be granted, must, if requested by the Racing Board, demonstrate to the Board that every reasonable precaution to save harmless (in so far as possible) the general public and contestants has been taken. This includes the laying dust, patrolling the course, closing highways, etc.
  1. No Changes. After a sanction has been granted no change may be made in any of the details required to be set forth in the application for same, except with the approval of the Racing Board. No change in the itinerary of a road race may be made without the approval of the Racing Board. In the event of such approved change, the promoter must give the widest possible publicity to the change and shall be charged with the duty of advised all those interested, of such change.
  1. Transgression. No sanction shall be granted to a promoter who shall have previously transgressed the racing rules of the American Automobile Association, or permitted their transgression at a meeting under his management, until he shall have been restored to good standing by formal action of the Racing Board.

Duties of Promoters

  1. Entry Blank. On receipt of a sanction the promoter shall prepare an entry blank, which shall show the details 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; the number of cylinders; the rated horse-power; the date of the 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.”
  1. Send Copies. 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.
  1. Send Rules. Each driver shall be provided with a copy of these rules before competing in an event which may be promoted thereunder.
  1. Send Records. The promoter shall forward to Secretary of the Racing Board within forty-eight hours after the meet, a complete record of the meet, showing the winners of each event and the times made, which record shall be signed by the referee and timers.
  1. Programme Contain. The programme 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.


  1. Entries. The acceptance of the entries shall be limited to persons who have not, since the first day of January 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 and rulings of the Racing Board; who agree, by their signatures to the prescribed entry blank, to recognize the jurisdiction and decisions of the Racing Board of the American Automobile Association in racing matter; 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 in an unsanctioned meeting, or in an unsanctioned event, shall disqualify without action of the Racing Board, and such disqualification shall remain in effect until removed by formal action of the Racing Board.

  1. Car and Operator. An entry shall consist of a combination of operator and car, the latter being described at the time of entry. No change of car shall be permitted after an entry has been filed, nor of operator without the consent of the Referee.
  1. Receipt and Acceptance of Entries. No entry shall be accepted after midnight of the day set for the closing of 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. Acceptance of an entry under other conditions shall be a sufficient reason for the refusal of a subsequent sanction to the offending Promoter.
  1. False Entry. Should a false declaration be made intentionally by an entrant, the Racing Board may, in its discretion, disqualify the entry and penalize the entrant.
  1. More than One Car. Entrants declaring more than one car for an event, shall specify in detail each car declared at the time of entry.
  1. Assumed Name. Any person who desires to race under an assumed name must first register such name with the Racing Board, and shall continue to race under the name so registered until withdrawn by permission of the Racing Board.
  1. Amateur, An amateur driver is one who does not race for hire, or who is not actively engaged in the automobile trade, or who does not make his livelihood or any part of it as a result of his racing, or who has never been declared a professional by any sport governing body.


  1. Automobile, Motor Car, Car. 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, and provided with suitable brakes, a differential gear or its equivalent, and a reverse gear.
  1. Standard Classification. The standard classification of motor cars shall be by weight as follows: (A) Cars from 1432 to 2204 pounds. (B) Cars from 851 to 1432 pounds. (C) Cars from 551 to 851 pounds. (D) Cars from 110 to 551 pounds.
  1. Other Classifications. In races where classifications other than those provided in Rule No. 20, are scheduled, such details and the details of the classification must be submitted to the Racing Board for approval before the announcement of the event.
  1. Two Person to be Carried. In Class “A” and “B” cars must carry at least two persons seated side by side, whose per capita weight shall be not less than 132 pounds. (60 kilos.) By way of exception, in races on tracks and for record making, vehicles seated for two persons will be allowed to be occupied by one person only, bit the necessity for two persons is indispensable in races on roads.
  1. Weigh in Empty. The weight of the cars in the several classes shall be computed in an empty state, i.e., without operators, supplies, (fuels, lubricants, water or batteries), tools, spare parts, luggage, clothing, provisions, lamps, lamp brackets and horns.
  1. Magnetos. Cars supplied with magnetic generator, actuated by the motor, shall be allowed a maximum of 15 pounds (7 kilos).
  1. Motor Exhausts. Motor exhausts shall not be directed toward the ground by reason of the dust created and the consequent danger to following competitors, The direction of the exhaust will be checked and regulated before starting.
  1. Distinguishing Marks. Cars shall not be allowed to carry any distinguishing mark other than the official designations provided by the promoters, which shall consist of a numeral placed on each the right and left side of each car, and where possible, on the front of the bonnet or hood.


  1. Referee. The principal officer of a race meet shall be a Referee, whose duty it shall be to exercise general supervision over the affairs of the meeting and to act as the representative of the Racing Board. He shall, if necessary, assign the judges, timers, umpires, clerk of the course, and starter 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 as provided for hereafter in these rules. It shall be his duty to enforce and make a full report to the Chairman of the Racing Board transgressions thereof either by promoters, contestants or officials.
  1. Judges. There shall be three Judges whose position shall be on, or at the edge of the course, 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.
  1. Timers. There shall be three Timekeepers whose sole duty it shall be to accurately calculate, report and record the elapsed time of placed contestants. The Board may require evidence of the competency of timers.
  1. Starter. 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 by firing a pistol. He shall have absolute control of the competitors from the time they are reported by the Clerk of the Course until the start has taken place. In the event of a moving 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.
  1. Clerk of the Course. 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 place them in their respective positions.

32. Umpires. There shall be two or more Umpires, whose duty it shall be to take positions assigned them by the Referee, to note carefully the progress of the race and be prepared to report upon claims of unfair driving by contestants.

  1. Scorer. There shall be an official scorer, whose duty it shall be to keep a proper record of the time of each event, which shall be signed by each of the timekeepers.


  1. Failure to Start. Any entrant to a race who fails to appear or who fails to start in the race, unless excused therefrom by the Referee for a good and sufficient reason, shall be reported to the Racing Board by the Referee, and by the Board subjected to discipline by suspension, disqualification or other penalty in such degree as in its judgment seems best to the Board.
  1. Method of Starting. Starts may be standing, moving or flying, Due notice of the method must be given on the programme, but in the event of failure to state the method a standing start shall prevail.
  1. Standing Start. In a standing start the car must be stationary with its front wheels on the tape until given the word or signal to go. Time will be taken from the word or drop of the flag or the firing of a pistol.
  1. Moving Start. In a moving start cars must start at a point between two hundred and three hundred yards back of the tape. The pace from this point to the tape must be taken from the pole or inside car.
  1. Flying Start. In a flying start a car may start at any distance back of the tape and cross the tape at the highest possible speed. The method of starting may be employed only where a single car is running for a record or in a time trial.
  1. Position. In all races the position of the contestants at the start shall be decided by lot.
  1. Delay. 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 the contestants have been reported to the Starter by the Clerk of the Course.
  1. Starting Cars. Starting of cars must be effected only by means of the motor, and without other means, as pushing by hand, lever, etc. This rule applies not only to the start at the beginning of an event, but to resting after any stoppage for any cause whatever, except as provided in Rule 54.
  1. Referee’s Decision. 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.
  1. Demonstrate Ability. The Referee and the judges may, in their discretion, require the operator of any car to demonstrate his ability to properly handle the car in which he proposes to compete.
  1. Prohibit. The referee shall have absolute power to prohibit any car which he considers unsafe, unsuitable, or of improper construction to start any event.


  1. Heats. The Referee shall, in case there are a larger number of entrants than can safely be started in one race, divide the contestants by lot into two or more heats, each as nearly equal in number as possible, and a final. In case a competitor is not able to start in the heat for which he was drawn, the Referee may transfer him to another heat at his discretion. The positions of the contestants in heats shall be according to the number drawn, the lowest number taking the inside with at least four feet intervening between the hubs.
  1. Final Heat. The winners of each heat and any second car that makes faster time than any heat winner, shall compete in the final trial.
  1. Dead Heat. In the 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 dead heat being run off, the same car and the same operator shall be obliged to compete in the final heat.
  1. Walkover. In the event of a “walkover” it shall be optional with the Referee whether the contestant be required to go the whole or a part of the distance. The Referee may impose a reasonable time limit.


  1. Timing Start and Finish. The time of the start and finish shall be determined by the instant of contact of the tires of the front wheels with a tape, laid across the course.
  1. Handicap. In a time handicap the time shall be taken from the start of the scratch contestant.
  1. Disagreement of Watches. In the event of disagreement of the watches, two agreeing, their time shall be official. Should all the watches disagree, the middle time shall be official.

Rules of the Course

  1. Course and Stand. No person other than the officials, contestants and one assistant for each contestant shall be allowed upon the course. Contestants and attendants must leave the course as soon as the event in which they are engaged has ended.
  1. Leaving Course. A competitor who leaves the course 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 of road, or unable to continue, in a race run in heats, shall not be allowed to compete in a subsequent heat of the same race.
  1. Cars not to be Pushed. Cars must not be pushed, except by own crews. This rule may be departed from under only the two following conditions: (a) On leaving the enclosure, when approaching the starting line, and (b) When necessary to get out of a bad place, not properly a part of the course, such as fording a stream, ditches, etc.
  1. Foul Driving. 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 further penalized by the Racing Board by suspension not exceeding six months for the first offense and permanent suspension for a second offense.
  1. Special Track Rules. (a) Passing. 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, 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 of his car has been established, under penalty of disqualification. (b) Rail. All track races shall be run with the left hand of the operator toward the rail. (c) Passengers as Assistants. 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.
  1. Special Road Rules. (a) Rules of the Road. Operators must comply with the regulations for road traffic, which include: (1) keep to the right when overtaken. (2) Keep to the left when overtaking. (3) Pass to the right when meeting a vehicle moving in the opposite direction. (b) Give Warning. Cars shall give warning of approach as often as may be necessary, by means of a horn, or trumpet, or other instrument of like character. Bells or gongs may not be substituted. (c) Officials. The usual officials provided for in track racing events, viz., referee, judges, timers, clerk of the course, starter, umpires and scorer, shall obtain in road races, with an exception that the number of timers may be increased with the demands of the event. All officials must be approved by the Racing Board before serving in their various capacities. (d) Umpire’s Duties. Umpires shall be placed at each turn in the course or circuit, It shall be their duty to report to the Referee on all matters which seem to demand the same. It shall be their further duty to know by observation as whether or not an operator is hindering or otherwise willfully obstructing another car, or obstructing the course, contrary to these rules. (e) Checkers’ Duties. In addition to the officials already provided for there shall be appointed a requisite number of officials who shall be known as checkers, They shall be located at points designated by the promoter. In addition to checking cars in their order of passing, it shall be their duty to enforce compliance with these Rules. (f) Time Check Box on Car. To facilitate checking, every car competing shall be equipped with a box of uniform pattern to receive the control vouchers provided. These boxes shall be supplied to each competitor by the promoter, he taking therefor a deposit of $5.00, which sum shall be returned to the competitor upon the return of the box to the promoter. These boxes shall be made securely fast to some part of the car, conveniently available to the timers and checkers. (g) Times at Controls. In passing through controls the time of arrival shall be taken on the instant the front tire shall have stopped at a point of contact with the tape, and the time shall again be taken on the instant of starting from the tape at the exit of such controls. (h) Timers at Controls. The timer at the entrance of the control shall make a note of the instant the tires come to a rest at the tape, making note of the same on the card, deliver this card to the person conducting the contestant through the control, who shall, upon his arrival at the exit, deliver the same to the second timer, who shall thereon make note of the time of departure. This card must be deposited in the competitor’s time check receptacle after the official record shall have been completed. (i) Timer’s Card. The timer or checker at the exit of control shall deposit the voucher in the box in advance of the time of start, noting thereon the instant of start. (j) Pilots through Controls. Contestants shall be preceded through controls either by a person mounted on a bicycle, or shall be accompanied by a person competent to estimate the speed of the car, in order that as nearly as possible the full limit of time set for passing through the control shall be consumed. (k) Follow Pilots. Competitors must conform fully with the regulations established by the pilots mounted on bicycle, or be regulated by the instructions of the official who shall accompany him through controls. Competitors are warned that any deviation from this rule will result in penalizing them in the full time required for the control. (l) Failure to Pass Control. Any competitor who shall fail to pass through a control, either by neglect, or willfully, shall be disqualified from further competition in the event. (m) Two Cars from Control. If two vehicles shall come to the entrance of the control simultaneously, the checker or timer shall send them away together, from the limit of the control. (n) Repairs and Supplies in Controls. While a car is passing through a control no repairs shall be made and no supplies taken on. (o) Reports of Officials to Referee. Immediately upon the close of the event, checkers and timers at all control stations, umpires and checkers along the route of the race, shall at once prepare reports of all that transpired, and immediately transmit the same to the Referee.


  1. Records. No time shall be accepted as an official record unless taken by at least three official Timers.
  1. Surveyor’s Certificate. Claims for records must be accompanied by a surveyor’s certificate as to the correctness of the distance run measured, if on the track, three feet from the pole, and if on the road, at its center, together with evidence that the course is level.
  1. Intermediate Distance. In event of an attempt to lower the record for a given distance the acceptance of records at intermediate distances will not be allowed.
  1. Unofficial Times. Times made in events where classification other than that provided in Rule No. 20 shall obtain, shall not be recognized as official, although awards may be made on their results.

Protests, Complaints and Appeals

  1. Protests and Complaints. Protests or complaints of any kind must be made to the Referee within twenty-four hours after finish of the race involved. The protestant or complainant must accompany his complaint or protest with a fee of $10.00, which shall be forfeited to the promoter if the protest shall not be sustained. A protest, once lodged, may be withdrawn only by consent of the Racing Board.
  1. Contestants’ and Owners’ Protests. Contestants shall be allowed to complain in regard to foul driving, interference, or any other irregularity which shall have interfered with his rights under these Rules during progress of an event. Complaints or protests on other matters, as to classification, eligibility to start, etc., may be made only by the owner or owners of competing car.
  1. Appeal to Racing Board. An appeal from the decision of the Referee may be made to the Racing Board by the owner of the car against which the decision was made. Such an appeal must be forwarded to the Board within ten days after the rendering of the decision and must set forth fully the facts of the case, accompanied by sworn affidavits necessary to substantiate the claim, and a copy thereof sent at the same time to the Referee from whose decision the appeal is taken. A few of $50.00 must be sent with the appeal, which fee will be returned if the decision appealed from be reversed. No member of the Racing Board may sit on the Board when it is considering an appeal from a decision which he has rendered, or in which he is personally interested.


  1. Suits for Damages, Etc. All suits of a civil or penal character, of any kind whatsoever, arising from competition in races held under these Rules, must be borne and resulting judgments satisfied by the competitor responsible for the action.


  1. No Betting Permitted. The making or laying of bets or wagers shall not be permitted, recognized or tolerated.


  1. Disqualify, Disqualification for any infraction of the foregoing rules shall debar the offender from participating in any and all awards for the event in which he competed.

Powers of Racing Board

  1. Powers of Racing Board. The Racing Board reserves the right to veto the appointment of any race official; to assign dates; to inquire into and deal in its judgment with all matters relating to racing, subject to the rules; to disqualify, either temporarily or permanently, persons guilty of infraction of these Rules; to determine who are and who are not eligible to compete to interpret these Rules and decide any issue not covered herein as it may consider advisable.

69. Amendments. The Rules may be amended by the Board of Directors of the American Automobile Association

[1] Sigmund Krausz, Krausz’s A B C of Motoring (Chicago: Laird & Lee, 1906), 171-195.

The Means/Catlin Mythology Strikes Again: 1915 and NSSN

In his 23 March 2015 California Coast column appearing in what is now an online National Speed Sport News, thanks to the demise of the print version several years ago, Tim Kennedy writes about a get-together in Venice on 17 March to commemorate the centennial of the Venice road race won by Barney Oldfield.

While certainly the sort of event that one wishes one could have attended, especially with Harold Osmer as one of the speakers. The Kennedy article has a typo of the sort that can certainly drive writers to distraction: the circuit length is given as 1.3 miles, not the actual 3.1 miles for a lap.He also includes this in the article:

The Venice GP was round six of a 27 race 1915 AAA National Championship Trail. Nine races were on road courses, seven on dirt ovals and Indianapolis Motor Speedway was classified a brick oval. Points were not awarded in 1915. Later points were awarded and Earl Cooper was named 1915 national champion. Ten race distances were 100-miles. Other distances were 300, 350, 400 and 500 miles (Indy 500) on May 31. The season ran from Jan. 9 to Nov. 25.

Race sites prior to Venice were a San Diego road course on Jan. 9, Glendale road course on Feb. 3, Ascot dirt oval on Feb. 7, and two on a road course in San Francisco – American Grand Prize on Feb. 27 and Wm. K. Vanderbilt Cup – March 6. Following Venice, on March 20 teams raced 103.152 miles on the Tucson road course. Subsequent races were in Oklahoma City, Galesburg, Ill., Chicago, Sioux City, Tacoma oval (July 4-5), Omaha, Burlington, Des Moines, Chicago, Elgin, Ill. road course (Aug. 20-21), Kalamazoo, Minneapolis, Providence, Astor Cup-Sheepshead Bay (Oct. 9), Harkness Gold Medal Race at Sheepshead (Nov. 2), Phoenix dirt oval (Nov. 20) and San Francisco dirt oval 100 (the third SF race).

There was, of course, not a AAA national championship contested in 1915. That points were later awarded resulting in Earl Cooper being the champion for that season does not necessarily make Cooper the champion for that season. Indeed, using the Mason Point System that was devised by Harold T. Mason and first used in 1914 in MoToR and whose use was which shifted to The Horseless Age in 1915, Cooper does emerge with the highest points total overall, 51 points. Cooper was the leading road racing driver from Barney Oldfield by the razor-thin margin of 24 points to 23 7/8th points, with Dario Resta right behind at 20 points. On speedways, however, he was second to Eddie Rickenbacher, whose 32 points led Cooper, 27 points, Eddie O’Donnell, 24 points, and Gil Anderson (actually, Andersen), 21 points.

Motor Age selected Cooper as the road racing champion driver, with Anderson as its speedway champion driver and Rickenbacher as the champion driver for the short tracks. MoToR proclaimed Cooper as the road racing champion driver and Resta as the speedway champion driver.

So, while there is little doubt that Earl Cooper was certainly worthy of consideration of consideration as the champion driver for the 1915 season, he was not without competition for the title. That title, of course, being retroactively granted in 1927 by Arthur Means.

The almost Orwellian twist that Russ Catlin presents for justifying the retroactively-created national champions is really rather fascinating, stating that those who claim that there were no contemporary AAA champions for 1909-1915 and 1917-1919, suggesting that while this might be “technically” correct, “historically” they are wrong.

Oh, my…..