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History Auto racing 1894-1942

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by kurtis, Jul 18, 2009.

  1. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 26,243

    The37Kid
    Member

    Thanks for correcting things Michael and David, wonder who the current caretaker is for the exLee Davenport LOZIER? Bob
     
  2. Grahamsc
    Joined: May 13, 2014
    Posts: 466

    Grahamsc
    Member
    from Colorado

    What is the exlee davenport Lozier?
     
  3. Don Capps
    Joined: Feb 13, 2010
    Posts: 111

    Don Capps
    Member

    Keep in mind that AQ printed a number of articles written by Russ Catlin, all of which tended to be hogwash and containing very mangled interpretations of the past -- to include the nonsense regarding Mulford, Lozier, and the 1911 500-mile race at Indianapolis.

    However prestigious AQ might have been and as good as SOME or much of the material was, there was also a large amount of fluff, poor history, and very questionable material that made its way into the pages of AQ. Some of this can be accepted as simply a reflection of what was known at the time, but in some cases it was a matter of lousy research resulting in garbage finding its way into print: and, once into print, difficult to correct:

    Jackets’ Corollary
    It is practically impossible to kill a myth once it has become widespread and reprinted in other books all over the world. Squadron Leader L.A. Jackets*


    * The above is taken from Richard J. Evans, Lying About History: History, Holocaust, and the David Irving Trial (New York: Basic Books, 2002), 169.
     
  4. Grahamsc
    Joined: May 13, 2014
    Posts: 466

    Grahamsc
    Member
    from Colorado

    Well like it's been said "History is a pack of lies agreed upon.
    I will have to read those old AQ's with a little more scepticism.
    Wonder if AQ ever printed a retraction.
     
  5. Don Capps
    Joined: Feb 13, 2010
    Posts: 111

    Don Capps
    Member

    The quotation is -- besides being complete baloney -- obviously from someone other than a historian, of course.

    There were never any retractions of the Catlin material in AQ and scarcely any challenges for that matter to the material whether in AQ or elsewhere for years. Sadly, it took years before it was clear as to just what a fraud Catlin was, the damage he inflicted still being with us today.

    Actual historians question everything and treat everything with skepticism. We provide/present interpretations based upon what we discover as a result of our research and the consideration of our findings. It is an on-going process, always building upon research and the consideration of other interpretations. Sadly, the number of folks actually doing research and performing the work of historians in the field of automotive competition history is miniscule compared to other fields in cultural and sports history and far out-numbered by automotive journalists, some of whom have mastered the craft and tools needed to write good history, while the majority -- past and present -- simply have not. Note the the (vast) majority of AQ articles tend to be written by journalists.

    We need more people with the proper training as historians working in the field of automotive competition history. There is much more to being an historian than deciding to call yourself one, which is usually the case with most "auto racing historians." It is not rocket science, but it does require the development of skills and knowledge beyond googling the internet or flipping through some old magazines and books. There are more than a few here -- and elsewhere -- who certainly have the interest and the talent, important elements, to become good automotive competition historians.

    HDC
     
  6. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 26,243

    The37Kid
    Member

    It was a fine restored 1911 Lozier, owned by a very nice gentleman at the time. Bob
     
  7. Grahamsc
    Joined: May 13, 2014
    Posts: 466

    Grahamsc
    Member
    from Colorado

    I did make one step past googling, I actualy went to the indianapolis
    Motor speedway site.
    The 1911 finishing stats sure look strange as opposed to all of the other years.
    Spots 13 -26 don't show laps completed or average speeds but 1-12 do ,and 27 -40 do show laps complete.
    If mulfords claim is all wrong I wonder if there was another theory brought forth for the discrepancy.
     
  8. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 26,243

    The37Kid
    Member

    Butter on the popcorn gentlemen?
     
  9. Grahamsc
    Joined: May 13, 2014
    Posts: 466

    Grahamsc
    Member
    from Colorado

    Do you actually know any answers or are you just here to suck up to those who do.
    I have seen this on other forums.
    My questions are genuine because I would like to learn.
    I answer questions on this forum if I feel I have valid input( usually gm tech questions) .
    I really have not heard much of an answer except , that AQ is indeed failable and that Ralph Mulford was a scoundrel, which I accept as possibilities.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2014
  10. jimdillon
    Joined: Dec 6, 2005
    Posts: 2,831

    jimdillon
    Member

    Graham, although a good portion of the controversy has been due to an article written by Russ Catlin, it does not mean everything this man wrote is inaccurate. I actually have enjoyed reading some of his articles although I never put a great deal of credence in what he wrote as well as most “modern” day historians. Catlin and others in my opinion fall into the category of story tellers which is not all bad for entertainment purposes; I just don’t really believe what they wrote as gospel. I would rather look to what was written back in the day although that is not always the truth either, which requires more research and more research until you think you have some measure of the truth. I believe way too much attention has been paid to Catlin, probably due to his claims that he had reams of AAA material that may have been a bit of a stretch.

    The whole who won the first 500 story is similar to conspiracy theories which always seem to capture a certain amount of interest. Also I am not sure I would look to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for their take on the topic. I cannot imagine them admitting that their first 500 mile classic was a controverted mess (and I am not saying it was necessarily-they had some problems in the scoring-did they get it right-who knows I wasn't there)).

    The Automobile June 1, 1911 article on the 500 mile sweepstakes written contemporaneously with the event (so it holds some credence in my opinion), states that Harroun in the Marmon won the contest with the #33 Lozier driven by Mulford was a “good second and but for some slow and clumsy work at the pits might have given the winner a little stronger argument”. Most likely a very true statement.

    The article goes on to describe the accident with the case described in the article you mention stating” for a moment it looked as if the race was finished right there and the officials strove desperately to check the contesting cars”. At page 1234 the article pointed out “There were three elements of supreme importance in the winning of the race. It was a terrific test of man, mechanism and good luck. The timing device suffered its mishaps, too. About midway of the race the wire broke but was repaired before the round was finished. Late, however, it snapped again under the continuing pounding of the racing cars and was disabled for many laps. The scoring was only partially satisfactory, although there was an occasional variation between the boards.” They describe some of the discrepancies which adds to all of the talk I suppose.

    Rather than to try and write anymore I copied what I felt are the important portions of the article and will let the readers come to their own conclusions.

    As to Mulford he was really a good racer and a good man and would never classify him as a scoundrel. The first race did have some problems with scoring and the timing system was not perfect but what do we expect for the day. Personally I believe Harroun won due to the number of tires changed by Mulford but it does not erase the possibility of some people questioning the result. Whatever, there is really no way of any historians proving the results to the contrary as the evidence used to supply the results is no longer available for research purposes. There are way too many others mysteries to solve than to spend time going down a blind alley. Makes for good reading I suppose for some.

    Hope this helps-Jim
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  11. Michael Ferner
    Joined: Nov 12, 2009
    Posts: 768

    Michael Ferner
    Member

    I stand corrected re the "Briarcliff Lozier". David Greenall certainly knows a lot more about road-going cars than me, I am merely a racing "historian" (to use that word carefully; I'm neither trained nor schooled in history, but I try to work scholarly in my chosen hobby). I do know, however, that certain racing cars (not only Loziers) were refered to as "Briarcliff" or "of the Briarcliff type" at several contests following (and even before!) the Briarcliff road race in 1908, and in that context a Briarcliff Lozier described a 45hp 4-cylinder car of 455 CID, I believe. In any case, I just wanted to say that all those racing successes were achieved with proper racing cars, not stripped stock cars - however, the actual difference between these two types of cars was then not as big as it is today, I hasten to stress. Your picture, by the way, shows a car entered in a 24-hour race - of course it has headlights!!

    As for the "hogwash" comment, I stand by it and don't retreat a word. Don Capps has given you a bit of insight into the problems of "the history of auto racing history", and this whole episode isn't really worth the attention to go into every detail. Suffice it to say, neither Catlin nor Mulford were "scoundrels", but like every human being they had their failings. Mulford was a great driver, much greater than Harroun in fact, but he didn't win the Indy 500, and that fact appears to have made him a bitter old man. Catlin was a great journalist, but he certainly wasn't a historian although that seems to have been exactly what he wanted to be seen as. We all have our failings. I can't cook; what's yours?
     
  12. Don Capps
    Joined: Feb 13, 2010
    Posts: 111

    Don Capps
    Member

    Thanks to Jim Dillon for laying out the background to the scoring issues related to the inaugural International 500 Mile Sweepstakes race. There are several other contemporary accounts in the American automotive journals which are very similar to the one in The Automobile, one important major point of consensus being that Harroun/Patschke Marmon won the race, while also noting that there were scoring problems further back in the field. An important point to keep in mind is that Lozier did not lodge a protest regarding the results. Indeed, as Jim points out, there are comments as well in the contemporary reports in other journals regarding the many stops for tires that plagued the Lozier effort that day. The whole issue of Lozier and Mulford being the actual winners surfaced many, many years later, in the 1960s, in large part due to Russ Catlin and what seems to be his often conspiratorial view of racing history.

    As for Ralph Mulford, he was one of the outstanding racers of his day. Period. He was certainly no scoundrel. He was nicknamed "Smiling Ralph" for good reason, it appears.

    Jim Dillon is a real gentleman and certainly has a much more balanced and nuanced view of Russ Catlin than I do. Yes, of course not everything he wrote was inaccurate, but his storytelling ended up having real consequences for later historians. While not quite in the category of, say, a David Irving, a close study of Catlin's work reveals a serious lack of research in many/most cases, along with an almost visceral dislike of Contest Board chairman Richard Kennerdell, leading to his screeds regarding the 1920 season in particular.

    Jim does make a good point about the attention paid being paid to Russ Catlin, which, as he correctly suggests, is probably far more than warranted. As someone who has spent a considerable amount of time and effort researching the contemporary materials relating to American racing through the 1920 season, it is exactly no different than researching any other topic, there being enough contradictions and puzzles to incite migraines at times. I also have examined the Catlin-Russo material and have copies of it, thanks to Joe Freeman. To often the role of Arthur Means in all of this gets overlooked, but that is another can of worms.

    As for "hogwash," certainly not a term a historian should be using in most instances, but prolonged battles with Catlin's legacy and the lingering consequences of his writings have tended to fray any sense of objectivity regarding Russ Catlin. I admire Jim Dillon's ability to rise above the muck, so to speak.

    HDC
     
  13. jimdillon
    Joined: Dec 6, 2005
    Posts: 2,831

    jimdillon
    Member

    Don, I suppose my attitude on Russ Catlin was pretty much solidified in the early 80s and since then I have in a sense dismissed him as a true historian and more of a story teller. One of my first forays into the 300 inch era research was the National Champion issue probably in 1981. I found it to be very confusing and made very little sense. I tracked down a number of things that Catlin claimed on this issue and others and seemed to run into more questions than answers. I found some stuff to be just not backed up by any facts that I could find. I gave up in complete confusion on the National Champion issue and at the same time crossed him off my list of “experts”. I still enjoy reading his stuff but as I said strictly for entertainment purposes.

    That being said I can understand getting upset with the guy. Researching this stuff is rewarding on one hand when you find the real deal and frustrating on the other when you find nuggets of gold in what some authors write only to find out later on it was iron pyrite. Jim
     
  14. Grahamsc
    Joined: May 13, 2014
    Posts: 466

    Grahamsc
    Member
    from Colorado

    I appreciate all of the input gentlemen .

    When i posted last, I was already past the Mulford controversy or the lack of one .
    I am glad that information on the first 500 was posted , it was a long time ago and some of this information has to be dug up to appreciate how far we have come technologically.
    Just like that period of automobile manufacturing technology it is all fascinating to me .
    To all and I mean all I apologize if i came across as disbelieving you or insulting, as I said I am at the bottom of the learning curve when it comes to this era of racing history.
     
  15. Don Capps
    Joined: Feb 13, 2010
    Posts: 111

    Don Capps
    Member

    Jim,

    Until about the mid-to-late-1990s, I really had not given Russ Catlin or the A.A.A. national championships very much thought, despite having an A.A.A. yearbook and a large number of USAC and CART annuals on the bookshelf. Initially, thanks to in large part to Phil Harms, I took an interest in the topic of US national championship racing under the A.A.A. and, not knowing any better, pretty much took Catlin at face value. However, that soon changed as I did very much what you did, I began doing the research. As in your case, I soon had more questions than answers and, at first,serious doubts about what I was finding because it seemed that "everyone" agreed with Catlin, at least until you started to dig and kick over the rocks.

    That there really is not that much out there focuses on the racing of the first quarter century of US racing or the A.A.A. Contest Board and it activities after all these years is part of the reason that the Catlin hogwash still perseveres. While there is a good bit on the cars and personalities, that racing itself tends to be either ignored or simply in the background. Of course, for every 1,000 books on Indy there maybe zero books on the rest of that type of racing (an exaggeration, of course, but not by much). I am currently working on a research proposal for a paper that will address at least some aspects of this issue. Plus, I am still trying to find the time to work on a record of US racing until the end of the 1920 season, a large, messy topic that the more you work on it the more there seems to be to do! Plus, my seminars seem to keep getting in the way of the research.

    HDC
     
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  16. 29AVEE8
    Joined: Jun 28, 2008
    Posts: 1,384

    29AVEE8
    Member

    Don Capps.

    Thank you for mentioning Phil Harms. When I was a participator over on the Yahoo R.H. board his accumulation had just begun to be available, though not very "user friendly". The info on ChampCarStats.com is I believe a download of Phil's work into a more useable format that I seem to search on a near daily basis. Yes, both Phil's original site and CCS.com have errors but I seem to go there on a regular search for info that is generally correct and very usable. Phil needs to be recognized for his work.

    Mike
     
  17. Michael Ferner
    Joined: Nov 12, 2009
    Posts: 768

    Michael Ferner
    Member

    Ah yes, that sounds familiar!!

    (Says he, having bitten off a slightly larger chunk to munch upon)
     
  18. kurtis
    Joined: Mar 13, 2009
    Posts: 1,990

    kurtis
    Member
    from Australia

    Who's that??
     
  19. kurtis
    Joined: Mar 13, 2009
    Posts: 1,990

    kurtis
    Member
    from Australia

    What else is known about Zenas and John Weisel? Googling their name brings up multiple patents for such things as centrifugal pumps and variable speed transmissions mainly used in aircraft applications. It also seems that Zenas, the older of the two, was the more inventive. Is there anything known about the younger brother who worked for Miller?
     
  20. Don Capps
    Joined: Feb 13, 2010
    Posts: 111

    Don Capps
    Member

    Mike,

    My first notice of Phil Harms' work was in the Wallen books on the 50's and 60's published during the 90's and the the book he did with Harold Osmer on the Santa Monica races (amazing, the only work he is actually credited with!) and then the material he put on the Web beginning in 1999. I got in touch with Phil while I was still at AtlasF1 writing my column and we went back and forth on various issues/questions until his death. I think that it is accurate to suggest that he was a major catalyst in kick-starting interest in the topic. To his credit, he was always helpful and willing to share what information he had, something that is still a bit of a rarity it seems. Surprisingly -- or maybe not on second thought, apparently Phil had little to no interest in the "politics" of racing or the framework/infrastructure of the sport; of course, this is something that many others today share with him.

    Along with Phil, another person that needs to recognized as a catalyst for sparking the interest in this sort of racing is John Glenn Printz. He was among the first to tangle with the Catlin Legacy and the Establishment View, proving that "being right is often not relevant," as one of my bosses used to remind me. Printz truly opened the door to the interpretation that has relegated Catlin to, as Jim Dillon puts it so well, a storyteller, not an "auto racing historian." Printz was assisted by someone who was something of a counterpart to Harms, Ken McMaken, who should also get a mention since it was he who pointed out the existence of the 1905 A.A.A. National Motor Car championship, which Mark Dill, to his credit brought to everyone's attention two decades later.

    We must not overlook the role of Gordon Kirby in all this, since it was Kirby who gave Printz and McMaken (along with several others such as Jim O'Keefe) space in the CART annuals that he edited in the early-80's.

    Today, we have folks such as Michael Ferner, David Greenlees, Lee Stohr, Jim O'Keefe, Jim Thurman --to name only a very, very few, and others who are continuing to shed light on the early years of American auto racing through their research and the sharing of their findings. We are getting there, maybe not as quickly as some might wish, but we moving along the correct azimuth.

    HDC
     
  21. Don Capps
    Joined: Feb 13, 2010
    Posts: 111

    Don Capps
    Member

    Something I meant to mention earlier regarding why Russ Catlin as an "auto racing historian" -- and many, many others, for that matter -- is problematic:

    Anderson's Rules
    First, that historians cannot make anything up; second, that they cannot leave anything out merely because it strikes them as inconvenient, embarrassing, or out of keeping with preconceived notions or conventional wisdom.
    Fred Anderson, University of Colorado

    An excellent example, by way of a mea culpa, as to how blindly supporting the conventional wisdom, even when you should know better, was my defense of the six-event 1946 A.A.A. national championship. Although there was an inconvenient piece of information to the contrary, I failed to accept it as evidence that something just might be awry, basing my (non-)thinking on the conventional wisdom that if all those who seem to be the basis for the conventional wisdom agree on six events, six events it must be. Certainly not one of my more stellar moments and one that still baffles me, but so it was. Fortunately, Michael Ferner smacked me hard enough on the head with enough research for me to see the error of my ways. Hard lesson and one that I have not forgotten.

    HDC
     
  22. ZigZagZ
    Joined: Oct 24, 2011
    Posts: 240

    ZigZagZ
    Member
    from LA

    Wow, lots of great posts recently. This thread was unusually quiet during the summer.

    Speaking of automotive historians, what ever happened to Griffith Borgeson's archive? He interviewed a number of principals who shaped the golden era of racing. It would be a treat to see his notes, files, and photographs. Is his widow still alive?
     
  23. I just started to read your work on the 250f, a topic I am ambivilent about, see what there is to be gleaned. Assuming your works cited is going to be of particular interest.

     
  24. Don Capps
    Joined: Feb 13, 2010
    Posts: 111

    Don Capps
    Member

    I simply provided a convenient means to see how the discussion regarding the identities of the various cars evolved over the years. Another lesson in the perils of Conventional Wisdom, as well as unintended consequence of the influence of Gordon Gekko. Barrie and David did all the heavy lifting and conducted a staggering amount of research. I reached a point where I had exhausted my personal research resources, getting close to what Barrie and David figured out, but not necessarily THAT close in a number of instances. There were several cars that utterly baffled me, largely due to either not having access to a few critical items of information or simply not being able to connect the dots, often the latter to my chagrin.

    Good question regarding the Griffith Borgeson archives, but I would assume that someone out there has them. The Benson Ford Research Center at the Henry Ford Museum has the Phil Harms material, by the way.
     
  25. Michael Ferner
    Joined: Nov 12, 2009
    Posts: 768

    Michael Ferner
    Member

    Uh-oh! Sorry for mangling your name, David... :oops:
     
  26. T-Head
    Joined: Jan 28, 2010
    Posts: 3,935

    T-Head
    Member
    from Paradise.

    Hey, it happens, you should see how some of my mail gets addressed to me.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2014
  27. Grahamsc
    Joined: May 13, 2014
    Posts: 466

    Grahamsc
    Member
    from Colorado

    Couldn't sleep the other night and came across a 1927 movie on TCM called The First Auto.
    The movie itself is pretty lame but there is some footage of Barney Oldfield " racing" the 999 car or a copy of that car.
     
  28. ebtm3
    Joined: May 23, 2007
    Posts: 837

    ebtm3
    Member

    Good thing that Porter designed such rugged crankshafts into that engine--otherwise torsional crank vibration would make short work of the crank coupling shaft or gears.

    How could someone who had just designed such a great engine -for it's day- as the Mercer T Head, come up with something like that?

    Incredible! And yes, I realize that it was designed as an aircraft unit, which calls for the lightest possible design, BUT---

    Herb Kephart
     
  29. Grahamsc
    Joined: May 13, 2014
    Posts: 466

    Grahamsc
    Member
    from Colorado

    This is a similar engine design, only in the fact that two pistons create one combustion chamber.
    The top piston and crank may add some power to the equation, but are really only there to control the intake port to allow the two stroke to be supercharged.
    Found out that the car still exists and there is a vid of it running on youtube.
    image.jpg image.jpg
     
  30. LeeStohr
    Joined: Oct 21, 2009
    Posts: 108

    LeeStohr
    Member
    from Virginia

    Don,
    Thank you for the kind words above, but I have to say I still feel like a novice in the automobile history field.
    Once in awhile I might stumble on a nugget. As an engineer, my interest is in the historical technical development of competition cars and sports cars. Starting with Paris-Madrid, through to tomorrows Italian GP.
    Speaking of the Phil Harms collection - I did visit the Benson Ford Research Center this summer and I saw some of the Phil Harms collection. The Benson Ford has what librarians call a 'Finding Aid" for the collection. It is in draft form and not available on-line. It is 54pages of brief descriptions of the contents of each box of material. There are 59 boxes, 53.7 cubic feet of material. It would take a lot of time to go through it.
     

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