That Los Angeles is not the only place on the map which experiences friction and misunderstanding in connection with the racing game has always been a fact, although trade prejudices and the desire of some riders to get the best of a situation, and of certain track managers to follow the devious way, instead of the straight and narrow path, has not always been dear to critics of the Angel City. That other cities are not free from similar experiences has had its most recent proof in the racing situation at the Cleveland quarter-mile motordrome.
In the first place, the Cleveland management has been severely hampered by too many cooks-about seven. according to reports, including one George L Kreamer, who has in the past contributed to the gaiety of sporting life in Los Angeles, Salt Lake, Denver and elsewhere.
Earle Armstrong, formerly of Denver, went from Chicago to Cleveland with a specially fast Excelsior, arriving on the scene on June 8th, apparently prepared to clean up everything in sight. The track management refused him permission to ride because they had no other machine of the same class, and because his easy wins would have made the racing ridiculous and disgusted the public. Finally he was permitted to ride after signing an agreement not to win any one of several match heats by more than a length. Then he got mad, after losing a heat through retarding too much and overheating his motor, and lapped his man time and again, telling Track Owner Bramley to go to when the latter protested against the violation of his agreement to ride a fake race. Meantime the referee, who mean well, but know how took no action and the whole matter was referred to Chairman Thornley of the Competition Committee.
The details of the story arc best told in the following copies of correspondence sent by Dr. Thornley to Pacific Motocycling.
Chicago. June 15. 1912.
Dr. J. P. Thornley. New York -
-We are writing herewith to inform you of the condition of the racing at Luna Park, Cleveland. Earle Armstrong, whom, as you doubtless know, is one of the cleanest riders that ever rode the boards, went to Luna Park for the races, Saturday, June 8th. Although his signed entry blank was accepted for the races that night, he was not allowed to enter. He did however, ride a mile exhibition without pay and lowered the track record. Sunday, Armstrong was allowed to enter but one race, which he won handily. The next day, the manager came to Armstrong and told him that he would not be allowed to ride unless he signed a contract not to win by more than a machine length. There was nothing for Armstrong to do but to sign the contract or not ride, so he signed the following contract, which we give you in exact copy:
Cleveland, Ohio, June 10, 1912.
I hereby agree to ride two out of three heats, five mile race, on June 12th, on Luna Park Motordrome ;also agree to ride for the consideration of thirty-five ($35.00) dollars, win or lose. I further agree to win every event I start in if it is possible for me to do so, but will not win over one machine length from my nearest competitor.
In case I should fail to abide by the above agreement, I agree to forfeit my rights to the above money.
GEO. I. KREAMER
Per Luna Park Amusement Co. EARLE ARMSTRONG.
He broke his contract, however, on Wednesday night and won by over one lap.
The above states the material facts of the case, although there were other minor unpleasantnesses which may not be dwelt upon. We do not care to do anything, or have anything done in regard to Luna Park, but do wish to point out the fact that this is the natural result of hippodrome racing; that is buying machines and hiring riders simply to perform upon them. However we do wish to voice a strenuous kick against the deterioration of the ethics of motocycle racing. We are bitterly opposed to any kind of racing which savors of anything but the fairest kind of sportsmanship. Motocycle racing should be above any such affair as this, and to us it seems only one more step to the time when the promoter will say: “Boys, it’s Willie’s turn to win tonight. We have got to keep everybody popular. You hang back and let Willie take first and third heat in the sweepstakes.’’
We hope that this incident does not mark the beginning of the time when motocycle racing becomes the crooked game that other racing is. It is the duty and privilege of the Federation of American Motorcyclists to foster clean sport, and we hope that you will give us the opportunity of assisting you more in upholding the high ideals that we hope will guide motocycle competition.
Motocycle manufacturers have not been given credit for the high ideals that they really have, and this incident we hope will show that the real racing competition even though it be for advertising purposes, is far ahead of running a circus program of four races of the kind and speed that will net the man the most who runs the show.
Yours very truly, Excelsior Motor Mfg. & Supply Co., Aleck G. Whitfield.