Racing Trouble at Cleveland

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 -

Dear Sir:
-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.

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.

New York, June 17, 1912.

Mr. A. J. Whitfield, care Excelsior Motor, Mfg. & Supply Co.-

Dear Sir:
-Your favor of June 15th received. In reply, let me say that I assume that Mr. Armstrong is one of your riders, and that you sent him down to Cleveland with a very fast machine to clean up the local talent. It is hard to put your finger on just where the wrong comes in, but I should say it was something like sending a heavy weight to some ring and putting him against a man in the feather weight class. If they fought at all, the feather weight would be beaten to pieces, all if the heavy weight agreed to beat him only a little bit, it would be just about the same thing that has occurred in Cleveland. The whole thing is unsportsmanlike in the extreme, and by your own admission, Mr. Armstrong signed a very peculiar, if not a crooked contract. Mr. Armstrong and yourself should come to court with clean hands in a matter of this kind. The whole thing is very sickening from start to finish.

The F. A. M. is for square racing, but it is also for fair racing and it is not fair to put a machine on a track, which from known facts far out-classes in speed any others in the race. For signing a contract such as you have forwarded me a copy of, Mr. Armstrong is going to be suspended and the question of Mr. Kreamer’s conduct will also be attended to. Moreover, I shall publish this whole thing in the journals with a hope that it may do some good.

I am sincerely yours, J. P. Thornley, Chairman.

**New York, June 17, 1912. **

Mr. Earle Armstrong, care M. F. Bramley, Luna Park Amusement Co., Cleveland. Ohio-

Dear Sir:
I am in receipt of a communication from the Excelsior Motor Mfg. & Supply Co. stating that you in conjunction with George I. Kreamer at Cleveland Ohio, on June 10th signed the following contract. I am also in possession of a letter from Mr. M. F. Bramley, of Luna Park, Ohio, practically confirming the essential part of this contract of which the F. A. M. complains; namely, that you agree not to win over one machine length ahead of your nearest competitor. In other words, you agree to pull your machine.

If your machine, as stated, was so much faster than the others, the Luna Park people from a sporting standpoint were perfectly justified in refusing to let you enter the race, and they should have continued to refuse to let you enter just in the same way that no decent boxing management would allow a heavy weight to be pitted against a featherweight.

You are hereby suspended from all riding under F. A. M. sanction until you put in a defense. Thereafter, your case will be dealt with in accodance with the evidence. In other words, you are in the position of a man arrested for an alleged offense.

I am, sincerely yours, J. P. Thornley, Chairman.

New York, June 17, 1912.

Mr. M. F. Bramley, care Luna Park Amusement Co., Cleveland, Ohio-

My Dear Mr. Bramley:
- Mr. Bauerle turned over to me your letter to him, of June 13th, in reference to the Armstrong case. I am also in receipt of a complaint from the Excelsior Motor Mfg. & Supply Co. against your track. In spite of this protest by this factory, I wish to state, that you started out to do the right thing when you refused to permit Armstrong to ride with a machine that could out-class any others that he would be pitted against, and if you had stuck to that I would unquestionably have upheld you, and here is the trouble in dealing with a man of the moral calibre of Mr. Kreamer. Instead of sticking to the right thing and trusting to me to uphold you, it is alleged and practically admitted in your letter, that Armstrong and Kreamer the latter acting for your company, entered into the following agreement. In other words, you will see after you have read over the agreement, if you have not already seen it, that Armstrong and Kreamer enter into a conspiracy to have Armstrong pull his machine so as not to win over one machine length in front of his nearest competitor.

Mr. Bramley, this is exactly what the F. A. M. is trying to prevent, and Mr. Armstrong is going to he suspended for a year unless he can furnish a defense that will prove that all of these allegations are false, which I doubt very much if he can do. Now, what are you and you who are interested in a proposed track owners’ association going to do to Mr. Kreamer? I am in a position of course, and I believe public opinion would support me and pat me on the back to refuse further sanction to your track until Mr. Kreamer was eliminated on the grounds practically admitted by you in your letter to Mr. Bauerle. That isn’t the way I want to handle it. You have always as far as I could figure out acted on the square with the F. A. M., and I don’t want to hurt you financially by depriving your track of riders. It seems to me in view of the above facts you should eliminate a man who can enter into such a contract. I propose to publish this whole business, because, unless hip podroming, such as this contract will lead to, is nipped in the bud, the public will never go to see motocycle races.

I am, sincerely yours, J. P. Thornley, Chairman.