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Ride-Buying--When Did It Become a "Thing"?

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  • #46
    Though it existed, the dirt poor racer from humble beginnings is overstated. Were there drivers that fit that description? Yes, there were, but there also were drivers like Joel Thorne, Ray Crawford and others who could (and did) finance their entire racing. And, there's such a fine line between self-finance and having a wealthy backer or patron. I spoke with one Indy driver of the 1950s who told me he never would have made it without a wealthy owner/backer that: "for some reason, he decided he liked me." While some of these owners hired/fired drivers or poached them from their fellow owners, some stuck with drivers all the way through.

    America really wasn't that different from Europe in the first decades of racing. If a well-to-do fellow lacked the commitment, interest, ability or intestinal fortitude to be a racer, he simply put his chaffeur in the car.. That's not using slang, some of these racers literally were chaffeurs. There were drivers well into the 1930s whose occupation was listed as "chaffeur."
    "Versions of a story that are more tidy, compact, and camera-ready should generally be viewed as historically suspect." - Jackson Landers

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    • #47
      Originally posted by FlatBlack84 View Post

      This sounds far more like assertion than historical fact. Now your opinion may be correct, or it may be incorrect, but I see little here persuading me that ride-buying has always existed at the same level of preponderance. On the contrary, that still strikes me as HIGHLY improbable.

      And whenever I hear people throw the term "relative" around, I suspect the author is simply evading a reality that conflicts with their cherished presuppositions. [sic]
      You are wrong to think that I trade in history. I deal in newsworthiness. You are wrong to presume that I am expressing opinion. You don't know what I think about about the subject because I haven't told you. Not in books, not in newspapers, not in magazines. All of the information I presented to readers was the product of solid journalism, verified and attributed. Ditto for the work of my staff. If persons interviewed could show what they were saying was accurate, if they did not contest anything written and if nothing surfaced afterward to contradict them, who are you to say different? What specific, verified information do you have about each that they didn't have about themselves?

      I'm not trying to persuade you about anything. I'm trying to help inform your understanding of a subject you profess to know little about. Believe the information if you want to; don't believe it if you so choose. It is disingenuous to dismiss input you sought simply because it doesn't correspond to your thinking.
      Last edited by editor; 07-07-2019, 08:32 AM.

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      • #48
        Originally posted by editor View Post

        You are wrong to think that I trade in history. I deal in newsworthiness. You are wrong to presume that I am expressing opinion. You don't know what I think about about the subject because I haven't told you. Not in books, not in newspapers, not in magazines. All of the information I presented to readers was the product of solid journalism, verified and attributed. Ditto for the work of my staff. If persons interviewed could show what they were saying was accurate, if they did not contest anything written and if nothing surfaced afterward to contradict them, who are you to say different? What specific, verified information do you have about each that they didn't have about themselves?

        I'm not trying to persuade you about anything. I'm trying to help inform your understanding of a subject you profess to know little about. Believe the information if you want to; don't believe it if you so choose. It is disingenuous to dismiss input you sought simply because it doesn't correspond to your thinking.
        On the contrary, I didn't say I know little about ride-buying; my stated purpose for this thread was to determine when the phenomenon began in earnest. My suspicion was the late 60s or the early 70s, and I now lean toward the latter.

        As for the rest of your post, I frankly don't know what to make of it because it is a serried rank of straw men associated with your professional background, which is a topic that never even entered my mind.

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        • #49
          Originally posted by editor View Post
          It is disingenuous to dismiss input you sought simply because it doesn't correspond to your thinking.
          Sadly, this seems to be the prevailing thought process nationally and perhaps globally.

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          • #50
            Originally posted by FlatBlack84 View Post

            On the contrary, I didn't say I know little about ride-buying; my stated purpose for this thread was to determine when the phenomenon began in earnest. My suspicion was the late 60s or the early 70s, and I now lean toward the latter. ...
            Did you or did you not expose a knowledge gap by writing sincerely yet redundantly: "My question is, when did ride-buying begin to transpire in earnest? I've done some cursory research, but finding an answer isn't easy because biographical info for many drivers is difficult to come by." Did you or did you not write of "the ride-buying phenomenon exploding in the first half of the 70s" even though by your own admission you hadn't examined the situation prior to that decade? Did you or did you not write that "it is abundantly clear the ride-buying phenomenon became much more pronounced in American racing, probably in the first half of the 70s" thus backtracking from a previous statement made in absolute terms? Your words paint a picture.

            With regards to the method of investigation:

            Do you know what you are searching for? Do you appreciate that what some would declare to be the buying of a ride can be little more than the reassignment of certain rights to the car following the exchange of money? How do you differentiate between the clear buying of a ride and the formation of a business partnership involving two or more companies, one of those companies being the driver's company? How do you classify a situation involving a team seeking to expand doing a deal with a funded driver to get the investment it requires? Was that the selling of a ride or did the team team simply following the path of least resistance to get the money it needed? How do you determine a generalized start date for a ride-buying driver? You can't go by biographical info that refers to the year he raced the car. I know of one driver who bought a ride years ahead of the time when he stepped into the cockpit.

            With regards to the products of your investigation:

            Did it occur to you that possession of such a limited data set might not be of much value in revealing a greater truth? Did you ever think to test the information you said you found? Did you ever think to expand your investigation beyond superficial-at-best "biographical info" or did you just describe what you found inexpertly? Did it occur to you that you might be looking for or at info that reinforces an existing belief rather than for or at high quality information that informs? You admit to a familial experience with the phenomenon. Finally, did it occur to you that the reason you have been unable to nail down an answer is because the phenomenon has always been a part of the fabric of the sport?

            A retired 1950s Indy winner I interviewed in the early '70s stated without any hint of embarrassment that he bought a ride. He said neither innate talent nor prior results nor good luck put him in that seat at that time. He beat out others because of money. He named drivers who would recount similar stories. Ask yourself why your efforts haven't brought pieces such as mine to your attention. That piece was published in the early 1970s, a decade you say you explored, though in a perfunctory way.

            Let these and other rhetorical questions marinate in your mind before you resume your investigation.

            Meanwhile, if your research is so constrained that it only includes "biographical info" (which speaks to the who and what questions but not to the how, where and why; when is addressed indirectly if it is addressed at all), you are cheating yourself. I encourage you to broaden your scope. You will not gain a full understanding of the phenomenon until you seek completeness.

            Before you began this examination you should have recognized that an unwritten agreement wasn't worth the paper it was written on and that a formal, signed driver services agreement often wasn't worth the paper on which terms were set down. Scores of drivers never got behind the wheels of the cars they had verbal agreements or written agreements to drive. Nothing unusual about that.


            Originally posted by FlatBlack84 View Post
            ... As for the rest of your post, I frankly don't know what to make of it because it is a serried rank of straw men associated with your professional background, which is a topic that never even entered my mind.
            My professional background, to borrow your phrasing, includes racing. There would be no reason for me to be here otherwise.

            You appear to be skeptical of what is in the lede of post 25 and in the lede of post 36. Fine. There is more to each post than the information contained in each lede. Bread crumbs were sprinkled for your benefit. Pick them up and follow then if you so desire. No sense my doing your work if you doubt the informed and tested bottom line of knowledgeable motorsport professionals either in whole or in part that we and others delivered through our pages. No reason to deny you a fair chance to find answers due of your skepticism, either.

            My last post contained no misrepresentation as you allege. The so-called straw men are real drivers making on the record comments that are germane to your research. Let's not forget, I'm acquainted with the type of fallacy you mention. I've taught it to students. Stop the drift. It's unproductive.

            Please allow me to close with some personal observations gleaned from the thread. I hope the following examples of faulty information exemplify the hazards such notions can create. I hope that you will accept nothing less than material that is documented and complete.

            I found it amusing to learn that when I was part of a technology company responsible for designing, engineering and manufacturing race cars and race car parts as well as operating race teams for clients that neither we nor any of our suppliers did any R&D: no R&D before we began conceptualizing a car, none during its manufacture and none after the car began competing. None for our follow-up car. There were no tools. Odd that. Of three cars we designed and manufactured that immediately come to mind, the bodywork for each differed substantially from the bodies found on competing manufacturers' cars. Since R&D work could not have been, according to the thread, we must have pulled those shapes out of thin air in a moment of inspiration. Makes me wonder why we beat our heads against the wall, why we spent so much money, why we did so much work on those shapes. I found it amusing to learn that a celebrated white Chevy step van made available to some that was crammed with R&D electronics and engineers couldn't have existed. This was a truck that never so much as put a single wheel onto any race track property in order to keep its secrets away from prying eyes. It could receive and process telemetered data from a race car miles away ... unless it couldn't because it was a phantom truck.

            I found it amusing to see that the person who designed a racing engine our technology company became associated with through a client couldn't have been a real person because he was an American not named Leo Goossen and because he got paid for his labors.

            I found it amusing to read that lapping at 140mph in a race car that can do 140 is tougher than lapping at 200mph in a race car that can do 200. Tests conducted on some of my drivers reveal that isn't so. The driver might be busier in some respects doing 140 but going 200 substantially increases the workload on the body. All drivers competing at those higher speeds end up injured in ways that do not overtly affect quality of life. These injuries are difficult to detect. Untreated drivers who race at speeds of 200 or more end up becoming walking bombs, health-wise. Drivers who race at 140 don't.

            Best of luck on your quest. I wish you great success.



            Last edited by editor; 07-10-2019, 09:59 AM.

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            • #51
              editor:

              It hasn’t been mentioned specifically, but I think there are fundamental flaws in the original premise. This is the assumption that someone who buys a ride comes from a wealthy background and that they are trying to skip steps in the ladder. While that can be true, I don’t think it covers the majority of situations.

              Also, I assume that you understand my comments about research and development and Leo Goossen related to the roadster era and the beginning of the transition to rear engined race cars, but no further...

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