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1920 American Championship Car season
Series  : AAA Championship Car
Champion : USAflagsmall Gaston Chevrolet
Previous: 1919 Next: 1921

The 1920 AAA Championship Car season consisted of 5 races, beginning in Beverly Hills, California on February 28 and concluding in Beverly Hills on November 25. The AAA National Champion and Indianapolis 500 champion was Gaston Chevrolet. The 1920 season has been a source of confusion and misinformation for historians since 1926.

Official Schedule and ResultsEdit

"Note: AAA had two different listings for the 1920 season. At the start of the year, 11 races were listed as counting toward the championship, but at the end of the season, AAA determined the championship to be based on the results of five races giving Gaston Chevrolet the championship. These results were considered official by AAA from 1920-26 and 1929-51. The 11-race championship was first recognized in 1926 with Tommy Milton as champion and was considered official for 1927 and from 1952 to 1955, the final year that AAA sanctioned auto racing." (IZOD IndyCar Series 2011 Historical Record Book - p. 77.)

Rnd Date Race Name Length Track Type Pole Position Winning Driver
1 February 28 USAflagsmall Beverly Hills Race 250 mi
(402 km)
Los Angeles Motor Speedway 1.25 Mile Board USAflagsmall Jimmy Murphy USAflagsmall Jimmy Murphy
NC March 28 USAflagsmall Beverly Hills Heat 1 50 mi
(80 km)
Los Angeles Motor Speedway 1.25 Mile Board USAflagsmall Art Klein
USAflagsmall Beverly Hills Heat 2 50 mi
(80 km)
USAflagsmall Jimmy Murphy
USAflagsmall Beverly Hills MainA 50 mi
(80 km)
USAflagsmall Tommy Milton
2 May 31 USAflagsmall International 500 Mile SweepstakesB 500 mi
(805 km)
Indianapolis Motor Speedway 2.5 Mile Brick USAflagsmall Ralph DePalma USAflagsmall Gaston Chevrolet
NC June 19 USAflagsmall Universal Trophy Race 225 mi
(362 km)
Uniontown Speedway 1.125 Mile Board USAflagsmall Tommy Milton
3 July 5 USAflagsmall Tacoma Race 200 mi
(322 km)
Pacific Speedway 2 Mile Board USAflagsmall Tommy Milton USAflagsmall Tommy Milton
4 August 28 USAflagsmall Elgin National Trophy 255 mi
(410 km)C
Elgin Road Race Course 8.5 Mile Road USAflagsmall Ralph DePalma USAflagsmall Ralph DePalma
NC September 6 USAflagsmall 4th Annual Autumn Classic 200 mi
(322 km)
Uniontown Speedway 1.125 Mile Board USAflagsmall Tommy Milton
NC September 19 USAflagsmall Syracuse Race 50 mi
(80 km)
New York State Fairgrounds 1 Mile Dirt USAflagsmall Ralph DePalma
NC October 2 USAflagsmall Fresno Race 200 mi
(362 km)
Fresno Speedway 1 Mile Board USAflagsmall Eddie O'Donnell USAflagsmall Jimmy Murphy
5 November 25 USAflagsmall Beverly Hills Race 2 250 mi
(402 km)
Los Angeles Motor Speedway 1.25 Mile Board USAflagsmall Jimmy Murphy USAflagsmall Roscoe Sarles

Template:Legend Template:Legend Template:Legend

A - Starters limited to first four finishers for each preliminary race
B - 183 in3 (3.0 L) maximum displacement.
C - Points allocated on the basis of advertised distance of 250 miles.

Official National Championship StandingsEdit

 #  Driver Manufacturer Points
1 USAflagsmall Gaston Chevrolet Frontenac 1030
2 USAflagsmall Tommy Milton Duesenberg 930
3 USAflagsmall Jimmy Murphy Duesenberg 885
4 USAflagsmall Ralph DePalma Ballot 605
5 USAflagsmall Roscoe Sarles Frontenac, Duesenberg 540
6 22px-Flag of France René Thomas 520
7 USAflagsmall Joe Thomas 351
8 USAflagsmall Ralph Mulford 350
9 USAflagsmall Eddie Hearn 345
10 USAflagsmall Eddie Miller 260

† Chevrolet was killed along with Eddie O'Donnell and Lyall Jolls, O'Donnell's mechanic, at the final race in Beverly Hills.

Controversy over official race scheduleEdit

The 5 race schedule has been confirmed as the correct and historically accurate schedule for the championship season of 1920. In the race day program for the final race at Beverly Hills was the points distribution[1] for the championship contenders over the previous four races of the season. The championship was confirmed in the weeks leading up to the race by various newspapers around the country printing the four race championship standings leading to the final race.[2][3] Confusion about the season began in 1926 when, for "comparative reasons", Contest Board member Arthur Means reworked the schedule to include 10 races and changed the champion to Tommy Milton. The earliest that the ten race standing occur are in the 27 October 1927 issue of Motor Age.[4] In 1951 Racing Board member Russ Catlin found these retroactive crib sheets and folded the results into official AAA documentation, continuing the confusion about the 1920 season and early AAA history as a whole.

The added races to the season are as follows:

Date Race Name Length Track Type Notes Winning Driver
March 28 Beverly Hills Heat 1 Template:Convert/mi Los Angeles Motor Speedway 1.25 Mile Board Oval Art Klein
March 28 Beverly Hills Heat 2 Template:Convert/mi Los Angeles Motor Speedway 1.25 Mile Board Oval Jimmy Murphy
March 28 Beverly Hills Main Template:Convert/mi Los Angeles Motor Speedway 1.25 Mile Board Oval Starters limited to first four finishers for each preliminary race Tommy Milton
September 19 Syracuse Race Template:Convert/mi New York State Fairgrounds 1 Mile Dirt Oval Ralph DePalma
October 2 Fresno Race Template:Convert/mi Fresno Speedway 1 Mile Board Oval Eddie O'Donnell started on the pole. Jimmy Murphy

The false championship results table is as follows:

 #  Driver Team Points
1 Tommy Milton Duesenberg 2095
2 Jimmy Murphy Duesenberg 1410
3 Gaston Chevrolet Frontenac 1135
4 Ralph DePalma Ballot 605
5 Roscoe Sarles Frontenac, Duesenberg 580

In 1961, Al Bloemker attempted to reconcile the two different accounts for the 1920 season. He surmises that there was an issue with sanctioning fees paid by the Uniontown Speedway and their two races held that year were not included in the final season standings.[5] The printed media of the time is silent about any issue with the Uniontown races not being championship events. They did in fact hold two races but they were non-championship. If Uniontown did pay for championship level racing but was not credited for them, lawsuits would have surely been filed but no such record exists.

The two Uniontown events are as follows:

Date Race Name Length Track Type Winning Driver
June 19 Universal Trophy Race Template:Convert/mi Uniontown Speedway 1.125 Mile Board Oval Tommy Milton
September 6 4th Annual Autumn Classic Template:Convert/mi Uniontown Speedway 1.125 Mile Board Oval Tommy Milton

Points SystemEdit

The Points system used for both the official and false season standings are as follows:

Position/
Miles
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
40 80 45 25 15 10
50 100 55 30 20 10 5
60 120 65 35 25 15
80 160 80 45 30 20
100 200 110 60 35 20 15 10 5
150 300 160 90 50 30 20 15 10
200 400 210 110 60 40 25 15 10
250 500 260 140 80 50 35 25 15 10 5
300 600 420 220 120 70 45 35 25 15 10
400 800 420 220 120 70 45 35 25 15 10
500 1000 520 270 140 90 60 50 40 35 30

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

from the original on 2011-04-26. http://www.driverdb.com/standings/1140-1920/. Retrieved 2011-04-26. 


from the original on 2011-04-26. http://www.champcarstats.com/year/1920.htm. Retrieved 2011-04-26. 


from the original on 2011-04-26. http://old.motorsport.com/stats/champ/byyear.asp?Y=1920. Retrieved 2011-04-26. 


  1. Beverly Hills race day program "The present standings of the championship contenders who race today" 25 November 1920
  2. Detroit News. 26 September 1920, Sect. II p. 7
  3. L.A. Times. 21 November 1920, Pt. 6 p. 1
  4. Motor Age. 27 October 1927, Pgs. 17 & 20
  5. "500 miles to go; The story of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, New York, Al Bloemker, 1961, p. 153

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