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The Last Time a Republican Reigned in Big Business - 1903

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Wednesday, June 01, 2016

BLOODY JACK Chapter Nineteen

I think the tipping point came on Monday, 1 October, 1888 when even the staid Times of London bowed to the pressures from their advertisers and customers. On that date the story went the 19th century equivalent of “viral”  The Times story that day read, “In the early hours of Yesterday morning two more horrible murders were committed in the East of London... No doubt seems to be entertained by the police that these terrible crimes were the work of the same fiendish hands...”
In the first mentioned case", said The Times,  "the body was found in a gateway, and although the murder...may be regarded as of almost ordinary character – the unfortunate woman only having her throat cut – (there is) little doubt...that the assassin intended to mutilate...The murder in the City...(had) indescribable mutilations...some anatomical skill seems to have been displayed...At Three O'clock yesterday afternoon a meeting of nearly a thousand persons took place in Victoria Park...a resolution was unanimously passed that it was high time (Home Secretary Henry Matthews and Scotland Yard head Charles Warren) should resign...”
The un-staid London Evening News was a little free-er with their facts. “On Sunday morning a woman was found with her throat cut and her body partially mutilated in a court in Berner street...the deed was done in the short period of twenty minutes...in the time which the police surgeon said a medical expert would take to do it...Having been disturbed in his first attempt...the murderer seems to have made his way towards the City, and to have met another "unfortunate”,...He...cut her throat...then proceeded to disembowel her. He must have been extremely quick at his work...the City beats being much shorter than those of the Metropolitan Police.”
The News editorialized, “Successive editions of the Sunday papers were getting a marvelous sale yesterday...The police yesterday afternoon took possession of Mitre-square and kept out the people... There was also a crowd of perhaps a couple of hundred persons outside the gateway in Berner-street during the day, and at ten o'clock last night there were perhaps 150 assembled in the roadway...”
The Evening News noted that Monday, “A TERRIBLE PANIC Has taken possession of the entire district, and its effects are to be seen in the wild, terrified faces of the women, and heard in the muttered imprecations of the men...WHERE WERE THE POLICE?...It seems incredible that, within the short space of twelve minutes, a man and woman should have entered the deserted precincts of Mitre-square, that the man should have murdered his victim, disemboweled her with the same unerring skill...and should have made his escape...He must, when he hurried away...have been reeking with blood”.
The News reporter noted the increased police presence at the murder scenes and suggested it reminded him of “the old adage about locking the stable door after the steed has been stolen.” He described the crowd in Berner Street as being made up of, “nearly all classes. Clubmen from the West-end rubbed shoulders with the grimy denizens of St. George's-in-the-East: daintily dressed ladies...elbowed their way amid knots of their less favored sisters, whose dirty and ragged apparel betokened the misery of their daily surroundings”
The London Evening News offered its readers one tidbit of real information - “The body found in Berner-street has been identified as that of Elizabeth Stride.” But then returned to building  hysteria “....the murder... grows bolder by impunity. One victim for one night was his former rule. He now...cuts off two within an hour...It is impossible to avoid the depressing conviction that the Police are about to fail once more, as they have failed with CHAPMAN, as they have failed with NICHOLLS, as they have failed with TABRAM... The Police have done nothing, they have thought of nothing, and in their detective capacity they have shown themselves distinctly inferior.”
The Irish Times knew just who to blame. “Sir CHARLES WARREN (above, right)...appears at last to understand that it will be fatal to men in his position if those murders are not traced.”  The Home Secretary, Henry Matthews (above, left), was described on the floor of Parliament as “helpless, heedless, useless”, and The Daily Telegraph urged his resignation. Many already suspected the conservative British government of Lord Salisbury was responsible for disinformation and dirty tricks political campaigns against Irish self government movement. They were right, but not knowing details of the Home Office's Irish Section – Section D – they could not know that Charles Warren had no responsibility over these political black ops. So he got the blame for it all.
Under a Monday evening column titled “What We Think”, The Star said the killer had again, “got away clear; and again the police...confess that they have not a clue. They are waiting for a seventh and an eighth murder, just as they waited for a fifth...Meanwhile, Whitechapel is half mad with fear. The people are afraid even to talk with a stranger.... It is the duty of journalists to keep their heads cool, and not inflame men's passions...” They then proceeded to do just that. “Two theories are suggested to us,” warned The Star a few sentences further down, “that he may wear woman's clothes, or may be a policeman.”
The police, of course, are helpless,” continued The Star. “We expect nothing of them. The Metropolitan force is rotten to the core, and it is a mildly farcical comment on the hopeless unfitness of Sir CHARLES WARREN (above)...there must be an agitation against Sir CHARLES WARREN, who is now...detaching more men from regular police and detective duty to political work....”  But the Star did get one piece of information right. In that same Monday evening edition they mentioned, “After committing the second murder, the man seems to have gone back towards the scene of the former. An apron, which is thought by the police to belong to the woman found in Mitre-square, as it was the same material as part of her dress, was found in Goldstar Street. It was smeared with blood, and had been evidently carried away by the murderer to wipe his hands with.”
The Star's reporter returned to Berner Street in the afternoon and found that “Blue helmets were as thick as bees in a clover field...Prominent among those on the spot...was Superintendent Foster, of the City Police. He personally...paid a visit to the scene of the Berner street tragedy, to compare the two cases...As he came out of Berner street, a man in a tweed suit was seen walking by his side, and someone in the crowd shouted out: "There they go. The super's got him. I told you he was a toff." This silly remark was enough to turn the tide of attention in the direction of the officer and his companion ..their unsought retinue followed...till they met the tide from the other direction, and then the side streets swallowed up the surplus and the officials escaped.” 
That night another reporter for The Star saw, “little groups of ill-clad women standing under the glare of a street lamp or huddling in a doorway talking..."He'll be coming through the houses and pulling us out of our beds next," says one. "Not he," says another; "he's too clever for that."
On that same Monday, the Central News dropped a bombshell – the killer had written a letter, in red ink (above), and dated the previous Tuesday, 25 September. It read - in part - , "Dear Boss - I keep on hearing the police have caught me...I have laughed when they look so clever and talk about being on the right track. That joke about Leather Apron gave me rare fits. I am down on whores, and I shan't quit ripping them till I do get buckled. Grand work the last job was. I gave the lady no time to squeal. How can they catch me now? I love my work...I saved some of the proper red stuff in a ginger-beer bottle...but it went thick like glue, and I can't use it. Red ink is fit enough, ha, ha, ha!...My knife is so nice and sharp, I want to get to work right away, if I get the chance. Good, cock, "Yours truly,JACK THE RIPPER."  There was a post script - “Don't mind me giving the trade name. Wasn't good enough to post this before I got all the red ink off my hands, curse it. They say I'm a doctor. Ha! ha! ha! ha!"
So there it was – that iconic name – Jack the Ripper – its first appearance in print. And, added the Central News Service, that very morning they had received a post card, this written in red chalk, but smeared with blood. “"Double event this time," it read. "Number One squealed a bit...JACK THE RIPPER." Added the News Service, “..it does not seem unreasonable to suppose that the cool, calculating villain who is responsible for the crimes has chosen to ...convey to the Press his grimly diabolical humor.”
Neither missive was actually written by the killer, of course. The letter had been written mailed and received during the two week lull in the case, before the murders of 30 September. It was an attempt to keep the story going, to generate additional newspaper sales. And the post card was merely another ploy, feeding the horror machine which had become Jack the Ripper. On that same Monday, the News printed a letter from builder and self made man George Akin Lusk (above),  naming himself as Chairman of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, and encouraging Home Secretary Matthews to offer a reward for the capture of the killer. Volunteers from the committee were already patrolling the streets and pubs of Whitechapel, which might explain why the killer had moved so far outside his usual hunting fields..
But the most important development from the the double event weekend was that at last, Jack the Ripper was a going financial concern. There would be legal, sociological and political effects of  Bloody Jack. But the murderer and his victims had become of secondary importance.
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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

NOT PERFECT

I was surprised to find , how many of America's 18 million citizens were on the journey to our “more perfect union” on Thursday, 10 September, 1846.  In the pitiless Nevada desert members of the last California emigrant train of the season awoke to see the error of their ways in the snow capped Ruby Mountains. On that same day, out on the Great Plains, exhausted Mormons escaping religious persecution awoke to a violent downpour, and the commandment to rise from their sickbeds and retrace their steps. Sixty miles south of the Rio Grande River, an American invasion force was preparing to fall on the ill prepared Mexican city of Monterrey. While, at the center of this web of worry and hope, susceptible to each distant tug and pull, a 38 year old alcoholic was being chased by the shadows thrown up by a flickering whale oil lamp in a Washington, D.C. hotel room.
On Pennsylvania Avenue, at the foot of Capital Hill,   and a few steps from the fetid Washington Canal, stood the three story wood frame St. Charles Hotel (above) - soon to be renamed the Capital Hotel. The establishment catered to southerners, boasting a basement room where slaves could be restrained so securely the management offered to reimburse masters should their property escape. One of the most popular resident guests was the congressman from Alabama's 7th district, Felix G. McConnell. He was known for his biting humor, his spendthrift ways and his voluminous drinking. And this night he had reached the end of a hundred dollar drunk.
Tales of 38 year old McConnell's impromptu inebriated parties were legendary. During his first term, after inviting the occupants of the bar at the upscale Brown's Hotel to “Come up and licker'”, he was confronted by the scrupulously proper John W. Dade, superintendent of the District's jails. Dade had obviously been drinking for hours, and pompously inquired, “With whom have I the honor of drinking?” McConnell gave his stump speech reply. “"My name is Felix Grundy McConnell, Egad! I am a member of Congress from Alabama. My mother is a justice of the peace, my aunt keeps a livery stable, and my grandmother commanded a company in the Revolution and fit the British, gol darn their souls!” “Old Jack” Dade formally replied “Sir, I am a man of high aspirations and peregrinations and can have nothing to do with such low-down scopangers as yourself. Good morning, sir!” That having been said Dade stayed to drink with McConnell, and the two became fast friends.
But perhaps McConnell's most famous moment of public excess had come at a performance of “The Nordic Paganini”, Old Bull - Ole Bornemann Bull, the Norwegian solo violinists (above) who was on his first American tour. The New York Herald reported, “At the close of some of his wonderful cadences, the very musicians in the orchestra flung down their instruments and stamped and applauded like madmen.” The same critic went on to suggest the “Prince of Violinists” drew up to 4,000 people to his concerts because his “...pyrotechnic style and dramatic manner...captivated the musically uninitiated...”
Ole's bigger than life personality went over well in America.  And he “could talk politics with even more earnestness and force than he could talk music.” All in all he seemed another natural friend for Congressman McConnell, except Ole was a tea totaler.
Ole played four concerts over the holidays in 1843, and in the midst of the Christmas Eve performance in Washington, D.C., a drunken Congressman McConnell suddenly rose and shouted, “None of your high-falutin, but give us ‘Hail Columbia’ and bear hard on the treble’! “ As a music critic noted, people shouted, “"Throw him out!” So they did. But the policemen had their hands full, for McConnell was a husky chap, and full of spirituous encouragement...”, and the officers had to resort to their night sticks. But given that most of the audience was not there for the music but for the show, it was not a significant interruption. Briefly McConnell was charged with “rioting and disturbance”, before his high office and high powered friends saw the charges dismissed.
In his two terms in Congress, McConnell sponsored just two pieces of legislation. In his first term he introduce a bill to annex Ireland. The bill was just a jibe at northern Democrats who insensitively opposed the annexation of Texas, but who were sensitive to the fastest growing immigrant population in America - the Irish.  Having made his joke, Felix McConnell allowed the Ireland annexation bill to quietly die. But at the beginning of his second term, he touched on something much closer to his heart.
On 9 March, 1846, just five days into the 29th Congress, McConnell introduced “A Bill to grant to the Head of a Family, Man, Maid or Widow, a Homestead not exceeding 160 acres of Land”. It was the first “Homestead Bill” introduced in the United States Capital (above). It's purpose was to democratize the frontier.
Since before the revolution money men had been bought up every tract of public land offered for sale, looking to profit by reselling it to other investors, as if it were stocks or stock derivatives.  Land speculation fever was so powerful, most investors eagerly went into debt to obtain as much land as possible, intending to sell it again before their note became due. Like Russian roulette, this game could end in only one of two ways.
Most new naive new owners would discover they  now owned a swamp or a boulder field. This usually led to lawsuits and bankruptcies all around. Or the speculator might do a hasty survey,  subdivide the land and then sell the sub-divisions to poorer speculators, who would subdivide the subdivision, and so on and so on until the most desperate and most financially strapped investors, the actual farmers,  would borrow enough to actually plant crops.
By the time an actual farmer obtained a small tract,  the price was so inflated as to leave him deeply in debt. And the first bad year, the first crop failure, the farmers would be unable to meet their interest payments on the loans. The farmers would then "pull up stakes”, abandon the farm and the loan and move further west to repeat the process. Thus the land would revert to the last owner, who would then resell to the next sucker. It was a very profitable business model, and reminds me of the current student loan system. But like the current for-profit college scams, it did not broaden the tax base, nor fund community improvements, like schools, roads or canals. It only made the wealthy richer still.
McConnell was far from alone even among southern Democrats seeking to break up this monopoly on land and money. Sam Huston from Texas wanted a homestead act. Andrew Johnson from Tennessee introduced his own version the same day as McConnell. But these southern progressives were being replaced by well funded, increasingly rabid pro-slavery politicians, who saw individual homesteaders as a block to the next generation of big slave plantations, and big money land speculators.  Wrote one historian, “In spite of the undoubted earnestness of (McConnell), the bill seems to have been regarded as a jest...(and did not) elicit a respectful hearing from his fellow congressmen.” Andrew Johnson's almost duplicate bill was given a respectful hearing - before it was killed in committee.
It was the disrespect that seems to have broken Congressman McConnell's heart. Despite his reputation as a “dare-devil and a spendthrift”, McConnell was devoted to his job, missing just 8% of his floor votes in 1846, well below the average. Perhaps if he had not left his wife Elizabeth and their three children back in Alabama, he would not have turned to drink in Washington. Perhaps if he had chosen to stay in a less expensive boarding house, where he could share meals and companionship with his colleges, as opposed to a $65 a month room at the St. Charles - perhaps things would have turned out differently. Except his father Perry had died at 52, also addicted to “ardent spirits”. And now it seemed, every one had judged the young lawyer from Talladega as a joke and a drunk.
On the evening of 13 May 1846, the House of Representatives voted to go to war with Mexico – 174 to 14. The war had been sparked by the annexation of Texas by the United States, and was intended to help build a southern slave empire from Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia through Texas to California. Congressman McConnell voted with the majority for the war, but he knew, as did many other practical southerners, that the Mexican War led the south to further under the control of firebrands and hot heads, determined to extend slavery at all costs.
On Tuesday, 8 September, 1846,  McConnell went to visit the man who had given him his first job, as a Tennessee postmaster. President James K. Polk was surprised to see him, thinking McConnell had gone home to Alabama during the recess. In his meticulous diary Polk noted, “he looked ...as though he had just recovered from a fit of intoxication. He was sober, but was pale, his countenance haggard and his system nervous. He applied to me to borrow one hundred dollars (to clear up his debts) and said he would return it to me in ten days....I had known him in his youth and had not the moral courage to refuse. I gave him the one hundred dollars in gold and took his note. His hand was so tremulous that he could scarcely write his name to the note legibly. I think it probable that he will never pay me.”
Leaving the White House, McConnell settled his bill with the hackman (taxi driver), and disappeared. Where he was Tuesday night and all of Wednesday, no one could say. But early in afternoon of Thursday, 10 September, 1846, McConnell appeared in the bar of the St. Charles, inviting the few patrons to “Come up and licker”. He kept clicking gold coins between his fingers, and telling everyone he had been given them by President Polk. He even loaned the barkeep $35, although the man may have simply been trying to take the money out of McConnell's pocket before he drank himself to death. As evening approached the Congressman asked for a pen and paper, and struggled to compose a note. But after some time he gave up, rose and said he was going to his room.
Once behind his the locked door, McConnell lay upon the bed, and taking a “hawkbill knife” (above), stabbed himself several times in the abdomen. And when that proved ineffective, he slashed his own throat, twice. A short time later, someone was concerned enough to check in on the Congressman. Receiving  no reply to a knock, a pass key opened the room, and Felix Grundy McConnell was discovered atop a blood soaked mattress.
A Washington newspaper said, “No doubt can be entertained that Mr. McConnell committed the act in a state of mental hallucination – most probably under the influence of delirium tremens, brought on by the intemperate course of his life.” According to the Baltimore Sun, “His friends say that for about a week past he had relinquished drinking, owing to indisposition, and that the absence of his usual stimulus caused great despondency...he had his watch and valuable jewelry on his person, besides a sum of money.” President Polk added to his diary, “A jury of inquest was held and found a verdict that he had destroyed himself. It was a melancholy instance of the effects of intemperance...he was a true Democrat and a trusted friend".
Having been thus safely categorized and dismissed as an alcoholic and a jokester, Felix Grundy McConnell was buried in the Congressional Cemetery. Other than an occasional mention of his bill to annex Ireland, he was almost immediately forgotten. It was easier that way, to forget that he and other southerners, had once attempted to change the economics of the nation in a way that might have made the civil war unnecessary, that might have saved both of his sons, one born after his death, from having to fight in a war which cost the state of Alabama almost 40% of its population, men, women and children, black and white, wise, foolish, saint, sinner, alcoholic and tea-totaler.
God bless Felix Grundy McConnell, for his journey. He did his best to guide the people of Alabama and the nation to a “more perfect union”.  He tried to lead them down a path to avoid war.  And if others did not notice his effort, that was their loss. And if he stumbled on the path, that was to be expected. In this journey we all take failure is inevitable. That is what makes success so sweet. That is why the journey must be made every day, to a “more perfect union”. Not perfect, just more perfect. And that was Felix Grundy McConnell – not perfect. Like the rest of us.
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Monday, May 30, 2016

ENTREPRENEURS OF DOOM

I have always thought auto racing was analogous to economics. To the spectators a race is a chaotic
rush for victory, and for the racers first place is the only prize that matters. But hidden in the details is the regularity with which racers willingly risk destroying themselves and the race itself. Consider events that began 120 miles southwest of Paris, on Saturday, 11 June, 1955. The 24 hours of Le Mans had been running for just two hours when Pierre Levegh, driving the number 20 Mercedes-Benz 300, “The greatest sports racing car ever built”, was clipped from behind by an Austin Healey, and catapulted into the air at 150 miles an hour by a 3 foot earthen embankment meant to keep the cars on the track.
The 1,900 pound aluminum and magnesium car then went flipping nose over tail down the embankment, and the dynamic physics ripped the engine from its mounts, shredded the fuel tank, spewing the crowd in gasoline and benzine. The wheels and axles, radiator and doors were ripped off the frame. Every loose piece of metal, every screw and bolt, fender and nut was instantly converted into a spinning scythe, killing outright and decapitating 120 spectators and maiming another 300. 
And leaving Pierre Levegh laying half naked, dead on the race course (above). Rescue crews than made matters worse by pouring water on the burning magnesium, intensifying the flames. The horrific death toll caused France, Spain, Switzerland and Germany to ban all racing for a time. And in the United States, the American Auto Club, which had regulated professional auto racing, decided to break all contact with the blood sport.
The only man who could save auto racing in America was Anton “Tony” Hulman (above), a Yale Business School graduate, and heir to a Terre Haute dry goods fortune. 
In November 1945 Huleman had paid $750,000 for the dilapidated almost abandoned 320 acre Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS)(above).  Recalled Clarence Cagle, long time Hulman Company employee, “We unlocked the gate, and it fell down. Everything was rotten, there were weeds everywhere. It was a terrible mess.” Hulman rebuilt the grandstands and staged the first post war race on Memorial Day, 1946. The next year Hulman broke a driver's strike and made the Indianapolis 500, the only auto race most Americans ever saw or heard of.
A decade later Huleman dealt with the loss of the Automobile Club sponsorship just as decisively. He formed a new regulating body, hiring technicians and inspectors, copy writers to coordinate advertising and raising purses for dozens of small private tracks and hundreds of midget and sprint car races across the country. Huleman called his new sanctioning body “The United States Auto Club”. At dozens of summer weekend quarter and half mile oval dirt tracks across the Midwest and West, originally built for harness racing, USAC supported a “minor league” for the Indy 500, where younger fans could first encounter the sport, and test their talents as mechanics, drivers and team owners. The vast majority of these USAC events “were not well attended”, but because the 500 was a national event, these tracks survived during the Huleman era. This was the business model for American open wheel, or Indy car,  racing for almost forty years.
Indy cars remained tied to front engine roadsters through the 1950's, but beginning in the 1960's smaller rear engine designs and drivers from Europe came to dominate the Indy 500. 
 American auto racing became a business model divided against itself. The European teams were not interested in supporting the USAC feeder system. And as Tony Huleman aged, so did USAC. Like any bureaucracy, inertia came to dominate. This was understandable as racing was expensive, and innovation only made it more so. What held Indy car racing together through the 1970's was the experience and inertia of Tony Huleman and USAC.  Then in 1977, Tony Huleman died at the age of 76, and the following year, eight key managers and technicians for USAC were killed when their plane went down in an Indiana spring thunderstorm.
It was now that a new generation of entrepreneurs sought to remake American racing, led by the son of an Ohio corporate executive, Roger Penske (above). As a team owner he first competed at Indianapolis in 1968,  winning his first 500 in 1972, with driver Mark Donahue. 
And in 1978 Penske read the “White Letter” written by Formula 1 and USAC driver and All American Racing team owner Dan Gurney (above). Gurney wrote,“We as businessmen should be ashamed of ourselves for being involved in a prestigious sport...as weak and disorganized as it presently is”.  Gurney called for the owners to organize, as then, “USAC will work for us and support our cause and our policies.... Let's call it...Championship Auto Racing Teams.” Gurney closed by identifying CART's primary obstacle. “It appears that a 'show down' with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is or should be the first target. They are the ones who can afford it...”.
Penske liked what he read, and in 1978, he was bankrolled by an accountant turned oil wildcatter turned USAC team owner and entrepreneur, Ueal Eugene “Pat” Patrick (above)...
Together these three - Gurney, Penske and Patrick -  formed Championship Auto Racing Teams, governed by a CEO and a board of 8 owners, one driver and one mechanic, dividing between them 24 voting shares, with president Patrick and Penske and a few others receiving additional controlling votes. In March of 1979, CART launched their own league with an oval race at Phoenix, Arizona.

USAC and Joe Cloutier, Tony Huleman's right hand man and replacement, struck back one month later, informing Penske, Partick, Gurney and three other CART teams that because their actions were “harmful to racing",  they would not be allowed to compete in the 1979 Indy 500.  On the track's opening day - 5 May, 1979 -  the federal court granted CART an injunction, forcing USAC to admit their entries.
CART, now led by Penske lawyer John Frasco, had won. USAC continued to support dirt tracks, but under the new CART points system, winning the Indy 500 was worth no more than the Ontario, California 500. The vaunted Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and it's USAC creation, had been brought to its knees.
But during the 1980's cracks appeared in CART's veneer. The governing board consistently favored top teams of Penske and Patrick, who could afford innovations like new engines and “ground effects” body designs, while blocking carbon-fiber bodies until Penske designers could develop their own. The board was reconfigured, and almost immediately reconfigured again. Most of the teams, lured by the promise of a more responsive management and bigger purses, instead saw Penske drivers win most of the races and almost every seasonal championship. Also , despite CART's promise to cut costs,  fielding a CART racer was now topping $10 million year, leaving most owners condemned to poverty row and losing seasons
Then in 1989 Joe Clouter died, and was succeeded by 31 year old Tony George, grandson of Tony Huleman. That same year, the CART board voted to fire John Frasco, and replace him with John Caponigro, who promised the old dream of bigger purses and smaller costs. He tried squeezing more money out of of league sponsor PPG.  When PPG complained, the CART board fire Caponigro, and over the next six years CART had three bosses. None could keep the owners satisfied for long, as attendance and television ratings declined for both CART and Tony George's new Indy Racing League, which was fielding cheaper and slower/safer cars.
In March of 1998 CART went public, offering 4,500,000 shares on the New York Stock Exchange. Originally offered at $16 per share the price quickly rose to $35.63 per share. The offering also allowed the entrepreneurs (Penske, Patrick , et al) to convert their 22 voting shares into 400,000 common shares, worth about $100 million. A year later these same men sold most of their stock for less than $25.00 a share, before abandoning CART for the IRL. It smelled of a classic “pump and dump” Wall Street fraud. Except in the new era of "unregulated capitalism", it was just business as usual.
As Gordon Kirby, editor of “Motor Sport” magazine, put it, “Sadly, the influx of money served only to exacerbate the self-interest, egos and greed which had always been at the heart of CART's problems, and in the end most of the team owners wound up selling their shares at a handsome profit and jumping ship. It was an abysmal display of everything the organization theoretically had been founded to prevent. “
In 2004, Roger Penske admitted only, “We've probably lost some of the media, we've lost some of the fans, and we've lost some of the sponsors. Obviously, there's been some damage...” John Menard, another of the original CART entrepreneurs, was a little more honest. “CART has zero market share” he admitted in 2004, “and the IRL has a bit more, but when you combine the two...it kind of doesn't matter.”  As usual, Robin Miller, the opinionated gadfly who covered most of the racing civil war for the Indianapolis Star, was more direct. “The people who used to watch Indy-car racing either got pissed off and quit watching (or) quit going”
Most of the economic damage was out side of the Indianapolis Speedway. Writer Bob Zeller could tell “Car and Driver” magazine, “...more spectators attended the 29th running of the Long Beach Grand Prix than watched it on television” The paid attendance in 2004 was 95,000, while only 60,000 homes tuned in to watch the race on TV.  But even the Indianapolis 500, the goose that each year laid a golden egg for open wheel racing, dropped from a 13 Nielson share in 1979, to a 3.8 share in 2014. There were still half a million people at the Speedway on race day, but the television audience was under 6 million  CART had decimated open wheel racing in America, from top to bottom, exactly as the entrepreneurs on Wall Street decimated the general economy in 2007. And CART had proved to be a preview.
By 2007, with the stock price below $0.25 a share, CART declared bankruptcy, and disappeared, leaving behind a few wealthy entrepreneurs who had grown even more wealthy, thousands of stock holders who had lost from a few hundred to a few thousands of dollars, millions of fans with a foul taste in their mouths, and open wheel racing all but dead on the track. Mike Tanier, racing author, has compared American open wheel racing after CART to “ a once-divorced couple (that) survives amidst the wreckage of a pair of shattered lives...It lurches from race to race and season to season, donning its Sunday best for Memorial Day weekend but grimly battling through most of the year.” Just another example of the dubious benefits of amoral capitalism, and the cost of supporting the lifestyles of the rich and greedy..
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