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Four-Links – Watkins Glen, Seal Cove, Akron, preserving historic places

Published in blog.hemmings.com

How exactly did Watkins Glen make its way from the tiny upstate village to the massive racing complex outside of town? The International Motor Racing Research Center provided the whole story this week.

In its January 1953 session, the New York State Legislature considered two proposed laws to ban racing on public roads. One bill was passed in the Senate but never made it out of committee in the Assembly. Thus, there was never a law enacted to ban racing on public roads in New York State. What the State actually did was withhold issuing of permits for racing on state roads — dooming the use of the original 6.6-mile circuit at Watkins Glen, which was made up of more than 85-percent state roads. In addition, Lloyds of London, the insurer, refused coverage of the race if it ran through downtown Watkins Glen.

Watkins Glen was at a crossroads in the late fall of 1952 and the early months of 1953. A short time after the September race, a public meeting was held to determine if the community would hold more races on the existing circuit or find a new circuit within Schuyler County. The general feeling was that a new, safer course should be found.

* The Seal Cove Auto Museum is facing an inquiry from the state’s attorney general over allegations of financial wrongdoing and a dispute between the museum’s trustees and board of directors.

Seal Cove Auto Museum executive director Raney Bench and other board members became curious about the trust’s finances in 2014 after David Glaser, an attorney and accountant, joined the board and took over treasurer duties.

Glaser said he noticed discrepancies and omissions in the tax documents for the Paine Trust. From 2009 to 2013, tax documents that were prepared for the trust listed no compensation for the trustees, Glaser said, even though he knew that not to be true. After debating about it at length, the museum’s board voted unanimously to sue (the trustees) in 2016 for mismanaging Paine’s assets.

That case didn’t get far before it was dismissed by a judge, who ruled that the museum was not legally a beneficiary of the trust. But the suit did put the matter back on the radar of the Attorney General’s Office. The state filed an amended complaint in 2017 that included many of the same allegations made by the museum.

* How exactly did Akron, Ohio, become the rubber capital of the world? It all had to do with an early incentive program, as we see from this WKSU report. (via)

Cleveland rejected him (Dr. Benjamin Franklin Goodrich). Not overtly, but at that time, John D. Rockefeller was just getting started in oil. It was a major steel-producing area. And rubber just didn’t seem like it afforded much for the future.”

And that’s when he was handed a flyer from the recently formed Akron Board of Trade. The city already had thriving companies producing mowers and reapers, oats, iron and even matches. And it had several things that Dr. Goodrich decided were perfect for his floundering rubber company.

“Not raw rubber — that came from the Amazon jungles at the time. But it had labor. It had water — abundant, cheap water — which was important. It had the Ohio & Erie Canal. And at that time, we had a crisscross of railroads through the city.”

Photo by Thomas Hawk.

* Though this recent CityLab article that the National Trust for Historic Preservation reprinted doesn’t specifically mention auto-related historic places, it does bring up a number of interesting points that help rethink the challenges and purposes of historic preservation.

Younger Americans prefer urban living and have been migrating downtown in pursuit of walkable neighborhoods and city amenities, including older and historic buildings. On paper, these new young urbanites should be fans of historic preservation. Indeed, research from the National Trust for Historic Preservation shows that over 90 percent of Millennials express support for preservation.

Despite this overwhelming appreciation of older buildings, the actual practice and process of preservation in the U.S. faces enormous challenges.

* Finally, yeah, it’s an ad for a tech company, but it’s pretty inspiring to see them use a portable 3D scanner on a Volkswagen Type 2.