Champion Seen Stepping Down As Bike Czar As Harvey Branches Out
NEW YORK, Dec. 26. -- George Harvey looms as the nation's new No. 1 man in the six-day bicycle racing industry.
The old dynasty of John M. Chapman appears to be crumbling.
Stars of the iron steeds who once feared the wrath of the domineering Chapman now are giving the former czar the go-by.
Harvey sewed up the Cleveland Public Audditorium for the dizzy whirl, Jan. 11-17, and the Detroit Olympia a bit later, and the leading exponents of pedaling flocked to his banner.
The result was that Chapman had to postpone indefinitely the promotion of his annual squirrel cage event in Buffalo dates for which had been tentatively set.
Six-day races to nowhere and back cannot be staged successfully without a representative group of international pumpers. Harry apparently snared most of the favorites of bikedom available before the tobagganing Chapman oligarchy knew what was going on.
First tojump to Harvey were Gustav Killian and Heinz Vopel, the German flyers who established a world record by winning nine consecutive six-day whirls.
Bill Peden, flaming-haired giant of Vancouver, B.C., hopped. Torchy Peden, conceded by many to be the greatest six-day racer of all time, has crossed the finish line first in 27 of the sleepless tests.
New Bike Race King Has Riders and Dates
With Peden in the fold, the stampede to Harvey started in earnest.
Freddie Ottevaire, the Belgian streak who with Freddie Zach of Switzerland captured the recent Minneapolis marathon,jotted his signature on the dotted line.
So did Jules Audy, Henri Lepage, and Laurent Gadou, the French-Canadiens of Montreal; the veteran and best Americans, Reggie Fielding of Australia; and Tino Riboldi, the Italian. All of these athletes are tops in the goofy game that keeps you up all night.
Harvey has 22 wheelmen lined up for the Cleveland race.
He has the six-day grinders definitely pledged to compete for him in Milwaukee, Jan 22-28; Memphis, Mar. 21-27; Louisville, Mar. 30-Apr. 5; and Pittsburg April 9-15. With February dates tenatively set for Detroit and St. Louis, there is at present evidence that Harvey will leave the Chapman crowd holding nothing but plans for its Buffalo show.
Chapman at pressent has control of three major cities, New York, Chicago and Buffalo, whereas the Harvey line-up gives the pedal pushers an opportunity of cutting up rich prize money in at least a dozen profitable centers, including Montreal, Toronto, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Memphis, Milwaukee, Louisville, and other key locations.
Harvey Is Reported Stepping Into Garden That Chapman, no longer a young man, is losing his grip on the situation, is stressed by the fact that he conducted the last race in Cleveland, where Harvey is now moving in.
And with a 10-year Madison Square Garden contract having terminated with Chapman's last New York grind, reports have it that Harvey may supplant him in the big town.
Chapman and Harvey both are former riders, the latter of much more recent vintage. Chapman rode against Barney Oldfield years ago.
It was Harvey, as a rider, who launched an outlaw movement to break away from the tyrannical reign of Chapman in 1928. Willie Spenser, another rider, was his partner at the outset. Harvey a product of Brooklyn, had many a setback, but kept at his task with a presevering destined to pay dividends.
Harvey as a youth started to follow in the footsteps of his brother who was an amateur heavyweight wrestling champion. He won the light wweight championship of New York State. He bought a bicycle with which to train for mat work, soon was trimming the finiest amateur cyclists about and gave up grappling. He captured many raod championships.
Finally he branched out as a promoter of flat-floor racing as the associate of Aaron Fox, vrother of William Fox, the former motion picture magnate.
Harvey contends that he has stepped up bike racing to keep it in pace with modern times, so that he presents a 1937 race to the 1937 generation, while Chapman still presents the race of 1899.
This may be true, but all six-day biking looks alike. As some wag once remarked, "It would be a great race if it were on a straightaway."