Origin of the Checkered Flag: A Search for Racing’s Holy Grail

by Fred R. Egloff

For many, many years, a staple of racing lore was the topic concerning the origin of the checkered flag. As is so often the case in such matters, whereas there was much in the way of opinionating and bloviating, there was little concrete evidence to support the various theories brought forward. Enter Fred R. Egloff into the discussion. In his monograph, Origin of the Checkered Flag, published by the International Motor Racing Research Center (IMRRC) located in Watkins Glen, New York, Egloff firmly establishes the origins of the checkered flag and its first use. Needless to say, it was something of a surprise to read the result of Egloff’s research.

Origin of the Checkered Flag is the result of solid, dogged research. When I first became aware of Egloff’s research efforts, I will admit to some skepticism and serious reservations as to where it would lead. After all, more than a few ideas had been brought forward already, only to be discredited for one reason or another. However, once I read the book, it became clear that Egloff had finally nailed down the origin of this universally recognized symbol of automobile racing.

This is an excellent piece of research and another work that belongs in the reference library of every automobile racing historian. The book contains a reprint of a 1907 article by Louis Wagner, winner of the Vanderbilt Cup race.

The Origin of the Checkered Flag makes one wish that there were more such monographs on automobile racing history being written and published. That the IMRRC supported this particular effort is because they were impressed by a presentation Egloff, a retired manufacturer’s sales rep and amateur motorsports enthusiast, made to them on the subject.


Copyright 2013, Don Capps (speedreaders.info).

Origin of the Checkered Flag: A Search for Racing’s Holy Grail
by Fred R. Egloff
International Motor Racing Research Center, 2006
36 pages, softcover
List Price: $23
ISBN 13: 0-9785633-0-1

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