Various secondary sources have the tires that Frank used as "Mason". From Dennis Winn comes interesting proof that Dickinson Tires at least had a paid "promotional consideration", probably to shore up the effort's funds, which were running quite low...
...and this, from 4/2013, dispels quite a bit of the mystery, at least as far as the company history of United Hydro goes...we're still wondering which tires Frank ran on the fateful day!
From Kevin Triplett, great-nephew of Ernie Triplett,
Open wheel auto racing historian & writer,
I visited your Stutz Blackhawk site today and I can shed some light on the tire mystery. My information will not help you any with the mystery of whether Lockhart ran Mason or Dickinson Tires, but it gives you some of the history behind the Dickinson Tire brand. I found newspaper advertisements that reproduced a letter allegedly from Frank that praised Dickinson Tires- a bit hard to believe since Frank was functionally illiterate. I am sure you have noticed that the Dickinson advertisement on your site is not selling tires but rather is recruiting “salesmen-agents.” From my research, it appears as though the National/Dickinson/Hydro-Toron tire sales model worked for many years as an elaborate pyramid scheme.
The main player in this story is Jacob G Feist, born in 1897 of German immigrant parents. He ran an investment-banking firm, J G Feist & Company in Harrisburg; his tastes were quite extravagant, as contemporary news reports mentioned his “luxurious office quarters” and his “yellow and black zebra-striped machine.” Feist, married with two kids, got into some serious trouble in 1911 after he picked up a 14-year-old girl named Margaret Douglass in his car, took her to a deserted road and committed statutory rape. After his conviction in December 1911, the court sentenced Feist to a term of 2 to 5 years in the Eastern State Penitentiary. Feist filed for a pardon, which the Pennsylvania Pardon Board recommended, but Governor John Tener, rejected the pardon request. While imprisoned, the successor to Feist’s investment firm Spahr, Hutton & Company failed and creditors descended on his wife Loretta the major shareholder.
It is unclear how much of his prison term Feist served- at its founding on July 12 1913 National Rubber Company listed J G Feist as the President. Feist found investors and built a tire plant at North Hanover and Third Streets in Pottstown, in Pottstown Pennsylvania with the capacity to build 1500 tires daily. The local newspaper regarded Feist as “one of the seven greatest promoters in the US, a shrewd energetic businessman with a flair for extravagant.” National Rubber bought massive quantities of natural rubber stock on the falling spot market at costs below the major Akron manufacturers tied into long-term contracts. The low cost of raw materials allowed dealers to sell the National Speedway Tire brand cheaply, and the company quickly turned profits.
Even during the period however, most of the advertisements for National Speedway Tire seemed designed to attract salespeople and set up new outlets, not selling tires. During 1915, Feist operated a scheme that pitted neighboring Pennsylvania towns of Altoona, Williamsburg and Pottstown against one another in competition for a new tire plant, as National Rubber claimed the Pottstown plant was a maximum capacity with 200 workers hand building every tire. Things went so far in Williamsburg that a town father had donated 100 acres and construction of the new factory was underway until late August when an unnamed attorney from Pottstown notified the town council of “the endless chain promotion” and construction of the new factory stopped. The promotion of National Tire continued on a national basis in some very unusual ways- during 1917, a flood of magazines ranging from The International Socialist Review to chemical, dental and medical trade journals published thinly disguised sales articles that offered investors “brave enough to dream” shares at $7.50 each to fund a nationwide chain of 1,000 stores. Investors simply filled in the blanks and mailed in their money, as the Security and Exchange Commission was not created until 1933. The National Rubber Co. of New York as a sales organization operated separately from the National Rubber Company in Pottstown.
JG Feist frequently changed roles at National Rubber, moving between the roles of President, Treasurer, and Sales Manager, and in 1921, bought the Keystone Rubber Manufacturing Company in Erie Pennsylvania and installed himself as President. Flush with cash, Feist built a huge estate in Pottstown called ‘The Maples’ that featured hundreds of fruit trees and several golf holes on the vast grounds. He also became the one of the city’s largest property owners, with a street named after him, and rode around town in chauffeur-driven Duesenberg and Fiat limousines.
However, the tire industry quickly began to change- new technology allowed tires to last up to 15,000 miles; combined with the recession of the early nineteen twenties, tires sales fell. At the same time, negative publicity about Feist and his investment associates began to mount. A 1919 article in The World’s Work by Louis Guenther referred to Feist as a “graduate of the school of fraud” and one of the “pirates of promotion” and described his “reckless mismanagement” of National Rubber that caused the creation of an investor protective committee. In 1920, the United States Investor magazine revealed that the new receiver trustee found the affairs of the company in such a sad state that he asked for charges against Feist for company mismanagement.
Hydro-United Tire Company, a reorganization of National Rubber, with the same addresses, entered receivership in August 1922, but emerged with a new board and Feist as President. In 1927, a new wholly owned subsidiary of Hydro-United, the Dickinson Cord Tire Company emerged. President Frederick S. Dickinson was a tire industry veteran with a number of United States Patents concerning tire construction to his name, which dated back to 1914. In July 1928 a few months after the Lockhart crash, Feist charged Dickinson had “paid himself sums of money to which he was not entitled.” Feist’s tire enterprise finally collapsed in 1929 when creditors seized the company’s main assets, the tire and natural rubber inventory. The contents of the factory, down to desks and typewriters were seized and sold off to satisfy debts, then came the flood of lawsuits. The Pottstown newspapers that once hailed Feist for his civic philanthropy now noted that ‘The Maples’ was “barnlike cold” in the winter and where “champagne and lavish liquors used to flow, Feist was lucky to have a bottle of gin.” JG Feist died of a heart attack in 1934, but all the lawsuits dragged on until September 3, 1947, when the last six tracts of Feist’s vast property holdings sold at auction for $10,000 to partially satisfy his estates’ outstanding debt to Society Trust of Pottstown.