Collection Highlight: Starter Ed Rose




The World of Speed Archive has just processed a rich collection of papers and artifacts originally belonging to Ed Rose, a well-known starter in the Pacific Northwest during the heyday of racing. From the collection’s racing programs and newspaper clippings to its RRAO patch and 1960s Portland Speedway poster, there is something of interest for motorsports fans, researchers and enthusiasts alike.



Ed Rose began racing in 1948 at Portland Speedway as a member of the Roadster Racing Association of Oregon. His career as an owner and builder came to an abrupt end in 1952 when his friend and driver, Jack Trimmings, was involved in a three-car crash. The following year he became an assistant starter, launching a new career that would exceed twenty years. Ed Rose’s photo profile features photographs that span this history.



From 1954 to 1961 Rose did double duty as a starter-referee, until, as he writes in his historical account, “someone decided cars were getting too fast for one guy to watch out for.” Facts and colorful stories about racing and Rose’s career abound in his papers. Researchers can learn the origin of his characteristic “fairly honest” moniker (from his time as a used car salesman) or peruse a timeline of Modified Racing Association of Oregon (M.R.A.O.) history. Another factoid from his papers: during his career, Rose was the only official to be awarded an MRAO Sportsmanship Trophy



Rose’s flag bag speaks to the breadth of groups Rose belonged to, with markings that identify his relationship with Oregon Midget Racing Association, Western Auto Racing Association, Canadian American Modified Racing Association, among others. His green “go” flag, which can be seen on display in the Archive Room, offers clues to his significance as a well-respected flagger. Rose came out of retirement to use the flag at one of the last races ever held at Portland Speedway, an event that was commemorated on the flag itself. 



Ed Rose’s business card reads “Have Flags—Will Travel.” The extent of his travels is well documented in his Purse Ledger Book, 1957-1964. This unique item contains handwritten race statistics, purse information—and sometimes even weather reports—of races located at Portland Speedway, Jantzen Beach, Salem Speedway, and other locations including Madras, Oregon and Sunnyside, Chehalis, and Yakima in Washington.



Together with items specifically related to his career, Rose’s materials include items of general interest. This comic by Jack Pierce featuring racer Bill Gaylor is one example. This and similar comics can be found in Ed Rose’s papers, among loose pages from unlabeled photocopied racing programs.