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This story of the First Automobile Race in the United States was written at the request of the late Thomas MCKean, for the Antique Automobile Club of America, with the hope that it might add something to the history of the development of the automobile in America; and I am most grateful for his helpful suggestions.
I wish to acknowledge further the kindly assistance
of Mr. Franklin Price, Librarian of the Free Library of Philadelphia and to Mr. Richard Roley for his arrangement of my data and the interesting and pertinent background material of the early "Nineties". and my thanks to the Williams, Brown, and Earl Co. for a difficult job of photography.
Published for the Salom family and their friends.
THE FIRST AUTOMOBILE RACE IN THE U. S.
The first automobile race ever held in this country took place in
Chicago on Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 1895.
What a day! What a race! What a time!
The distance, as originally laid out, was to be 92 miles over what
the official announcement described as (quote), "The best roadway in the west,"
The course to be followed was a route leading from Jackson Park in Chicago to Waukegan, Illinois, and return.
But Fate in the guise of an unkind blizzard somewhat altered this.
So, while of interest as a historic exhibit, actually-the map is an ironic reminder then as now, that "The best laid plans of mice and men gange aft a-gley!"
In describing the route the official announcement conceded that (quote) "There ~~ stretches of ordinary country road over the route, but any practical motocycle will have no trouble in making good time the entire distance." In view of the conditions that actually prevailed the day the race was run that ranks as one of the prize gems of understatement!
But then it merely illustrates what Don Quixotes and incurable optimists we Americans have always been, particularly the breed that built the early automobile. With a superior shrug and an indifferent sweep of the hand we summarily dismiss trouble, serene in the confidence that our native shrewdness, ingenuity and independence can be relied upon to find some solution, providing, of course, it is practical.
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This dogged characteristic was especially in evidence in connection with the first automobile race held in this country--as we shall presently
The incentive, or objective, behind the race was one that is common enough today: if you have something to say or to sell and you want the public to know about it, be it a product, or a service or a new invention--get your name in the papers in a favorable light and the public will be influenced to buy, or to do, or to think in the direction you want.
The pioneer inventors and manufacturers of the early automobile were keenly aware of the need for publicity of a favorable kind. They had the imagination and the vision to see that a bright future for the automobile, and, inde~d, for a whole new way of life, lay just over the horizon--for they were born promoters as well as pioneers--but they also saw that they had a job of winning over the public first. The derisive cries of schoolboys with their taunts of "Get a horse!" were biting and him11iating reminders. And they couldn't do the job without help. In the first. place, they weren't publicists, and in the second place they weren't organized.
It remained, naturally enough, for a newspaper publisher to size up the situation and see the possibilities of an automobile race--not only for . what the publ1 ci ty would do for the infant automotive industry, but al so for the shot-in-the-arm it would be for his newspaper's circulation.
In those days a newspaper really had to scratch for ci~culation. At the time there were 49 daily newspapers being published in New York City alone, 27 in Chicago, 22 in Philadelphia, 12 in St. Louis, 11 in Boston and 8 in Baltimore. Publishers were crying the blues in particular because the sale of
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Sunday papers was on the decline--the interesting reason advanced was that so mAny people were riding bicycles on that day! We wonder what they would say if they could s~e what the automobile and Sunday driving have done to Sunday newspaper reading today! Our promoter-publisher probably would have thought twice about helping to popularize that mode of transportation.
But perhaps we do him an injustice. The facts show him to be a public-spirited citizen, sincerely, interested in promoting the common good, and in encouraging individual initiative, inventiveness and enterprise.
His name was H. H. Kohlsaat. He was the publisher of the ChicagoTimes-Herald. He was a go-getter. At 15 he went to work for the now wellknown Chicago firm of Carson, Pirie & Company, as cash boy. In a short time
he rose to be cashier. In subsequent business connections he so improved his lot that by the time he was 30 he was able to buy out the then well-known Dake Bakery in Chicago, .and establish a chain of bakeries and lunch counters throughout the City. By the time he was 41 he was able to retire and devote his time to travelling. It was while Kohlsaat was abroad in 1894 that the first auto-
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motive race in the world took place, the famous Paris to Rouen contest. It is
a safe assumption that Kohlsaat, a man of keen interests and insatiable curiosity,
witnessed this race and, inspired by the publicity it stirred up, decided to
stage a similar contest in this country. At any rate he lost little time in
setting about to sponsor a race here. By April of 1895 he had purchased the
Chicago Times-Herald and by July of the same year he had announced publicly that
his newspaper would hold a motocycle contest. Let me explain, in passing that
in those days the term "motocycle" was used to describe automotive vehicles.
Happily, it was soon replaced by the more descriptive French term, "automobile."
In hurrying into print with the announcement, Kohlsaat had in mind
not-only scooping his competitqrs, but cashing in on the free publicity and
interest that was being created by the Paris to Bordeaux race, slated for June
of that year. Freakish publicity and freakish advertising stunts were very
much the thing in 1895. So, viewed objectively, lest Mr. Kohlsaat's halo be-
cOlle too heavy and he be canonized as the patron saint of the early automobile, t
perhaps we should not be misled into crediting him with too altruistic a motive.
He was a man who knew a good thing when he saw it, and he recognized in the first
automobile race, first, a means of advancing his own interests, and secondly, that
of the horseless carriage. It was just another stunt in an era of stunts, marked
by ballyhoo, cuteness and corniness. Let me give you .some examples:
Nellie Bly had just recently gone round the world in the incredible
time of 72 days, 6 hours and 11. minutes!
An enterprising Ne¥i York advertising concern was selling space on
barber shop ceilings!
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The adverti.sing slogan of the Standard Shoe Tying Company was "It's knotty, but it's nice."
The carpet sweeper was being advertised as the perfect Christmas
A soap company was using this novel headline in its advertising:
"Divorced lawyers all agree -- and the evidence proves it -- that there is no business for them in families that use Kirk's American Family Soap!" The soap advertisers of today ought to see what they can do with that one!
A dentrifice named Sozodid was introduced to compete with one called
The number of bicycles in use had reached 200,000. Almost every city and town had at least one cycling club. In New York a gigantic bicycle parade was held which was said to be a sensation. Prominent in the procession was
H. M. Stanley himself, and a score of Zulus, all mounted on Stanley bicycles. The shame of owning an 1894 bicycle in 1895 was not allowed to pass unnoticed. Most of the wheels sold from $100 to $150. Editorial wTiters discussed bicycle questions as gravely as they discussed the tariff. Clergymen praised or denounced the wheel from their pulvits.
It was about this time, too, that buttons with crazy slogans made their first appearance. It all began at the cycle show in 1895 when manufacturers of bicycles gave away buttons bearing their trade marks. But the vogue quickly got out of hand and soon buttons with slang phrases and peppy sayings, with the adverti~er's name underneath, appeared everywhere without rhyme or reaSOIT. Manufacturers issued buttons bearing such snappers as, "If you love me, grin." "Yes,
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darling?" "Is it hot enough for you?" A great hit was made with, "I'm somewhat of a liar myself."
There was scarcely a man, woman or child who did not wear an advertising button of some kind. Buttons blossomed on the lapels even of prominent businessmen, and the latest slogan was awaited almost breathlessly.
Ballyhoo was rampant.
Well -- so much for the foibles of the time. If I have dwelt at length on them, it is only because they furnish such a revealing picture of the era and the state of mind of the people, offering the not uninteresting conclusion that perhaps one of the reasons the automobile caught on as it did, apart from its technological contribution, is because, psychologically, the times and the people were right for it. They were waiting for something like the automobile to come along. It was the symbol of a new frontier, replacing the challenge of the old geographic frontiers, which by 1890 had pretty much disappeared. As James Truslow Adams has pointed out, the frontier was a state of mind with our people as well
as a matter of pressing on beyond successive Western boundaries of occupation. It was a psychological force that deeply influenced the thoughts and lives of statesmen, business expansionists, entrepreneurs, and the poor, the restless, the discontented and the ambitious.
The frontier had conditioned the entire course of our g~owing repubric.
Westward beyond the latest line of settlements, there always lay the hope of new opportunity, and a new world to be occupied and exploited. Now,with the coming of the automobile, a ~ frontier was opened up, a frontier whose wilderness had been unexplored except for modest penetrations by a few bold pioneers,-a frontier of expansion in terms of more and better things with which to live. Our automo-
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tive pioneers will never knoVl how unerring was their vision, or how well and soundly they were building for the future. Nor can we ever give them thanks enough.
And DOW back to the race. H. H. Kohlsaat, as I have said, announced the race in July of '95, setting the date of the actual contest for November 2. A prelilninary eligibility and elimination run-off was to be held the last week
of October in order to give the judges an opportunity to pass on all the vehicles entered, and to rule out any that did not meet the contest requirements of practicability and general all around utility. An exception was made ih favor
of vehicles which had won honors in the Paris-Rouen contest of 1894, and in the PRris-Bordeaux race of 1895. They were not required to compete in the preliminary tests. All entries were to be in by September 15.
The objectives of the race, as laid down by the Times-Herald, were commendable:
(quote) "To promote, encourage and stimulate the invention, development, perfection and general adoption of motor vehicles or motocycles."
"It must not be supposed", said an editorial writer for the magazine, The Motocycle, then being published, "that in this contest the question of speed is the only requisite to be considered. It would be possible for an ingenius mechanic to construc~ a machine with which he could easily outstrip all others, and yet that device would be of no utility and the outcome of no value to the world from a practical point of view. It is the earnest desire that this contest add to the sum of our mechanical knowledge in this, the new branch of the science of transportation."
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The rules were lengthy and elaborate. I will spare you the details and dwell only on some of the more interesting highlights, quoting again from Vol. 1, No.1 of The Motocycle:
"There will be eligible to competition any and all vehicles having three or more running wheels, and which derive all their motive power from within themselves.
"No vehicle shall be admitted to competition which depends in any way upon muscular exertion, except for purpose of guidance.
"Competing vehicles which derive their power from petroleum, gasoline, electricity or steam, and which are provided with receptacles for storing or holding the same, will be permitted to replenish their motive power at Jefferson Purk, Half Day, Waukegan and Winnetka.
"No vehicle," continue the rules, "shall be admitted to competition unless it shall comfortably carry not less than two persons for the entire distance, one of whom may have charge of the vehicle and the manipulation of the
The rules provided that an umpire should ride in each vehicle and check delays, repairs, fuel required, adherence to the rules regarding stopping for repairs, refueling and water, and to report any outside assistance in propulsion.
"The judgss," the rules stated, "will start the carriages one or two at
a time, keeping accurate record of the exact time each carriage passes the starting point, as is the rule in a yacht race."
The prizes totaled $5000 and a gold medal.
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They were to be distributed as follows:
First Prize, a gold medal and $2000 to the vehicle which in the opinion of the judges was the most practical from the standpoints of general utility, ease of control and adaptibility to the various forms of work required of an automobile.
Second Prize, $1500 to the speediest vehicle.
Third Prize, $1000 to the vehicle which was the most practical from the standpoint of original cost and annual maintenance.
Fourth Prize, $500 to the vehicle which could be operated most economically, based upon cost per mile of the power required at the various speeds it was capable of.
Fifth Prize, $200 to the vehicle with the best design and general allaround appearance.
There were 5 judges. Among them, it is noted, was a major general of the United States Army. The Army was very much interested in the possibilities
of the horseless carriage as a military weapon. The thinking of the military with respect to the uses to which the horseless carriage might be put are interesting to us nowadays in the light of the various uses to which the so-called "horseless carriage" ~ actually put during the past war.
Said a writer in NO.3, Vol. 1 of The Motocycle, with a gift of prognostication far better than he probably realized: "Before many generations battles will be fought on land in iron-clad vessels. The value of the movable fort has been recognized ever since Paul of Macedon routed his enemies with the phalanx, or since Caesar made war with his moving towers and columns of men
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roofed over with a covering of shields locked together. With armor-clad horseless carriages, capable of climbing fences, running over rocks and such obstacles, and of being moved over the country, Uncle Sam woul·d have a formidable weapon."
When Kohlsaat announced the race, it had been predicted that it would be a failure from lack of contestants. It was claimed that the four months between the announcement in July and the running of the race in November, was too short a time in which to mount, design. manufacture and test a motocycle. However the Times-Herald took the position that if Chicago could build a World's Fair in two years (the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, which, incidentally was postponed from 1892 because it couldn't be got ready in time). then the average American could produce a motocycle in less than four months. If the logic was erratic, the faith in the enterprise, ingenuity and versatility of
the average American's inventive genius was sound, because as the deadline drew near the entries rolled in.
By the middle of October there was the amazing total of an even 100 motor vehicles entered by 84 firms and individuals. This is according to the listing in the October 1895 issue of The Motocycle, No.1, Vol. 1. To give an idea how widespread was the interest in the race, let me give you the entries by states; and I think this is extremely interesting.
As might be expected, Illinois led with 54 entries, 34 of these from Chi cago, mostly all· of foreign manufacture; New York was second with 8 entri~s; Pennsylvania third with 7 entries; Indiana folluwed with 6; then Ohio and Wisconsin with 4 each; Connecticut, Iowa and MiChigan, 3 each; Massachusetts
and Missouri 2 each; and Arkansas, West Virginia, Minnesota and Nebraska, 1 each.
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However, as the November 2nd date for the contest came closer many of
the entrants got cold feet, or their motocycles did. At any rate the contest committee was deluged with requests for a postponement. Nearly all of the machines, after finally reaching Chicago, developed serious mechanical trouble, and their builders and mechanics worked desperately night and day to get them ready for
the race, meanwhile pleadin~ for more time. Among those beset with difficulties, incidentally, was an entrant from Michigan -- Charles Brady King, the man who later was to design and build the first car to be driven through the streets of Detroit, and an early associate of Henry Ford's who in those days was tinkering around with something he called a quadricycle. For this particular race King
had entered a 4-cylinder, bevel-gear-drive car, powered by a Sintz gasoline engine. He backed out of the race because he said his entry was too complicated for the job it was meant to do. King, however, by a dramatic turn of events did take quite an active part in the race, as we shall see.
As a result of the frantic pleas for a postponement, Kohlsaat finally yielded and moved the date of the race up to Thanksgiv~ng Day, November 28. However, he was determined to hold some kind of a contest on November 2. and so an unofficial trial race, as it was called, was held on that date. It was really an exhibition designed to keep the public interest from flagging out to whip up interest for the big B£ later on. After all, the Times-Herald had a great deal more than just increased circulation at stake by this time. It's whole reputation lay in the balance. Had the race been cancelled altogether, it would have been a laughing stock, not to mention what the effect would have been on the infant automotive industry. Cancellation wouJd have been a crippling set-back for all concerned. So in moving the race to November 28, Kohlsaat declared flatly that neither blizzard, hell nor high water would prevent its being run. He could not
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have more accurately predicted the conditions which actually did prevail on that memorable Thanksgiving Day had he been Nostradamus, or Truman.
ThA trial exhibition-run on November 2, however, was held under ideal weather conditions. and as an advance publicity stunt and drum-beater for the big start on Thanksgiving Day, it was a huge success. The H. Mueller & Company motocycle of Decatur, Illinois, an imported single-cylinder Benz, covered the Chicago-Waukegan course in 9 hours and 30 minutes--at a speed of almost 10 miles per hour.
The Morris & Salom entry, the Electrobat No.2, which was the second electric vehicle father and Henry G. Morris, his associate, had designed and
built since June 1894, and also two Kane-Pennington gasoline vehicles from Racine, went only a few miles to help the exhibition. Since this was to be a "gesture" rHee and didn't count, father and Mr. Morris did not think anything would be gained by going the whole distance. They had operated their vehicle to their own satisfaction and without mechanical failure allover the streets of Philadelphia and throughout Fairmount Park before going to Chicago. Besides, depleted amperage for the electric vehicle was not always conveniently replenished.
The Charles E. Duryea motocycle of Springfield, Mass., attempted to go the distance, but unfortunately met with an accident which forced it into a ditch with a smashed wheel.
Well, as the day of the big race approached--so did winter, and with a fury! "Summer hath his joys, and winter his delights," says the poet. Two days before Thanksgiving Day, 1895, among those entered in America's first automotive race there would have been unanimous accord with the first half of that poetic sentiment, but it is very doubtful that there would have been any to agree with
the second half. On Tuesuay, November 26, a blizzard with 18 inches of snow hit
Chicago and environs. On Wednesday the snow melted. Wednesday night it froze
herd. Thursday morning, the day of the race, found the course covered with deep
and drifted snow under a hard layer of icy crust--and it was bitter cold!
one of the coldest November 28th's on record!
Whoever it was who said, "Every mile is two in winter," knew whereof
he spoke. In recognition of this truth the original course from Jackson Park in
Chicago to Waukegan and return, was reduced to Evanston and return, a round-trip
of 52 miles as compared with 92 miles for the stint originally laid out.
Yet despite the rigors of the winter and the rugged outlook, the day
before the race, 11 motocycle entrants met and, in the spirit of Kohlsaat's
"Come hell, high water or blizzard," agreed to race on the morrow.
But it was only six who finally showed up on that day. They were:
The Duryea Motor Wagon Company of Springfield, Massachusetts; the
De La Vergne Refrigerating Machine Company, of New York; the H. Mueller Manufac-
turing Company, of Decatur, Illinois; the Morris & Salom Company, of Philadelphia;
the Sturges Electric Motocycle Company, of Chicago; and the R. H. Macy & Company
of New York, which hoped to get the Benz automobile agency in this country. The
Morris & Salom and the Sturges entries were the only electrics. The rest wer-e
gasoline-driven, the Macy, the De La Vergne and the Mueller machines being powered
by German Benz engines, and the Duryea American-made.
The day of the race was bright and clear, but the cold was so intense
that the drivers and their umpires were half-frozen before the 52-mile grind
was even under way. Just driving to the starting point in Jackson Park was an
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ordeal. There were plenty of cutters and sleighs on hand to watch the race. A 4-horse snow plow cleared a small spot at the post, and the six vehicles, anxious expressions lining the faces of each contestant, waited the Signal to go
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Here they are lined up waiting for the Signal.
They were to start at intervals of a few minutes apart.
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Here's one of the contestants, the Benz vehicle entered by R. H. Macy, 'waiting to be told it can get under way.
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According to Charles King, who started out in the race as an umpire
and ended up as a driver in the Mueller-Benz entry, the first machine pulled away from the post at 8:55 A.M. It was the Duryea. The others followed a few minutes apart, the last to pull away being the Mueller-Benz at 10:06, more than an hour behind the pack.
My father and his associate, Henry Morris, rode-alongside the Morris & Salom entry in a two-horse cutter with extra batteries. They covered 18 miles.
At that point they decided to turn back. Ov.i.ng to the terrific electrical drain required in pushing through the deep snow, and the s.l I pp Lng they encouhtered whenever t]:ley ran over a stretch of plowed-aui< horsecar tracks with their smooth pneumatic tires, they were reluctantly forced to the realization that they could never complete the course, even though they carried battery capacity in the car for 80 miles and extra batteries in the cutter for replenisrunent at the prescribed relay stations. However, they were immensely pleased with the performance of their machine as far as they went, for in spi~e of the severe test, their Electrobat covered the 18 miles and return without any mechanical failure, trouble, adjustments, assistance or battery replacements.
Here's the Morris & Salom Electrobat running through the Midway at the breath-taking speed of about 3 miles an hour.
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At Washington Park, about a mile out, the De La Vergne quiT;; its wheels weren't getting any traction in the deep drifts. The Stur6es Electric from Chicago dropped out after 12 miles, its batteries nearly exhausted. The R. H. Macy Benz from New York met with a series of mishaps which eliminated it at 6:15 P.M. while only 25 minutes behind the Duryea entry. It had smashed into the rear platform
of a horse-drawn street car, collided with an over-turned cutter, and, in a last gesture of irresponsibility, smashed into a hack, wrecking the car's steering gear.
Here's the R. H. Macy Benz running through Evanston, when everything seemed to be in apple-pie order.
That left in the race only the Duryea, driven by Frank Duryea, and the Mueller-Benz, the latter with three passengers--Oscar Mueller, the official driver, a man named Charles Reid, who had gone along as an observer, and Charles King, the umpire. As mentioned earlier, King, although he started out in the race as an umpire, by a dramatic set of circumstances--which by the way graphically epitomized the hardships which confronted all the contestants--found himself forced into the role of driver. As a matter of fact, he was the only driver, in addition to Frank Duryea, to finish.
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King has described his experience quite entertainingly in No.3, Vol. 1 of the December, 1895 issue of The Motocycle. I certainly can't improve on his account, so let me quote a few of the more interesting
"It was a holiday," writes King, "and the city was decorated and ready for the big event. The windows were crowded, the corners swarmed with small boys, and at all important points we were welcomed witn cheers and a shower of snow balls of assorted sizes, thrown from ranges varying t'r-om one to 100 yards.
"As we hurried on, one of our wheels grazed the edge of an open
But we continued on, passing cable cars and rushing down the
tracks over frogs and split switches.
"Mr. Kohlsaat's residence was saluted, and as it faded away on the horizon, we took inventory of our Thanksgiving Dinner. It consisted of three rolls. They were carefully divided among Oscar Mueller, Charles G. Reid and myself, the umpire.
"The throbbing of the engine could be felt and it seemed conscious of the important duty it was performing. It did not miss one impuls~ during the trip.
"At 2:39 we turned for home, having reached Chicago Avenue and Davis Street. One of the clutches here began to show signs of weakening and as a result caused a delay of ten minutes.
"A crowd of friends and reporters were waiting at the second relay station. Ice and gasoline were taken aboard; a thousand questions answered
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A clear car track was ahead, the fast speed clutch was thrown in and we went bowling along at 16 miles per hour.
"It was a day for showing the benefits of the pneumatic tire over the solid rubber tire. We were equipped with the latter and from the start saw its disadvantages.
"The excitement was intense and with the light lunch we felt somewhat weakened as the afternoon wore on. Mr. Reid left us after a journey of 35 miles. He was much fatigued, having worked late the night before."
As a matter of fact, although King doesn't mention it in this account, Reid became unconscious, presumably as a result of exposure and lack of food, and was uncermoniously dumped into a passing cutter.
"Upon reaching Halsted Street," continues King, "Mr. Mueller became so weak that he was unable to steer the carriage. The umpire here assumed full control and took the liberty of changing the course in order to avoid the heavy snow on 55th Street. The course was thus somewhat lengthened, but as the streets were better lighted, a higher speed was maintained.
"Mr. Mueller, part of the time unconscious, gave the umpire his full share of responsibility in caring for him and also in guiding the carriage." End of quote.
But King made it. Supporting the unconscious Mueller with one hRnd and steering with the other, he crossed the finish line at 8:53 P.M .
. There, Mueller, still unconscious, was lifted out of the vehicle and taken
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home in a hack
Meanwhile, Frank Duryea had already come in, having crossed the finish line at 7:18 P.M. His misadventures were also quite interesting. Plagued with igniter trouble along the way, he hunted out a tinsmith's shop, but found it closed because of the holiday. He went to the owner's house, got him to open his shop, and then proceeded to light a fire in
the tinner's charcoal stove and forge a new igniter. Later, he stopped off at a blacksmith's shop and repaired a couple of broken connecting rods. All of the contestants had been about equally delayed by frightened horses, small boys throwing snowballs, and the need for getting out and laboriously pushing their vehicles through the snow.
My-father has said. that "it was a field day particularly for small boys who could pitch a fast, well-aimed snowball. The derby hats of the contestants as they sped along at 4 miles an hour were perfect targets. The small fry of the day, with their snowballs and raucous, goading cries of
"Get a horse"! added considerably to the misery of the elements. All of the drivers and observers, of course, were prominently exposed, as none of the machines sported a top or a windshield or windows. In fact, several partiCipants had to be given emergency treatment for frozen hands and feet, and for injuries incurred when a machine upset or was rammed by a street car.
The fact that the Morris & Salom machine had successfully made a preliminary run over the course without any mechanical difficulties or adjustments probably influenced the judges in awarding the gold medal part of the First Prize award to the Electrobat No. 2
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Awarded to Morris and Salom
Now on display at the Pennsylvania Historical Society
However, as is usually the case in such contests, the awards of
the judges were criticized in some quarters. Here is what an editorial
writer for the magazine. The Motocycle, had to say about the judging:
"We cannot see under the circumstances how the prizes could have
been more wisely distributed. Morris &, Salom get the gold medal for the
Electrobat, notwithstanding the fact that they did not go over the course,
but the general excellence of the machine was shoTND so decidedly in the
official test, that this award must meet with the hearty approval of all
interested in the perfect development of the motocycle. This carriage is
very economical in power, to say nothing of the almost complete absence of
noise and vibration and the total absence of all heat or odor. In the
actual run over and the course the Duryea motor made the best time of those
making the run, although through an error it did not follow the exact route."
End of quote.
Here are the complete awards as made by the judges:
An award of The Times-Herald gold medal to the Morris & Salom Electrobat, of Philadelphia, for the best showing made in the official tests, for safety, ease of control, absence of noise, vibration, heat or odor, cleanliness and general excellence of design and workmanship.
Here's the Gold Medal Winner, the Electrobet No.2
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Another picture of the Electrobat No.2.
"$2000.00 for best performance in the road race for range of speed and pull, with compactness of design to the Duryea Motor Wagon Co."
Here's the Duryea entry, which captured the first prize money.
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"$1500.00 for performance in road race and economy of operation to H. Mueller and Co. of Decatur, Ill."
"~500.00 for showing made in road race to R. H. Macy and Co. of New York."
Special awards to machines which did not compete in the road race were as follows:
"$500.00 for showing made in road race to Sturges Electric Motocycle of Chicago.
"$200.00 to G. W. Lewis of Chicago for friction driving device and reduction gear."
"$150.00 to Haynes and Apperson of Kokomo for a plan to prevent vibration."
Here's the Haynes Apperson.
"$100.00 to Max Hertel of Chicago for a device for starting motor from the driver's seat."
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"$50.00 to the De La Vergne Refrigerating Machine Co. of New York for a counter balance on the engine.
Here's the De La Vergne.
And now let's go over some of the data obtained from the board of judges:
THE DURYEA ENTRY
Average running speed of the Duryea machine the winner of the speed contest was 7i miles per hour and the elapsed time was 7 hours for fifty miles or 5.05 m.p.h. The Mueller Benz elapsed time 4.87 m.p.h.
The Duryea machine weighed 700 pounds and carried two three-horse power motors. Cost of fuel was estimated at less than 1/2 cent per mile. Speed under favorable conditions 30 m.p.h. with 3 forward speeds and one reverse.
THE DE LA VERGNE
The De La Vergne machine had 2 four-horse power 2 cylinder motors weighing 375 pounds each. Speed to 25 m.p.h. driven by belts and final chain drive. Engine required 250 pounds of water for six hours of operation. The motors were Benz and the machine weighed 1800 pounds and used solid rubber tires.
THE ELECTRO BAT NO. 2
The Morris & Salom "Electrobat" weighed 1650 pounds. The body was built by the C. S. Caffery Co. of Camden, N. J. The batteries for the original run to Waukegan weighed 669 pounds. Each drive wheel carried a It H.P. Lundell eighty-volt motor. The two motors capable of an overload for a short time up to 5 H.P. They used pneumatic tires and a complete removal and replacement of batteries could be made in two minutes. The speed and power requirements for hills, etc. was accomplidhed by using the batteries in series or parallel as the conditions required. The machine was made to sell for $1000.00 to $1200.00.
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Incidentally, the Morris & Salom Electrobat No.2 was preceded
by this Experimental Electric Wagon, which was the first electric automobile ever to be constructed in Philadelphia. It appeared on the streets of this city in August, 1894. 1ts total weight, including battery, was 4250 pounds, and its maximum speed 15 miles an hour.
Another picture of the Morris & Salom Electrical Wagon. In 1897
the John Scott Medal was awarded by the city of Philadelphia to Pedro G. Salom and Henry G. Morris for their automobile vehicle on the recommendation of the Franklin Institute.
My father and Mr. Morris believed that the most practical application of the electric motocycle was for service in parks and for city delivery wagons. The company they organized was to construct and assemble
the mechanical parts, and to purchase from carriage builders suitable bodies. To that end, they constructed the "Skeleton Bat ...
VEDRO G. SA-LO.!>l.
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The Franklin Institute Medal.
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The frame consisted essentially of two tubular rings spaced
apart by tubular struts and forming convenient attachments for the springs and front axle, leaving ample space for the motors and their
SIDE VIEW "SKELETON BAT."
I'RONT VIEW 'tsKELETON BAT _,j
attachments. This construction admitted of various modifications to suit the exigencies of different styles of vehicles.
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An example of an adaptation of the bat to a delivery wagon was the Crawford wagon.
As a matter of passing interest also, one year after the famous Chicago race, in 1896, father and his partner established the first motorized taxicab system and the first garage in New fork City.
Here is one of the first automotive taxis ever to run anywhere.
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rrv-, SCENE.- AT :
Finally, just because I have t hfs in my collection here is a pi cture
presented to me by M. J. Duryea of Longmeadow, Massachusetts, son of Charles
Duryea, winner of First Prize Money, of another famous race run in this country,
the Providence Motor Vehicle Contest, held at Narragansett Park, Providence,
Rhode Island, in September 1896, just one year after the Chicago race. The
fastest time in 3 heats of 5 miles each was made by the Morris & Sal-om entry,
shown burning up the trace in the center of the picture at the phenomenal rate
of 26.2 mil~ per hour! Quite some progress in a year!
The best data that I have been able to discover for comparison of
the three types of power driven vehicles of the period in which the Chicago
race was run, namely electriC, gasoline and steam is taken from data from
the Paris to Bordeaux race and the Chicago contest and is as follows:
14 oz. or about a pint of gasoline per horse power hour.
ot# of coal and 45# of water per horse power hour for steam
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220# of storage batteries per horse power hour for electric.
Unfortunately the Chicago contest, run as it was under such adverse conditions, was a great disappointment to all involveu and an unfair demonstration of the place of the motor driven vehicle in the field of transportation of that day. But as it was, it was a marvel that any of the machines were able to make the run at all.
Anu so, ladies and gentlemen, there you have it -- the story
of the first automobile race in this country. Measured by our unimaginative Gregorian calendar, with its plodding division of time into days, weeks, months, years -- it happened only a little more than 54 years ago. But I dare say if we had the Mark III here, that super calculating brain from Harvard that makes the fourth dimension seem almost commonplace,
and time a mystic evanescence, a subject only for philosphical discussion
and if we could press a button and ask it how long ago it was that the first automobile race was held in this country, I am sure it would give an entirely different answer. Based on how far we've come since then, it would surely answer that it happened a lot longer than 54 years ago!
MeanWhile, I hope you haven't been too restive listening to this long history, with its many labyrinthine digressions and interpolations. If you have, please remember for future reference, that a historian of automobiliana, is very much like the father of the small boy who one day went to his mother with a ~uestion about what the stars were made of, and
what they were doing up in the sky, etc. Thinking to shift the responsibility for such matters onto the proper should'ers, she said, "Why don't you ask your father, dear?" But the little boy shook his head. "Nobody," he said, "wants to know ~much!"
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