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Big Auto Races Are On This Week

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Pre-WWII Racing

Big Auto Races Are On This Week

The New York Times
February 21, 1915

Vanderbilt Cup Tomorrow and Grand Prize on Saturday at the Panama Exposition.

Plans are all set for the running of the two great automobile road race classics at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition Grounds, San Francisco.  The tenth competition for the William K. Vanderbilt, Jr., Cup will be run tomorrow, and on Saturday the Fifth International Grand Prize event for the gold cup offered by the Automobile Club of America is to be staged.  The largest entry list ever competing for either of these races will face the starter.  Thirty-four entries have been made for the Grand Prix and thirty-three for the Vanderbilt, and the lists include the fastest, most famous American and foreign cars and the greatest of drivers.

The forthcoming races are to be staged on the shortest course ever used for a classic road race.  The Exposition Speedway measures 3.9 miles in circumference, which means the contestants in the Vanderbilt will make 76 laps in covering the 204 miles, while in the Grand Prix 103 laps will be reeled off to attain the mileage for that event, 402 miles.  The circuit is asphalt throughout, with the exception of one three-quarter mile stretch, which is covered with a board track.  Inasmuch as frequent sensational bunching of the cars will be occasioned on this short course, the races should be replete with thrills, and the cars overtaking one another so frequently will add greatly to the excitement of the contests.

The Vanderbilt Cup is a Class E non-stock affair open to cars with motors of 600 cubic inches piston displacement or less, and a minimum weight of 1,600 pounds.  The Grand Prix is a free-for-all, there being no restriction as to piston displacement.  In addition to striving for the trophies in each event, the competitors will fight for about $25,000 in cash.  The sum of $8,000 in gold is to be divided in the Grand Prix, while accessory manufacturers and others are offering large bonuses to drivers using certain equipment.

Gov. Johnson of California is to be honorary referee of the races.  Fred Wagner of New York will start the cars.

A large delegation of New York automobile dealers and sportsmen interested in motor racing have either reached the coast or are en route at present in order to attend the races.  The same is true of cities like Detroit, Chicago, Indianapolis, and other places.  Not since the days when the famous Vanderbilt Cup classic was held on Long Island, when the International Grand Prix was staged at Savannah, has there been such wide interest in the two events.

Of the American cars entered, some are products of Detroit, some are from Indianapolis, and some from the East, while the foreigners include a pair of Peugeots, (French,) a Delage, (French,) and Italian Bugatti, De Palma's German Mercedes; while the Erwin Special is propelled by a German motor.  Of the Eastern entries, the Simplex car is a brand new racing machine, and not the famous "Zip," as was first announced.  It will be handled by Louis Disbrow, the present mile track champion, and it is the lightest racing car ever turned out by the Simplex factory and develops 143 horse power.

From Trenton, the Mercer trio headed by "Eddie" Pullen, winner of the last Grand Prix and holder of the world's road race record of 87¾ miles an hour made in the Corona race which he won, expects to create a sensation at the exposition.  The two Chevrolet cars were built in New York City, and one of these will be driven by Jack Le Cain and the other by R. Clifford Durant, son of President W. C. Durant of the Chevrolet Motor Company.  The Maxwell trio, headed by Barney Oldfield, and the King entry, which Arthur Klein will drive, represent Detroit, while the three Stutz racers, with Cooper, Anderson and Wilcox up, and D'Alene's Marmon hail from Indianapolis; the Cases, to be driven by "Speed King" Bob Burman and E. A. Hearne, will uphold the honor of Racine, Wis.; the Duesenbergs will have the backing of Sioux City, the other domestic entries being from cities which are not essentially automobile centres.  Caleb Bragg, winner of the 1912 Grand Prix, doubtless will get an ovation by Coast enthusiasts, for he is to drive a Californian, the entry from the Far West, which is looked upon as a dark horse.

With such American stars as Oldfield, Cooper, Pullen, Disbrow, Rickenbacker, Burman, Hearne, Grant, Carlson, Bragg, Le Cain, Anderson and others, the best talent on this side of the water is present.  Of the foreigners De Palma needs no heralding.  Born in Italy, he has been a resident of Greater New York since the age of seven.  Having won the Vanderbilt twice, it is easy to imagine how he will fight to capture it for the third time, and his Mercedes is one of the most phenomenal speed creations ever turned out by the Mercedes factory.  The other foreign star is Dario Resta, an English driver with many Brooklands track records to his credit.  He will pilot one of the Peugeots.  The other foreign cars will be manned by American pilots.

All of the cars are entered in both races, with the exception of the Alco, which is too large to be eligible in the Vanderbilt Cup.  The complete list of entries is as follows:

 Name of car.            Driver.
Stutz ................ Gil Anderson
Stutz ................ Earl Cooper
Stutz ................ Howard Wilcox
Peugeot ............. Dario Resta
Peugeot ............. Jack McCarthy
Mercer ............... Eddie Pullen
Mercer ............... G. E. Ruckstall
Mercer ............... Louis Nikrent
Marmon .............W. D'Alene
Simplex ............. Louis Disbrow
Chevrolet ............ Jack Le Cain
Chevrolet ............ R. C. Durant
Maxwell ............. Barney Oldfield
Maxwell ............. William Carlson
Maxwell ............. Ed. Rickenbacker
Duesenberg .......... Edward O'Donnell
Duesenberg .......... Tom Alley
Delage .............. C. T. Newhouse
Tahis ................ Jack Gable
Edwards Special ..... Lou Gaudy
Edwards Special ..... Capt. Kennedy
Californian .......... Caleb Bragg
Bugatti ............. J. W. Marquis
Parsons Special ......Jim Parsons
Mercedes ............ Ralph De Palma
Gordon Special ......Huntley Gordon
Case ................. Robert Burman
Case ................. Ed. A. Hearne
King ................ Arthur Klein
Overland ............ Thomas McPelvey
Hercules ............. Harold Hall
Tonasini ............ T. A. Tonasini
Erwin Special ....... Grover Bergdoll
Alco ................ A. H. Wolladacoot



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