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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Pre-WWII Racing


The New York Times
December 5, 1909

Poor Police Protection Causes Officials to Declare Off Fort Lee-Edgewater Event.


National Car Makes Best Time Under Unfavorable Conditions—Managers to Finish Climb This Week.

Failure to provide proper police protection yesterday brought about a fiasco in the Fort Lee-Edgewater hill climb.  Less than half the scheduled events were decided when the officials declared the affair off.  This action was due to the spectators who disregarded an incompetent police force and swarmed over the course, making it dangerous not only forms themselves, but also for the drivers of the cars.  Several unsuccessful attempts were made to control the crowd, but the moment the cry "car coming!" went up the majority of the people who lined both sides of the course flocked to the road and necessitated the drivers slowing up to avoid a dangerous and possibly fatal accident.

After the small cars and commercial vehicles had negotiated the hill at a comparatively slow rate the big cars began to prepare for the ascent.  The trouble with the crowd multiplied with the prospect of fast driving.  Repeated warnings were of no avail, and Referee A. H. Whiting and Alden McMurtry of the Technical Committee declared the remaining events off.  A meeting of the managers was later held when it was decided to run off the remaining events some afternoon this week.

The exact length of the course was about seven-tenths of a mile.  The steepest grade being about 20 per cent., though the average throughout was about 12 per cent.  The start was at the gateway of Watkins Park, about one-half mile beyond the Ferry House at Edgewater, and the finish was in front of the residence of Dr. Hueger on Main Street in the village of Fort Lee.  The finish was at the top of the steepest pitch, and the most dangerous turn was located about 50 yards below the wire.  The "S" turn, about 300 yards from the start, was another dangerous point, and it was at these locations that the spectators swarmed.

A threatened serious accident was narrowly averted at the upper turn when a motor cyclist lost control of his wheel, but the crowd scattered in time and the rider escaped with a bad shaking up.

Owing to the crowd the drivers of the cars did not make satisfactory time.  Tom Kincaid, driving a National 40, covered the distance in the fastest time of the afternoon.  He drove his car up the hill in 56 57-100 seconds, and was the only driver to negotiate the distance in less than one minute.  The next best time was that of A. Warren in a Buick, 30, who required 1 minute 2 74-100 seconds in climbing the hill.  Both cars won their respective classes.

The Ford car, driven by Berthoff, captured the lass for gasoline machines selling at $850 or less, the time being 1:07 15-100.  F. F. Cameron was at the wheel of the Cameron car, which was the fastest in the second class, although the time was more than one second slower.  Four Lancia cars were placed ahead of all other cars in the class for stock chassis of 300 cubic inches piston displacement.  In this class Harry Fosdick drove the slowest Lancia, and as a result paid for dinner for the entire Lancia contingent.

The commercial cars did not make the showing they were expected to.  In class A, for delivery wagons, the Simons, 20, driven by Frank Reitkowski, covered the distance in fast time, but owing to a mistake in the timing apparatus the car was not shown in the summary of finishes.  The Simons car showed good speed at the finish, but was credited with no time.  The summary:

Gasoline Stock Cars, Selling at $850 or Less.
Car and Driver.H.P.Time.
Ford, J. J. Berthoff.........201:07 15-100
Cameron, F. F. Cameron.....241:14 60-100
Empire, E. C. Walker.......201:46 60-100
Gasoline Stock Cars, Selling at $851 to $1,250.
Cameron, F. F. Cameron.....241:08 83-100
Buick, E. C. Easter..........181:13 31-100
Hudson, G. Ainslie..........201:16 20-100
Cartercar, A. E. Bloom......221:17 20-100
Hudson, R. W. Fulcher......201:18 11-100
Maxwell, ———..............1:31 20-100
Gasoline Stock Cars, Selling at $1,251 to $2,000
Buick, A. Warren...........301:02 70-100
Selden, L. Warren...........361:10 30-100
Pullman, ———.............1:11 42-100
Pullman. F. Cimiotti........301:16 70-100
Auburn, J. J. Meyer.........351:22 40-100
Petrel, H. H. Boyce.........301:27 60-100
Stock Chassis, 300 Cubic Inches Piston Displaceman or Les.
Lancia, F. Strobel...........201:06 1-100
Lancia, W. M. Hilliard......201:11 53-100
Lancia, C. H. Longeman.....201:15 27-100
Lancia, Harry Fisdick.......201:20 12-100
Nagant, Stuart Otto.........241:29 48-100
Commercial Motor Vehicles.—A, delivery wagons up to one ton capacity (net;) B, truck, up to two tons (net;) C, trucks, up to three tons or over (net.)
Buick, E. H. Taylor.........202:34 48-100
Renault, J. Street............14Not taken
Simons, F. Reitkowski.......20Not taken
Walter, E. Walter..........242:36 26-100
American, A. Defrietas......5:15 27-100
Couple Gear, Howard Green..406:15 98-100
Couple Gear, H. C. March...10:59 92-100
Gasoline Stock Cars, $2,001 to $3,000.
National, T Kincaid.........400:56 58-100
National, F. Hurmance......351:08 97-100
Selden, R. Carter...........361:12 10-100
Pope-H., J. E. Blakeslee.....401:13 27-100
Grant, P. H. Johnson........401:20 22-100
Knox, J. Westervelt.........381:26 90-100
Walter, W. Walter..........241:43 50-100
Gasoline Stock Cars, $3,001 to $4,000.
American, L. C. Howard.....401:04 47-100

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