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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Pre-WWII Racing


The New York Times
July 26, 1900

Novel Competition Opened for Motor Vehicles at New Haven, Conn.

Special to The New York Times.

NEW HAVEN, Conn., July 25.—The first automobile race meet ever held on a race track in this country began to-day at the Branford Park track. There were some 150 entries, but twenty vehicles only took part in the tournament. The first day of the unique sport was a distinct success, marred as it was at the close by a heavy thunder shower that compelled the postponement of the motor tandem race, the feature of the day. More than 15,000 people from New Haven, New York, Boston, Newport, and nearby cities were present, and a large number of automobiles came from various places. The Automobile Club of North America of New York, the Locomobile Club of Bridgeport, and clubs from Boston and Hartford were represented, as well as makers of automobile vehicles from all over the country and from Europe.

As the meet was the first ever held in this country with automobiles as the racing machines, the tournament is of especial interest. Owing to the lack of experience of the owners of the autos with their racing qualities on a half-mile track, the classes were not well arranged and most of the races were of the nature of processions for the winners. At later tournaments this feature will probably be eradicated and meets of the kind placed more on a par with bicycle racing. There was a fast time, however, made by a number of the machines, and the outlook for the finals tomorrow is of the greatest interest. It is expected that William K. Vanderbilt and a party of Newport automobilists will attend to-morrow's meet.

To-day the races were all preliminaries. There was a general exhibition to the public by makers and drivers from 10 A. M. to 2 P. M., and at 2:30 the afternoon's performance began. The tournament opened with a parade for prizes of medals for the best appearance in their class.

The events this afternoon were the preliminaries for the motor tricycles, for four-wheelers, and an exhibition paced two miles by Harry Caldwell, the "Manchester Giant." Rain interfered with the preliminaries in the tandem race.

The tricycle races were hotly contested, and produced two riders who will figure in an important final to-morrow afternoon. In the first heat Charles S. Henshaw of New York, who, with Oscar Hedstrom, is known as the fastest tandem rider in the country, had a walkover from the field. He had a new machine, that beat the second man, Brown, by over a minute on the five miles. Miller, the crack six-day racer, had a slow machine and made no time at all. In the second heat Kenneth Skinner of Boston had no difficulty in drawing away from the field after the first half-mile lap, and beat Wridgeway, the famous English champion, by nearly a minute. H. K. Bird, the Columbia intercollegiate champion for two years at the quarter-mile bicycle, was not in the race after the first lap.

In the three-heat race between the four-wheel motor vehicles each machine carried two persons, as provided in the regulation. H. P. Maxim, son of the famous Maxim gun manufacturer of Hartford, with his heavy gasoline motor wagon, easily beat his nearest competitor, H. C. Esslystein of Bridgeport by 3 minutes on the five laps in the first heat.

E. A. McDuffee of Springfield, Mass., should have won the second heat, and was racing a close second to T. E. Griffen of Bridgeport when his machine broke down on the third-mile lap. His assistant instantly repaired the damage, but he could not regain the distance. Kenneth Skinner won the third heat in a walkover, and Skinner, Maxim, and Griffen will race in the finals to-morrow.

The score for the preliminaries follows:

Five-Mile Motor Tricycle Race.—First heat—Charles S. Henshaw, New York; Harold Brown, Boston; Charles W. Miller, Chicago entries, won by Henshaw; time—9:10 4-5; second, Brown; time—10:09. Second heat—Kenneth A. Skinner, Boston; C. G. Wridgeway, London, England, champion of England; H. K. Bird, New York entries, won by Skinner; time—8:31; second, Wridgeway; time—9:35.

Five-Mile Four-Wheeler Motor Vehicle.—First heat—H. P. Maxim, Hartford; H. C. Esslystein, Bridgeport; C. O. Reichert, New Haven entries, won by Maxim; time—10:49; second, Esslystein; time—13:44 3-5. Second heat—E. A. McDuffee, Springfield; T. E. Griffen, Bridgeport entries, won by Griffen; time—10:37. Third heat—Kenneth A. Skinner, Boston; Harold Brown, Boston entries, won by Skinner; time—15:47.

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