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Elgin Road Race Collection Pre-WWII Racing Topics:  Tommy Milton


The New York Times
August 24, 1919

Veteran Auto Driver Pilots Car at Rate of 73½ Miles an Hour.

ELGIN, Ill., Aug. 23.—Tommy Milton, a veteran driver, won the seventh renewal of the Elgin Road Race of 301 miles today, covering the distance in 4:03:17 at an average speed of 73.5 miles an hour.  For his victory Milton bagged $4,000 of the $10,000 prize money.

Roscoe Sarles was second, finishing nearly twenty-five miles behind the victor.  Kurt Hitke, who started his first important race at the Indianapolis Speedway this Spring, piloted his car into third place, while Ralph Mulford, who was forced to withdraw his own car in the 178th mile, pulled up i nfourth place at the wheel of Ira Vail's entry.

The race was almost featureless and time was considered extremely slow.  The event, however, drew a tremendous crowd.

Officials estimated that nearly 50,000 were about the 8¼ mile course, the attendance being the largest in the history of the event.  Thirteen cars started out, but six were withdrawn before the finish.  Mulford, the favorite, started out like a winner, breaking the course speed record for the first 150 miles, but his motor began acting badly in the one hundred and seventy-seventh mile, when he was forced to pull up at the pits.  After working over the engine he finally withdrew.

Only one accident marred the day, when Cliff Durant, millionaire California sportsman and son of Colonel W. C. Durant, President of the General Motors Corporation, had a narrow escape from death.  Durant, one of the favorites in the race, and winner of the Santa Monica (Cal.) road race, was attempting to pass another car on the back stretch, and just as he pulled alongside a rear wheel picked up a stone, which struck Durant above the temple, temporarily stunning him.

Durant lost control of the car, which veered off the road while speeding 110 miles an hour, turned completely over three times, and knocked down four telegraph poles in its plunge.  It finally landed upside down.  Spectators were amazed to see Durant and his mechanician, Fred Comer, crawl from the damaged car uninjured, except for minor bruises.

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