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Pre-WWII Racing


The New York Times
September 9, 1907

Contestants in Morris Park Event Believe Record Can Be Beaten.


Track Will Be In Better Condition a Month Later-Race Was Noteable Free From Serious Accidents.

So much interest was evinced both by the contestants and spectators in the twenty-four-hour automobile race at the Morris Park track last week that before the event closed Saturday night the owners of the track announced that preparations would be made at once to hold another event of the same character within the next three or four weeks.  That the track is an excellent one for the making of notable mileage records was amply illustrated by the new competitive record of 1,079 miles, made by Maurice Bernin with the Renault runabout, beating by 82 miles the previous twenty-four-hour race record of 997 miles, made four weeks ago by Montague Roberts with the Thomas car on the Brighton Beach track.

Miscalculation at the end of the race resulted in a difference of three miles being accredited to the Renault car.  An unofficial announcement just as the event closed was that the winning car covered 1,078 miles.  This was soon changed to 1,081 miles, but upon more careful calculation it was stated that the fraction of a mile was under a half for an even 1,080 miles, giving the final result as 1,079 miles.  These variations in figuring the exact distance when the race closed just before midnight, and when the result was being hurriedly telephoned to the newspapers, occasioned the discrepancies that appeared yesterday, some giving 1,078 and others 1,081 as the actual mileage traveled.

It was more difficult to keep exact tally of the mileage on the Morris Park course than has been the case on any other track where twenty-four-hour automobile races have been held.  Instead of being an exact mile in circuit the track measures 1.39 miles, and the number of laps at the end of each hour had to be multiplied by this figure to get the result by miles.  Naturally the greater length of the track, giving better opportunity on the stretches for fast work, afforded improved facilities for faster time, and it was no surprise, despite the ordinary condition of the track, that the Brighton Beach figures were exceeded.  It has been nearly two years since the track has been used for contests of any kind.  It was natually soft, and there were a number of depressions that needed to be built up.  One of the drivers said there were fully twenty bad places, the worst spots being on the back stretch near the upper turn.  These weaknesses were accentuated by the steady running of the cars for twenty-four hours, but at the same time the good parts of the track were materially improved by this usage, and if another race is arranged within a month it was the universal opinion among the drivers that still better time will be made.

The financial outlay in conducting the race, including the $1,000 offered to the leading drivers, was somewhat over $8,000, and it was stated on Saturday night that, despite the poor transportation facilities, the proceeds, counting entry fees and the gate admissions, were just about sufficient to pay expenses.  Considerable money had been spent upon the track, and very little more expense will be needed upon it for the next race.

All of the prizes were promptly presented.  The warning given by the American Automobile Association a few days ago resulted in no delays this time, and so eager were the officials to show that the prizes were right on the spot that the fifty-mile race had hardly been concluded Friday afternoon than an official dashed out onto the track with a big silver cup in his hands and handed it to George Mack, the driver of the winning De Dietrich car as the came around after finishing the event.  A. R. Pardington, Acting Chairman of the Racing Board of the American Automobile Association, displayed the $1,000 certified check before the twenty-four-hour race was started.  The winning drivers, Bernin and Paul Lacroix, will receive $700, L. W. Smelser and William Linkroum, who piloted the Lozier car, will get $200 to divide, while $100 goes to the drivers of the Hotchkiss car, H. Judson Kilpatrick and Harry Harkins.  The drivers of the winning car also received gold medals.

For a twenty-four-hour race in which serious accidents have become so common as to be almost the expected thing, the Morris Park event was a notable exception, being, in this respect, the most successful contest of the kind conducted in America.  The accidents to the cars entailed to injury to the drivers.  No spectators were hurt and only two repair men were slightly burned by blazing gasoline when a careless cigarette smoker ignited the inflammable material as the Hotchkiss car was being refilled shortly after the start of the race.

The motor troubles were so slight as to be practically unnoticed.  The Matheson car broke a connecting rod, and the Packard an axle early in the race.  One of the De Dietrichs, after covering 540 miles, dropped out in the twentieth hour, due to a leaky radiator that had been leaking for some time.  The second De Dietrich went out in the twenty-first hour through the explosion of one of its cylinders.  The Losier car that was in the lead for the first three hours, and then smashed its wheel, broke its steering gear in the fourteenth hour.  The four survivors went through with scarcely any trouble, the accident to the Allen-Kingston car when the Hotchkiss car backed into it in the afternoon being so clearly unavoidable that the committee allowed the car to continue after three and one-half hours spent in repairs, and gave the car the benefit of 98 miles, based on its previous average running time.  The winning Renault only made one change of tires, and had no engine trouble.

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