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Elgin Road Race Collection

Elgin Road Race Collection Pre-WWII Racing

Elgin Road Race Collection
Special Collection

Special Collection Navigation
Page Sections
1910 - 1911 - 1912 - 1913 - 1914 - 1915 - 1919 - 1920
The Course in Modern Times
A collection of information regarding the road races in Elgin, Illinois, held from 1910-1915, 1919-1920, and in 1933.

The Elgin Road Race Collection picture in the left-side navigation bar is of Ralph De Palma and Tom Alley in the Mercedes that won two races in 1912.


November 21, 1909 — ELGIN WANTS COBE CUP RACE. — A short New York Times article giving a rudimentary description of the proposed course.

August 23, 1910 — Fast Time on Elgin Auto Course. — Article from The New York Times:

CHICAGO, Aug 22.—The first official trials of the Elgin Automobile course to-day evidenced a speedy track.  The circuit of a little more than eight and a half miles was made by a number of drivers at a speed slightly better than a mile a minute.  Grant, in an Alco, drove in 8:21.  Harroun, driving a Marmon, Livingstone, in a National, and Mulford, in a Lozier, did the distance in 8:28.  At one time twenty machines were on the track.  Mrs. Mulford, in khaki and the regulation hood, acted as mechanician for her husband.


April 10, 1911 — MULFORD TO DEFEND TITLE. — A New York Times article describing Ralph Mulford's entry and preparations for the 1911 events.

August 27, 1911 — TWO DIE, MANY HURT, AT ELGIN AUTO RACE — A New York Times article describing the fall of the grandstand as well as the crash that killed Dave Buck and his mechanic Sam Jacobs.

Race Summary

Summary and modified table from New York Times article TWO DIE, MANY HURT, AT ELGIN AUTO RACE

Elgin National Trophy for cars under 600 inches displacement; prizes and cash valued at $6,500 to winner; distance, 305.05 miles; lap 8½ miles.

1Len ZengelNationalFinish4:35:39
2Harry F. GrantAlcoFinish4:41:58
3Hugh HughesMercerFinish4:42:09
4Frank LeeAlco271 miles4:45:45
5Dave BuckPope-Hartford203 miles3:58:26
6Harry HartmanAlco169 miles2:45:44

 Zengel's average, 66.45 miles per hour.


July 3, 1912 — No Elgin Road Auto Race. — Article from The New York Times:

CHICAGO, July 2.—After four months of unsuccessful effort to secure entries for the 1912 Elgin road race, scheduled with the American Automobile Association sanction for Aug. 23 and 24, the Directors of the Chicago Motor Club to-day decided to abandon the annual motor car speed event for this year.

July 21, 1912 — Excerpt from ELGIN RACE REVIVAL PLEASES MANY AUTOISTS, New York Times column by Fred J. Wagner:

The Chicago Automobile Club has decided to sustain the fair name of its city in running the annual Elgin road races.  This club is to co-operate with the Elgin Automobile Road Race Association, and has scheduled for events on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 30 and 31—two events each day.  There are a number of manufacturers who are glad that the event did not die after all.  Entry blanks are to be distributed.  The events are well arranged.  On Friday, Aug. 30, the Aurora Trophy Race, for cars of 231-300 cubic inches piston displacement, and the Illinios Trophy event, for the 301-450-inch class will be run.  The former is approximately 152½ miles, and the latter 203 miles.  The course is about eight miles in length.  These events will be run simultaneously, starting at 11 A. M.  In addition to the trophy in each race, $1,000 in cash will be split between first, second, and third best.

Differing from last year, these will be Class C, or non-stock class races instead of stock car events.  The same applies to the Elgin National Trophy event on Saturday, which is to be a Class E non-stock affair, open to Class C cars of 600 cubic inches piston displacement and under.  The distance is 254 miles and the prize the Elgin National Trophy for one year and $1,000 in cash to the winner, $300 for second place, and $200 for third.  There will also be a free-for-all of 306 miles, in which $2,500 in cash will be split between the three placed cars.  The free-for-all and Elgin Trophy races will be run simultaneously, and upon payment of entry fee for both events the same contestants may compete in both with the same car.

Having had two years' experience in running road races, and with the equipment at hand, the splendid course and all, it would be a pity to abandon the race as was first planned by the Chicago Motor Club.  It was most commendable for the Chicago Automobile Club to step into the breach and insure the staging of the meet once again.

August 12, 1912 — TETZLAFF TO DRIVE IN ELGIN ROAD RACE — An update from The New York Times regarding the entries to the 1912 events.

August 21, 1912 — Excerpt from Peugeot Cars Entered., an article from The New York Times:

The list of entries for the Vanderbilt Cup and Grand Prize races...was increased yesterday by the entry of three Peugeot cars entered by the Peugeot Company, of Audincourt, France. Georges Boillot, who won the French Grand Prix, driving a Peugeot, has been nominated to pilot one of the machines, but the drivers of the other two cars have not yet been selected...

Paul Lacroix, whose company represents the Peugeot interests in this country, said yesterday that Boillot and the three machines, with a corps of mechanicians, are now heading for America, and if they get here in time two of the cars will be entered in the Elgin road race which is to be held Aug. 31. It has been known for some time that R. J. Collier has been negotiating through his agents with the Peugeot people to import at least one machine for the Elgin meet. In the event that the cars are entered it is likely that E. A. Hearne will be the team mate of Boillot at Elgin.

Ralph DePalma and Tom Alley in Elgin IllinoisRalph DePalma, left with Tom Alley, right
From the United States Library of Congress
View photo, 42KB

31 August 191275,000 in Attendance.Daily Capital Journal
31 August 1912DE PALMA WON HARD-FOUGHT RACEDaily Capital Journal


August 28, 1913 — Wishart Makes Fast Time at Elgin. — Article from The New York Times:

Elgin, Ill., Aug. 27.-All previous practice records for the Elgin Auto Speedway were smashed during the tuning up for Friday and Saturday's races to-day. when Spencer Wishart was clocked on two successive laps at 6:46 for the eighth and a fraction miles speedway.  This gave him an average speed of seventy-eight miles per hour.  All but one or two of the pilots entered in the races had their mounts on the track to-day.  De Palma and Gil Anderson let their speed creations out to the limit and thundered around the course in seven minutes flat.

30 August 1913THE BIG RACEThe Day Book


August 23, 1914 — WISHART KILLED IN ELGIN AUTO RACE — Description from The New York Times of the accident that claimed the life of Spencer Wishart and injured his mechanic, Joe Jenter.  Includes the finishing order and times from the race as well as a list of the four spectators injured in the Wishart accident.

1914 Elgin Road Race Billy Chandler Billy Chandler
Finished 18th, started 27th, Billy Chandler 31
Sponsor Braender Bulldog Tire, Duesenberg chassis
Duesenberg motor, finished 8 laps, car on fire.
View photo of Billy Chandler at the 1914 Elgin Road Race - 341KB


August 4, 1915 — Rickenbacker in Elgin Races. — Article from The New York Times:

CHICAGO, Aug. 3.—Entry of Eddie Rickenbacker as driver in the Elgin races for James Dorsey, President of the Elgin Racing Association, providing Mr. Dorsey can procure the car he wants, was announced today. Mr. Dorsey is negotiating for the machine in which Resta won the Vanderbilt and Grand Prix races on the Coast.

13 August 1915Hugh Ogren has decided to enterThe Day Book


August 24, 1919 — MILTON WINS ELGIN RACE. — Race summary from The New York Times, includes a description of Cliff Durant's crash.


August 29, 1920 — De Palma is First in Elgin Auto Race — Race summary from The New York Times.

The Course in Modern Times

Grandstand Place in Elgin IllinoisThe sign at the intersection of Grandstand Place and N. Lyle Avenue, one block north of Larkin Avenue
Photo by Bill Crittenden
July 25, 2009
View photo, 4,217KB
Grandstand Place in Elgin IllinoisThe intersection of N. Lyle Avenue and Larkin Avenue as seen from the intersection of Grandstand Place and N. Lyle Avenue
Photo by Bill Crittenden
July 25, 2009
View photo, 5,230KB
Grandstand Place in Elgin IllinoisDriving east on Larkin Avenue, just past N. Lyle Avenue
Photo by Bill Crittenden
July 25, 2009
View photo, 3,435KB
Grandstand Place in Elgin IllinoisDriving east on Larkin Avenue, just before N. McLean Boulevard (turn one)
Photo by Bill Crittenden
July 25, 2009
View photo, 3,623KB

The following video is driving the course on August 28, 2010:

Collection Images

Crittenden Automotive Library Elgin Road Race Collection Button June 2009 - 2011
Elgin Road Race Collection April 2011 - May 2012
Ralph DePalma, left with Tom Alley, right
Elgin Road Race Collection May 2012 - August 2017
Ralph DePalma, left with Tom Alley, right
Elgin Road Race Collection August 2017 - Current
Ralph DePalma, left with Tom Alley, right

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