Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle
Saturday, September 17, 1904
15,000 People See Great Auto Race
Thrilling Sport at the Last Day of the Dutchess County Fair is
Witnessed by a Record-Breaking Crowd
A Mile Made in 1:01
The fair has come and gone and with it the biggest last day in the history of the D. C. A. S., [I believe this stands for Dutchess County Agricultural Society] for on Friday the attendance broke all previous records,even that of Governor's Day last year, and it is safe to say that between twelve and fifteen thousand people were present. Of course the auto races were the great attraction, especially to our country cousins, but it seemed as tho' all of Poughkeepsie as well had flocked to the fair grounds. Everything was well patronized and the fakirs must have made big money judging from the way the majority of the crowd took in the shows and other stunts, or rather were taken in by them. The people drifted and surged to and fro, gathering at times in clusters before some especailly eloquent barker and then breaking and moving on when the final word was given that only a dime was charged for admittance to the greatest show on the grounds.
There was only one drawback to the day, and that was the dust that arose in the wake of the flying autos. Much had been said about the way the dust was to be laid by sprinkling the track with oil, but the drivers of the machines protested against much oil being put on, as it caused the "mobes" to skid to an alarming degree, and as a result the spectators were covered from head to foot with infinitesmal portions of Mother Earth, which can only be removed by a most strenous application of a clothes-brush.
Probably Poughkeepsie was never represented at a fair before in such large numbers. It seemed as if everybody in town was there, and there was not much activity on the streets during the afternoon. The trolley cars did their usual stunts in breaking down just as their services were needed the most. About two o'clock the axle of a car nearing Grand Avenue broke and dropped the car to the tracks.
The people got out of the car and walked over Grand Avenue to the driving park. Liverymen hustled their stages out and they all did a land office business. Traffic on the trolley road was delayed almost an hour and much money was lost. When the people were returning from the grounds late in the afternoon there was another accident at Trinity Square and several cars were stalled there because of a derailed car. The company was simply unable to handle the big crowds during the early afternoon hours.
There were many prominent people at the grounds during the day, conspicuous among them was Col. J. J. Astor, whose Mercedes automobile was entered in the races. Col. Astor and his party of friends walked on the track between heats and attracted no little attention because of his peculiar dress. He wore a light brown suit composed of golf trousers and a long sack coat. He carried a cane, wore a straw hat, and black shoes and stockings. Another distinguished person at the grounds was the daughter of ex-Mayor Seth Low, of New York City. She mingled with the big crowd in the quarter stretch and seemed to enjoy herself immensely.
THE AUTO RACES
The great event of fair week, the automobile races, began about 2 o'clock Friday afternoon, and with the setting of the beautiful day and an immense crowd, they were a decided success. The interest that the people of [bad film here] take in automobiling was well shown by the thousands that crowded the grand stand, quarter stretch and infield, and hung on the fences all the way to the beginning of the home stretch.
The First Race was "The Hudson," a five-mile race for touring cars, for which race two cups wer offered as prizes. There were three entries in this event: No. 6, a Columbia 30-35 h.p. car, driven by Eddie C. Bald, and owned by the Electrical vehicle Co.; No. 8, a 20 h. p. Mercedes, belonging to Col. J. J. Astor, and No. 9, a Pope-Toledo, owned by the Pope Motor Car Co.. In the first mile the Mercedes was left a quarter of a mile behind at the start, the Columbia and Pope-Toledo drawing away rapidly with the latter in the lead. On the second round Bald began to close on No. 9, reducing the interval very fast, and Astor's machine was left hopelessly in the year. These positions were held until the end of the third mile when No. 6 lost slightly, and on the back stretch of the fourth mile dropped back still further. No. 9 lapped the Mercedes on the latter's fourth round and finished several lengths ahead of Bald's car, having made the five miles in 7:02.
THE HOME TALENT
This race was followed by a special 5-mile race for autocars, which was not on the official programme. All the cars that entered are owned by Poughkeepsians and with one exception were driven by their owners. James Wood, No. 11; William Adriance, No. 1; and John Van Benschoten, No. 2, drove their own cars; Ruthven Wodell's No. 10 being chauffeured by W. Taber. The start was the prettiest [sic] of the whole series of races, the four machines crossing the line in almost perfect alignment. At the end of the first mile Wodell's car had a big lead, with Nos. 7, 2, and 11 well strung out in the order named. The race seemed rather slow after witnessing the previous speedy run, but this was probably due to the fact that the amateurs did not have quite as much nerve as the professionals. Adriance had hard luck, losing a pin from the throttle which accident almost brought the car to a standstill, but Otis Sherman succeeded in holding the throttle open and in the fifth mile Adriance was rapidly overhauling the leaders when the line was crossed. In the second mile Wood shot up from last to second place, exchanging places with Adriance. For the remainder of the race Wood and Van Benschoten hung together each fighting hard for second position, but at the finish Wood was successful and won in, a length ahead, Wodell having finished about three-eighths of a mile ahead of Wood. The time made in this race was 10:14 2/5 [this line of the film is poor so that time may not be exactly right but that is what I could read].
THE POUGHKEEPSIE CUP
The Poughkeepsie Cup was next competed for. The autos entered in this [bad film again - one line]tion for all three were racing cars, and were hardly anything but machinery on wheels, with a seat for the cahuffeur. The cars were a 10 h.p. Franklin, a 10 h. p. Ford and a 60 h. p. Mercedes. The first two are owned by the manufacturers and the Mercedes by E. R. Thomas. At the start the Ford gave the Mercedes a hard rub until half way down the back stretch when Thomas's machine literally flew to the front and staid [sic] there throughout the race. The little Franklin was left more than a quarter-mile behind during the second mile, and at the end of the third mile dropped out of the contest altogether. The Mercedes won in 10:36 1/5, making the fastest mile in 1:02 4/5.
Event No. 4 was the Grand Dutchess Handicap, a five-mile race open to all and was raced in two trial heats and a final heat. The first heat was won by John VanBenschoten in a 10 h.p. Auto-car runabout with a 4:23 handicap; a 24 h. p. Pope-Toledo which was scratch was second, and Eddie Bald's 30-35 h. p. Columbia was third. Bald had a 52 second handicap, but just as the word to start was given, his en- . . . . .[I think I missed a line in the film here] was almost consumed in starting the engine again. The time was 6:55.
The second heat was won by the scratch, a 20 h. p. Ford in 5:27, Col. Astor's 20 h. p. Mercedes winning second place. The final heat was won by the Ford car, a 10. h. p. Franklin racer coming in second position. Time: 5:24 3/5.
The "Catskill Chase" was the last race and was the most novel of the day. It was a pursuit race with a five-mile limit and was of the Australian style, the race starting from opposite sides of the track. The 60 h. p. Mercedes won the $100 cup offered for this race, in 5:21, the Ford machine following in five seconds later. The fastest time of the day was made in this race, the Mercedes doing a mile in sixty-one seconds, "and that was travelling some!"
"The Hudson: - five miles for touring cars, Free-for-all; stock machines; First Prize, $75 cup; second $50 cup. Pope-Toldedo car (24 h.p.)driven by A. S. Lee, owned by Pope Motor Co.; second, Columbia car (30-35 h.p.) driven by Eddie Cannon Bald, owned by Electrical Vehicle Co.; third, Mercedes car (20 h.p.) driven by B. Morgan, owned by Col. J. J. Astor. Time 7:02
"The Poughkeepsie Cup" - Ten miles, free for all classes. First prize, $100 cup; second prize, $50 cup; First Mercedes car (60 h.p.) driven by Frank Kulick, owned by Ford Motor Co., Franklin car (10 h.p.) driven by W. F. Winchester and owned by H. H. Franklin Manufacturing., drawn. Time 10:36 1/5. Fastest mile 1:02 4/5.
"Special for Poughkeepsie Auto-cars: - Five miles; R. A. Wodell, first; W. A. Adriance, second; James W. Wood, third; John VanBenschoten, fourth. Time: 10:14 2/5
"Grand Dutchess Handicap" - Five miles, open to all (Time handicap). First trial heat: Autocar (10 h.p.) driven by John VanBenschoten, owned by driver (4:23 handicap), first; Pope-Toledo (24 h.p.)driven by A. S. Lee, owned by Pope Motor Company (Scratch), second; Columbia (30-35 h.p.) driven by E. C. Bald, owned by Electrical Vehicle Company (42s han- [I think I missed printout out a couple of lines here] . . . Ford Motor Car Company (scratch), first; Mercedes (20 h.p.) driven by B. Morgan, owned by Col. J. J. Astor, (handicap 2:30), second; Franklin (10 h.p.0, driven by W. F. Winchester, owned by H. H. Franklin Manufacturing Co., Third. Time: 5:27.
Final heat, two winners of trial heats to compete - First Ford Car (20 h.p.); second, Franklin (10 h.p.); Third Mercedes (20 h.p.); Fourth, Autocar (10 h.p.). Time: 5:24 3/5.
"The Catskill Chase" - pursuit race. Challenge event, cars starting from opposite sides of the track. Five-mile limit: Prize $100 cup - Won by Mercedes (60 h.p.) driven by E. E. Hawley, owned by E. R. Thomas; second, Ford (20 h.p.) driven by Frank Kulick, owned by Ford Motor Company. Time Winner, 5:21; second car, 5:26. Fastest Mile, 1:01.
The police officials at the grounds had the work of their lives in keeping the track clear during the automobile races. Deputy Sheriff Archy Hoffman, Chief McCabe, Sergeant Sheedy and groundsman LeRoy were on the track continually and they were exceptionally successful in their duties. The chief was hustled around the track several times in a big auto and came out of it covered with dust looking like a baker in a car of bran. There is no question that the management struck the right chord when it decided to have automobile races. This feature alone was responsible for the fifteen thousand people at the grounds on Friday.
In an article about the races on Sept. 13, 1900 at the Hudson River Driving Park as published in the Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle - Sept, 14, 1900 - regardng the County Fair - This is another long article - under the sub-heading - so I am only transcribing an excerpt.
A Great Big Feature
"The feature of the day was an exhibition of automobile speed by Randolph Walker, of the Mobile Oil Company of America. He sent his machine around the track to try and make a mile in less than two minutes. The machine he used is the same as the one sold by Mr. John VanBenschoten and exhibited at the fair by him. It is the same machine that made a mile in 1:40 at Newport a short time ago. The exhibition is a very exciting one, and the speed almost caused one's hair to stand on end. Mr. Walker had a companion in the mobile with him and he went around the track twice before starting for his record. After making two miles he came up to the wire and was given the word. The machine fairly seemd to fly and the two occupants were compelled to bow their heads to prevent the wind from affecting their eyes. The first quarter was ????? [can't read this word] off in 26 1/2 seconds, the half in 51 seconds, the three quarters in 1:15 3/4 and the mile in 1:46. This test did not suit Mr. Walker and he asked for another chance which was given him. He said his steam went down for some reason or other. On the second trial he made the first quarter in 26 1/2, the half in 53, the three quarters in 1:18 and the mile in 1:44 3/4. He efforts were loudly cheered by the spectators, who pronounced it the most exciting sport ever seen at the driving park. This is the fastest mile every made by any horse or vehicle on the driving park track. The mobile will be sent for a record every afternoon of the fair, and to-day Mr. Foster, who rode with Mr. Walker, will take charge of the machine. This feature alone is worth the admission and should not be missed by anybody who attends the fair.
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