I was doing some "light reading" last night (at Chickasha, after dinner witha few early Ford friends). Originally I was going to put a few ewarly Model T accessory articles, when I came across a strange article.
The account from 1912 talked about a "big Ford" racer that was entered in the 1911 French Grand Prix. Of course this "piqued" my interest, and a little more research turned up a few cars that surprised me.
This may be well known among other Model T enthusiasts, but I had no idea these racers existed. Below are articles, primarily from 1911 and 1912. I have seen references to a non stock Ford racer, but had no idea there was a 410 cubic inch, four cylinder Ford racer at the time (1910-1912).
First, the initial article:
A little more research turned up the next account. The confusing thing to me is that it was dated 1911. The above article is a 1912 article. I don't know enough about the Grand Prix, but the above article sounds as if the Grand Prix was not run for several years, so I'm not sure why Frank Kulick (below) is rumored to be running a Ford in the Prix in 1911?
A little more checking revealed some information about the "special Ford" racer (June 1911)
This next account involves another special Ford victory, along with the somewhat well known story about Henry Ford giving Frank Kulick the winning money if he (Frank) promised to retire from racing (Henry Ford said Ford Motor Company would no longer race back in 1907 after an accident with the Model K racer severely injured Kulick. However that "moratorium" didn't last long).
As with the 1907 pledge for "no more racing", Kulick's agreement above didn't last long....... This article dated June 1912 includes several wins by the special Ford. This account also lists the Ford engine specs at 4 cylinder, 410 cubic inches.
Following is a photo, possibly showing Frank Kulick driving the big "special Ford". I'm not sure, and don't know where the photo came from (some online search I did before). At the time I found it, I didn't think this could be a Ford, so didn't save the publication name or date.
Again, not sure if the pic above is the Ford racer or not. I have seen other special Ford racers, including one called 999-2 (below). However, this racer appears to be on a standard Model T frame/running gear, and I suspect a 410 cu in engine wouldn't be adequately supported by this machine.
Any info or additional thoughts appreciated.
That #3 big chain drive car is neither Frank Kulick or a Ford. It looks like an early Fiat, but many early race cars of the 1907 - 1911 period looked similar.
here's a picture of a Kulick driven Ford racer.
you guys can judge what might be sticking out the bottom of the frame and why set so far back.
George, according to the photos I've seen, some were calling the T looking racer that made the run on the lake (like H.F. In 999) was called 999 II.
From some of the reading available, it seems Ford had three racers that were competing. One was a "stock" T speedster/racer that ran in the stock and 161-230 cubic inch class. Another that was listed as 228.3 cu. in., and the 410 cu. inch racer.
I suspect the 410 cu in motor would need a larger "platform" to race on, but don't know The photo above (below with caption) is labeled "Frank Kulick.......one of Henry Ford's racers".
As I said above, I have no idea if this a Ford or not. Unfortunately (because I didn't think it was a Ford either) I did not save the book title to list for credit/resource.
Royce, with your resources and knowledge of all things Ford, maybe you will be able to a produce a pic of this 410 cu in racer? I for one would like to know more about it. If you notice in the articles above, it (big Ford) was running and winning with "the big boys".
Wow, 410 cubic inches on wooden wheels! With chains for traction!
Maybe a specially cast block to go racing? A back door special partially developed at the factory? Just guessing...
I'm not sure what the article "Ford Wins at Algonquin" means when they say the motor has "cylinders made of aluminum with steel casings". Maybe a wet liner motor with aluminum pistons? If so, i believe that would be very sophisticated for the era.
Franklin had aluminum pistons from their beginning in 1902. HH Franklin had an aluminum die casting business in operation since 1893, and Wilkinson brought him a car to build. They collaborated until 1925, when Franklin put on a false radiator to resemble water carrying cars.
Franklins had very little steel, making them lighter and stronger than the rest.
For what it is worth, here is a listing of the cars and drivers etc entered in the 1912 French Grand Prix. No mention of Ford and Kulick.
I didn't think Ford made the race, however, they must have been thinking about it at the time of the article. It's still interesting that at a point Ford evidently intended to race in the Grand Prix (and be considered a valid candidate).
Again, I'm as surprised as anyone because I had no idea Ford fielded a big race car ar this time.
I too have never heard about a big Ford race car in the 1910-1912 era. It whetted my curiosity for more info and so I googled "French Grand Prix 1912." I agree that no Ford or Kulick in the 1912 race does not mean that "they" were not considering entering that event at the time of the article.
I find a Ford race car with a large aluminum block engine in the 1910-1912 period one of the more fascinating items you have unearthed. It is odd that it has remained unknown until now.
As for the photo of the large racing machine with chain drive, I offer that it seems improbable that Ford Motor Company, assuming they had any direct involvement, would build a machine with chain drive in 1910-12 period.
Another comment I'd offer is that the vee radiator shell on the car with tire chains is similar to the vee shell that was used on the special one-of-a-kind Ford speedster that was used by Edsel Ford in or about 1912.
This is what I have. Again, I didn't expect to use any of this, so some materials are not credited, but all was obtained by searching variations of Ford and Ford racing.
I doubt this is the 410 cu in racer. Instead, I think it is a "standard" Ford, or the 228 cu in racer.
Another indicator of the success Ford experienced racing during 1911 is shown with the following table, printed in the "Automobile" magazine, December 1911.
The first page shows Ford racers placing:
Road Racing: 12th
Beach Races: 7th
Hill Climbs: 2nd
Track Events: 8th
Overall Summary: 5th
In addition, Frank Kulick, driving Ford racers: 8th
And, these results are against the best competition in the World. Also, notice how well National does.
Probably a misplaced photo or caption Rob. Typos and misplaced photos happen in magazines and newspapers all the time, even today. No way the chain drive car in that picture is a Ford.
OK. Any idea where we find a photo of the 410 cu in Ford?
This what I found from the book:
"Ford Model T: The Car That Put the World on Wheels"
By Lindsay Brooke
The problem is, how can a 410 cubic inch engine fit into a standard T chassis? If it did, would a rear wheel drive T chassis handle the weight and horsepower.
Either way, Ford had a heck of a racer to finish his racing legacy (a legacy I was completely unaware of).
This should warm the heart of any Model T owner. From the same book,
"Ford Model T: The Car That Put the World on Wheels" By Lindsay Brooke
As late as 1930, a "Fronty-Ford" competed and finished well in an Indy 500.
The car above that you refer to as the 999-II looks very much like the car I saw at the Gilmore Car Museum in western Michigan. Definitely worth a side trip and it includes the National Model A Museum.
I did not have a camera with me and had to use my blackberry. The lighting was not too good, but here is a shot of the car.
Unfortunately the hood was closed and we did not want to get kicked out, so I could not look underneath. Will have to go back again.
It certainly looks like the Ford racer. It would be great to see "under the hood" and also learn about the history of the car.
Thanks for posting,
Here are the other 2 shots of the car,
Dave, it has the same or similar frame supports. Sure looks like it. The B & W pics are from THF.
Interesting that the picture you just posted has the same gas tank, but does not include the mailbox on the back of the firewall. Wish I knew what was inside the mailbox.
Seats look the same, but the wheels are not. Hmmmm.
I thought the same thing. However, I've found so many configurations (different radiators, etc) that it isn't a surprise. The true test will be the history of the car that the museum knows.
Duhh, guess not, with straight pipes...
Regardless of what this big Ford racer looked like, it evidently was no "slouch". The racer and driver Kulick and the Ford 410 cu in racer beat (twice) in 1911 at a meet, Bob Burman, and the Blitzen Benz, set world speed records in the same year that stood through 1920.
Some information about the Benz and Bob Burman is shown below. Again, I'd like to see a picture of this Ford. Hard to believe it could be the T based racer above?
I believe the original of the car pictured at the Gilmore museum is at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn. The first picture of it at 09:34 pm shows it at the Museum.
I still find it hard to believe anyone would drive a stock Model T suspension at 107.1 MPH.
I don't believe there is any way a 400 plus cu. in. engine could be raced on a stock appearing T chassis. While the photo above may be mis labeled (showing a large race car) there must be another Ford racer.
I'll do some more research, and start a thread later to see if someone has any photos or other information about the car. It appears the "special Ford" won several races, so there must be info about it somewhere.
For a nice summary and the ability to down load some slightly higher resolution photos please see:
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Thank you for the link. Much better photos. This thread is becoming quite lengthy so I'm going to start another with a few technical questions.
Thank you again,
That Kulick racer at Gilmore's is a replica of the original. Looks good, but ain't the Real McCoy
Here are more pics of it
Note the 'receiver hitch', wasn't there on the real racer!
Or the brakes, who needs brakes on a racer
That's OK Dan. If it runs, I'll take it. Now what can I pull with that little trailer hitch.
Note Rob started a second thread continuing this discussion. It is located at: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/331880/349791.html?1364003284
Request you please post your new additions there. And I'll put a link there back to this thread.
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Here are some more pictures of the original 999-II. I used these and other photos from the museum to build a replica (somewhat)...see my profile. Except it has a Roof 16.