Henry Ford rolled out the new and improved Ford six-cylinder racer in 1907. The racer had a 1,000-1100 cubic inch engine (some reports reported 6 x 6 1/2, some 6 x 6 in. bore/stroke).
Fortunately, the racer still exists at The Henry Ford museum, although it is not on display. Following is the Twitter page showing a photo of the racer, along with a description:
The description, with half truths, tell only a part of the story, in my opinion.
Henry Ford's design of a six cylinder racer began as early as January, 1904, according to some Ford employee "reminiscences." There were three versions of the racer, with 1907 the last. It's more accurate to say the Model K motor was a smaller copy of the racer, with many design similarities.
Henry Ford announced as early as January 1907 that he was building a new six cylinder racer and intended to enter it in the Vanderbilt Cup Race. As it turned out, the Cup Race was not held in 1907.
Ford then turned his attention on the one mile circular track record. The May 07 article below describes the record-holders. Barney Oldfield, with a Peerless, and Walter Christie, driving his front wheel drive creation, shared the record:
By the early fall of 1907, things were heating up. The record was held by Christie, Oldfield Louis Chevrolet (Fiat) and George Robertson (Matheson) at different times:
Meanwhile, the six cylinder Ford was being tried out, with Frank Kulick driving. The press followed the Ford racer, including this report of a wreck in September:
Henry Ford says he is through with track racing, until a reasonable structure is adopted to provide safety for drivers. Frank Kulick and the Ford racer are not the only team suffering accidents. Just a few days earlier, Christie has a similar experience:
Two weeks later, Henry Ford is again promoting the racer. He is also reported demonstrating it for his branch managers, and clocked doing 55 second miles, only a few seconds off the world record:
On October 10th, the Boston Globe reports the Ford racer has set a new world record. Unfortunately, for Ford, the time is just off the world record that was just set by Christie:
Regardless, the Ford racer is knocking at the door of a world record. Very few other car makers are able to compete at this level, with Fiat, Peerless, Matheson and Christie primarily in the mix:
On the 18th of October, Kulick is ready to try again for the world record. With sanctioned timers, he attempts a world record. Reports say he has unofficially been timed in the 50's and 49 seconds. This article by Motor World tells the story:
The mile record will not go below 50 seconds in 1907 or 1908. The Ford racer will not race again for sanctioned time or in competition (although it will be rebuilt and readied for races in 1908 and 1909).
The official records for 1907 are shown below. The Ford six touring world record (1135 miles) happens to be listed on the same page as the 07 circular mile records:
Things I would like to see.....
If anyone has any pull, or suggestions of how to accomplish, I would like to see the Ford six cylinder racer given it's due, and placed on display at "The Henry Ford." I would like to see Ford recognized for building one of the fastest machines of the period, instead of the current line that the Ford six was a failure. I'd probably have about as much chance of seeing pigs fly.
Frank Kulick and the six cylinder racer, 1907:
Very nice batch of articles you put together on this one. Thank you.
Reading that gave me a great deal of pleasure and opened my eyes to a wrong (that I didn't know existed ) that should be set right.
Great reading as you always provide. Note, the Benson Ford Archives has been open to corrections and additions in the past. And my perception is they do not have “an axe to grind” one way or the other. If you present the information items can be updated and changed if it is appropriate. I don’t have any connections but when I pointed out they had the dates wrong on a pre-T photo and provided the information that supported that claim, they updated their caption. [They had a photo of several Model S Roadsters with the caption 1906 or 1907. But the Model S Roadster did not start shipping until Mar 1908 and that was documented in the Trent’s “Early Ford Database” that was also located in the Benson Ford Archives.]
I thought I had a note that said when “The English Ford Model T Ford” vol I was being written they had also submitted a correction to the Benson Ford Archives and it had been accepted. But at the moment, I cannot locate a thread or e-mail that confirms that one way or the other. On page 32 of their book they were able to prove the photo was taken at the 1909 rather than 1908 Olympia Show. The discussion of that photo is located at the thread: http://modelt.org/discus/messages/2/1884.html . Perhaps Jem Bowkett remembers if a correction was or was not submitted to the Benson Ford Archives ? And if the recommended correction was submitted, perhaps he knows if it was accepted/corrected?
Again great reading. And I would encourage you to submit your recommended changes. The worse that can happen is they say “No.”
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I would never want to sit behind the wheel of a race car with that number on it, and look what happened to it too! Great articles, just the same.
Interesting reading, thank you Rob.
very interesting reading. driving a race car back then took a real man!
It would sure be an exciting ride! The copy of the photo above with kulick driving the racer came from one of the Kulick descendants, along with a few tidbits about the final wreck, as told by Frank late in life. He (Frank) said the reason the wheel came apart on the racer was because "Sorenson over tightened the spokes" on the day of the time trial. He also said Henry Ford chopped/sawed the back seat from a car (Model K, according to historians) to make an ambulance for the injured Kulick. Ford also bought a mattress from a local farmer to place Kulick on for the ride to the hospital. The nephews recalled always wearing leg braces as a result of the wreck. One likened the braces to the type worn by Forrest Gump as a boy in the movie. This is how Ford Motor Company described the racer on the May 1, 1908 cover of "Ford Times." Kulick is still listed as "head tester" at the six cylinder factory (formerly the Ford Manufacturing plant):
A special mention to Hap,
Hap, you've given great insight, research and assistance to me over the years, beginning with our Model N. I can't thank you enough, and as with so many of us, your sage advice is appreciated immensely.
I have taken your advice to heart and attempted to "update" early Ford information when possible.
Thank you again,
For example :
Thank you for the kind words. Like many things two people look at the same car or even forum posting and one person sees it more positively than the other person. Of course the positive feed back is more encouraging….so thank you! And the more negative feed back will hopefully help me to become a little more organized and concise.
Good job of helping the Wikipedia article to be more factual. Once you are feeling better and if you have easy access to the location for the 1906 and 1907 Ford Audits at the Benson Ford Archives, I would suggest you add them to the Wiki-article as a reference. You did put the title of the documents, but the location; if you have it handy would make it very easy for someone in the future to verify it is correct. (We know it is – but to help someone who hasn’t seen the discussions on the forum.)
And thank you for all your hard work at supporting our hobby and for making your research available to others.
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