Henry Ford's six cylinder racer tied the one kilometer record held by Walter Christy. Christy was a world class race car builder and driver, famous for his inventions involving warship revolving turrets. Christy is to this day known for his invention of the "Christy Suspension" used through the second half of the 20th century up to today on armored vehicles throughout the world.
Unfortunately for Henry Ford and the Ford six cylinder racer, Christy lowered the record to 23 2/5 seconds at the same meet, so no tie record mention for Ford:
From left, Gaston Plaintiff, NY Branch Manager, unknown (reporter?), Henry Ford. Frank Kulick is holding a monkey wrench, with goggles, second from the right:
Photo courtesy of THF, all rights apply
That's 89.5 mph for the Ford six and 95.6 mph for Christie's racer (if I calculated correctly)
Roger, that's what I get too. The fastest time I've found for the six cylinder racer in the straight mile was 36 seconds, or 100 mph:
When you run your car at high speed does it handle well? Would it be able to handle speeds as fast as posted or is the speed record car a special design?
The racers were built for racing only. They had minimal suspensions, and over 1,000 cubic inch engines. The racers were weighed at about 1500 lbs. Our stripped down roadster, with original 400 cu in motor, weighs 2400 lbs.
Our Model K actually handles well (imagine a heavier built T with a long wheelbase). Ford planetary steering works well, and the roadster handles well. Defincies include light rearend, and if I were going to track race, lowering the suspension would be good.
When the Model K set a 24 hour world speed/distance record in 1907, the car averaged just over 47 mph over 24 hours on a one mile flat dirt track. One hour the average was 55 mph. I would think a flat dirt mile track, with quarter mile straightays and quarter mile turns would be tough to negotiate at that speed over 24 hours, even with a modern car.
When men were men.....
I did this quite a while ago, so there are a few additions that should be made. However, there are pics of the three six cylinder racers, along with a few of K racers and cars, and of course, my "special" music choices......
Walter Christy and Henry Ford were both looked upon as wild-men and local boys in the bulk of the the racing world at that time. Of the two, Henry handled the press better, and both were top level engineers in their own right. But serious racing was the sport of Europe at that time. The fact that they were competing against the likes of the Chevrolet brothers (from France at the time) and cars like Fiat and Darracq that had huge bank accounts and teams of engineers competing the world over, was incredible. It would be like "local farmer's son in home-made car beats A J Foyt at Indianapolis" would have been in the '60s! (Sorry, I cannot think of any more modern name than that to compare with)
Incredible stuff! Thank you Rob for sharing all this.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Wayne, I agree with your take. Even Walter Christy devoted funds and time to develop a racer that competed many times a year. Fiat, Darracq, Napier and other European makes also had full time development and racing teams. Henry Ford and Frank Kulick were the only drivers of the Ford six cylinder racer, and the racer only competed four times over a two year period, 1905-1906.
While Ford historians cite the six cylinder racer as a failure, it was one of only a couple U.S. racers invited to compete in the heavyweight world speed record events. Packard, Winton, Olds, Thomas and several other carmakers had racers and drivers, yet did not compete in this elite division. And, as media reports indicate, the Ford was a favorite every time it competed.
Pretty remarkable for a company (Ford) that was only two years old by the summer of 1905.
Several makes started out with steam cars and then went to gas.One name/make not mentioned was a 1906 racer that really made good in 1908 by winning the Vanderbuilt Cup!!Over the years many people at the OCF have been lucky enough to see and hear Old 16 run through the village!! Locomobile. Bud in Wheeler,Mi.
Thread drift alert!
Bud, Andrew L Riker is one of my favorite leading engineers of automotive history.
A couple years ago, I had the unexpected and rare chance encounter with A L Riker's great grandchildren. Sadly, I was attending the funeral of a long-time best friend, and I and several others had brought our antique cars. A young mom with two kids came by, looking at the cars (the kids were about 8 to 10 years old). She was telling them a bit about their heritage (it sounded like they had heard it many times before), and then she mentioned to them his name. This caught my attention very quickly, and I said to her "Do you mean THE Andrew L Riker? Of Riker electric automobiles? And chief engineer of Locomobile? One of the best automobiles ever built at that time???"
She said "Yes, he was their great grandfather."
So I of course went on into considerable detail of his exploits as one of the leading electric automobile engineers of the day, building electric racing cars and winning races beating gasoline cars of the day. And how when he realized that improvements in gasoline engine technology were such that he knew the days of electric car superiority were numbered, he switched position and became the chief engineer for a steam automobile company that had also seen the changes and wanted to switch to gasoline power. The result was that Locomobile became one of the best built automobiles in the world and remained so for more than twenty years.
She looked at the kids, and said "You see, how these people admire YOUR great grandfather?"
We talked awhile longer, I had the kids sit in my coupe.
I think most people have ancestors that they should be proud of and honor. Whether world famous, like their's, or just farmers or merchants opening a wilderness, it can become that special, personal, connection to history that can help us connect to all the rest of history. And I have always believed that is important.
My great great grandfather survived the riverboat Sultana explosion at the end of the Civil War.
Back to Ford and Ford racing.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Interestingly, it was Locomobile who took the world 24 hour title from Ford three months to the day after the Ford Model K team set the record. The 1907 yearly wrap up below lists the cars and miles that won each of the ten races held in 1907. Five of the competitions were team events (two cars allowed) and five were single car races. Ford only entered one of the ten, setting the world record in direct competition against a 60 hp Thomas Flyer (same model that would win the N.Y. To Paris race in 1908) and 50 hp Pope Toledo, along with American Underslung, Stevens Duryea, Wayne and others.
As seen by the results below, the other winners (Locomobile and Thomas twice each) were not slouches. By the end of 1907, only one model, the world record holding Locomobile, had driven more miles in 24 hour competition than the Ford six, by 11 miles.
Not bad for a car Henry hated........