The most exciting find at THF Benson Library for me last week was the wreck of the six cylinder racer in October, 1907. Excerpts of the story are recounted in this Detroit Free Press article the day after the accident:
The only photo of the wreck I had seen was this DFP pic that ran with the story:
The photo just found at Benson Library. Many thanks to the library staff for locating it:
photo courtesy THF, all rights apply
Another photo taken of the racer, presumably in 1907 prior to the wreck. From a personal collection of photos possessed by the Kulick family:
Contrary to some historical accounts, this racer was rebuilt, and In 1909 prepared for the inaugural Indianapolis Speedway races. However, it did not make the race, and is today in a warehouse at THF. My goal is to see the racer displayed at a future Old Car Festival.
Rob,I think your on the right track!! We have seen the Sweepstakes Racer for several years now so how about a look at one 99% has never seen?? Other than readers of this fourm i wonder how many know it exist?? Bud in Wheeler back from the best place in the country!!
As with the Model K, the six cylinder racer has been relegated to a footnote in Ford history. Also, as with the K, the six cyl. racer accomplishments were significant in my opinion, and include:
First Ford with a wishbone attached directly to the engine, ala Model T.
I believe first left hand drive Ford.
First with a Ford/Huff magneto.
First credited with reaching 100 mph.
First Ford selected to race top world heavyweight class racers in international competition.
Longest tenure as the primary Ford racer. Sweepstakes raced one year. 999/Arrow racers were raced by Ford in 1902 and again in 1904. The 20 hp middleweight racer was race over a half year period in 1904. The Ford Special 410 cubic inch racer ran between 1910 and 1912. The Ford Six ran between 1905 and 1907, and was reconstructed and prepared to run in 1909, although it did not make a competition.
Rob,Was the reason the 6 cyl did not race at Indy because of the weight?? Did Henry actually say [we build race cars not trucks]?? Or something like that which is like my spelling? Bud in Wheeler,Mi.
Wonder what is behind the sheet the fellows are holding up?
The story you are relating involved the entry of the Ford "Special" racer into the 1913 Indy 500. Ford was told they would have to add 1000(?) lbs. to qualify, to which, Ford is reported to have made the "we're building racers, not trucks" statement (or something similar). I don't know if it happened that way, but it makes for a good story.
In this case, the same may be true (why the six cyl racer didn't make the race). The Indianapolis Speedway races had minimum weight requirements of 2400 lbs. for heavyweight racers, and a cubic inch requirement of 450-600 cu in. The Ford six was reported to weigh about 1500 lbs. and had over 1,000 cubic inch displacement:
That fellow is Gus Degener, one of the first Ford employees. I suspect by the height of the steering wheel it is a Model K. The backdrop was used for this Ford Motor Company photo:
You have found another piece of the puzzle here that I had not seen before. I think I am beginning to get some of the Frank Kulick wreck and survival squared away in my head now. It truly is amazing that he survived that one. Right up there with Fred Marriott surviving the "Flying Teakettle" incident.
I certainly believe that Ford's exploits with six cylinders need to be regarded as more than a "footnote".
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2