Looks to me like a great way to spend a nice sunny afternoon. I love how the driver gets a little squirrely in the mud at the 3:57 mark.
The cars in this video were built and raced in Lion's Club sponsored races in Alberta, Canada in the 1940s. Some of the races in Calgary attracted over 10,000 spectators. This year, 2016, is the 75th anniversary of the 1st race, which was run on what is now the Stampede chuckwagon racetrack.
The video was taken at the 2015 National Tour at Pioneer Acres, north east of Calgary.
Here is some more information about the inaugural race.
This was the first race of many sponsored by the Calgary Alberta Lion’s Club. Similar fund raising races, also organized by service clubs, were taking place in many other cities around North America. Devastation caused by the war in Europe left countless children homeless. The Lion’s Club decided that pari-mutuel betting on Model T races would provide an entertaining way to raise funds for the war orphans.
The inaugural outing took place at the Victoria Park ˝ mile horse race track on Labour Day 1941. Having little experience with this type of venture the Lions decided on a 100-mile race around the narrow track. Thirty-three cars pulled up to the starring line. It was anybody’s race. Many of the cars had only weeks before been pulled from farm fields and stripped of non-essential parts in preparation for the event. At this first race there were few rules. Cars were to use stock T equipment. Tops were cut from sedans and coupes and all the glass was also removed. It was OK to “underslung” the axles to lower the chassis. Participants removed most of the sheet metal leaving only the chassis, steering wheel and gas tank. A crudely sculpted 25-gallon drum made a suitable bucket seat. Standard gasoline was mandated although some of the drivers complained of the strong smell of ether in the pit area.
Safety equipment was nonexistent. Many drivers wore leather flight helmets and most wore goggles to keep the dust and mud from their eyes. Willy Wokcnitz a Magrath farmer wore his trademark Derby hat which amazingly stuck to his head for the whole race.
Few of the drivers had previous racing experience. That combined with the narrow track and the lack of weight on the rear wheels provided a thrill a minute for the 12,000 anxious spectators. Spin-outs were common.
W. Dufresne of Suffield hit the fence on lap 23 but managed to pull his car back on the track and take third. W. A. Wocknitz winner of the second place prize did not realize that he had completed the required number of 200 laps and continued on, crashing near the gate on the east end of the grandstand knocking down a spectator, William Hammill Jr. Both were taken to the hospital. Wocknitz fractured his kneecap. The winner, Leading Aircraftsman Norman Price of the No. 2 Wireless School averaged 33 miles per hour for the 100-mile trip. The Calgary Herald reported that at the end of the four and an half hour race very little of the infield fence remained standing.
How do you move the steering to the center without getting all modern. Can't wrap my head around that one
The "Orange Crush" car was found partially buried in a field where it was put to rest, probably after an engine failure. Today it runs the original engine and chassis.
Very interesting Robb, thanks for posting the story and pics.
That Orange car belongs to Harry Lillo from Chestermire, which is just east of Calgary. From a derelict in a field to a racer again. With a lot of effort he got the engine it came with running, saved the bits and put them back together with the help of Rosalie. I still haven't seen it in person but will this summer. Harry is a real craftsman as you can see in his white speedster that has graced the cover of VF more than once. He has several other race cars including one with a Roof 16 valve head, also an original racer. Cool stuff, isn't it?
Robb, you should post some more pics of your car, Peter's car, etc.
Do photos exist of that early race ?
There is actually a lot of info about them, lots of photos and a few cars that were preserved, some on purpose and some in the fence rows.
One of the cars in the above video is Peter Anderson's, it is an original that was preserved by someone whose name I should know, Rasmussen I think. I believe it is on loan to Peter.
This is an interesting link to Harry Lillo and his collection. http://collectingincalgary.wix.com/collectingincalgary#!ford-model-t-collector
This book has some interesting info and pics of the Alberta days. https://books.google.com/books?id=KYL2BgAAQBAJ&pg=PA258&lpg=PA258&dq=alberta+mod el+t+racing&source=bl&ots=Dy_2yyB5P9&sig=pNmXhn4YHB8NBrx9zy0_ugn7f90&hl=en&sa=X& ved=0ahUKEwiWxPvWu8nLAhUUHGMKHaGLAqk4FBDoAQg7MAU#v=onepage&q=alberta%20model%20t %20racing&f=false
A few years ago we visited the widow of Jimmy Fraser one of the winning racers from Standard, Alberta. We had a wonderful visit and she allowed us to make copies of some of the pictures in her photo album. Jimmy and his friend Gordon Rasmussen, also from Standard. knew if they could get their cars up to 70 mph on the gravel road leading into town that the would be competitive. I will see if I have some photos of Gordon's and Jimmy's cars which both still exist.
How were racers like this usually throttled? I don't see a lever on the orange crush car but I can't find a foot feed either.
Tim, I think on the orange car, if you look at the first pic at the top of this page, it's that short silver lever with the black knob. I suspect that's the throttle. Most likely in a race you just throw the throttle wide open and forget about it after that.
Tim and Seth,
Seth you are right. The lever on the right is the throttle.
When this car was discovered it had only the low-hight pedal. There was no transmission brake at all and the emergency brake lever was connected to the cut off stub of the reverse pedal.
The new owner moved the throttle to the right rail and installed all three pedals to make the car a bit saver to drive.
Thanks Robb. That orange racer is just too cool.
As mentioned earlier in this thread, 2016, marks the 75th anniversary of the first "big" Model T race in Alberta. To celebrate the occasion our local group of "Barnyard Cruisers" / "Fairgrounds Racers" is planning a race day, June 18th, in High River, Alberta, just south of Calgary. Time trials and demonstration races will be held on the fairgrounds ˝ mile dirt track. We have a number of original Model T race cars already signed up and welcome anyone with a speedster or an original racer to come join the fun.
Here is a link to an article about the event. Click on "Issue 14 Winter 2016" and go to page 11.
In the photo, Peter Anderson in Keith Robinson's John Deere D, Barnyard Cruiser. Harry Lillo driving his trick roadster.
How will I ever get one done by June 18?? ARGGGGGGHHHHH!!! Off to the ranch to dig out a frame.
One of the guys up here put his Cruiser together in six weeks, hence the number 6 on the rad. I know you are going flat out restoring brass carbs but I "gotta" tell you it is really fun unleashing the full furry of 20 HP on a dusty track.
If I was a lot closer to you guys I'd take the challenge of putting a dirt track speedster together in time. That #6 is awesome.
Here is a shot of Keith Robinson trying out my racer at Cliff Proctor's gravel pit.
Looks like great fun to me! I like that #6 car a lot. I also like your car, Harry's car, Peter's car, etc., etc.
Robb, as you probably remember, I was all excited to build one when this first started and was going to lay out a track at my country place. Several people told me they didn't think anybody would come down here to do an "exhibition" since it is about 6 or 7 hours from Calgary so I kind of gave up on doing that and the build a cruiser got pushed back.
However, my engine I built is still setting under the bench, the frame is still leaning against the garage and my 4:1 gear set is just waiting for a rear end, I have a set of knobby 440:21's and several sets of wire wheels and hubs.......................
All I need is time and energy. June 18th.....
At the risk of sounding like I'm bragging, which I am; so I'll go ahead and post this.
In all my years of being on stage, announcing everything from the Winchester Track races at the 2008 Centennial to Horse races, Fights, Rodeos and Demo Derbys, I think my favorite line and proudest moment was in Fort McCloud at the exhibition of the Cruisers for the national tour out of Pincher Creek: "Ladies and Gentlemen, the timers tell me that the cars on the backstretch are approaching speeds of THIRTY FIVE MILES PER HOUR!!!" hahahahahahaha
35 MPH ... not that fast, but it is sure scary if you are sitting in the passenger seat coming around the final turn on a cinder high school running track.
Roy's got a grin on his face like a ripple on a slop bucket!!
How come no one has posted a photo of Don Langs new hot rod?
There was a bunch posted on one of the Chickasha threads, Larry.
When talking about racers. I come to think about a posting by David Greenlees in 2014 . Its about a young man, Clarence "Norske" Larson and his machine. I think this racer is a real beauty. I is no disadvantage that the guy has norwegian ancestors. http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/411944/448412.html