If you think the title is long, wait until this thread finishes......
Originally I intended to write about two of the drivers in this race, however I think some background information about the race, it's implications, and how history reacted is necessary first.
Rob "of many words"
A few of you "enablers" are keeping me posting on that Ford "Ugly Duckling," the Ford Six, aka Model K. Of course don't forget, in the original story, that poor little duck turned out to be a swan.
If I am ever able to put a book together, a significant chapter will cover the world record set by the Model K in June 1907. If I were to write two books, the second would cover this race exclusively. Regardless, as long as the archives of this site are available, my thoughts, and forum participants thoughts will be preserved.
Like any good storyteller, I'll start in the middle. I'm also going to take a few swipes at how history has recorded these events. First, I'll post an excerpt from what I consider a fine book, by a fine author, "The Cars That Henry Ford Built" by the late Beverly Rae Kimes, Princeton Publishing Inc., Princeton N.J. However, I'll take exception to a few of the books conclusions.
In her book, on page 37 the author mentions the June, 1907 race. A portion of the text:
"The Cars That Henry Ford Built"
by Beverly Rae Kimes
Princeton Publishing Inc., Princeton N.J.
"The Cars That Henry Ford Built"
by Beverly Rae Kimes
Princeton Publishing Inc., Princeton N.J.
"Better news followed the next year when Kulick, with Bert Lorimer, won a twenty-four hour marathon at the Detroit Fairgrounds.
It was a remarkable achievement for both car and its drivers, especially Lorimer. He was entirely new to this game. As The Motor World pointed out. "Before the race he was a tester at the Ford works; after the twenty four hour grind he was a famous track driver." Lorimer had never raced before, indeed had never even been taken out to the fair grounds track; apparently he was pressed into service because no one else was available. His enthusiasm got the better of him—"Lorimer was always ready for a brush and took more chances on the turns than the old circuit chasers." The Motor World commented—and Henry was for a while, beside himself with concern. He didn't trust the car. He had counseled Kulick. who started the event, to keep to a schedule of forty miles each for the first two hours. which Kulick observed to the letter, then increase the pace by five miles or so for the next two hours. which Kulick also did masterfully. At that point the K racer was lying third, and Lorimer took over. As Motor Age described it. "This was shortly before 3 o'clock in the morning and the small crowd which remained all night at the grounds was treated to some of the most daring driving ever seen on a mile track. Lorimer opened the Ford clear up on the long straights and speedily became a factor in the race. He look the curves high up on the banks and repeatedly negotiated miles in the even minute. Through the uncertain light of the gas lamps the car shot like a meteor, its exhaust an uninterrupted flaming roar." When Kulick got back in the car, all restrictions were off. And the results" were spectacular. At race conclusion, the Model K had the world's record for twenty-four hours at 1135 miles and the very substantial margin of 309 miles over the old mark. The previous racetrack record for a day's racing had been 33.0 mph. The Model K now had it at 47.2 mph. Track records for intermediate distances and shorter times were smashed as well. As The Automobile said. "the six-cylindcr Ford carried off all the honors."
But Henry was only mildly impressed—sufficiently so to take promotional advantage of the victory, but in a rather backhanded way. He offered to sell the winning car at the K's list price and "keep it in repair gratis for two years." Doubtless he didn't particularly want to have it around."
This representation of "The Race," and it's ramifications for Ford Motor Company," follows a common historical theme. The last sentence implies that Henry Ford "was only mildly impressed," and continues by saying the winning Model K was offered for sale with two year guarantee, and that this was "a rather backhanded way" (by Ford) of disposing of a car that Henry Ford "didn't particularily want to have it around."
Talk about "literary license." Now for "the rest of the story," according to me......
24 hour races were first held in the U.S. in 1905 (that I'm aware of). There were 10 sanctioned 24 hour events held in 1907, with Detroit's race scheduled for the longest day of the year, June 21-22. Sanctioned 24 hour races were held in two ways, with one, or two cars allowed per entry. The reasoning behind the two car method was to always have racers on the track, keeping the crowds engaged, as opposed to one car events, when there might be few cars racing at times if pit stops and repairs were required by several competitors simultaneously.
As it turns out, in 1907, four 24 hour races were "two car" per team, and six were "one car" events. Meanwhile, Detroit was scheduled for a 24 hour event a year earlier in 1906. Many well known drivers were scheduled including Barney Oldfield and Bob Burman. Ford was not included on the list:
Most of the cars and drivers, including Oldfield, raced in Detroit, but for an unknown reason, the 24 hour event wasn't held, only shorter races.
Next, the lead up and publicity before the 1907 Detroit 24 hour race.
Rob, We can hardly wait for he next part........
Keep it going, Rob. I'm looking forward to the next installment.
BTW I think you should really consider a book.
The first 24 Hour "grind" (as newspapers referred to the contests) of 1907 was held May 24-25 at Morris Track, Philadelphia. Ten cars started the race. Autocar won with 791 miles, followed by Frayer-Miller, Dragon and Mitchell:
Autocar, the winner, made good use of the win through advertising:
Even automakers who failed to win, but performed well used the publicity to their benefit:
Next, the build up to the Detroit race.
Rob. I love your enthusiasm for your K. Keep it coming. This post is timely for me, as I just got back from the 24 hours of LeMans where Ford GT's took 1st, 3rd, and 4th.
Sounds like quite a trip! And a great performance by Ford....
Now, to set the stage for the Detroit 24 hour event. "Conventional" Ford historians often relegate the Ford 24 Hour victory and world record to a less than significant event. Some have written that since two cars were used, the record is not relevant. Other's imply that it was a "local" (Detroit) event, not significant to the racing scene of the time. Others avoid mention of the record completely.
First, as reported below, 24 hour races on one mile circular tracks were the most popular racing events in the U.S. during 1907. This excerpt from the 1907 Chicago Almanac reports that 24 Hour Races were "the most prominent of all racing events held during the year (1907)." The excerpt also mentions that the 1907 Vanderbilt Cup race was not held that year:
To further establish the importance of the Detroit 24 Hour Race, this Boston Globe article printed following the race, reports "This contest drew the largest attendance.....ever witnessed at an automobile track meet:"
So, the stage is set. Detroit was about to host the largest auto race ever attended, and as we now know, Ford will set a world record pace.
Next, the competitors, drivers and cars.
Love the story, and the suspense! Keep it coming, Rob.
Noel, thank you.....
The first local notice of the Detroit 24 hour race I've found is this article dated June 9th, 1907 in the Detroit Free Press. The article confirms that Detroit has been chosen as one of the major cities to host a 24 hour meet, on June 21st and 22nd. Lights will be brought in, and as with other 24 hour events, shorter races are planned prior to the main event.
I'll follow with primarily Detroit news accounts as the city and car makers prepare for the race. To help us understand the scope of this undertaking, the following article describes the manpower required by Dragon racers in the first race in Philadelphia. 25 factory men were on hand to provide pit work and a description of the time required to change a front axle and tires is reported:
Leading up to THE RACE:
On June 13, "The Detroit Press" reports drivers Eddie "Cannonball" Bald, Ralph Mongini and John Haynes will drive in the race. Mongini will win a future 24 hour race. Eddie Bald will be named 1907 Racing Driver of the year in a 1950's survey.
The following day, Sept. 14th, the Detroit paper reports another entry, former nationally known prizefighter "Kid" McCoy. More information about the race and lighting system are given too:
The following article, appearing two days later, again mentions McCoy, Bald and Mongini. Additionally, C.A. Coey, well known Thomas Flyer agent and driver from Chicago is now listed as a starter:
Things are heating up, and nationally and internationally known drivers and auromakers are entering the race.
Still nothing from Ford.......
Waiting for more...............
Robert, just getting back to it.
Finally, with the race only a few days away, the cars and drivers begin to show. This June 18th article reports Bald and Mongini arrived in Detroit yesterday. The article mentions that Bald was a champion bicycle rider prior to driving race cars, as were many early drivers. Mongini is mentioned as "best known foreign driver." Charles Coey of Chicago is also discussed:
On the 19th, only two days before the race, another well known driver enters his name. Herb Lylte, "perhaps the most experienced driver in America" is set to drive a Pope Toledo.
Ford Motor Co. is finally entered, with two cars, to be driven by Harry Cunnungham and Charles Grant. Cunningham once drove against Barney Oldfield and Tom Cooper, piloting Henry Ford creations 999 and Arrow when Cooper, Oldfield and Cunningham barnstormed the country. The two Ford's entered are Model N.
Still no mention of Frank Kulick or the Ford "six."
On June 20th, the day before the races begin, the "Detroit Free Press" has numerous articles regarding the race. Nationally known drivers and personalities such as McCoy, Lyltle and Mongini have been extensively covered.
This article covers the fact McCoy has arrived in town, along with other race information. Toward the bottom, a minor mention that Frank Kulick will drive a Ford in the race:
On the same page, a story about the annual Ford Branch Managers meeting in Detroit at the same time. Those attending the Ford meeting are encouraging Henry Ford to enter four cars:
Does Henry Ford have something up his sleeve?
Meanwhile, the headliners receive the publicity in the advertisement for the race. No mention of Frank Kulick or Ford......
Rob this does grab your attention, waiting for your next update is almost like waiting for the next morning or afternoon paper. I can imagine the talk of this race at the local pub in Detroit. I wonder if wired or telegraphed messages were leaked before printed..........
"Kid Heyen" arrives at the race track to take on "Leno the lion" in a 24 hour race just like the old days!...OK Rob, lets get Jay Leno, you and anyone else willing to restage some of these races with their old cars just like the old days. I'm willing to help out how ever I can.
Interesting Idea isn't it!
I love the posts keep them coming.
The Ford flathead six introduced in 1941 and the OHV six introduced in 1952 were excellent engines. The flathead V8 of 1952-1953 outsold the six but the six was clearly the better engine.
Robert, we do have one example of a telegram sent to a adn er dealer during the race. I'll post it at the appropriate time (if I remember). I know there were phone lines to the State Fair track, so I suspect newspapers were kept aware of race results as they occured.
Another thing concerning newspapers. Papers were the only media of the time. No TV, radio, Internet, or other way to gain information. Newspapers printed special editions whenever warranted, and I would guess race results went out frequently. The final results of this race were printed in Australian and English newspapers, and who knows where else.
Denny, I would really like to see Jay Leno bring his Stanley racer to New London MN. If the other participants would be able to get over the star power, I bet he would have a great time....
OK, it's race day, June 21, 1907. Expectations run high with a good track, lights in place and everything ready. The shorter races are set to begin at 8:00 p.m., with the 24 hour main event set for 10:00 p.m. on the longest day of the year:
The second portion of the article mentions the drivers and cars expected to start the 24 hour "grind." The cars that will run are a Thomas 60 hp, Pope Toledo 50 hp, American (Underslung) 40 hp, Stevens-Duryea 27 hp, Buick 24 hp, Wayne 30 hp, two Ford 15 hp, and the 40 hp Ford six. All of the automakers will use two cars, except Stevens-Duryea, with one car.
Next: Henry Ford's plan.
Mongini's can only hope his car breaks........I can't imagine anyone being able to make it 24 hours on a dirt track in a 1907 racer....thats one tough driver.........
The race begins........
The following article, in two parts, gives details about the beginning of the race, and how competition went during the first two hours, 10:00 p.m. Friday night though 12:00 a.m. Saturday morning. We learn that the pre-24 hour races were called off, due to a wet track, and the inadequacy of the lighting system. It would appear to be a less than ideal conditions.
During warmups for the 24 hour race, the Pope-Toledo 60 h.p. racer (this was a new racer just out from the factory) went through the fence and put out of action. As mentioned earlier, Pope's star driver Lytle brought four cars with him.
Part 2 of the article:
Referencing the book quote at the beginning of this thread, a current "theme" of Ford historians is that Henry Ford offered the Model K running in the race for sale immediately following for list price as a "backhanded" way of showing his displeasure for the model (below):
The Cars That Henry Ford Built, page 37
by Beverly Rae Kimes
Princeton Publishing Inc., Princeton N.J.
"but Henry was only mildly impressed—sufficiently so to take promotional advantage of the victory, but in a rather backhanded way. He offered to sell the winning car at the K's list price and "keep it in repair gratis for two years." Doubtless he didn't particularly want to have it around."
This representation of "The Race," and it's ramifications for Ford Motor Company," follows a common historical theme. The last sentence implies that Henry Ford "was only mildly impressed," and continues by saying the winning Model K was offered for sale with two year guarantee, and that this was "a rather backhanded way" (by Ford) of disposing of a car that Henry Ford "didn't particularily want to have around."
The following portion of the article appears to puts these "myths" to rest:
Above we learn that Coey in the 60 h.p. Thomas Flyer (same model used for the 1908 N.Y. to Paris Race) led at the end of the first lap, with Lytle in the Pope-Toledo and Eddie Bald in the American Underslung immediately behind.
Then, the next highlighted portion reads "The three Ford entries drove according to a prearranged schedule to which they adhered regardless fo the performances of their competitors."
The Ford team had their marching orders, and were sticking to the plan.......
Just as importantly, the article goes on to report "It has been announced that the Ford cars competing will be sold to the first comer immediately after the contest, this applying to the big "six" as well as the runabouts."
Why is this important?
Henry Ford wasn't selling just the Model K at list, as a "backhanded" way of showing his displeasure for the model. Ford was offering all Ford cars competing for sale at list price, to demonstrate that they weren't special racing cars, but off the shelf stock models............... End of story!
This is a prime example of how a "positive" (Ford demonstrating in good faith that the cars were stock) evolved into a "negative," that Ford was trying to somehow discard of the Model K following the race.
The article goes on to give the places of the cars following the second hour (midnight). Lytle in the Pope had travelled 94 miles, Bald in the American 86 and Coey in the Thomas 84 miles.
This is the report seen by Detroiters in the newspaper Saturday morning. Meanwhile, twenty-two more hours of racing to go..............
Backhanded? Schmackhanded. Offering to provide 100% warranty "gratis" for two years for the K AFTER the race?
That man had complete faith in that Ford.
Did it bother Henry that the K was involved in some wrecks/deaths due to speed?
Lookin' for more. This is cool. :-)
Shoot, I forget. The board of directors......... ?
Back to the race......
The next morning, Saturday, June 22, the first edition of the Detroit Free Press also carried a 1:00 a.m. update.
At the end of the third hour, Lytle had travelled 141 miles , Bald and McCoy 130 miles. Kulick in the Ford "Six" had moved ahead of Coey in the Thomas, 128 miles to 126. Wayne was close behind at 123. Buick and one of the Ford runabouts were above the century mark. Still anyone's race:
The Ford's are coming on. A question I had was, why did the local press overlook Ford? It appears Frank Kulick and Ford were an afterthought, instead of contender.
One thing to consider, the Ford runabouts were the lowest horsepower (15 h.p.) cars to enter any 24 hour contests in 1907. The next lowest I've found were two 20 h.p. Jacksons. As for the Model K, it had been completely revamped for 1907. The 1906 K had a six inch shorter wheelbase, decidedly weaker frame and suspension, and 20% less horsepower.
Meanwhile, Ford Motor Company had not participated in stock contests in 1906 and the first part of 1907. Henry Ford and the factory were busy trying to ramp up production of Models K, N and R, and I doubt had time to participate in speed and endurance contests.
On the other hand, Thomas and Pope-Hartford had full time racing teams, with cars and racers dedicated to competing.
One "ace in the hole" Ford had, that may have gone unnoticed. Ford Motor Co. purchases the Highland Park Property in early 1907. Included with the property, a one mile circular track where races had been held in the past. The following article explains how Ford made use of the track, and why Henry Ford may have had more confidence in his Model K and runabouts than anyone else:
Ford Mo.Co. had been racing their cars every weekend since April. They had a pool of drivers (testers) who were well versed in one mile circular track racing with Fords:
Next, one of the well known car and drivers fall out of the race.
Thanks Duey. I was typing and didn't see your post....
I'm not sure regarding the deaths. I suspect all the high powered cars had similar problems. Like the Civil War, when technology outpaced medicine (high powered weapons outpaced medical advances), I think motor and speed capability outpaced safety equipment (brakes, suspensions) and road conditions.
By morning, reports begin to appear in newspapers nationwide. This article ran in the Indianapolis Sun. After sunrise, the race leaders are Lyltle driving the Pope-Toledo and Kulick with the Ford "Six." The writer speculates the Pope is poised to win, and will set a new record and exceed 1,000 miles:
Bald and McCoy, driving the 40 h.p. American Underslung, have fallen out of the race.
Interesting that Ford had his own track and used it for showcasing and testing his own cars. The public interest on Saturday mornings, would be similar to the NASCAR experience of the 1960's.......
I wish we knew more about the Saturday races at Highland Park. According to the piece above, tester/driver scores were kept, and it must have been an interesting site. Maybe sometime more information will surface. Maybe the photo above of two K running at Highland track were taken at one of these races, as the cars appear to be running close together, at speed. I wouldn't think testers would run the cars that close during routine weekday testing.
One of the telegrams you brought up earlier, appeared in a Denver newspaper Saturday. A.T. Wilson, a Ford dealer who had driven Model K in Colorado races, furnished the following info on the race that was telegraphed from Detroit.
According to the telegrams referenced, the "Ford entry had averaged forty-eight miles an hour" at the end of the tenth hour of the race. "At the end of the fourteenth hour this same machine had coverred 684 miles, and was ahead of all competitors. The Ford "Six" had taken the lead:
A few photos of the top three competitors.
Kulick and the Ford six:
Lytle and the Pope-Toledo:
Coey driving Thomas Flyer:
next, The Wreck
(Message edited by rob on July 14, 2016)
This photo became well known across the country, printed with news stories about the race, and used by Ford in advertising through the summer. It shows the Ford leading, with the Pope and Thomas following closely behind:
In the early afternoon, as the Ford and Pope were slugging it out for first place, Lytle, following closely behind the Ford, lost control, crashing through the fence. Lytle quickly secured the second Pope and continued the race:
In conjunction with the 24 Hour Race, the Detroit Auto Club held a reliability run on the same weekend. Interestingly, a former "Ford man" participated in the run. While Henry Ford was setting a world record with the Ford "Six," Alexander Malcomson was unable to gain a perfect score on the reliability run with his Aerocar:
In Henry's early days of racing, winning put your name on the front page with the result directly influencing investors. By 1907 the supply of cars made the result of winning more about reliability and reputation. The action on Saturday at the Highland track must have sold a lot of Fords in Detroit.
May be the best thread yet!Tune in tomorrow!Same Bat time, same Bat channel!
There were a few articles about the New York and Chicago branch managers having increased sales due to the race. I'll try to post them tomorrow.
Finishing the race. Below is the official score card. Ford published the race results in a brochure that told the story of the race. The Ford publication is surprisingly similar to the press accounts we've just read.
The race results, by hour, with Ford Motor Co. comments added:
The Detroit Free Press carried a lengthy description, along with this photo showing the two Ford runabouts and drivers. The race card was included, all in the Sunday paper on the 23rd of June:
Detroit Free Press article:
I haven't found another world record by a stock or production Ford through the 1950's. There may be some, but not that I' aware of.
The Ford record would hold for three months almost to the day, when a Locomobile team (two cars and drivers) beat the Ford 24 hour record by eleven miles. Of ten sanctioned24 hour races held in 1907, only the Locomobile would eclipse the number of miles made by the Ford.
Tomorrow I'll add a few articles from around the country about the race, and the list of cars that competed in 24 hour races in 1907.
Incredible stuff! Thank you Rob!
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Wow , I love the picture of the two runabouts and the headlines....that two little Fords went 24 hours...The K is the crown jewel and wins overall....
Finishing this out.....
Ford suppliers were quick to use advertising to promote the victory:
Holley Bros. supplied the magneto, developed by Ed Huff, patent assigned to Henry Ford. The Holley Foundation still refers to this vocrtory on their website as an important point in Holley history:
National news and journals also ran articles about the Ford win:
This completes the articles and photos I have saved for this thread. It also sets the stage for stories about two of the drivers in the race. One will continue as a nationally known racing career, while the other will leave racing and join For for a time selling cars.
Regarding Ford's offer to sell the cars at list price, this New York Sun story says one of the "sixes" that ran in the race will be in New York at the Ford Branch, offered at list price:
A very good thread indeed!
Thank you Rob.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Thank you Wayne.
One more thing, this spreadsheet lists the cars that competed in sanctioned 24 hour races in the United States in 1907. I believe this puts the Ford win in perspective when comparing the number of races some makes of cars entered, versus number of wins. For Ford, one race, one win:
ALL this work you put into things like this... Folly? Umm, no.
My gut has had room for the little N and the big K since I was a boy. Dunno how/why. A book LATER solidified my own notions (Wheels And Pistons)...
MOST of us (me included) thought that stock car racing started much later (think moonshine haulers).
In 1907!! "a six cylinder Ford STOCK car"... Hah! Cool.
Thank you so much for your research. True. :-)