Ford Special racer in France, another hill climb

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Rob
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Ford Special racer in France, another hill climb

Post by Rob » Tue Mar 05, 2019 10:26 pm

Ford Motor Company announced a Ford Special racer was sent to France to compete in the Grand Prix in May, 1911. The racer arrived sometime by early June, and immediately went into competion, competing in one kilometer races in a warm up to the LIght Car races set for June in Balougne. The Ford won it's class in the 1 K trials, clocking 69 mph over one kilometer. Then, on the eve of the light car races (maximum 3 liter), the judges decided the racer would have to carry an additional 400 lbs. to compete, since the engine wasn't stock. The Ford France agent Henri Depasse declined, and the Ford didn't compete. French news sources had mixed views, but as one wrote, at least the Ford would be competing in the July Grand Prix. This article covers the Ford, and it's refusal to "depart" in the light car race:
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As Depasse and his mechanician, Georges Ensault, prepared and practiced on the course for the Grand Prix, disaster struck and the Depasse struck trees along the road, destroying the racer and killing Ensault less than a week before the Grand Prix start. Depasse was reported to have been driving 75 80 mph at the time of the accident:
IMG_1696.JPG
As it turns out, Depasse and the Ford Special were not finished. The racer was quickly rebuilt, and entered in the Mont Ventoux hill climb, France's premier hill climb event of the time. Competing against several professional drivers, the Ford would surprise and place 2nd among all hill climbers and 1st in it's class:
IMG_2613.PNG
Mont Ventoux is similar in distance and grade to Pikes Peak. A bit longer, and degree steeper, it was one of the two most challenging auto racing peaks in Europe according to some reports. Below the Ford is photographed approaching the summit:
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The Gaillon Hill Climb was a stark contrast to the grueling Mont Ventoux climb. Only 1 km., with a 6 to 8 percent grade, it was almost a straight sprint.
IMG_2169.JPG
Next up, "Côte de Gaillon"

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John Warren
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Re: Ford Special racer in France, another hill climb

Post by John Warren » Wed Mar 06, 2019 8:32 am

Rob, That strap under the engine? leather strap for the hood? or a safety engine mount? Love this stuff, Thanks
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Re: Ford Special racer in France, another hill climb

Post by Drkbp » Wed Mar 06, 2019 12:38 pm

I just read an article in the June 14, 1911, issue of The Horseless Age. Lanahan, Gruener and Kulick were running a hill climb at Alogonquin with what appears to be Fords of different displacements. It noted they were "special".

https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id= ... 2;size=150

Stock and free-for-all! Basically, 176.7, 289.9 and 389.9 cubic inch engines, unless the "389.9" is a typo. The 289.9 and 389.9 have the same bore/stroke, so not sure.

Seems to have occurred June 1st so may be that they ran there just before France.
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ALGOQUIN.JPG
ALGONQUIN B.JPG

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Re: Ford Special racer in France, another hill climb

Post by Rob » Wed Mar 06, 2019 3:34 pm

John, yes, the leather hood hold down strap passed around the belly of the motor. I'm not sure why, as opposed to a two piece strap with one or two buckles (that's what we plan to do).

Kenneth, I'm not sure when the largest Ford Special came out. That's the one at THF, with a V-nose radiator. The motor is so large even the radiator shell had to be widened at the right bottom for the magneto drive and the mag moved back beside the passenger because there isn't room under the small T size hood to place it.

I have one photo of a T running up Alongquin (actually two hills) in 1911 with Kulick driving. That one doesn't look like it has room for the big motor (not V-nosed). I also know as late as November 1911 Ford was calling the big racer their "new racer" in a Ford Times.
Kulick in 1911 at Alongquin:
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Kulick in 1912 with big V-Rad racer:
IMG_2634.JPG
Story and specs for the 1912 run. Ford is listed with 228 and 410 cubic inch racers:
IMG_2635.PNG
I need to run, and will get back to the Hill Climb Gaillon later. Before the Gaillon run, what I suspect is Depasse, with an incorrect name, is listed winning the hill climb portion of a 1 km run at Angers, France in late July 1911:
IMG_2612.PNG


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Re: Ford Special racer in France, another hill climb

Post by Drkbp » Wed Mar 06, 2019 5:43 pm

Looks like Ford ran just four cylinder cars at both the 1911 and 1912 Algonquin.
The "289.9" is apparently a typo in the 1911 article and they were running two four cylinder blocks of different displacement, 176.7 and 389.9 cubic inches.
They opened up both blocks for the 1912 effort at Algonquin and as your article states, "The car Kulick drove is the same car he handled in the 1911 climb".
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1912 ALGONQUIN - KULICK.JPG


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Re: Ford Special racer in France, another hill climb

Post by Howard Tomlinson » Wed Mar 06, 2019 7:47 pm

Rob,

I saw in one of the race reports that both the 300ci and 410ci engines ran 2 to 1 rear axle gearing(in that particular race). Do you have any information on the ratios used? I would think they would use different ratios between a flat track style event and a hill climb. But, with the amount of torque those big engines produced, they might have gotten away with the 2 to 1.


Just curious.


Thanks,
Howard


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Re: Ford Special racer in France, another hill climb

Post by Drkbp » Wed Mar 06, 2019 9:31 pm

I think you are correct Rob. The first 1911 Algonquin picture you posted of Kulick, he is driving one of the smaller 176 cubic inch racers which has the engine and radiator in the normal position.The second Algonquin picture is the "New Racer" with the big engine: 389.9 cubic inch (in the June 1911 climb) and 410 cubic inch (in the June 1912 climb) four cylinder racer with the Livingston radiator as pictured in the Ford Times. Two different racers.

Ford has shoved the gas tank/seat/engine back on the "big four" to where Kulick is sitting just in front of the rear axle. There is a better side view of that 1912 Algonquin racer you posted in the 1911 Ford Times and I clipped a photo taken on Manchester next to the Ford plant. Doesn't appear to be anything but a Stewart speedometer on the dash, no coil box but the picture is not the best but you can see the flat oval gas tank in the 1912 picture right behind Kulick.

The radiator just reaches the regular front cross-member and there appears to be a second cross-member in front of where the radiator mounts. By June of 1912, that four-banger has become 410 cubic inches and you can bet that was a noisy one with those four exhaust ports out the hood like that.
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NEW RACER-FORD TIMES 2.JPG


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Re: Ford Special racer in France, another hill climb

Post by Billdizer,Spencer In » Wed Mar 06, 2019 10:13 pm

Rob, in the wreck photo, there appears to be some form of shock absorbers clamped to the center of each axle tube, with a bar or rod going not to the frame but to the rear spring? I don't see them in any other photos that have been posted here. I am viewing this on an iPad so I can't enlarge them much, and still see details. All very interesting, and thanks for posting!

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Re: Ford Special racer in France, another hill climb

Post by Rob » Thu Mar 07, 2019 7:26 am

Howard, i thought that might be a typo too (2:1 diff ratio). However, it's the only racer among the group listed that way, with both Fords (228 cu. in. and 410 c.i.) showing 2;1. I do suspect, since there are drawings and photos of Ford Special racers with both wood and wire wheels, and the drawings indicating a 32x4 tire, that changing wheels between wood and wire would gear up the racer a bit more.

Kenneth, the 410 cu. in. racer is quite different from the earlier versions, with an extended frame, dropped axles and other features. The drawings at THF show different gas tank mountings to accommodate the lowered rear axle (actually the rear portion of the frame is curved up, then rearward just ahead of the rear spring).

There are drawings for several different bore motors, with one head gasket that would only make about a 160 cubic inch motor, unless a longer stroke was used on that particular motor (that's what I suspect). There seem to be documentation in various places of motors of 180 cubic inches (the French racer), 200 cubic inches, 228, 28?, 300, and the 410 that I can find. The problem is, other than drawings at Benson Library, how accurate are the news and article reports?

Bill, Mark Herdman sent me a copy of the wreck photo, and mentioned the shock absorbers too (Mark is the reason I first looked into the French racer, as before I assumed the Ford entry in the 1911 and 12 Grand Prix were stock Model T). I wish we had a better photo of the shocks. I suspect i"ll wish to find some type of period correct shocks for our racer, because with the short wheelbase and 3:1 gears we should be able to run in normal traffic well, and bumps and pot holes will play hell with a short wheelbase.

I'll try to get back to the last big hill climb of 1911 in France, "Course de Côte de Gaillon."

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Re: Ford Special racer in France, another hill climb

Post by Rob » Thu Mar 07, 2019 11:16 am

Back to the last significant hill climb of the season (1911) in France. Held October 1, 42 cars made the event. Below is a translated description of the event:
IMG_2604.PNG
The article tells us that unlike Mont Ventoux, which the Ford Special took second place over all on a winding 13 mile course, Gaillon is a 1,000 meter straight line uphill race. The overall winner, Gaste in a six cylinder Roussel, was 3rd at Mt. Ventoux, behind the 2nd place Ford.

The Results. The Ford Special placed 13th out of 43 cars, and in the middle of the "Free Formula" class:
IMG_2645.PNG
Photos and times of some of the participants.

The overall winner:
IMG_2589.PNG
Depasse, driving the Ford Special:
IMG_2640.PNG
Another pic from a French publication of the Ford:
IMG_2646.PNG
Last edited by Rob on Thu Mar 07, 2019 11:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Ford Special racer in France, another hill climb

Post by Rob » Thu Mar 07, 2019 11:20 am

A few more:
Attachments
IMG_2571.PNG
IMG_2644.PNG
IMG_2639.PNG
IMG_2638.PNG
IMG_2637.PNG

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Re: Ford Special racer in France, another hill climb

Post by Kaiser » Fri Mar 08, 2019 6:56 am

Great photo's !
When in trouble, do not fear, blame the second engineer ! 8-)
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Re: Ford Special racer in France, another hill climb

Post by DHort » Fri Mar 08, 2019 12:39 pm

If you read the Horseless Age article posted above by Ken Parker you will notice that Joe Jagersberger was in evidence at the races as well, driving a Case automobile. He took first in one of the races. Apparently there was a midwest circuit of Algonquin, Hawthorne Downs, Kenosha, and then Milwaukee at the time. Maybe Keith in Kenosha can see if he can find anything in the Kenosha News.


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Re: Ford Special racer in France, another hill climb

Post by Drkbp » Fri Mar 08, 2019 2:52 pm

David,

I believe you are correct. Ford had a stable full of these cars and ran them in the "Hill Climb" and "Track Meet" type events in the classes where the Ford's fit. "Hill Climbs", "Reliability Runs", "Track Meets" and "Road Races" were apparently the attention getting events of the day and the manufacturers used the results in their advertising.

Kulick raced a "Hill Climb"at Algonquin on June 8th (1911) with two other Ford drivers, then a "Track Meet" at Hawthorne Downs on the 10th and Smith raced a Ford at a "Hill Climb" at Shingle Hill, West Haven, Conn., on June 10th as well. It's not likely Kulick would drive a "hill climb car" at the Hawthorne Downs (one-mile horse race track) in a five mile "track meet" race so we probably have at least six Ford cars entered in three races those couple of days.
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Re: Ford Special racer in France, another hill climb

Post by Rob » Fri Mar 08, 2019 5:29 pm

Ford had at least two racers ready to go some of the time. For the first race of the 1911 season, Ford sent two new racers to New Orleans in late February for the Mardi Gras Carnival of Speed. Frank Kulick drove both, one entered in the 230-300 cubic inch as well as unlimited class races, and one in teh under 230 inch class. ( going off memory, it may have been 160-200 class).

Another thing to consider, often times locals ran their Fords in these events too, usually in stock classes. One way to tell if it was a FMC racer was if it was in a non-stock category. This is an example I'm working on right now, a 500 meter sprint in France. The Ford Special, even though it's a sub- 3 liter motor (après.180 cubic inch), it smokes another Ford entry, and in fact beats everyone except a 100 hp Rossel racer. Hemery, a famous French driver who raced at Ormond and other places in the U.S., is a victim to this Ford Special. He's driving a 183 cu. inch Gregoir racer. His racers specs come out to 2.96 liters, to stay under the 3 liter class limit of the upcoming light car Grand Prix (the Ford will be denied entry to, because it's too light). The stock Ford is no where near as fast, even though the displacement is almost the same:
IMG_2690.PNG
Hemery and the Gregoire are in a much lower class, because the French were using bore only to determine class, so many race car builders went to a long stroke small bore engine to get more displacement in lower classes. The Gregoir had an 80 x 149 bore/stroke.


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Re: Ford Special racer in France, another hill climb

Post by Drkbp » Fri Mar 08, 2019 10:21 pm

The Henry Ford/Frank Kulick factory "T racing" lasted about three years as laid out in "The Cars That Henry Ford Built". Seems to also tie into what you are saying about Mardi Gras above Rob, but no mention of France or Spain.

The point of all this seems to have been that Henry Ford wanted to enter the Indy 500 of 1913!
The "Super T" 410 cubic inch aluminum block car would have fit nicely except for the minimum weight. You can see at 103 to 107 mph he definitely had the speed. Kulick had also beaten Burman in the Benz with that "Super T".

When told he would have to add 1,000 pounds to the car to enter the Super T in the 1913 Indy 500, Ford was said to have commented "we're building race cars, not trucks". That seems to have been the end of it.
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"The Cars That Henry Ford Built", page 47
"The Cars That Henry Ford Built", page 47
Not a thousand pounds but at least 800!
Not a thousand pounds but at least 800!

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Re: Ford Special racer in France, another hill climb

Post by Rob » Sat Mar 09, 2019 10:25 am

Kenneth, I've searched exhaustively for corroboration of the "we're not building trucks" and denied entry to the Indy 500. I think just like the "five teets" comment, it didn't happen. Of course I may be wrong, but press reports of the day just didn't carry it, and newspapers carried most things Ford related. There was one incident where Ford was denied entry because it was too light, but that was to the Elgin road race in 1910. That and the incident in France in 1911, in which almost the same thing happened, with the Ford Special being denied a start just prior to the race, due to it not being strictly stock, and being underweight. When reading the article below, two Fords, stripped down, were entered. Kulick's racer was 75 lbs. lighter than the other Ford. My suspicion is that Kulick may have been driving one of the small Ford Specials, which may account for the lighter weight:

Indianapolis (Elgin) road race:
IMG_2700.JPG

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