Originally posted by john glenn printz
...For its 1919 renewal the Elgin classic had 15 entries and 13 actual starters. Cliff Durant, in his 1915 Stutz, and trying very hard to equal and emulate his earlier March 15, 1919 win at Santa Monica, flipped over three times on the very first lap! Durant had been hit by a stone thrown up by a tire, when trying to overtake another car and the rock had temporary stunned him. The Stutz knocked down three telegraph poles in its plunge and landed upside down, but neither Durant nor his mechanican, Fred Comer (1893-1928), were seriously injured...
My sincerest applause goes to Mr. John Glenn Printz as the protagonist of this fascinating thread, one of the most worthwhile left at TNF. I follow with great interest and admiration from the back rows of the arena. Best holiday wishes from the Mid-Pacific where Santa Claus visits on a large surf board pulled over the vast ocean by a group of dolphins.
In reference to post 141 about the 1919 Elgin race, I can provide additional information about the "Elgin Classic" (Cobe Trophy) on Saturday, August 23, 1919. The information below was gathered in 1999 from microfilm in the Gail Borden Public Library of Elgin. Helpful advise came thanks to E. C. (Mike) Alft, former Mayor of Elgin, one of the founders and a past President of the Elgin Area Historical Society, former teacher at the Elgin High School and Community College, author of several books, a walking encyclopedia indeed.
The 1919 race went over 36 laps, counter-clockwise around the old unchanged 8.384 mile dirt circuit, a total of 301.824 miles. The cars had to conform to the 300 ci formula and comprised the following 15 entries by number/driver/car/color/mechanician/entrant:
1 --- Cliff Durant (Chevrolet, gray), mechanician L.G. Comer, entrant R. Cliff Durant
2 --- Percy Ford (Haynes), mechanician Ralph Brownell, entrant Exide Battery Company
3 --- Paul Harvey (Peugeot, black), mechanician Harry McGrath, entrant Exide Battery Company
4 --- Ira Vail (Philbrin Spl., gray), mechanician E.W. Olson, entrant Exide Battery Company
5 --- Ed Schillo (Mercer, yellow), mecanician C.E. DeBolt
6 --- Joe Thomas (Mercer, yellow), mechanician John Harloe
7 --- Arthur Morris (Hudson), mechanician E.G. Whalen
8 --- Roscoe Sarles (Roamer Spl., black), mech. Louis Nelson or Wilson, entrant Roscoe Sarles
9 --- Tommy Milton (Duesenberg, brown), mech. Jimmy Murphy), entrant Duesenberg Brothers
10 – Ralph Mulford (Duesenberg, brown), mech. L.J. Eastman, entrant Duesenberg Brothers
12 – Kurt Hitke (Roamer Spl., white), mech. Harold Dachsteiner, entrant C.Y. Kenworthy
26 – Tom Alley (Bender Spl., red), mechanician Raymond Curley, entrant Tom Alley
28 – Waldo Stein (Oldfield Spl., gold) mech. Joe Chessman, entrant Barney Oldfield
29 – Art Klein (Peugeot, black), mechanician James McAllister
35 – Al Cotey (Ogren, black), mechanician W.G. Richardson, entrant W.B. Baker
The entry list was closed on Saturday, August 16 at midnight, with Wilbur D’Alene still a probable entry, mailed in at the eleventh hour and would be allowed to start. Possibly another entry was expected through the mail: Joe Lewis (Mercer), entrant Ed W. Schillo.
Previous course record was established by Ralph DePalma in 6m15s.
Time trials for practice were on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM; the race on Saturday.
Fastest practice lap was established by Ira Vail in 6m15s.
Tommy Milton 6m16s
Kurt Hitke 6m17s
Ralph Mulford 6m21s
Tom Alley 6m22s
Waldo Stein 6m23s
Joe Thomas 6m27s
Cliff Durant 6m36s
Art Klein 6m46s
Paul Harvey 7m28s
Ed Schillo 7m37s
Roscoe Sarles 8m31s
Earl Nofits and Roy Landwehr, both of nearbyBarrington, made a lap in 9m20s in their Ford but race officials were undecided to place this car in the race.
Cliff Durant, California millionaire, expressed dissatisfaction with the conditions of the track, saying "It is a harder course to travel than the Santa Monica track and will require greater skill." Other drivers, however, expressed their satisfaction with the Elgin track.Purse:
First prize: $4.000
Fifth: $400Tacks scattered over the course found in time.
"In the belief that some fanatic responsible for a series of circumstances, which harried drivers and officials at the races late Friday and early Saturday, special police were placed out on the course in civilian clothes to block any attempts to interfere with the races while in progress.
The climax came at 9:00 o’clock Saturday morning when scores of tacks were found scattered over the course near the Country Club. Spectators, who made the discovery, reported the incident to officials immediately and the track was cleared within a few minutes.
If the tacks had not been discovered before the race started, it is probable that the tires of every racing car would have been cut to pieces.
The scattering of the tacks is believed to be the work of the man who Friday night slashed the tire of Ralph Mulford’s Duesenberg car [the favorite of the race].
Two days after the race, on Monday, the racing association announced that it would give $500 for information that will lead to the arrest of parties responsible for scattering tacks on the course last Friday night.
"We have heard more complaints about punctured tires than anything else” declared John A. Logan Sr. "More than half the tire changes made by the pilots at the pits were due to punctures from tacks."
It was explained that methods of combating the tack nuicance, an almost annual occurance, will be taken next year. Plans are being made to drag the entire course with a 3,000 pound magnet.
Attendance: 20,000 to 25,000, also quoted were 50,000.
Race start was Saturday at 12:00 Noon over 36 laps.
Starter: Fred J. Wagner; “Mayor Frank B. Wood was giving the boys the red flag.”
Friday afternoon meeting was held for drivers and mechanicians. "Pilots would draw for places [at the start]."Starting order
of the 13 racecars, in groups of four, in 20 seconds intervals, as follows:
Group 1 --- Mulford – Klein – Schillo – [Ford did not start]
Group 2 --- Alley – Sarles – Vail – Stein –
Group 3 --- Thomas – Durant – Milton – Cotey –
Group 4 --- Hitke – Harvey – [Art Morris did not start]
Because Art Morris (Hudson Spl.) entered by E.J. Whalen and Percy Ford (Haynes) did not get their cars ready in time for the race, they were unable to start.
Mulford went into the lead, going at a merciless speed.
"Cliff Durant, millionaire race driver, and F.G. Comer, his mechanician, had a narrow escape from death when his car rammed through a fence and turned over three times. He was rushed to Sherman Hospital, where his hurts were quickly dressed and his injuries were not believed to be dangerous.
"Cliff Durant turned over three times on the back stretch, smashed four telephone poles, and was bruised and cut about the face on his first lap around the course. The accident occurred on the road adjoining the George Patchen farm on the north leg.
"Durant attempted to pass another car at station No. four, the “camel back” hill, when the first car threw a stone from its tire, striking Durant in the face. Durant lost control of his machine and jumped the track.
"When the car finally stopped, the Chevrolet pilot and his mechanician, Fred Comer, were surrounded by an entanglement of barbed wire. Neither of the men were seriously injured and appeared in the grand stand shortly after the accident.
"Durant’s car turned over about half a mile west of the spot where Spencer Wishart was killed in 1914. His car tore through the fence and broke the telephone poles for a distance of sixty feet. His escape from serious injury is considered remarkable." [Source = The Elgin Daily Courier, August 23, 1919]
[A paradox statement followed two days later.] "Details of the accident in which Cliff Durant, Chevrolet driver, was injured, were learned yesterday. Traveling at a 100 mile an hour rate, Durant failed to slow down as he pounded his mount over the "Airplane Hill", one of the steepest on the course. When the machine crossed the brow of the hill, the entire four wheels were in the air. Durant lost control of the car and it left the road, smashing into the fence. It did not hit the telephone poles. "Airplane Hill" is almost in front of the buildings of the Huber farm, east of hairpin turn.
"Durant was not badly hurt and left the hospital Saturday night, returning to Chicago." [The Elgin Daily Courier, August 25, 1919]
"Of the 13 starters, three had dropped out before the race was half over. Durant was compelled to quit when his car turned over [see above], Cotey broke a connecting rod and Joe Thomas was compelled to quit when a bearing burned out.
Mulford had finished his 20th lap when Ira Vail pulled up to the pit of his 16th. Vail was in bad physical condition and was replaced by Ernie Langshan. Barney Oldfield came down out of a box and revived Vail by giving him a drink.
"Timers apparently had a serious run-in regarding the position of the three leaders. Announcements, lap by lap, up to the 22nd, gave Mulford as the leader. Then, when Mulford drew up at the pit for engine repairs, timers said he really had not been leading for a number of laps, owing to his start of several minutes ahead of Klein and Milton, his two close competitors.
The time given out by the officials at the end of the twenty-second lap was: Milton 2:27:15, Mulford 2:24:53 and Klein 2:25:17. Sarles, Hitke and Langshan [in Ira Vail’s car] were runners up in order.
"Through the 25th 26th and 27th laps Klein and Milton were neck and neck, with Milton leading by a scant margin of three seconds. When Milton stopped at a pit, he lost a half lap and continued to drop further behind.
With Klein burning out a bearing, while leading the field in the thirtieth lap, Tom Milton in a Duesenberg forged to the front again and barring accident was conceded the race.
"It was not until late Saturday night that judges and timers definitely decided the winners of the first five places. Vail, whose car was turned over to Mulford [sic] was given fourth place, with Harvey fifth. The winners, their time and cash prizes follow:
Milton ....4:05:28 ..$4000 and Cobe Trophy
Sarles ....4:30:08 ..$2000
Hitke .....4:41:58 ..$1000
Vail .......4:43:20 ..$ 600
Harvey ..4:45:54 ..$ 400
Schillo ...4:45:58 .........
Stein ....(Flagged on 35th lap)" [Source = The Elgin Daily Courier, Aug 25, 1919]
"...Milton also received $900 from the Goodyear Rubber Company."
[Source = The Elgin Daily Courier, Aug 25, 1919]