The next day, September 17, Oldfield competed in his hometown of Toledo, Ohio, on a half-mile track and a 1-minute timescale for a mile. 4.8 seconds, which was also declared a new world record by the newspapers and was indeed the best result of Oldfield's performances on the Benz on half-mile tracks. From September 19 to 24, Detroit hosted the main Michigan state fair, and a large program of horse racing and air flights was planned at the racetrack, and on the last day, a car race was to take place with a duel between Barney Oldfield and Ralph de Palma. However, the rain in the last two days of the program confused all the maps, and the races did not take place at all.
There were only long runs in Milwaukee on September 27, in which Oldfield raced, as usual, on the Knox, and there were no traditional mile runs on the Benz at all.
Next in line was Illinois' main fair, held from September 30 to October 8 in Springfield, where a 5-mile duel was expected between Oldfield in Benz and Walter Brookins on a Wright brothers biplane. Brookins flew into Springfield from Chicago without incident on September 29, averaging 33 mph, a new American record. A car and airplane race was scheduled for October 1, but in the race led by Oldfield in the Knox, 26-year-old Larue Vredenburgh died and further events were canceled. The deceased was a friend of Brookins, who refused to perform any more at all.
By the way, on October 1, America's top racers competed on Long Island in the Vanderbilt Cup race. All-Dfield did not shine in road races, but still earned good money on the tracks, so there was no question of where to go on that day. The Vanderbilt Cup ended in tragedy with four dead and nineteen injured, and the American Grand Prix, which was scheduled to take place on the same track two weeks later, was canceled. Later, the race was held in Savannah, but so far Oldfield has been quoted as predicting deaths on Long Island.
On October 3, Oldfield set a new Illinois state mile record of 54 seconds in his Benz. On the last day of the fair, October 8, the duel with the plane did take place, but the Wright airplane was flown not by Brookins, but by Archie Hoxsey ( Archie Hoxsey). Oldfield gave his opponent a mile handicap and drove his 6 miles in 7 minutes. 46 seconds, and the airplane flew 5 miles in 7 minutes. 6 sec.
The next photo in Springfield is allegedly taken, and it is important to note that the car has already been repainted: the number 19 and the inscription “LIGHTNING BENZ” have been replaced with the coat of arms and the inscription “BLITZEN BENZ”.
While Barney Oldfield worked off his fees in Springfield, his managers, as usual, agreed on future races 2-3 weeks in advance. Events developed rapidly. On the evening of October 4, the date and location of the fight with Johnson was finally announced - October 20 at the Sheepshead Bay track in New York. But AAA has warned that this is impossible, since Johnson does not have a racing license. On October 8, newspapers announced that Johnson had received such a license under number 669. This angered many American riders (it’s not even worth mentioning which skin color), and there were statements in the press that if the match between Oldfield and Johnson took place and Oldfield will be attending the next major competition in Atlanta in early November, as it has already been announced other riders will boycott the races. In essence, they threatened Oldfield himself with a boycott.
On October 10, Sam Butler announced that Johnson's racing license would be revoked. According to him, it so happened that in his absence a white man came to the New York office of the AAA and asked for a racing license in the name of John Arthur Johnson. The clerk in the office took the name of the visitor and issued a registration card. This is perceived as fraudulent, therefore the license issued in this way is not legal and will be revoked. If Oldfield decides to race with Johnson, it will outlaw Oldfield himself. The next day, Johnson's license was revoked, to which the boxer promised to sue the association. In turn, Oldfield, too, had already taken a bite at the bit and expressed his firm intention to chase with Johnson, as intended. Then the next day AAA suspended the license of Oldfield himself, outlawing (auto racing) both himself and his manager William Pickens on the basis of Article 58 of the rules for conducting competitions in 1910, which stated that disqualification could follow both unauthorized performances and open statements of intent to perform such performances. Oldfield said that he did not care at all: the race would take place. Its organizers were also adamant. Both "duelists" have already contributed 5 thousand dollars as a deposit, which they will lose in case of refusal to fight. Johnson calmly stated that Oldfield's problems did not concern him, and he would demand his 5 thousand back if the opponent did not appear on the track. Oldfield was also not happy with the prospect of losing his 5,000. In addition, they were both promised $ 9,000 for the rights to film the races. In general, there was something to "butt" with AAA.
The organizers of the fair races in Pensacola, Florida, to which Oldfield showed up, hastened to announce that under such circumstances they do not want to see Oldfield. To which he sent them a reply telegram in the style "I didn't really want to."
The organizers of the AAA-sanctioned races in Readville, near Boston, allegedly did not allow Oldfield to start, but he unauthorizedly entered the track and showed 50 seconds on the mile track (pictured below). smooth. The newspapers noted that this result would not be officially recognized, but it was important for Oldfield to act against the motorsport authorities.
On this note, positive for his pride, he went to New York to prepare for a ride with Johnson. On October 17, Oldfield trained at Sheepshead Bay in the morning and Johnson in the afternoon. The next - both after lunch. On the day before the races, Johnson trained in the afternoon, Oldfield on the morning of the race.
Meanwhile, while the tension was being built up before the fight, the AAA took their own measures. On October 19, the association held a meeting at which, for unauthorized races in Redville, both Oldfield himself and his managers Pickens and Sloane, as well as their Benz, were finally disqualified from AAA races. Interestingly, the notes after the Redville races did not say anything about Oldfield's races being unauthorized. This information was disseminated only after this meeting.
On the appointed date, October 20, the races did not take place due to the rain, and they were postponed for two days. But it started raining on Saturday, October 22nd. Then the duelists decided that regardless of the weather conditions, the fight would take place on Tuesday. And on October 25, Oldfield easily won the first two five-mile runs in the Knox, eliminating the need for a third.
After the victory, Oldfield stated that he did not compete for money or fame, but to prevent the possibility of such an undesirable character as Johnson appearing in the races, and also expressed satisfaction that he morally supported white Americans with his victory. Interestingly, Oldfield did not hesitate to admit that Johnson could have won if this fight took place in a year or two, since he could gain the necessary experience, so it was better to agree to the fight now, and the strategy paid off.
Interestingly, on October 24-29, a special fair for colored people was held in Richmond, in which one day - October 27 - was set aside for whites, which in our time sounds generally wild. Oldfield performed there that day.
There were enough racetracks in America that did not seek the approval of the motorsport authorities for car races, which the Oldfilts team hoped for. People still loved looking at the highest speeds possible in the world at the time. In Richmond, Oldfield covered the mile in 55 seconds, far from any record, but the audience was delighted with the spectacle.
It was the turn of the three-day competition in Atlanta on November 3-5, where riders were determined to boycott All-Dfield if he did what he did. Barney himself was not embarrassed, and he came to Atlanta, announcing that he would fight the Association here. Her representative Sam Butler also came to the races to monitor the situation on the spot. Oldfield, on the one hand, formalized the fictitious sale of all three cars to his fellow traveling circus Ben Kersher, to whom AAA had no complaints, and the organizers accepted applications for participation in the races from Kerscher. On the other hand, Oldfield sued AAA and local organizers (Atlanta Automobile Association) in a local court, and Judge George Bell, after a lengthy hearing the day before the start of the competition, sided with the officials who argued that Oldfield had violated the rules under which he himself signed. Oldfield's reasoning was far less convincing: he argued that accepting Johnson's challenge was a matter of honor, and in general his goal was to force Johnson to never chase again.
Track personnel were instructed not to enter Oldfield's Benz grounds, although he himself was allowed to pass as a spectator, but a police officer followed him everywhere. Neither Kersher nor Knox and Darrak were mentioned in newspaper reports of the races. The court's decision set a precedent, and Oldfield realized that Oh no. He somehow immediately became depressed, admitted defeat and blamed everything on his manager Pickens, who, apparently, did not care, because on November 9 he got married and went on a honeymoon trip.
Oldfield also took advantage of Pickens' work and performed at the Louisiana State Fair in Shreveport on November 10 with a 53.5 second mile, heralded as a record for the southern states.
In principle, the season was over, for most of the American riders there was only a road race in Santa Monica near Los Angeles on November 24, where by that time (actually, home) Oldfield had returned in Knox with a Benz in tow. He was not allowed to take part in the race in Santa Monica, but Ker-sher, who had separated from the "traveling circus", could. In training, Kerscher had a serious accident in the turn, later nicknamed "fatal" (Death Curve), and did not start the race. The next day, on the wooden track in Playa del Rey, from where Oldfield's triumphant march across the country began this spring, a big competition took place, and he was also not allowed to perform there.
But other perspectives were on the agenda. The whole strength of AAA was that it could prohibit participation in races, which it itself issued a permit (sanction), but if someone did not give a damn about the whole AAA permitting system, he could gather like-minded people and compete independently on tracks that did not apply for the participation of racers and cars from the AAA licensing system. This has happened more than once in the history of American motorsport. This is how NASCAR appeared, in particular. Enthusiasts gathered, negotiated, created their own sanctioning organization and offered their services to potential organizers.
In late November, the owners of the Ascot Park racetrack in Los Angeles, which suffered greatly from the opening of the wooden track in Playa del Rey, which attracted many of the racers who had regularly competed on the dirt track, created the Auto Racing Association Pacific Coast Motor Racing Association and, having enlisted the support of the out-of-work Oldfield, held races on December 10-11, in which Oldfield, Ker-shir participated in the same "Darrak" and several other racers, who, apparently not worried about the continued impossibility of starting in races sanctioned by the AAA.
In turn, the motorsport authorities in New York were worried about a situation that threatened to shake their so far unconditional authority. For the first time, someone took steps to rob AAA of her bread. And 3600 spectators who paid for tickets at Ascot Park confirmed that it is important not who sanctions the races, but who participates in them.
Oldfield raced the Knox as usual and did time trial runs in the Benz with Jim Jeffries in the passenger seat.
On December 23, a meeting of the AAA in New York decided to ban Ascot Park from running AAA-sanctioned races for a year, and also disqualified all riders involved, including Kerscher, until January 1, 1912. The distribution included racer Sheldon, who competed on December 1-3 in an unauthorized competition in Norfolk, Virginia. Of course, AAA could not prohibit organizing unauthorized races and participating in them, but formally they had to react to violation of their own rules. In addition, they gathered to inform the international association (AIAKR) about such cases.
At the end of December, Oldfield and Jeffries went hunting in Mexico and had an accident near the Mexican border, limited to bruises. It was then that Jeffries allegedly told Oldfield about his condition after the fight with Johnson, and upon his return to Los Angeles, Oldfield made the story public.
On January 7, 1911, a second "illegal" competition was held at Ascot Park, and again Oldfield rolled Jeff Rice. There are several shots of Oldfield and Jeffries in Benz, but it is not yet known when they were taken: December 1910 or January 1911.
Meanwhile, William Pickens, who continued to conduct Oldfield's affairs, tried to organize a series of races in Mexico for his ward in parallel with the fights for Jeffries, further plans involved a trip to Cuba at the end of February. But, despite the frequency of news, there are no reports of specific races in Mexico in the American newspapers, there are only mentions of the cities where Oldfield was going to compete. Apparently, something went wrong. First, the Mexicans banned boxing matches, disrupting plans to involve Jeffries. Second, there was a message that Oldfield would be allowed to play in Mexico City, but only for free.
On the twentieth of February, he was to travel through El Paso, Texas, to New Orleans for the Mardi Gras Festival. Something happened in San Antonio, some kind of accident, and the Benz's engine was damaged. And then suddenly there was news that Oldfield was heading north to sell his cars at AAA's offer. And on April 1, it was announced that they were acquired by the former on a track in Indianapolis Ernie Moross (Ernie Moross) for 50 thousand dollars. The agreement also provided for Oldfield and Pickens to completely abandon any races until June 1, 1912. In turn, Oldfield asked to lift the suspension from Ben Kerscher.
On March 22, Sam Butler announced that he had removed the suspension from Blitzen Benz for a $ 1,000 fine. The car was already on its way to Jacksonville, Florida, where the Beach Auto Racing Festival was due to kick off on March 28, similar to the one held earlier in Dayton. Just because of this, this year in Dayton they decided not to hold the race, as low interest of the public was expected after she saw the same thing earlier in Jacksonville.
Moross hired Bob Burman to break last year's Oldfield record. Mechanics were discharged from Germany to repair the damaged Benz in Texas, and they successfully completed their job. But Burman failed to set record time in Jacksonville.
In this, the organizers in Dayton saw their chance and organized record races with the official AAA timing on March 22-23. On the first day, Burman improved Oldfield's records for a mile (from 27.33 sec. To 26.12 sec.) And a kilometer (from 17.04 sec. To 16.27 sec.). The next day, Burman had his birthday, and he showed an even higher speed with times of 25.40 and 15.88 seconds. respectively, and also improved the two-mile record from 55.87 sec. up to 51.28 sec.
Moross immediately signed a contract with Burman to perform for the entire season for 100 thousand dollars, but that's a completely different story. And Oldfield was a good guy and returned to racing in mid-1912.
For the sake of completeness, it makes sense for us to dwell in more detail on the "Blitzen Benz" car itself.
As previously noted, the name "Blitzen Benz" was coined in America, and the company "Benz" positioned the model as "200-strong" (200 PS), while the factory designation was RE.
The background is as follows. Due to financial problems after the interrupted Paris-Madrid race in 1903, Benz temporarily curtailed its motorsport activities. Having accumulated the necessary resources, for the 1907 season she prepared racing versions of her civilian model 38/60, which raced in the Targa Florio, the Circuit des Ardennes, the Kaiserpreis race and the mountain climb Gaillon (Course de côte de Gaillon). At the same time, a special model was being designed for the 1908 ACF Grand Prix in Dieppe. The car turned out to be very successful and won the race from St. Petersburg to Moscow on June 1 (May 19 according to the old style, which was then in effect in Russia) with the main racer of the company, Victor Emery, while driving "on warm-up", and in Dieppe Emery took second place only because of the stone that broke the glasses. This car with a 12-liter engine (12,061 cc) had a factory designation RD and a tax capacity of 120 hp. with. (120 PS).
Left: Victor Emery during the race from St. Petersburg to Moscow. Right: Emery's Benz weigh-in before the ACF Grand Prix in Dieppe.
After Dieppe, the factory focused on work on a long-stroke version of the engine with a displacement of 15 liters (15095 cm3) and a tax power of 150 hp. with. (150 PS). On September 20, 1908, a car with such an engine and a special streamlined body with a small radiator and a no-tank for short races started in the Semmering-Rennen Pass. This body was then copied for the 200-horsepower Benz.
The company decided to take part in the "American Grand Prix" in Savannah on November 26 in order to achieve success and begin to conquer the American market, first selling there all the racing cars that could be useless next season, as there was talk about the change of the rules of the "ACF Grand Prix" in the direction of reducing the cylinder diameter. They brought 150-horsepower cars with ordinary grand prix bodies to America.
Emery finished second and here, the cars were sold as planned, the company received sufficient publicity and opened its American office. The 150-horsepower racing Benz continued to compete in America until 1911, finishing in two first places in the 1910 American Grand Prix. One of the cars was bought by Barney Oldfield in 1909 and at the very first ever automobile competition on the legendary track in Indianapolis on August 21, 1909, he set a number of speed records.
It was this 150-horsepower Benz that Oldfield exchanged with a surcharge of 14 thousand dollars for a new 200-horsepower in January 1910 in New York.
At the beginning of 1909, Benz, together with other manufacturers, signed an agreement not to participate in the ACF Grand Prix of this and subsequent years until the joint cancellation of this agreement, which occurred only by 1912. This agreement did not prohibit participation in less significant races of the predominantly smaller class "voatu-ret", but serious players were not interested in this. In such a situation, it was logical to turn their eyes to setting speed records. The Benz took the chassis of the mothey shared the grand prix and installed a similar engine on it, with cylinders bored from 155 mm (the maximum value according to the requirements of the ACF) to 185 mm. The piston stroke was taken the maximum of those already used, that is, 200 mm from the 150-horsepower "American" version. The result is a 21-liter (21504 cm3) four-cylinder "monster". Since reliability in short runs was not critical, it was considered possible to dress the chassis in a narrow, streamlined body with a small fuel tank, as at the Semmering in 1908.
When the first example with chassis number 5100 was ready, on October 17 it was driven off under its own power to the Brussels suburb of Tervuren for testing on a straight section of the highway. Emery was able to show speeds higher than the competitors from the Mercedes previously showed, but these races were not accompanied by an official timing.
Pay attention to the registration number required for driving on public roads. It is interesting that the European automobile press with this photo, for lack of others, illustrated the news about Oldfield's records in Dayton in March-April 1910.
After making sure that the car was ready for exploits, it was sent to the British "Brooklands", where at any time it was possible to use the timekeeping system approved by the AIAKR. On November 8, Victor Emery set a number of records on the move and on the move, and the most important of them, considered an absolute record for speed on land: 202.648 km / h per kilometer on the move. This was the last record for a one-way race. Since 1911, AIAKR introduced the rule of averaging the speeds for two races in opposite directions for half an hour.
There was a lot of potential in the car, and without returning to the factory, it was sent from London straight to America, counting on further records at Daytona Beach in Florida, where car races were traditionally held in winter. The rest has already been described in sufficient detail. Owned by Oldfield, the appearance of the car survived four options.
1. Immediately after purchase. Without any inscriptions.
2. On the beach of Daytona. There are “Lightning Benz” lettering on the hood and Barney Oldfield on the stern.
3. In the first half of the season with number 19.
4. In the second half of the season. The inscription “Lightning Benz” was replaced with “Blitzen Benz”, and the number 19 was replaced with a small coat of arms. The first thing that Bob Burman did after buying the Blitzen Benz from Oldfield in 1911 was to take his records from the latter in Dayton. At the same time, the car looked exactly the same as at Oldfield, only his name was removed from the stern. Often on the Internet, the pictures on the Daytona beach in 1910 with Oldfield and 1911 with Burman are confused. You can distinguish them by several details: the inscriptions “Lightning Benz” and “Blitzen Benz”, respectively, the emblem, the smokiness of the body, the build of the rider. Compare.
The races in Dayton were successful, Burman broke the records of Oldfield last year and repainted the body of the "Benz" in his own way: his record: "a man who drove a mile in 25.40 seconds."
In this photo, Burman is indeed wearing a crown. It was presented to him on May 29, 1911, a day before the first Indy 500, by Harry Firestone, the founder of the tire company of the same name.
The inscription on it read: "World King of Speed."
Burman performed in this livery on the Blitzen Benz during 1911 and 1912, the only deviation seen being an additional number 1 in the Brighton Beach New York races on September 7, 1912.
Burman had an accident that day and the very first Blitzen Benz was wrecked. Burman did not restore it to its original form, but rebuilt it, retaining the characteristic radiator and exhaust pipes, and called the car "Burman Special". She had a match hitting the Sheepshead Bay track in November 1915 (pictured above right) against Ralph de Palma, who won, thus, one might say, ending the story that started it all when, in January 1910, the main theme for Oldfield had a match with de Palma that never took place.
After Burman's death in 1916, Burman Special was sold to Britain, where after World War I it was acquired by Count Louis Zborowski. He performed several times on it with a traditional radiator at the Brooklands (pictured below right) in 1922, and then disassembled and used the transmission assemblies to build his famous Higham Special. After the death of Zborowski, the car was bought by Parry Thomas in 1924 and rebuilt into Babs, where he died in 1927.
Meanwhile, in the wake of Oldfield's success in America in the summer of 1910, Benz built a second copy of the 200-horsepower model (chassis no. 6346), initially equipping it with the usual body of a 1908 grand prix car. In 1910-11, the car alternated performances with a grand prix body (in the photo on the left - during the ascent to the French mountain Gaillon on October 2 November 1910) with exhibitions, for which the body was changed to a branded "Blit-price" (pictured on the right) in order to associate the car with the success of the first copy in America.
At the end of 1911, Ernie Moross, who created a special agency for organizing races, went to Germany in the hope of finding and buying an even more powerful and faster car, since in America he had already trumpeted everyone that he would soon bring a 300-horsepower Benz from Europe. But the company said that they do not see the need to spend money on a new model, especially since sales of serial cars are growing, and their resources are already at the limit to meet the demand of buyers. But the second 200-horsepower streamlined chassis was sold to Moross and was often touted in the American press as the new 300-horsepower Benz and also under the name Jumbo. Thus, in the 1912 season, there were two Blitzen Benzes in America. The first was at the disposal of Bob Burman, who broke it in September and decided not to restore it, but to thoroughly rebuild it, which was implemented by 1914. After 1915 "Burman Special" disappeared for some time in a little-studied direction before being sold to Britain. At the same time, the second chassis was active in 1912-14, after which it disappeared (well, you can't put it another way) in a carousel of simple fair races.
There are many ambiguities in the history of the performances of the second Blitzen in 1912-14 that were not disclosed by Karl Luwigsen in The Incredible Blitzen Benz. Both in it and on the Internet you can find images of this car, on which the coloring differs in details. First, it is alleged that in 1912 Eddie Rickenbacher was driving a car, who during the war years "Americanized" his German surname and became Rickenbacker.
This seems logical since Burman had a copy of his own. But since he broke it in September 1912, apparently, he quickly arranged to perform on the second copy. The original source of the following photo claims that it was taken in Santa Monica, but Blitzen Benz never raced on this track, but Burman raced on California tracks in December 1912 and could have visited Santa Monica , by this time completely repainted the car.
On December 25, 1912, while driving on the beach in San Diego, the Benz suddenly caught fire, and Bob Burman sent it out to sea to extinguish the fire. Apparently, the car required a complete repainting, because in 1913 it looked different. The next photo with Burman at the wheel was allegedly taken on July 26, 1913 in Vancouver. The inscription with the coat of arms is already completely different, more similar to the version of Rickenbacher, but in a slightly different font, with serifs. And the form of two is also different. And on the stern, a mention of a speed record was added to the name inscription.
That said, a photo taken during the last documented performance of Blitzen # 2 at the dried-up Bonneville Salt Lake in Utah in August 1914 with Teddy Tetzlaff at the wheel shows us the same livery, but without Burman's name.
In 1914, for Berman, "Blitzen Benz" was no longer relevant, and after 1914 it became obsolete for other riders and, allegedly, was used for several years in fairground "rides", about which the newspapers probably did not write at all. At the end of the story about American "Blitzen Benz" I would like to draw your attention to one small detail that distinguishes two cars. True, you can only see it from the side of the exhaust pipes. This is the hood cover. If on the first chassis it was made in the form of an awkward patch (in the photo on the left), then for the second (and subsequent) this detail was performed much more elegantly (in the photo on the right).
A total of 6 RE 200 hp vehicles were built. We've covered two of them. In the summer of 1912, the Benz factory began assembling three new chassis at once: No. 9141, 9143 and 9145.
Chassis No. 9141 was immediately equipped with a streamlined body, with which it performed at Gaillon in October 1912.
In 1913, the car was loaned to British racer Cupid Hornsted for regular performances at the Brooklands. Since he was going to set quite long records, such as a watch, and also to participate in races, at his request the car was rebuilt into a more "hardy" version with a large radiator and a fuel tank and painted blue.
It was in this form that on June 24, 1914, Hornsted set the first absolute speed record according to the new rules for two races, set back in 1911.
In the summer of 1914, the threat of war began to grow in Europe, and Benz took the car from Hornsted. After the war, it was carefully restored and presented for a photo shoot in 1921 in a snow-white "Blitzen" body.
Cars prepared from production models for the first race in Grunewald on the newly opened AVUS highway on September 24-25, 1921, took part in the same photo session. Here is for completeness and their pictures, so that if they catch your eye, you will not confuse these copies with Blitzen Benz. On the left - a car for the second race for class VIB (VI means tax power 6 HP, B - overhead valves in the engine), on the right - a participant in the third race for class XB (tax power 10 HP and overhead valves) ...
Within the framework of the same competition, record races were held in which Blitzen Benz participated, as well as another Benz, a photo of which on the official Mercedes-Benz website is incorrectly presented as Blitzen Benz at Brooklands in 1913 ... This is a road 7-liter model from 1910, which participated in the race of Prince Heinrich of Prussia, with a special racing body.
In the summer of 1922, chassis No. 9141 went to Britain again, but did not stay there for long. It was crashed in the fall race at Brooklands on October 14, 1922 (Ludwigsen's book misleading the Essex Auto Club race date on September 30) when John Duff was unable to effectively brake in the finish line at the end of the race (old Brooklands problem ") And flew off the track across the bend" Members ". The broken car was sent to Germany, where they did not begin to restore it.
Chassis No. 9143 was never equipped with a streamlined body, only a grand prix body, and before the war took part in rare climbs and sprints. In 1921, the car was under restoration together with chassis No. 9141 and also took part in a memorable photo session (for comparison, a photo of both cars).
On the left is chassis # 9141, which will be destroyed in a year at the Brooklands. On the right - chassis number 9143. Details of the damaged hull of the first of them served as the basis for the creation of a "Blitzen" hull for the second for the museum. Just look at these two frames and mentally transfer the body of the first car to the second. And you get the following.
In this form, in our time, this 200-horsepower "Benz" is shown in the Museum of the history of Mercedes-Benz or in special photo sessions (as in the following photo at the McLaren base in Woking).
The body from the wrecked chassis No. 9141 was used on the chassis No. 9143, but the engine was left idle. And nowadays American Bill Evans has built an exact replica of the Blitzen Benz with this engine and some other original parts. A well-known video showing the engine of this car at the Pebble Beach competition is well known.
There are still two copies of the 200-horsepower Benz left. Chassis 9145 was sold to a private customer in Spain and never raced.
Finally, chassis no. 13280 was built on a lengthened frame for a 4-seater body also for a private customer from Belgium named Heje. During World War I, the car was confiscated in favor of the German army and, apparently, got a trophy after the war in Britain, where it began to perform at the Brooklands. Its long wheelbase allowed more stability to overcome the numerous bumps in the track, and this chassis was ultimately the fastest of all 200-horsepower Benzes on this track. Pictured is racer Alistair Miller in 1928. Sources of information 1. Ludvigsen, Karl The Incredible Blitzen Benz - Dalton Watson Fine Books, 2006
2. Nolan, William F. Barney Oldfield. The Life and Times of America's Legendary Speed King - G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1961
3. Boddy, William Brooklands Giants - Haynes Publishing, 2006
4. Dick, Robert Auto Racing Comes of Age - McFarland & Company, 2013
5. Chronicling America - Historic American Newspapers (The Library of Congress) Many thanks to Alexey Grushko and Vera Shaferova for their invaluable help in creating this work. An alternative version for those who prefer exciting stories to figures and facts
On July 4, 1910, on the national holiday of the United States, Independence Day, in the gambling capital of the country at that time - the city of Reno in the state of Nevada - the boxing match of the century took place, in which undefeated heavyweights Jack Johnson and James Jeffries decided which of them would become the champion of the champions. Jeffries was older than his opponent and actually hung up his gloves back in 1905 after defeating all possible opponents. Black Johnson achieved the same success with one difference: the fact that he defeated all white challengers was perceived rather painfully in America of the time, with still strong racial prejudices. Therefore, when in 1909 the proposals began to sound for Jeffries to return to the ring and restore "racial justice", the 35-year-old veteran, after some deliberation, agreed. It took a year to prepare the participants and organizers, and as a result, Johnson knocked out Jeffries in round 15 out of 20. The whole of America was in shock, only white - from frustration, and black - from joy. It all boiled down to the conclusion about the victory of the black race over the white. The filmed film about the fight was simply banned from showing in cinemas, so as not to injure the delicate psyche of white Americans. The battle made an indelible impression on the whole country.
“What does this undoubtedly curious story have to do with to motorsport? " - you ask. Such that Jeffries was a close friend of the famous race car driver Barney Oldfield, and Johnson was an avid motorist, was repeatedly arrested for unsafe driving and even wanted to start races on the newly built future "Old Brick", but he was refused. After defeating Jeffries, Johnson now had no rivals, and he had to look for other areas of application of his extraordinary abilities. Here everything somehow coincided: perhaps Johnson, in the wake of the general hype, wanted to finish off the "white race" by defeating a friend of his rival defeated; in turn, Oldfield may have accepted Johnson's challenge to avenge his friend's humiliation.
Barney Oldfield was not present at that fight, as he had his own job. On that day, he played on the Hawthorne dirt track near Chicago, which was actually an ordinary racetrack, of which there were a great many throughout America, since horse races were very popular fun, but auto racing became more and more popular and gradually took the place of horse racing. in the public interest. It was on this track on this day, July 4, 1910, that the well-known photograph of a dusty Blitzen Benz with Barney Oldfield at the wheel was taken, but absolutely all publications repeat the incorrect caption to the photograph from the corporate archive of Mercedes-Benz , which says that the photo was taken on March 16 on the beach in Daytona Beach, Florida, the current home of the legendary Daytona 500.
The sonorous name "Blitzen Benz" (blitzen in translation from German - lightning fast) was invented already in America; German creators of the car assigned it a prosaic factory index RE, and for the public they called it, as it was then accepted, in terms of power: "200-strong" (200 PS). By that time, the company, founded by one of the pioneers of the automotive industry, Karl Benz, was rapidly developing and by 1908 was able to build a racing model for participation in the most prestigious race on the planet - the ACF Grand Prix. As luck would have it, the next year the leading car manufacturers, dissatisfied with the policy of the Autoclub of France, decided to boycott its race, which for this reason did not take place. But Benz was reluctant to give up on the promotional dividend it received from motorsport, and instead of running small car races (voiturettes in French), it decided to focus on short runs: sprints, uphill climbs and record runs. To do this, they built a version of the Grand Prix racing model with the same engine with the maximum possible displacement (due to the bore of the cylinder block and the use of the largest piston stroke) of 21 liters. It was the largest engine of that time and, in general, the largest automobile engine in history, since even then engineers began to find ways to increase power, not only by increasing the displacement. The car was dressed in a narrow streamlined body with a small radiator and a fuel tank in the stern, which were just optimal for short runs.
At the end of 1909, the 200-horsepower Benz was sent to Britain to the Brooklands racetrack, where there was a modern electronic timekeeping system, which made it possible to record the results officially recognized throughout the world, and the factory racer of the German company, Frenchman Victor Emery, established a new absolute speed record, the last one before the introduction of a new rule requiring two races in opposite directions within half an hour. But the possibilities for further growth of speeds at the Brooklands were limited by the bends, which did not allow for proper acceleration, so the next step of the Germans was a trip overseas, where between the cities of Daytona Beach and Ormond Beach in Florida there was a beach of many kilometers, on which speed races and races have been held for many years. Upon arrival in New York, the car was put on display to the public, and quite quickly a buyer was found for her - the same Barney Oldfield, who for many years traded just short high-speed races on America's dirt racetracks, and the most powerful and fastest car in the world completely fit his ambition. Oldfield immediately challenged his main rival, Ralph de Palma, who owned the only car comparable to the new Benz in America, the 200-horsepower FIAT nicknamed Mephistopheles.
The organizers of the Daytona races this year canceled the competition for lack of adequate funding, but the public, worried about the new prospect of a dramatic showdown, forced the Daytona authorities to reconsider their decision. Businessmen and ordinary residents of the city raised the required amount, and the multi-day competition was scheduled to take place on the twentieth of March, and on March 15, a match was to take place between Oldfield and de Palma. However, in training runs at FIAT, the piston was damaged, and the car was sent to New York to replace parts specially ordered from Italy. Oldfield, in fact, accused the rival of cowardice and said that the engine could be repaired on the spot.
... The fight was postponed to early April, when the first competition was to take place at the newly built America's first wooden circuit near Los Angeles. And in Dayton on March 16, Oldfield showed time per mile with a stroke of 27.33 seconds, which was faster than last year's world record of Victor Emery on the same Benz at Brooklands, but AIAKR was not counted, since the AAA electronic chronometer was not certified by the international motorsport authorities. But in America, this absolutely did not bother anyone, especially Oldfield himself. In the following days, he set a number of records at other distances and left Dayton in the wake of his success.
At that moment, the famous Halley's comet was just approaching the Earth, which also attracted the attention of the public, and the newspapers compared its speed with the speed shown by Oldfield (which was faster). Also published were diagrams of the speeds of various living things and natural and man-made objects, ranging from a swimmer and ending with an All-Dfield on the Benz. All this hype was perfectly in line with Barney's plans to go on a tour of American racetracks in order to amaze the imagination of farmers and cowboys for money. But first it was necessary to resolve the pending issue with de Palma in Los Angeles. And it must happen that the piston broke again at FIAT. De Palma offered to fight Oldfield in a 90-strong FIAT, to which Barney said that he would not have any honor from a victory over such a weak car and refused. In the course of the races, he set a number of records at different distances. But the organizers of the multi-day competition were not going to give up the high-profile event on the last day of the races and nevertheless agreed on a duel between Oldfield and an amateur racer (that is, he did not make money on races, since he was already a millionaire) Caleb Bragg (Caleb Bragg) on the same 90-strong FIAT, from the match with which Oldfield has already refused. According to the rules, the rivals had to sort things out in three races, but the third was not required, as the first two won ... Bragg. Oldfield was let down by the low dynamics of the world's most powerful car: it just took a long time to accelerate. Of course, if the fight had been won by Benz, it would have been trumpeted at every turn, but since such an outcome does not meet the advertising goals, Oldfield's team quickly forgot about it. But newspapermen all year, when it came to Bragg, noted that this is the same amateur who beat Oldfield himself.
The Oldfield Team is not only the Benz racer himself, but also another Knox car that Oldfield has driven in long races, and two managers who not only ensured the race star's stay in the competition, but we also traveled around the country and agreed in advance, 2-3 weeks in advance, to conduct the races. While All-Dfield was setting records in Dayton, the managers were already on the west coast, where they were negotiating with the owners of the tracks about organizing the races. When Oldfield was racing in Los Angeles, managers moved east and formed a further schedule. In the spring part of the season, the goal was to gradually get to Indianapolis with performances for a large racing competition on Memorial Day May 30 (which in a year will be replaced by one big race, which has become the legendary "Indy 500"). After Los Angeles, the Oldfield team was joined by another rider, Ben Kerscher with his Darrak, which won the 1905 Vanderbilt Cup. This is how they with three cars moved from city to city, where at local racetracks of different sizes (half a mile and a mile) they gathered crowds of people who came to listen to the roar of engines, swallow dust from under the wheels and observe speeds that they could not see anywhere else in the world. On each track Oldfield set some kind of record: if not a world record, then at least a state record, or even just a track, but still a record. The main thing is that there should be at least something new and exceptional. The audience loves it.
And in the very city of Reno, where at that time they were already preparing for the superfight between Johnson and Jeffries mentioned at the beginning of the story, the organizer of this fight ordered the jeweler a crown made of pure gold mined in local mines and "crowned" Barney Oldfield, so now the expression The "king of speed" was no longer a newspaper formality.
Using his wild popularity, Oldfield demanded from the organizers of the three-day competition in Indie Anapolis 5 thousand dollars just for taking his Benz on a brick track, but the organizers refused on the grounds that each point of the program had cash prizes, and they have absolutely no confidence that Oldfield's name will attract enough new viewers to "recapture" those five thousand. This was the first sign that Oldfield's popularity is not unlimited, and he should know the norm in his requests. And he did not arrange demarches and applied for the race on a general basis.
Indianapolis was followed by numerous races in the same style in the American East, where on each track the Oldfield team and showed some kind of record results at different levels. Most likely, by the fall, they would have begun to move back to the west, home (and Oldfield lived in Los Angeles), where it was warmer, and racing activity did not stop even in winter. "Most likely", because we will never know for sure, because a month after his victory over Jeffries Johnson published in the newspapers a challenge to Oldfield, who at that time was racing in Pennsylvania. In fact, Oldfield did not take Johnson seriously and was skeptical at first, but a lot of money was at stake, and since, according to Barney himself, Money (with a capital letter) was the main thing for him in life, he accepted the challenge. The second wake-up call for Oldfield came from the American Automobile Association (AAA), which carried out the licensing function in the country, which stated that Johnson could not actually participate in any motorsport competition, since he did not have a racing license. Nobody seemed to have paid attention to this news, but not Johnson himself. Oldfield continued to play on the East Coast throughout August and September, and in early October it was announced that the bout between Johnson and Oldfield would take place on October 22nd at New York's Sheepshead Bay Racecourse. A few days later Johnson announced that he had received an AAA racing license. This became news for the Association, and they began to understand. It turns out that when the chairman of the sports department, Sam Butler, was away in Philadelphia, a white gentleman came to the AAA office and applied for a license in the name of John Arthur Johnson. A simple clerk in the office, without any hesitation, decided that this was the name of the visitor and completed all the formalities. Butler was furious. A black boxer is all right, but a black racer is too much! Johnson's license was revoked due to deception of the registrant's identity. Butler stated that Johnson would never be a racer and Oldfield would never race with him. This was already too much for Oldfield himself. No one has yet told him what to do and what not. The contract was signed, the deposit was made, in case of refusal, Barney lost 5 thousand dollars, but he did not want it. Moreover, he did not want to lose the opportunity to earn the same deposit from Johnson in case of victory. Anyway, what do these bureaucrats think of themselves ?!
In the general rules for holding competitions in the United States under the auspices of the AAA, there was a clause that the Association has the right to disqualify any rider not only for participating in an unauthorized race, but also simply for a public announcement of the intention to participate in such a race. And since Oldfield not only did not refuse the match with Johnson, but also confirmed his participation in this match, the AAA also suspended his license (but did not permanently revoke it). A week before the match, Oldfield was scheduled to play in the town of Redville near Boston. This competition had an AAA sanction (in fact, in the overwhelming majority of cases this was absolutely no problem, and everything was done quickly and on trust, as with Johnson's license), the organizers had information about Oldfield's disqualification, but they themselves faced such a problem for the first time. situation. It happened for the first time in history, so no one was ready for such a development of events. Oldfield simply took his Benz out on the track without permission, no one stopped him, he drove several laps, and although the official timekeepers did not time the time, four unofficial hand-held timekeepers recorded the result, which was published in the newspapers. The organizers were summoned to New York to attend the Association's carpet, where they told how it all happened, and Oldfield was finally and irrevocably disqualified.
But Barney didn't care at all. He made a lot of money, was the most popular racer in America, so why should he be afraid of some New York bureaucrats? The fight took place with a delay of several days due to the rains, but after Oldfield easily beat Johnson in two heats with a huge advantage. The honor of the white race was saved, friend Jeffries was avenged. What's next? And then it went somehow not very well. Even before Oldfield was disqualified, there were organizers with whom there was already an agreement on Oldfield's participation, but they said that if the race with Johnson took place, they did not want to see Oldfield. Even fellow riders began to comment that if Oldfield came to the big three-day competition in Atlanta in early November, they themselves would not start there. Disqualification was now an absolute reality, and Oldfield was ordered to participate in the sanctioned races. He came to Atlanta and even sued AAA and the organizers. Sam Butler was also there to defend the interests of the Association on the spot. And the court ruled that the controversy between Oldfield and his defendants was outside his jurisdiction, which meant that Oldfield had lost. He will not be able to participate in races, he will not receive compensation. He formalized the sale of his "stable" to Ben Kercher, to whom AAA claims he was not, because although he performed everywhere with Oldfield, he was in no way involved in the avantage with Johnson. But in the end, Kerscher never performed on the track in Atlanta. Workers of the track were instructed not to let the Blitzen Benz into the territory under any circumstances, and Oldfield himself, as a private person, was allowed through, but a policeman followed him everywhere.
Barney realized that he had lost and somehow became depressed. An interesting story was published in the newspapers. In Atlanta tomorrow, French racer Charles Basel told the permanent starter of big American races, Fred Wagner, about his dream in which a racer named Church would be injured today. And Church did have an accident and was injured. The next morning, Basel shared a dream in which he himself was injured. He did not want to drive that day, but he was forced, he had an accident and was injured. The next day, Wagner went to the telegraph station and received a telegram for Basel, who was the first person Wagner met on his return to the hotel. Basel immediately spoke about his next dream, in which he received a telegram from France with an invitation to play for Renault. To their great amazement, this was precisely what was written in the telegram brought by Wagner. Oldfield, who was present, suggested: “Let’s dream that AAA acquitted me!”
Most of the tracks were now booked for Oldfield, but not all racecourses planned to link their activities with auto racing on a permanent basis, for which they would need an AAA permit. There were also cities where Oldfield could still perform, and he took advantage of it a couple of times. But it was not in his rules to surrender, and a very unusual solution was found: to create a rival sanctioning organization. The Pacific Coast Auto Racing Association was formed in Los Angeles by the owners of the Ascot Park racetrack, which suffered somewhat from the opening of a specialized autodrome in the city (the very first wooden track in the country) and was trying to regain its lost ground. Enlisting the support of the Oldfield team and a number of local AAA-licensed riders, the organizers held a two-day competition in early December that did not remain out of sight of the national association. She disqualified both the track and all the racing drivers and Oldfield managers and even one driver who had started in an unauthorized competition on the opposite coast. If it were not for this whole story with Oldfield, he might have gotten away with it, but here the association had to go on principle.
In early January, Ascot Park held another series of races, where, like the first time, Oldfield “rolled” Jack Jeffreys on the Benz as a mechanic. Then they turned their eyes to Mexico, where AAA was powerless, and were going to organize a series of performances for both Oldfield at the racetracks and Jeffries in the ring. The plans were grandiose; the newspapers listed the cities where the competition would take place. But there were no reports on the results. Something went wrong.
In turn, there were people in America who wanted to take advantage of the commercial and sporting potential of Blitzen Benz, and they did not sit idly by. Former Indianapolis circuit manager Ernie Moross enlisted the support of AAA and offered Oldfield to buy his cars for 50 thousand dollars with the obligation of the latter to accept the AAA disqualification and forget about racing for the period set by the Association. And Barney accepted the offer.
Moross immediately hired racer Bob Burman, who drove to Florida and at Daytona Beach, a year after Oldfield's record, beat them on his birthday. Moross signed a contract with him for a whopping $ 100,000 for the entire year, but that's another story altogether. Burman also received the gold crown from the founder of the tire company of the same name, Harry Fireston, and became the crowned king of speed. Everything was exactly the same as Oldfield had a year ago, but Oldfield himself was no longer at this celebration. In the middle of 1912, as prescribed by the AAA, he was able to resume his career and achieved considerable success in cars of various brands, but he learned one of the main lessons in his life: no matter how popular you are, there is no need to gamble in political games with the powerful.
The company "Benz" built several more copies of the 200-strong model, one of which immediately got to America, and for some time two cars at once appeared in the vastness of the country: "Blitzen Benz" and "Blitzen Benz 2". It seems that once they even started in the same race. But since technology was moving forward rapidly in those years, their commercial return did not last so long. The first copy eventually returned to Europe, the second was lost somewhere at local fairs. Later, one of the components of different chassis was restored for the museum in Stuttgart, and another exact copy with the original engine was built by an American enthusiast. These two copies often appear at various events. Of course they are not overclocked. to maximum speeds, and they are driving on asphalt, and not on a dirt track, but we can get some idea of how "Blitzen Benz" looked and sounded a hundred years ago.