Jul 18 2017

Mystery Foto #28 Solved: The 1909 Buick Factory Racing Team in Flint, Michigan

This weekend's Mystery Foto featured a factory racing team and several drivers who participated in the Vanderbilt Cup Races.

Mystery Foto questions:

  • Identify the Buick drivers

1. Bob Burman, team captain, sitting in the driver's seat (1910, 1911 and 1915 Vanderbilt Cup Races and 1908 Motor Parkway Sweepstakes)

2. Louis Chevrolet, sitting in the mechanician's seat (1905, 1908, 1909 and 1910 Vanderbilt Cup Races)

3. Lewis Strang  (likely), sitting on the racer in front of the rear wheel (1908 and 1909 Vanderbilt Cup Races and 1908 Motor Parkway Sweepstakes)

  • Identify the other members in the Buick racing team

4. W.W. Brown, mechanician
5. Joseph R. Common, mechanician
6. Walter Lorenzo Marr, Buick's first engineer
7. Glenn Breed, mechanician

  • Identify the race car  and the races in which it participated

Based on the team of Burman, Chevrolet and Strang, the race car was a 1909 Buick Model 16 with a frame supplied by Marquette Motor Company. The racers later became known as Marquette-Buicks. Their history and races were detailed in this 2002 article in Antique Automobile .

Three Marquette-Buicks raced in the 1910 Vanderbilt Cup Race.

  • Where and when was the photo taken? Provide a rationale.

The photo was taken in front of the Buick Plant in Flint Michigan (see below Kleiner's Korner). The photo was likely taken in June 1909. Rationale: Louis Chevrolet joined the Buick team on March 6, 1909. Burman, Chevrolet and Strang raced together for the Buick team on June 18-19, 1909 at the Indiana Trophy Race and Cobe Trophy Race.

Comments (6)

Congrats to Greg O.. Steve Lucas, Art Kleiner (see Kleiner's Korner), Tim Ivers, Marc Alssid and James Ryan for identifying the Buick Factory Team. Kudos to Greg O, Steve Lucas and Marc Alssid for identifying the three drivers and Walter L. Marr, Buick's first engineer.


Howard Kroplick


Another image of the Buick team taken on the same day. Walter L. Marr was sitting in front of Louis Chevrolet.

The Buick Factory Team

1. Bob Burman, driver

2. Luis Chevrolet, driver

3. Lewis Strang, driver

4. W.W. Brown, mechanician

5. Joseph R. Common, mechanician

6. Walter Lorenzo Marr, Buick's first engineer

7. Glenn Breed, mechanician

Walter Lorenzo Marr


Louis Chevrolet driving a Buick at the 200-Mile Race at the Atlanta Speedway on November 9, 1909.

The Buick team of Burman, Chevrolet and Strang at Cobe Trophy Race held on June 19, 1909 at Crown Point, Indiana.

Louis Chevrolet in his winning racer at the 1909 Cobe Trophy Race.

The Buick Team

Posted by Bob Lawrence [email protected] . Submitted by Marc Alssid

#3 Marquette-Buick (USA) driven by Arthur Chevrolet (Louis Chevrolet's brother). Finished 25th. Broke driving chain during lap 8.

#27 Marquette-Buick (USA) driven by Bob Burman. Finished 23rd. Driving chain broke and hit ditch at the Massapequa Turn during lap 10.

#29 Marquette-Buick (USA) driving by Louis Chevrolet. Finished 19th.

Buick Racers (Submitted by Marc Alssid)

1909 Buick Model 16

1909 Buick Model 10 Runabout

Kleiner's Korner (Submitted by Art Kleiner)

Buick Plants, Flint, Michigan


Note the double smokestacks as seen in the Mystery Foto.


Jul 16 2017 Greg O. 2:04 PM

-Identify the drivers
-Identify the other members in the racing team

The Buick factory race team.
Louis Strang (seated on the car in front of the rear tire); Walter L. Marr (fifth from right) who was Buick’s first engineer; W. W. Brown (fourth from left on the front row), Joseph R. Common (ninth from left with wide brim hat) and Glenn Breed (standing at far right) were all team mechanicans; Bob Burman (seated in car nearest the camera); and Louis Chevrolet (seated in the car beside Burman)

-Identify the race car and the races in which it participated
-Where and when was the photo taken? Provide a rationale.

1908 at the Buick factory and test track in Flint, Michigan.
The car is the Model 16 Buick #10 that had been modified for racing.  The car had been constructed as one of the team’s few “Marquette-Buicks” in 1908 and began its record setting racing career in January of 1909.  It was retired from service in 1923 and became a part of the collection at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum in 1964.

Jul 16 2017 Steve Lucas 9:06 PM

I believe we’re looking at a group photo of the Buick Factory Racing Team taken on the test track at the factory in Flint, Michigan. V. C. R. drivers include: Bob Burman, in the driver’s seat (1910, 1911, 1915 V. C. races & 1908 Motor Pkwy sweepstakes); next to Burman is Louis Chevrolet (1905, 1908, 1909, 1910 V. C. races); and Lewis Strang, seated on car just in front of left rear wheel (1908, 1909 V.C. races & 1908 Motor Pkwy sweepstakes). Other members of the team are: Walter L. Marr (5th from right); W.W. Brown (4th from left, front row); Joseph R. Common (9th from left with wide brim hat); Glenn Breed (standing at far right). The car is a Marquette-Buick model 16 which I believe participated in (among others) the 1909 Prest-O-Lite trophy race (won by Burman), the 1909 Cobe Trophy race (won by Chevrolet), and the 1910 Vanderbilt Cup. Based on the race participation, the photo was probably taken in 1909 or possibly 1908.

Jul 17 2017 Art Kleiner 7:04 AM

I believe the drivers are Louis Chevrolet, Arthur Chevrolet and Bob Burman, all members of the 1910 Buick Racing Team.  I’m basing this on photos showing the building in the background being the Buick auto plant in Flint MI (possibly Plant #14).

Car could be the Marquette- Buick which ran in the race.

I would say photo taken around 1910 when the Chevrolets were part of the Buick Racing Team and the plant having been erected. 

Jul 17 2017 Tim Ivers 3:42 PM

The clue was the distinct driver, Louis Chevrolet.
This was the Buick team at the Flint MI plant in 1910.

Jul 17 2017 Howard Kroplick 9:58 PM

From Marc Alssid:

Wow this looks like a tough one!

At first glance, I would say the driver behind the wheel is Louis Chevrolet from the Buick Racing Team. The car looks very similar to a 1910 Buick Model 16 Roadster, and the background looks very much like the factory in Flint, MI (but is probably somewhere on Long Island). I’ll have to look thorough some books tomorrow!

See following link: http://winfield.50megs.com/GrossePointe.htm
According to the caption, the photo was from around 1908. I was close, the car is a Model 16 Buick that had been modified for racing.
Caption also states that the only ones identified so far are Louis Strang, seated on the car in front of the rear tire. Walter l. Marr (5th from right) Buick’s first engineer. W.W. Brown (4th from left, front row), Joseph R. Common (9th from left with wide brim hat), Glenn Breed (standing at far right) who were all team mechanicans. Bob Burman (seated in the car nearest the camera) and Louis Chevrolet (seated in the car beside Burman).
The photo was taken at the Buick Factory in Flint.

We Buick guys don’t quit!

I sent you some photos from my phone earlier with pictures of the Buick-Marquette from the book The Buick, a Complete History by Terry Dunham and Lawrence Gustin.

Below in an excerpt from the GM Heritage website on the history of Louis Chevrolet (gmheritagecenter.com)

On March 5th 1909, Louis and his brother Arthur were hired by Buick to
join the Buick Race Team. During the last 2 years of the Vanderbilt Cup
Race on Long Island, Louis drove his famous (1909) Buick Marquettes
clocking the fastest laps of the race and nearly won the 1910 race, only
to give the lead away to Harry Grant due to front suspension failure.
The Franco-Swiss driver managed to beat fate and suffered many injuries
from the Vanderbilt crashes. Louis went on to race and win the Harkness
Gold Trophy in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn in 1917. Louis averaged 110mph
during the 100 mile race, which was absolutely flying in the early hand
built cars. In this race he had beaten some of the best drivers back in
the day. Prior to this race, Louis had prominent victories at Cincinnati
and Chicago tracks.

I hope this information is helpful.


Jul 17 2017 Howard Kroplick 10:01 PM

From James Ryan:

I didn’t find out the year or the names, but I did find this answer below to the photo.
The Buick team on the test track at the Buick factory in Flint, Michigan.
Jim Ryan LIBC

Jul 20 2017 Howard Kroplick 8:36 PM

From Penny Harvard 7/15/2017

Mystery photo 28 is louis chevrolet. 
P havard

Sep 18 2017 Larry Gustin 1:53 PM

In the group picture, I believe the man in striped suit shown in one version of the picture (he’s in background in other version) is David Dunbar Buick. Reason is the man in the same suit is identified by GM as DDB in two other photos taken at Cobe Trophy winner’s circle, with winning driver Louis Chevrolet. I am author of the book “David Buick’s Marvelous Motor Car” and will use several pictures with this ID in a planned 4th revised edition. Let me know if thoughts on this: 248 393-8239 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Nov 10 2017 Rick Masters 9:19 PM

The man sitting next to Lewis Strang (at the wheel) is probably Loren Hodge, who rode with Lewis to win the first 100 mile race at Indianapolis in 1909, probably in that car.  There is a good interview and biograp in the Decator Sunday Herald and Review, (Decatur, Illinois)
17 Feb 1980, Sun, Page 51.  You will notice a good likeness in his photo from the interview here


Loren Hodge was invited by Glenn Curtiss at the 1909 race to become one of his early pilots at his New York factory.

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