Jul 29 2019

Mystery Foto #30 Solved: Willie K’s “Red Devil” at the 1901 Newport Automobile Races

This weekend's Mystery Foto documented an historic race.

Answers to the Mystery Foto questions:

  • Identify the automobile race, its date, location and length.

Race and Location: Automobile Races held at Aquidneck Park, Newport, Rhode Island

Date: August 30, 1901

Length: This racer participated in two races: a 5-mile run for gasoline vehicles with over 12-HP and the 10-mile championship for the winners of all six classes

  • Identify the automobile, its manufacturer, HP and its driver

William K. Vanderbilt Jr.'s 35-HP Mercedes "Red Devil"

  • Who was the winner  of the race?

23-year old Willie K. won both races before an estimated crowd of 3,000.

Comments (9)

Congrats to Dick Gorman, Greg O., Penny, Tim Ivers, Steve Lucas and Brian McCarthy for correctly identifying the 1901 Newport Automobiles Races at Aquidneck Park.

Kudos to Greg O. for posting a photo of Willie K's Mercedes "Red Devil".


Howard Kroplick


1901 Newport Automobile Races Program

One of my favorite pieces om Vanderbilia collection will be on display in a special exhibit at the Audrain Museum in Newport starting next week.

1901 Newport Automobile Races from William K. Vanderbilt Jr.'s personal scrapbook. Courtesy of the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum.

Willie K. is on the far right.

Willie K. can be seen in the middle of this photo.

Amazing carriages!


Jul 26 2019 frank femenias 1:32 AM

I can swear that’s Willie K’s profile behind the wheel. If this photo was taken early in the morning, photographer is facing SW but where? More research is in order.

Jul 27 2019 Dick Gorman 9:58 AM

Mystery Friday Foto #30… This photo was taken at the 1901 Newport Automobile Race, held on August 30 at a horse track called Aquidneck Park. The car was a 35hp Mercedes owned by William K Vanderbilt, jr. He called it the “Red Devil”. He was the the driver of the Mercedes and won both races that day… winning the final race at an average speed of 39mph… faster than I would have imagined that long ago.

Jul 27 2019 Greg O 1:02 PM

-Identify the automobile race, its date, location and length.
August 30,1901, half-mile Aquidneck Park horse track near Newport, Rhode Island -5-mile heats and a final 10-Mile Race

-Identify the automobile, its manufacturer, HP and its driver
1901 35-HP Mercedes “Red Devil” owned and driven by Willie K.

-Who was the winner of the race?
From VCR; “The “Red Devil” won the 5-mile heats for “Gasolene Vehicles developing more than 12 Horse Power”. In the final 10-Mile Race, not surprisingly, the “Red Devil” out-powered the winners of the other classes and won the championship, averaging 39.0 miles per hour.”

Jul 28 2019 penny 8:24 AM

This is the Rhode Island Automobile Club 10 mile race held at Aquidneck Park, horse track, Newport, R.I. August 30, 1901.  The car pictured is the custom built 35 hp Mercedes called the ‘Red Devil’ and the driver is William K. Vanderbilt. This car and driver won this race at an average speed of 33.7 or 33.9 mph depending on which article one reads.

Jul 28 2019 Phil Kneer 8:31 AM

Thank you Howard,
Excellent !

Jul 28 2019 Tim Ivers 10:22 AM

The September 1900 Newport Race Rhode Island
First Vanderbilt Cup trophy
William Vanderbilt driving a Daimler was winner
There were 13 races, each 5 miles, and Vanderbilt won 3.
He drove a French Daimler Phoenix, 23 horsepower, to speed 100 mph.

Jul 28 2019 Steve Lucas 2:25 PM

This photo is from a series of 16 automobile races for various classes of motorized vehicles held at Aquidneck Park (horse racing) in Newport, RI on August 30, 1901. Depending on the class, the length of each race varied from 3 to 10 miles. The races were sponsored by the National Automobile Racing Association with Willie K. as president. The car in the photo is Willie K.‘s 35 HP Mercedes (nick-named “Red Devil”) driven by him. Since he won 3 races that day (the 11th. and 15th. at 5 miles and the 16th. at 10 miles), I’m guessing this is from the last race.

Jul 28 2019 Brian D McCarthy 2:56 PM

*Race, Date, Location, & Date:  Newport Automobile Races - Aquidneck Park, Newport RI - 8/30/1901

*Auto, Make, HP, Driver:  Mercedes “Red Devil” 35 HP, owned by William K Vanderbilt Jr

*Winner:  Willy K won the 2 main races. 5 mile for gasoline vehicles 12 HP +, and the 10 mile for all 6 classes of vehicles.

All answers thanks to the 12/21/2009 Blog here.

Jul 29 2019 frank femenias 7:07 PM

I’m going to guess the 1904 AAA race. Looks like Willie K behind the wheel. This car is too advanced for the first auto race in 1895. No clue on location, likely macadam road surface, it could be Long Island. Great stumper mystery Howard, can it be solved?


Jul 29 2019 Brian D McCarthy 11:37 PM

Guess the drivers didn’t mind their clothes becoming dirty. EVERYONE wears their best for these events.

Jul 30 2019 Rich 10:06 AM

Absolutely great photos and story!

Aug 02 2019 Tom 12:22 PM

Nice sharp photos and everyone in there best attire,,,

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