Feb 17 2014

Mystery Foto #55 Solved: Walter Christie Driving the #9 Christie in Mineola on September 21,1906

Bob  and Ruth Valentine forwarded this never-before-published photo of a Vanderbilt Cup Racer.

Mystery Foto Questions:

-Identify the manufacturer and model year for this racer.

The 50-HP Christie touring car used as the racer for the 1906 American Elimination Trial.


-Identify the driver and mechanician

Driver J. Walter Christie and his mechanician Lewis Stang


-Was the photo taken during a race? Explain your reasoning.

Given the absences of googles and a driving mask for both the driver and mechanician, this was a practice run prior to the 1906 American Elimination Trial.


-What is the date of the photo?

Likely September 21, 1906, one day prior to the 1906 American Elimination Trial. Earlier in the morning, Christie clobbered a telegraph pole during practice. He and riding mechanic Lewis Strang were uninjured.  He replaced the racer with his 50-HP Christie touring car.


-Where was this photo taken? The back of the original photo included a descriptive caption.

As discovered by Bob and Ruth Valentine, the caption on the reverse side of the photo  reads:

"Vanderbilt Cup Race -   Crossing L. I. Railroad going north on Main St, Mineola (probable)
Courtesy of Joe Burt Sr."    E. C. Kiernan

Bob & Ruth's comment: "I do not think this is a photo taken during a race.  No goggles or head gear, few people in background, just women dressed in white - two with bicycles. Enjoy this mystery photo. Ruth & Bob

The photo was discovered in the Williston Park historical archives.


Congrats to Micael Keefe, Sam Berliner III, Lee Stohr,Walter McCarthy, Greg O. , Art Kleiner and Tim Ivers for correctly identifying the car as a Christie. Kudos to Lee Stohr and Greg O. for identifying the car as the #9 American Elimination Trial Racer. Shoutout to Art Kleiner for guessing the Mineola location.


Howard Kroplick

The unique design is clearly a front-wheel driver Christie. The Christie racers ran in the 1905 American Elimination Trial (#6), the 1905 Vanderbilt Cup Race (#11), the 1906 American Elimination Trial (#9), and the 1906 Vanderbilt Cup Race. Since both the driver and the mechanician are not wearing goggles or masks, this was clearly a practice run.

A closeup of the racer reveals the number 9. Accordingly, this is the Christie racer that participated in the 1906 American Elimination Trial.

The driver of the car was J. Walter Christie,its designer. The mechaician was Lewis Strang, who would drive in the 1908 Motor Parkway Sweepstakes, 1908 and 1909 Vanderbilt Cup Races, and the 1911 Indy 500.

The Christie was on a road that crossed two sets of railroad tracks, which Main Street in Mineola did. The building in the background is still a mystery. Is it possible that it was one of the buildings of Nassau Hospital with nurses at the wall?

The Christie Racer that crashed one day before the American Elimination Trial on the morning of September 21, 1906

The Christie Vanderbilt Cup Racers

Christie #6- 1905 American Elimination Trial racer with driver George Robertson and mechanician Walter Christie.

Christie #11-1905 Vanderbilt Cup Racer with driver Walter Christie  and mechanician George Robertson.

Christie #9- 1906 American Elimination Trial Racer driver by Walter Christie and mechanician Lewis Strang.

Christie#17- 1906 Vanderbilt Cup Racer with driver Walter Christie and mechanician Lewis Strang.

See the Christie at 0:27 seconds


Feb 17 2014 Howard Kroplick 7:18 PM

Michael Keller 1:32 PM

Strange front suspension suggests a Christie front wheel drive racer.

Michael from Switzerland
R Troy 12:58 AM

I’ve no clue, but that is an amazing looking car!

S. Berliner, III 1:48 AM

Wow, those tracks must have been rough on the tires!  ‘s a Christie!  ‘s all I know.  :·)  Sam, iII

S. Berliner, III 1:53 AM

Oops!  Forgot to note that it was NOT during a race - look at those outfits, no goggles or helmets, and no hood on the car!  Test drive, I’d guess.  Sam, III

Lee Stohr 10:30 AM

This is John Walter Christie’s #9 entry in the 1906 Vanderbilt Cup Elimination race.  Lewis Strang was his mechanician.  I’ve seen the photo in an album in Austin Clark’s files at the Henry Ford.  After Christie wrecked his main entry in practice, he used this car in the Elimination Race and the main event.  Notice number 9 on the front of the car.  I doubt the photo was taken during the race, because neither Walter or Strang are wearing their goggles or racing jackets.  Date must be about September 22, but I can’t be positive.  I can’t identify the street but I’m sure you can Howard!

Walter McCarthy 11:25 AM

Christie front engine race car.

Walter McCarthy 11:42 AM

It was the 1906 race and it did not finish.  It was driven by Christie himself for I think 7 laps.

Greg O. 10:00 PM

Here goes my best guesses;

-Identify the manufacturer and model year for this racer.
  1905 FWD Christie

-Identify the driver and mechanician

  (John) Walter Christie and Nephew and future driver Lewis Strang

-Was the photo taken during a race? Explain your reasoning.

  Doesn’t look like it. Possible practice run for the 1906 elimination trials after the larger car was wrecked? There does not appear to be any number on the car, (other than maybe a faint ‘9’ from another competition?) and they are not wearing goggles or proper racing attire.

-What is the date of the photo?

  September 1906

-Where was this photo taken? The back of the original photo included a descriptive caption.

  Unsure about the mystery bulding. Maybe the grade crossing at Jericho Tpke for the LIRR Oyster Bay branch? -Although the Pickering photos of the crossing look different. IU Willets didn’t have any large buildings, and Old Westbury Rd was not a grade crossing… Hmmmm.

Feb 23 2014 Howard Kroplick 11:52 AM

From Cyril Smith:

There are three rail lines pictured in your Mystery Photo, as Bill Bellmer indicated this is Garden City Hilton Ave. The third line (foreground ) is trolley line spur between GC station Franklin Ave trolley

Note pix taken 1/2 block away from GC Hotel, likely where team was staying. GC had a women’s bicycle club at the time

Feb 25 2014 Michael LaBarbera 8:45 AM

Willis Avenue at Mineola RR Crossing as opposed to Main Street Mineola RR would be a better guess, since it travels through to Jericho Tpk.

Dec 04 2014 Michael LaBarbera 11:57 AM

In checking back on this one, the tracks at Main Street Mineola are angled slightly away from each other for the oyster bay bend….leaving only Willis ave or Roslyn Rd in Mineola as a choice. Other possiblility could be Lakeville Road which has parallel double tracks. The ancient looking Hospital has to be on some old map somewhere.

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