Nov 12 2013

Three Legendary Racers at the Henry Ford Museum

Jim Blanchard has forwarded this photo of three amazing racers from the Racing in America exhibition at the Henry Ford Museum -Old 16, 999 and Sweepstakes.


Howard Kroplick


1901 Ford Race Car "Sweepstakes"

Frame:  Ash wood, reinforced with steel plates
Wheelbase:   96 inches
Weight:  2,200 pounds
Engine:  2-cylinder, horizontally opposed, water cooled
Bore:  7in.; Stroke: 7 in.; Displacement: 538 cu. in. (8.8 liters)
Horsepower:  26 (estimated)
Maximum RPM:   900
Drivetrain:   2-speed planetary transmission, with reverse; chain drive to rear axle

Re-enactment of the 1901 Sweepstakes versus Winton Race in the History Channel's Men Who Built America.


999 Racer

The 999 racer was an engineering feat for its time. Power came from an inline four-cylinder engine, displacing 1,155.3 cubic inches and developing  somewhere in the neighborhood of 70-100 horsepower. The flywheel alone weighed 230 pounds and was connected to the rear axle through a wooden-block clutch and a solid driveshaft that mated to an unsealed and dry ring-and-pinion gear to transmit its power to the rear wheels.

The driver steered with an iron bar that pivoted in the middle, and there was no rear suspension. Also, both the crankshaft and valve gear were exposed, so the driver not only was jolted by every ripple in the road, but also was continually sprayed by oil.

Old 16

Old 16

“America has at last come into its own.  An American car, designed by an American, built by Americans in an American factory, of American material, and driven by an American, finally won America’s classic contest in this the fourth year of the stubborn perseverance of Americans to place American cars on a speed level with the product of Europe.”

The Automobile, October 29, 1908

The “American car” referred to above is the Locomobile racer known to antique car collectors and fans as “Old 16.”  The “classic contest” it won in 1908 was America’s first great international auto race, the Vanderbilt Cup, held on Long Island, New York.


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