Charles Schmidt

Designer and driver of the Packard Gray Wolf

Nationality: France
Born: 1869
Died: Unknown

Charles Schmidt was one of the early designer of automobiles. Beginning in 1894, Schmidt had over eight year's experience designing cars in his native France. He had been working as a plant superintendant at the Mors factory and as a part-time racing driver. His work on the Mors chassis attracted the attention of Henry Joy, President of Ohio Automobile Company which later became the Packard Motor Car Company. On April 17, 1903, Schmidt was hired to work for Joy in Warren, Ohio at a salary of four dollars per day.

Henry Joy and Charle Schmidt  in 1903 decided to build a lightweight race car to demonstrate the performance of the Packard Model K. Only one example was built, at a cost of $10,000.


In January of 1904, Mr. Schmidt set two land speed records at Ormond Beach, FL, in the Gray Wolf. It car won several other races and was wrecked several times. Driving by Schmidt, it showed little difficulty in displacing the Winton Special's five-mile record. A second run was attempted a short time later, on January 3rd. There was a strong breeze, suitable temperature, and well groomed sand which offered ideal conditions to shatter its prior record. It traversed the five-mile course in just 4:26.1 minutes.

The 1904 Vanderbilt Cup Race was the last race for the Gray Wolf while owned by Packard. Once again, drivng by Schmidt, the Gray Wolf finished a respectable fourth, second among the American entries. In Henry Joy's scrapbook, there is a January 1905 clipping noting the Gray Wolf had been sold to a rich motorist at a great price. The last record of the Gray Wolf was a Chicago race with Jess Ellingsworth driving for E.R. Greene.

Charles Schmidt moved with the Packard Company to Detroit and remained with the firm until January 1905, when he left to accept a designer position with the Peerless Motor Company in Cleveland. He received a raise in salary to $10,000 a year, doubling his Packard salary.




May 1974 Issue of Road and Track Magazine "Packard Gray Wolf: One of America's first  lightweight racers"