Sep 10, 2010

Car Daze...

Within the last week, there have been three remarkable events that are car-related.  I'm always fascinated by some of the things we humans dream up to occupy ourselves, and these three events top my list for the recent past:

First, there were the Duesenberg Drag Races held last weekend in conjunction with the annual gathering of the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Club in Auburn, Indiana.  The correct official name of this crazy event was the "Ab Jenkins Memorial Duesenberg Exhibition of Speed."  The club actually got permission to close down the runway at nearby Kendallville (IN) Airport for a few hours so that Duesenberg owners could let their cars stretch their legs in a competitive setting.  It had to have been quite a sight to see these magnificent monsters (420 cu. in. dual overhead cam straight eight engine) roaring down the runway.

The sister car to the Duesenberg shown here used to reside in my home town of Schenectady, New York:
It belonged to Perry Egbert, who was the Chairman of the Board of the American Locomotive Company at the time -- early to mid 1950's.  This car was the so-called Model SSJ, a short-wheelbase (125") supercharged Model J.  There also had been an earlier Model J Duesenberg in Schenectady.  I researched it in the early 1960's and learned that a gentleman named Jimmy Roberts who lived on Regent Street had owned one in the 1930's and -'40's.  I visited Mr. Roberts and he told me that he traded the car, a 1929 Model J Murphy-bodied roadster, toward a 1949 Lincoln.  The dealer gave him $900 for the Duesenberg.  Today these cars often sell for upwards of $1,000,000 in restored condition.

The second event of note started this morning in Beijing, China.  It is the 2010 Peking-to-Paris Rally.  This is a timed endurance rally involving over 100 vintage vehicles.  The oldest is a 1907 Itala, a car identical to the one that won a competition in 1907 to see if motorcars could make it from Peking to Paris.  In 1907, seven cars started and five actually completed the grueling 9,000 mile grind.  

You might want to bookmark this site and follow some of the competitors.  In this picture of the cars gathered near the starting point this morning, you can see a 1932 Model PB Plymouth coupe, car number 42, which is identical to the car I drove in four transcontinental Great Race events here in the U.S.  I have to admit I'm a little biased in their favor.  The car is being driven and navigated by Marius Winkelman of the Netherlands and Victor Silveira da Conceicao of Portugal.

And the third event also started this morning, but a long way from Beijing.  The Motorcycle Cannonball Run started at 8:00 AM in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.  In this event, some 70 participants, riding motorcycles built before 1916 are attempting to go from Kitty Hawk to Santa Monica, California, arriving by Sunday, September 26th.  These gentlemen will be stopping for lunch at Rocket City Harley Davidson on September 14th and I certainly plan to be there.  It turns out that I know four of the participants because of my involvement in the Great Race.  Corky Coker, of Chattanooga, is driving a 1907 Thor motorcyle.  Wayne Stanfield, another old Great Race participant, is riding a 1915 3-speed Harley Davidson.  John Hollansworth is driving a 1914 Indian.  And Frank Westfall, who rode a motorcycle in the 1998 Great Race, is riding a 1914 Henderson Model D.  This will be a fascinating rally to watch and their Web site is extremely well designed.  Don't miss it.

I pray for the safety of all the hardy participants.

1 comment: said...

My husband's grandfather, Perry Egbert was the owner of the Duesenberg talked about here. We were told he bought it from either Cary Cooper or Clark Gable. We aren't sure???