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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Pre-WWII Racing


The New York Times
February 22, 1909

Burman, in Little Automobile, Cuts Former World's Mark More Than 11 Minutes.


Ryall's Matheson Car Completely Demolished on Track at New Orleans—Driver's Miraculous Escape.

Special to The New York Times.

NEW ORLEANS, La., Feb. 21.—Robert Burman, in a little Buick car, furnished the sensation of the second day's automobile races here to-day by smashing the world's 100-mile record by more than eleven minutes, making the distance in 1:42:39 2-5.  The record up to this time was held by Clemens, being 1:53:21 4-5, made at Indianapolis in 1905.  The weather was cloudy and threatening, but the track was lightning fast, well oiled, and dustless.  The attendance was over 10,000.

Only one accident occurred to-day, and that one was not serious.  In the very first race Jimmy Ryall, in his Matheson, made too wide a turn, and, losing control, the machine crashed into the fence.  The terrific force of the impact whirled the machine around, completely demolishing it.  Ryall was thrown into a ditch, unhurt, except for a few minor bruises and cuts.  He got up and helped remove his machine.  His escape from death or serious injury was miraculous.

The 100-mile race was the classic of the day, and the fastest and most sensational ever seen in this city.  Burman's time is considered remarkable, for his machine is a light Buick and the time was made from a standing start.  Burman had two competitors at the beginning of the race, Strang, in an Isotta, and Robertson, in a Simplex.  Robertson started off in the lead, but held it only for one mile, when Burman assumed the lead.

He held the lead the entire distance, with the single exception in the twenty-fifth mile, when he lost it for a half a mile to Robertson.  The race driven by Burman was characterized by his daring and terrific speed.  He started off fast and kept up the gait the whole distance.  Not once was he forced to stop either for new tires or gasoline.

The little Buick stood the strain of 100 miles beautifully.  At the fiftieth mile he was about a minute back of the fifty-mile circular track record.  During the last forty miles he made his best time, when he turned his machine loose and went after the century record.  He cut the turns with great sharpness, most of the time going around on two wheels, and hugged the pole all the time.  He drove without a mechanic.  For the last seventy-five miles he was without goggles, losing them while going around the twenty-fifth time.

Strang first lost a tire, and then had trouble with his steering gear, and was forced to retire.  Robertson had to stop twice for new tires and gasoline, and was ten miles behind Burman at the finish.

Mrs. Joan Newton Cuneo showed up especially well to-day.  In a mile trail against time she set a new woman's record of 1:00 1-5, beating her new record made in the races Saturday by one and three-fifths seconds.  She won the ten-mile stock car race in 10:12 1-5, and in the first race won the five-mile national amateur championship race for the Klaw & Erianger Trophy, her time being 5:08 1-5.  Seven races were decided.

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