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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Pre-WWII Racing


The New York Times
October 10, 1904

Doctors Say That Vanderbilt Cup Contestant May Recover.


Clement Takes Referee's Decision on His Protest Philosophically—Bars Down on Speeding Now.

George Arents, Jr., the automobilist who was injured Saturday in the progress of the international automobile race for the Vanderbilt Cup, at Westbury, Long Island, by an accident which cost the life of his mechanician, Carl Mensel, last night was in a condition so greatly improved that there now is every hope for his recovery.  The physicians who were called into consultation with Dr. Louis Lanehart, chief of the Nassau Hospital staff, at Mineola, where Mr. Arents is under treatment, and Dr. A. J. McCosh of New York, Mr. Arents's family physician, decided after spending nearly the entire day with the injured automobilist that there was no evidence that there had been a fracture of the skull, as was at first believed, and that the talked-of operation would not be necessary.

Five physicians in all were with Mr. Arents through the day, but after the patient in the afternoon so far recovered consciousness as to show signs that he recognized his mother and wife, the New York doctors, except Dr. McCosh, decided to return to their homes.  Dr. McCosh later in the day was joined by Dr. B. Sachs, a nerve specialist, and another examination of Mr. Arents was made.  The conclusion then reached was that a blood vessel in the brain had burst, and a clot had formed.  Dr. McCosh expressed the hope that within forty-eight hours this would be absorbed.

When the accident happened to Mr. Arents, the glasses in the eye protectors he wore broke, and some of the splinters went into the eye on the left side.  The particles have been removed, and no serious result is feared.

Mr. Arents still is in a state of coma, but there has been no marked increase in his temperature to alarm his attendants.  The physicians took a very hopeful view of the case last night and stated that Mr. Arents in all probability will recover.  His father, mother, wife and sister remained in attendance and spent most of the day at his bedside.  They have taken apartments at the Garden City Hotel, but have spent the time since Mr. Arents's accident at the Nassau Hospital.  The swelling on the lower part of the back of Mr. Arents's head is still of such proportions that the exact nature of his injury cannot be determined until this has been somewhat reduced, but the consulting physicians are satisfied that there is no fracture.

Dr. Cleghorn, house physician of the Nassau Hospital, yesterday issued a certificate of death in the case of Carl Mensel, the mechanician employed by Mr. Arents, and who was thrown from the Arents car and crushed in the accident, and so an inquiry by the Coroner will be obviated, as Mensel was living when he was received in the hospital.  The unfortunate automobilist will be buried in the Lutheran Cemetery, at Newtown, to-morrow.


Of the decision reached by W. K. Vanderbilt, Jr., donor of the cup which induced Saturday's great race, on the protest made by Albert Clement, whose machine finished second to George Heath's car, and which was announced early Sunday morning, A. R. Pardington, Chairman of the Race Committee, talked freely yesterday.

The protest was dismissed by Mr. Vanderbilt, who was referee, after a long and thorough discussion of the claims made by Clement.  Mr. Pardington said that Mr. Vanderbilt was in consultation with the members of the Race Committee from 9:30 P. M. Saturday until 1:30 A. M. Sunday, and after taking into consideration every circumstance connected with the case, Mr. Vanderbilt had reached the decision that the penalty inflicted on Clement was just.  The referee had found that Clement had been handicapped by his slight knowledge of English, and the fact that he did not have a companion who could speak English in his car, and that Mr. Clement violated the rules governing the contest through ignorance of the requirements of competitors, but that he had violated the rules of the contest was settled by his own admission that he had made repairs on his machine while in the controls.  Of Clement's assertion that others also had done the same thing, Mr. Vanderbilt decided that he could not remit the penalty on Clement because of that statement, and as no other competitors had been detected in violating the rules they must have the benefit of any doubt, and be regarded as free from any effort for unfair advantage.

Clement was in Mineola through the greater part of the day, and accepted the ruling of the referee philosophically.  He had been greatly excited immediately after the race and when he first filed his protest, but after considering the conditions over night he was comparatively calm yesterday.  He still insisted that the use he made of the time in the controls in repairing his car was without any intent to break the rules, and he declared that other drivers did the same thing, going so far as to name some of those who utilized the time in the controls in making ready for high speed as soon as they resumed the race.  Clement was not discouraged by his failure, however, but declared that he still believes that his machine is the fastest that competed in the international race.  He asserted that he was sure that his car can beat the winning machine, driven by Heath, and he asserted most positively that he intended to return to America next year and try for the cup a second time.

The winner, George Heath, already has been notified that he is wanted in Paris, where the makers of the car he drove have headquarters, and he will leave some time this week, though the date of his departure has not been fixed as yet.  As Mr. Vanderbilt is anxious to get a rest after the hard work of making arrangements for and conducting the big race, and with Mr. Pardington has decided to take a ten days' rest, the matter of the fixing a time for the presentation of the Vanderbilt Cup is left open.


Of the charge that nails had been scattered on the road over which the race was conducted, with malicious intent toward the racing motor cars, Mr. Pardington said that he was loath to believe that any such act had been committed.  No information of that character had come to him officially, he said, and he doubted that there was ground for the report.  Mr. Pardington declared that the most common accident met with by automobilists was picking up nails, tacks, and glass on the road.  District Attorney James P. Niemann of Nassau County said that while the charges had been brought to his attention, it would be very difficult to detect the offenders. He declared that if the persons who were guilty were found, however, he would be glad to prosecute them.

The success of the race was such that already a great many people about Mineola and throughout the country are talking of the Vanderbilt Cup race as it were an established annual competition, to be decided on the same course as Saturday's contest.  The people who opposed the race from the time it was announced until the actual moment of the start, however, are as bitter against automobile road racing now as they were when the fight was on last week.  The next move contemplated by the opposition and the Citizens' Protective Association, it is said, will be an appeal to the Legislature for an amendment of the law which permitted the Road Supervisors to turn over the roads to the racing motor cars.  Persons interested in motoring anticipate such a move, however, and already are discussing a suggestion to take the next race to the seashore, at Long Branch or some similar place, where stretches of eight miles may be obtained and turns added.

Tempted by the oiled road over which the cup race was held, many automobilists tried speeding through the village of Hempstead, L. I., yesterday, and two of them had to pay fines.  One who exceeded the speed limit was going so fast that he could not be stopped, and another who broke the law and was caught was let go with a scolding because Judge Tatem had gone home and it was not desired to hold the young man until morning.  The man who was going too fast to be stopped was in the car which bore the lucky "seven" Saturday, and which Heath drove to victory.  It was said that it was Heath who was driving it yesterday.  The man who was halted and then let go was the chauffeur for Albert Clement, who rode second to Heath.


Those who were fined were C. W. Gates, who admitted speeding and was fined $25, and Charles Hoyt of Oyster Bay, who entered a plea of guilty and paid the same amount as Mr. Gates.

The chance that the stirring race of Saturday when the machines were shot around the course at such high speed would lead to many drivers trying to see how fast they could go determinted the authorities to renew the crusade formerly conducted against promiscuous speeding.  The Hempstead village authorities called on the District Attorney for aid, and yesterday morning Detective Abram Furman and five men took station at the measured course in the village which was formerly used for timing, and every machine that went over the course at high speed was timed, and as the work was done openly many automobilists saved themselves by slowing down.

Mr. Niemann, when told of the work done, said he was determined that speeding within the limits of the villages of the county should be stopped.  "It is a very different thing," he said, "for men to speed their cars over the course they did on Saturday with proper policing, and when every one was on the lookout and when any one approaching the roads used would be instantly warned.  All efforts will be made to put a stop to this risky practice, which is as dangerous to law-abiding autoists as it is to pedestrians and to drivers of carriages.  We welcome the drivers of cars who keep within the law, but we cannot have these great machines run recklessly."

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