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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Elgin Road Race Collection Pre-WWII Racing


The New York Times
August 27, 1911

Grand Stand Falls in the Morning and Buck and His Helper Are Killed When Tire Comes Off.


Daughter of Senator Lorimer Among Those Injured When Flimsy Grand Stand Gives Way

Elgin, Ill., Aug. 26.—One auto driver so badly hurt in the course of the race that he died a few hours later, his mechanic killed outright, and 30 persons injured when one of the grand stands fell were incidents of the 305-mile road race here to-day, which was won by Len Sengel, driving a National car, with Harry Grant in an Alco second and Hugh Hughes in a Mercer third.

Dave Buck, the veteran Chicago automobile racer, was within eleven laps of the finish in a Pope-Hartford car, and going at the rate of sixty-four miles an hour on the back stretch, when his right forward wheel threw a tire.  The machine turned a complete somersault, and Sam Jacobs, the mechanic, was killed instantly.  His neck was broken.  Buck was at first thought to be only slightly injured, but it was found later this his back was broken, and he died this evening in St. Joseph's Hospital.

The grand stand fell soon after 11 o'clock, while the first lap of the race was on, several sections of the insecurely built circuit seats giving way.  A thousand or more persons were thrown to the ground.

When the stringers by which the seats were supported gave way, the boards spread out like a pack of cards carelessly thrown on a table, and the spectators were shunted into a heap at the bottom.  Four persons were badly hurt, among them being a daughter of Senator Lorimer, but others escaped with cuts and bruises.  The injured were cared for at the field hospital.

From time to time the rest of the day warnings were shouted through megaphones to the spectators not to jump to their feet in moments of excitement to avoid a possible repetition of the stand accident.  Many left the grounds after the accident, fearing to trust themselves further.  The ten cars which were on the course were stopped as soon as they reached the repair pit after the grand stand fell, but a new start was made fifty minutes after the hour at which the race originally started.  Here is a list of those most seriously hurt when the grand stand fell:


GRAHAM, Mrs. RAY, daughter of Senator William Lorimer, Chicago; broken leg.
HAMILTON, A. D., Elgin; head out.
HAMLIN, Mrs. H. S., Elgin; back hurt, unable to walk.
OSTEROTH, Mrs. A. S., Oak Park, Ill.; side injured.
VAN SICKLEN, Mrs. N. H., Chicago; face, arms, and legs cut.

Ralph Mulford, whose Lozier was the last away after the start of the race, to-day, and who won the race last year, set a terrific pace.  For fifty-nine miles he drove at the rate of sixty-nine miles an hour, leading the field by a good six minutes.  On the next lap, however, he went out of the race with a burned connecting rod bearing.  This placed Len Zengel in first position, with Harry Grant two minutes behind him.  It was in this relation that they finished, although grant lost two minutes when he stopped to change tires.  Zengel made but two stops, both for gasoline and oil.

Hugh Hughes, the Mercer driver, who won the Kane County Cup yesterday, ran another consistent race, finishing third.  He stopped but once for gasoline, and was closely pressing Grant for second place at the finish.  He lost by eleven seconds.  Zengel's time averaged for the race four miles an hour faster than that made by Mulford last year.  Grant and Hughes also averaged nearly that much better.  Mulford obtained the prize for the fastest lap, covering the eight and one-half miles in 7 minutes 14 seconds.

Ralph De Palma and Spencer Wishart, Simplex drivers, went out of the race early, the former in the second lap with a broken fly wheel and the latter in the fifth with a broken connecting rod.  Aitken, who was at the steering post of a National, retired in the third lap with cylinder trouble.  Buck had tire trouble from the start and dropped steadily behind for this reason until his accident.

Summary of the Race.

Elgin National Trophy for cars under 600 inches displacement; prizes and cash valued at $6,500 to winner; distance, 305.05 miles; lap 8½ miles.

Position.  Driver and Car.Time.
1—Len Zengel, National................4:35:39
2—Harry F. Grant, Alco...............4:41:58
3—Hugh Hughes, Mercer................4:42:09
4—Frank Lee, Alco, (271 miles)........4:45:45
5—D. Buck, Pope-Hartford, (203 miles)..3:58:26
6—Harry Hartman, Alco, (169 miles)....2:45:44

 Zengel's average, 66.45 miles per hour.

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