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Here and There in Motoring's Past: 1903-1906—Mr. Schwarzkopf Changes His Mind

Pre-WWII Racing Topics:  E.E. Schwarzkopf, E.E. Schwarzkopf

Here and There in Motoring's Past: 1903-1906—Mr. Schwarzkopf Changes His Mind

Peter Helck
Antique Automobile
March-April 1972

E.E. Schwarzkopf, long-term Editor of Automobile Topics, was at his voluble peak in reporting on "The Hero of the Day" at the track meet at Empire City's one-mile oval on September 22, 1903.  The "hero" was Joe Tracy, "a new star driver who made his debut as a record-breaker with W. Gould Brokaw's 30 hp Renault when he made new records from two to ten miles in the Middleweight Division, 881 to 1432 pounds, in the final 10-mile heat of the International Cup Race."  Accompanying this glowing prose was a full page portrait of Tracy.  The new star is further eulogised with, "Tracy, neatly attired in a dark red sweater, drove the car for the first time without fear and without price for glory and not for cash, in a most impressive manner and amid great applause."

Three years later Tracy was unquestionably our top road driver.  He had placed 3rd in the 1905 Vanderbilt, the best performance yet made by an American car in international racing.  He won the 1906 Vanderbilt Eliminations and thus headed the American Team of five against the ace drivers and twelve cars from Europe.  During practice, two great foreign racers, Lancia and Louis Wagner, viewed the Tracy-Locomobile as a formidable opponent.  For the first time an American representative became a betting favorite, the erstwhile "hero" of Empire track in 1903.

Rain the night before the race made the use of studded tires necessary for the 30-mile oiled circuit.  The foreigners had their trusty Michelins. The Americans had the dubious experimental studded Diamonds.  Briefly, Tracy had 11 tire replacements.  He was nowhere in the race.  However, on the single lap on which his tires held, he set the circuit record, passing both the winner, Wagner's Darracq, and Jenatzy's Mercedes in doing so.

Again France took the cup.  All of the race reviews offered high praise for Tracy's effort with his ill-shod Locomobile.  However, Mr. Schwarzkopf, his earlier adulation notwithstanding, editorialized with, "I cannot be silent on the defeat of the Locomobile car, which was due, in a large measure, to lack of judgment and lack of skill on the part of its driver."

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