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Auto Racing in Maine: 1911

This slideshow contains 17 items
1
Fred Belcher in a Knox racecar, Poland Spring, 1911

Fred Belcher in a Knox racecar, Poland Spring, 1911

Item 35453 info
Stanley Museum

Fred W. Belcher of Springfield, Massachusetts, sits in his 60 HP Knox, a six-cylinder stock racing car, in front of the stables at the Poland Spring hotels in Poland Spring.

Belcher, a professional driver for the Knox Company, was entered in the Thurlow Hill Climb in South Poland on June 17, 1911.

The Poland Spring resort served as headquarters for the races.


2
Three Stanley Mountain Wagons at Poland Spring, 1911

Three Stanley Mountain Wagons at Poland Spring, 1911

Item 35451 info
Stanley Museum

Three Stanley Mountain Wagons and their crews stand before the garage (former stables) that once stood adjacent to the Riccar Inn (now known as the Presidential) at the Poland Spring Resort in 1911.

The Poland Spring Hotels, owned by Hiram Ricker & Sons, operated three of these early steamers to carry visitors and guests with their luggage from the nearby train depot to the hotels and the famed mineral springs.

Unlike early internal combustion cars, the Stanleys were quiet and did not emit foul exhaust, and thus could drive up to the main hotel entrance without disturbing guests on the veranda.

The steam cars also excelled as hill climbers. Stanley cars competed in and won many of these early events, including the "Climb to the Clouds" up Mt. Washington in New Hampshire, "Giant’s Despair" in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania; and "Dead Horse Hill" in Worcester, Massachusetts.

One of these cars saw double duty at the Thurlow Hill Climb, as it transported the press corps to the races and was driven by William S. Stanley (a Stanley nephew) in an official exhibition run over the course.


3
Motor Coachmen and their Stanley Cars, Poland Spring, 1911

Motor Coachmen and their Stanley Cars, Poland Spring, 1911

Item 35452 info
Stanley Museum

Three motor coachmen in identical road gear stand with their cars in front of the garage at the Poland Spring Resort in 1911.

The cars are nine-passenger Stanley Mountain Wagons, powered by 30 hp steam engines, the forerunners of modern-day passenger buses.

The Ricker family of Poland Springs owned three of these large vehicles to take guests and their luggage up the long climb from the railroad depot 6 1/2 miles away to the Poland Spring Hotels.

Operating early motor cars over Maine roads for paying customers was a challenging job, and these early chauffeurs shared a special camaraderie.


4
Preparing for the Thurlow Hill Climb Auto Race, Poland Spring, 1911

Preparing for the Thurlow Hill Climb Auto Race, Poland Spring, 1911

Item 35454 info
Stanley Museum

Fred W. Belcher, second from left, makes some adjustments to his Knox racer, No. 15, in front of the stables at Poland Spring.

Belcher was entered in the Thurlow Hill Climb in nearby South Poland.


5
Racer approaching the top of Thurlow Hill, Poland, 1911

Racer approaching the top of Thurlow Hill, Poland, 1911

Item 35457 info
Stanley Museum

Fred W. Belcher races his Knox stock car in the Thurlow Hill Climb in South Poland, June 17, 1911.

Racing early cars on dirt roads lined with spectators was often dangerous, as Belcher's car frequently went airborne over bumps in the road.

On one run, Belcher lost control of his racer, hit a tree and was thrown from the car. He was not badly hurt and was able to continue the race, scoring the fastest run of the day.


6
Race car on Thurlow Hill, Poland, June 17, 1911

Race car on Thurlow Hill, Poland, June 17, 1911

Item 35456 info
Stanley Museum

Fred W. Belcher powers his 60 HP Knox stock car, No. 15, over the crest of Thurlow Hill in South Poland.

The Maine Automobile Association sponsored the Thurlow Hill Climb. Belcher drove an exhibition run over the two-thirds-mile course in 48.2 seconds.

At one point his car sailed through the air an estimated 32 feet as later paced off by witnesses.


7
Race Car at the Thurlow Hill Climb, Poland, 1911

Race Car at the Thurlow Hill Climb, Poland, 1911

Item 35458 info
Stanley Museum

Howard A. Bauer drives his 1911 Oakland Runabout, No. 87, over the course of the Thurlow Hill Climb in South Poland on June 17, 1911.

Although the Oakland Motor Car Company of Pontiac, Michigan, participated successfully in many hill climbs, photos of their cars in action are quite rare.


8
Race car crosses the finish line, Poland, June 17, 1911

Race car crosses the finish line, Poland, June 17, 1911

Item 35459 info
Stanley Museum

Fred W. Belcher drives his Knox racer across the finish line of the Thurlow Hill Climb in South Poland, Saturday, June 17, 1911.

The farm in the background belonged to Flavius B. Shackford of Poland.


9
Auto racing, Old Orchard Beach, ca. 1912

Auto racing, Old Orchard Beach, ca. 1912

Item 15783 info
Stanley Museum

Some early race cars pass by spectators on Old Orchard Beach at speeds exceeding 100 mph during a race around 1912.

The first organized auto races on Old Orchard Beach took place on Labor Day weekend in 1911 in front of crowds estimated at 50,000 people.


10
Foot of Old Orchard Street, Old Orchard Beach, 1910

Foot of Old Orchard Street, Old Orchard Beach, 1910

Item 30944 info
McArthur Public Library

The foot of Old Orchard Street in Old Orchard Beach, circa 1911, is very crowded with cars lining up in front of White City, the section of town built near the end of the pier.

Many spectators line the street and upper balconies.


11
Autoracing in the early 1900s

Autoracing in the early 1900s

Item 1129 info
Maine Historical Society

Fans in the grandstand and around the beach inspect cars arriving for the Old Orchard Beach races.

Organized auto racing began at Old Orchard Beach on Labor Day weekend, 1911.


12
Race car, Old Orchard Beach, ca. 1922

Race car, Old Orchard Beach, ca. 1922

Item 23655 info
Maine Historical Society/MaineToday Media

Auto racing at Old Orchard Beach began in 1911. The start and finish line was the pier. Googins' Rocks was the southernmost turning point.

The car in this image sports an E-M-F insignia, indicating a car manufactured by the Everitt-Metzger-Flanders Company of Detroit, an early competitor of Henry Ford.


13
Car No. 2, Old Orchard Beach, ca. 1912

Car No. 2, Old Orchard Beach, ca. 1912

Item 23656 info
Maine Historical Society/MaineToday Media

Car No. 2 is parked on Old Orchard Beach, where auto racing was held at least from 1911 to 1913.

This stripped-down racer is unidentified, but might be a Mercer Raceabout that took part in the early races.

The beach at low tide made a good racing surface; races could take place two hours either side of low tide.


14
Automobile racing, Old Orchard Beach, ca. 1912

Automobile racing, Old Orchard Beach, ca. 1912

Item 23654 info
Maine Historical Society/MaineToday Media

Competitive auto racing on Old Orchard Beach probably began as early as 1903 although the first recorded formal race was in 1911. The last was in 1913.

The car in this image is a circa 1911 Locomobile Runabout, built in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

The car is fully equipped with road accessories and is registered with 1912 Massachusetts plates, indicating that it is a private car and its owner is taking advantage of the closed course to make an informal speed run on the beach.


15
Stanley Racer at Old Orchard Beach Races, September 1911

Stanley Racer at Old Orchard Beach Races, September 1911

Item 35464 info
Stanley Museum

L.F.N. (Leon) Baldwin answers questions from spectators gathered around his special 30 hp Stanley steam racer at Old Orchard Beach.

Baldwin was a Stanley dealer and race car driver from Providence, R.I.

His special Stanley racer was one of two built in 1906 for the Vanderbilt Cup Races on Long Island, N.Y. The car never appeared in the Long Island races but set numerous speed records on racetracks, beaches, and hill climbs around New England.

The Old Orchard Beach Grandstand and Pier can be seen in the background.


16
Stanley Steam Racer on Old Orchard Beach, September 1911

Stanley Steam Racer on Old Orchard Beach, September 1911

Item 35460 info
Stanley Museum

L.F.N. (Leon) Baldwin prepares for an exhibition run at the inaugural races at Old Orchard Beach, held on Labor Day Weekend, 1911.

Baldwin’s special Stanley steamer was built in 1906, the year that another special Stanley racer set the land speed record of 127.66 mph at Ormond Beach, Florida. The "Vanderbilt Cup" car shown here was designed for long-distance events, but was still very fast as a beach sprinter.

In one of his runs on Old Orchard Beach in his Stanley race car, Baldwin set a speed record for a mile in 39 seconds, 92.3 mph.

An internal combustion car exceeded this effort the following year, but Baldwin's time remains the steam record for Old Orchard Beach.


17
Stanley Race Car at the Old Orchard Beach Grandstand, September 1911

Stanley Race Car at the Old Orchard Beach Grandstand, September 1911

Item 35462 info
Stanley Museum

L.F.N. (Leon) Baldwin beams at the wheel of his 30 hp Stanley Vanderbilt Cup Racer beside the Old Orchard Beach Pier following a successful run on the beach.

Crowds of spectators, estimated at over 50,000 at the three-day event, gather around to inspect the powerful steam racer.

The Old Orchard Beach races in 1911 were the last recorded appearance of this special racer, the only steam car to take part in the races.


This slideshow contains 17 items
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