Ivan's first race!

I have some questions regarding how I should proceed with the project when it comes to the subject of newspaper clippings.  There are quite a few of them, and not everything in them is completely pertinent to Ivan's career.  They are very interesting to me for two reasons.  1) Since the whole story paints a picture of the day and age, and 2) I love to read.  But, not everyone loves to read, and sometimes the newspaper clipping is pretty much the whole focus of a blog post. My comments on the story would hinge on you having read the story.  Problem is, some of them are long stories!

I suppose that I'll try doing this in the best way I can, and let you get me some feedback either plus or minus.  The comments are moderated and anyone may post.  I'm pretty close by the computer all day.  And, yes, thank-you, I do have a life.  Here we go!

Here's another photo of Ivan in his 30-whopping-horsepower Chalmers.  Ivan has written in one of the clippings, correcting the paper which assumed it was a 40 hp engine.  As we saw in the last post, Ivan and Van B. may have sold a number of Chalmers, so it's easy to understand his decision to use this automobile.  But why, if there were larger motors available, would he use a four cylinder?

I did a little research into this first article to see if I could find any supporting historical references, and found that the speedway actually still exists in this village!  I'm not certain whether this is the exact location that it always has been, but the Fonda Speedway is still operating at the Fonda Fairgrounds or perhaps vice versa.  The horse racing track that was used for many decades in this little town gave way to automobile racing as the automobile gained in popularity.  Fonda was, and is still, an agricultural area, and these races brought contestants from nearby villages, drawing 1,500 folks!  Quite a crowd!

I'm uncertain of the date of these articles, but next article in the scrapbooks is dated September 14, 1914, and the one following is in October.  I think it's okay to assume this was sometime in 1914.  I'm falling back on two facts from the article(s); 1) the weather was perfect, and 2) he's in a Chalmers.

Ivan did not win, but came in third out of three in the first race of five miles, and third out of four in the second.  If my math is correct, they were averaging around 40 mph in these races!

click 'Show Original' to view full size image

This photo is pasted on the same spread as these two newspaper clippings, but I don't think it's Ivan.  The radiator is squared across the top, and photo of his Chalmers doesn't match it.  There isn't a load of dust in the air, so perhaps this is Stewart.  I think it's reasonable to conclude that it is at the Fonda fairgrounds.

More racing at Fonda in the next few posts!  Will Wheaton recover from his early loss?


1 comment:

  1. Dear Kurt: This blog site is fantastic. Well done!!! In an aviation autobiography by your grandfather which appears elsewhere on the web, he says he began race driving in 1913. My supposition is that would have occurred at the Benedicts horse race track near Broadalbin, just north of Amsterdam. Most members of this Amsterdam clique of drivers appear to have gotten their start at Benedicts in the summer of 1913. The Benedicts newspaper coverage is awful, so this is difficult to confirm, but it looks pretty likely. fusco@baldcom.net