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On this day in history December 9, 1915 Ogden IA automobile dealer William Henry Crosman set off in a new 1916 5-passenger Hupmobile in an attempt to set a new trans-Iowa speed record following the Lincoln Highway. Accompanying him and serving as his mechanic was Clarence J. Rose, also of Ogden. This was the second time in a week Marion had seen a race car come through town and alarmingly, plans were already being announced for more very soon!
The Des Moines Register on the morning of December 9th announced in a bold headline, "TRANS-IOWA AUTOMOBILE TRIPS FOR RECORD NOW THE RAGE. They discounted Crossman and Rose's prospects and put their money on E. M. Lubeck, district sales manager of the Chicago-based Maxwell Motor Co., who had announced his plan to commit two sets of drivers and mechanics to an upcoming attempt over the Lincoln Highway.
Crosman left Clinton at 6 AM and came through Marion on schedule just after 8 AM He was 14 min. ahead of schedule when he reached Ames, but bad weather in the west had left the Lincoln Highway in poor condition and he lost ground there and experienced mechanical difficultities as well. He finished in 10 hours and 40 minutes, a new record for a stock touring car crossing the state but failed to better the average speed record set by Hal Wells in 1913.
By itself, the Crossman/Rose "race" wasn't a significant event but it illustrates the "mania" that gripped drivers and some communities in the winter of 1915. Lincoln Highway boosters had worked hard to "finish" the road in 1915 and received a lot of publicity. They saw these races as attempts by boosters of competing roads to "steal" their hard-earned traffic and tourist dollars. A new 5-way road race was announced on December 10th, and within days the list of confirmed participants climbed to 12! Everyone with a fast car and a lead foot came forward to represent their hometown and favorite road. But using Iowa roads for a race track was dangerous--for the drivers and the public. Demands that they be stopped grew to a crescendo and most organized road races ended in Iowa after this. ... See MoreSee Less
4 hours ago ·
A full house for the Col. Greg Hapgood, Jr. program yesterday about Marion's fallen warriors. If you missed it, he left a copy of his Powerpoint presentation that included brief biographies--just ask us to run it the next time you visit. ... See MoreSee Less
1 day ago ·
On this day in history, December 6, 1915, amateur racecar driver John A. Thompson came hurtling through Marion on the Lincoln Highway in a race to claim the title of the best and fastest road across Iowa and break the trans-Iowa speed record set by Hal Wells in 1913 of 38.5 mph for the crossing. Competing with Thompson, and representing the River-to-River Road, was Harvey Strong of Des Moines and his mechanic Cleve Foster. Thompson left Clinton at 7 a.m., accompanied by John W. Ball, a reporter from the Des Moines Register. Strong and Foster left Davenport at the same time.
It had rained heavily after Thanksgiving and the wagons and few cars that had used the dirt roads left deep ruts, which set hard in a freeze on December 1. The cars didn't drive down their respective roads as much as they leaped and bounced from frozen rut to rut. Thermos, cap and goggles, Ball's reporter's notebook all flew out of Thompson's car, followed by his repair tools; then pieces of the car itself began to sail off--fenders, headlights, tail lamp, spare tire . . . .
Thompson arrived in Marion at 9:45 a.m., about 45 minutes behind schedule. He floored it going down Marion Boulevard; advised in advance, cooperative police controlled the intersections. The car was doing 70 mph going into CR when the rear axel broke. The right rear-wheel rocketed passed the car and smashed into a house near Second Avenue and 12th Street. But, Thompson put a call into the local Ford garage and a spare axle arrived in 15 minutes. Volunteers in the crowd lifted up the rear and 40 minutes later the car was on its way again.
Harvey Strong suffered no major mishaps on the River-to River Road until early in the evening when his car threw a wheel near Grinnell. That put him 35 minutes behind schedule. Then in Guthrie County near North Branch his steering wheel came off. The car went into the ditch and rolled. Foster jumped free but Strong was pinned under the car briefly, the roll bar probably saving his life. They abandoned the car and race there. Thompson finished in 14 hours and 8 minutes, arriving in Council Bluffs 3 hours behind schedule and well off the record. On December 10 plans were announced for a rematch--this time by four cars following four different roads. December 17 was set for the date of the contest. ... See MoreSee Less
3 days ago ·
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