1902: Images for Posssible Use in an Article

As I develop the outline for an article that will cover American automobile racing during the 1902 season, I am considering the images that I might use in that article.

The incident on Staten Island on 31 May is, of course, one of the major focal points that needs to addressed. The Baker Torpedo is an important part of the Staten Island speed trials, so I want to include several images of the ill-fated electric vehicle.

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This image of the Torpedo appeared in the automotive journal, Motor World. Although easily the best of the images that I found for the Torpedo, it needs a bit of cleaning up if I am going to use it in the article.

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This is the image that I will probably use in the article.

I also wish to provide a schematic drawing of the Torpedo and the Motor World article also, fortuitously, provided one:

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However, I want to provide a clearer idea of the location of the batteries powering the Torpedo while also giving a better contrast as to the internal configuration of the vehicle:

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I was also looking for an image of a machine on a track and found this image of Harry Harkness driving his Simplex-Mercedes at the Grosse Pointe race meeting:

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However, it is a big image with a small car…

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I like this image much better and thought that I might wish to consider making it look similar to many of the images that one finds in the early American automotive journals:

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At this point, I think that I now have at least three images that I will use in the article.

New York, 1902: Some Images from Staten Island

The broad, general area that I have come to focus upon as an automotive competition historian is the first quarter-century of automobile racing in the United States, the period covering the years from 1895 to the end of the 1920 season. This is when the sport was in its formative stages and developing not only the men and machines but the necessary infrastructure for conducting racing. It was also a time when automotive contests were held in places that might seem unusual or even odd today. A century later, few New Yorkers could imagine that their city was once a major hub for American automobile racing during the dawning years of the 20th Century.

The day following Decoration Day in 1902, Staten Island was the site of speed runs sanctioned by the Automobile Club of America, which had just helped form the American Automobile Association at a meeting held in Chicago in early March. The speed runs were held on public roads, those portions of Southfield Boulevard that ran through Grant City on Staten Island. Both the flying kilometer and flying mile were the distances measured during the speed trials. The course used can be seen below:

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The course map is from The Horseless Age, 28 May 1902, page 662.

I was interested in seeing what images I could find from this event as well as one held in August at Brighton Beach. Once I found the images, I wanted to see what I could do to adapt them for use in a possible article on these races. This posting will focus on Staten Island with a later one on the Brighton Beach meeting.

Here is a photograph of Percy Owen, on his 15-horsepower Winton, the winner of the 1,000 to 2,000 pound class for gasoline cars, that appeared in the New-York Daily Tribune on 1 June 1902, page 4:

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Here is the same image after a few simple changes:

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The speed trials on Staten Island were halted when the Baker Torpedo lost control and plunged into a crowd of spectators not far from the end of the timed run area. Two of the spectators died either at the scene or after being evacuated and a third died roughly six weeks later; a half-dozen other spectators suffered injuries severe enough to require hospitalization.The two in the Torpedo suffered only minor injuries, The crash led the ACA to pass resolutions barring the club from conducting speed contests, to include road races, on public roads.

Here is the Baker Torpedo from the front page of the New-York Tribune for 1 June 1902, showing the Torpedo prior to its speed run and then the aftermath of the crash:

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I split the two images:

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This image also appeared in the Chicago Daily Tribune (3 June 1902, page 4) and The San Francisco Call (7 June 1902, page 6).

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The 2 June 1902 edition of the Boston Globe (page 7) had an image of the Torpedo that was claimed to be taken just seconds prior to the crash:

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Here is the image after a few changes:

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I am beginning to grasp the ways that a few simple modifications to an image can help an image become easier to literally be seen. Those images can then be used as part of an article to literally illustrate the topic being discussed. Given the often poor quality of the images that one finds, these modifications often seem necessary to make them useable or even identifiable in some cases.

Next, I will look at images I found for the August event at Brighton Beach.

 

“National Colors for 500-Mile Race”

The 25 June 1914 issue of The Automobile provides this interesting tidbit in an article regarding the 1915 International 500 Mile Sweepstakes race:

Racing colors in the next Indianapolis 500-mile race, it is announced, will be uniform, according to the nation which a car represents. German machine will thus be white; French, blue; English, green; Belgian, yellow; Italian, red; and American, white and red. This move will do away the freakish individual color combinations which in the past have marred speedway racing, and at the same time give bolder relief to the international aspect of the sport. Credit for the idea is due E.C. Patterson, the wealthy Chicago sportsman.

(Page 1351)