Saturday, January 13, 2018

Savannah, first city in the USA to have a grand prix, in 1908

Savannah had earlier fame in national bicycle racing competitions and it had ties to the powerful dynasties who controlled the racing world, so it was chosen for the 1st Grand Prix

The construction of the course resulted in a course considered "America's greatest" by international racing experts of the period. It was 27 miles long of Augusta gravel and faster than the Vanderbilt Cup course, however, convict labor was used to build it

Six giant scoreboards with ladders had been erected with special thought given to their positioning to make them visible to the occupants of the 16,000-person, 2,000-foot long grandstand.

The international flavor was a direct derivative of the devestating battle between William K. Vanderbilt Jr. supported by the American Automobile Association (AAA) versus the Automobile Club of America (ACA). The ACA was the club in good standing with the Automobile Club of France - the dominate club of international rules - and stole the thunder of the Vanderbilt Cup by organing the American Grand Prize to earn the honor of hosting the European manufacturers formerly attracted to the Long Island race.

In that race Ralph de Palma set fastest lap in his Fiat, with an average speed of 69.80 mph, for context, to that date Felice Nazarro's drive in the 1907 French Grand Prix at an average above 70 MPH was the gold standard. Chadwick driver Willie Haupt creatd excitement when he recorded a lap of 71 MPH
Julian Quattlebaum, a doctor by profession but also a car enthusiast and historian. He was the author of the definitive book about the early and important motorcar races held in Savannah.

Quattlebaum as a child was among those who had attended those races, including the International Grand Prize Race in 1908 and the Vanderbilt Cup that ensued as Savannah emerged as the early home for international auto racing in the United States.

This 1911 EMF finished third in the Tiedeman Cup race

The EMF team swept the 1911 podium

Coachbuilder and Wayne manufacturer Barney Everitt, star Cadillac salesman William Metzger, and Walter Flanders, production manager at Ford, launched their own automotive brand in 1908.

They decided to further promote the brand by going racing in “light car” class for production-based vehicles. The biggest of those events would be the 1911 Tiedeman Trophy race at Savannah, and they sent three specially built 30-horsepower machines to Georgia, where the cars finished first, second and third.

the car that came in 3rd was found in pieces in a barn in 1983, and restored, and now looks like

For a gallery of this car:

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