Hoosier M.D. Rides With Tracy - 1906

The article in the attachment below was first published in the October 4, 1906 Indianapolis News. The local angle for the paper was the fact that prominent Hoosier eye physician Dr. J. Ray Newcomb, who was working at St. Bartholomew Eye Hospital in New York and was visiting the Vanderbilt Cup course. During that time he received the opportunity to take a high speed lap around the circuit with Locomobile driver Joe Tracy who had just won the American Elimination Trial to become one of five drivers to qualify for the American team in the Vanderbilt Cup.
The article notes that there was some discrepancy concerning the power of the car's engine. It had been reported to be 90 HP, but Tracy believed the rating was closer to 120 HP. Tracy achieved at least 90 MPH at the fastest points of the course, reportedly 132 feet per second. To put it into perspective for Indianapolis newspaper subscribers, the writer explained that it meant that the car could travel from Washington Street to 14th Street of the Hoosier capital in one minute. That was probably about three quarters of a mile.
Here's an interesting excerpt from the article:
"The terrific speed, the angry roar of the engines, the dust and the wind combined to make it by far the most exciting trip ever attempted over a country road. A noticeable thing when such high speed is attained is the fact that one unaccustomed to the rate feels as though he were falling and the impression clings until the car has been brought to a full stop."
Also interesting is the suggestion that the cars traveling at such speed literally flew over ruts, rocks and other impediments. Tracy supposedly estimated that a car traveling at roughly 90 MPH would jump a 20-foot ditch with little or no impact on the car or the people in it. That's not just incredible, it's implausible. I think some of the drivers of this era amused themselves by telling tall tales because the concept of speed was so unfathomable to the average person who was more accustomed to the horse and buggy transport of the previous century and it was fun to buffalo them. That's my guess anyway.
According to the article Tracy only slowed his pace with Dr. Newcomb to three minutes a lap less than full-on race speed. That's not to say the ride with Newcomb was without excitement. Apparently there was some issue with the car (the article refers to it as "an accident to the engines") that forced Tracy to make an emergency stop. In doing so he scuffed enough rubber off his tires that two of them were "torn off."
Although Dr. Newcomb is not quoted, the article insinuates that he said that the most exhilirating portions of his lap were the right-hand turns taken at high speed (about 60 MPH). This lift from the article is colorful:
"Times without number Tracy's car whirled around the turns on two wheels, and missed telephone poles by mere inches. The exhilaration found in such high speed is sure to make a speed maniac of the most timid person, but automobile driving is the most dangerous sport in the world, if speed is the only pleasure sought."  
In another vein, the article reports that the local residents - virtually all farmers as Long Island was an agrarian community - were "grafters." Apparently they were charging outrageous prices for "commodities," mostly food. The price of one dollar for a cup of coffee, a sandwich and a piece of pie was seen as outrageous during this era. It's important to understand that during these times the sport was so new that support services such as concession vendors were virtually nonexistent.  

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