Oldfield Praise For Female Driver

This article first appeared in the January 30, 1910 Indianapolis Star. Barney Oldfield is reportedly praising a female driver for her prowess open-road endurance driving. This is significant in the historical context of the era as women certainly struggled to assert themselves in a "man's world." This was absolutely true in motorsport where the participation of women was a mere novelty. The woman in question is referred to as Mrs. K.R. Otis (I have seen from other sources her husband's name was Kenneth) which seems odd today but in 1910 married women were rarely referred to by their first names in the newspaper.
Also odd is that Oldfield refers to Otis as the country's best woman driver during a period when Joan Cuneo was widely regarded to be the best of her gender. It's hard to know if there was some ulterior motive for Oldfield who could have been contemplating production of some kind of female driving exhibition on one of his infamous barnstorming tours with the likes of William Hickman Pickens.
Oldfield is quoted in his assessment of Mrs. Otis' skill: "I have never had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Otis, but I know from what she has done with a motor car that she is the best woman driver in America. She beat my record between here and Buffalo in her Stearns roadster. I know what a terrific strain she had to undergo to do it. It's hard to believe that anyone could make the drive from Cleveland to Toledo in three hours and five minutes but I am not surprised that it was Mrs. Otis who accomplished that feat. Every racing driver in the country who knows what she had done over country roads admires her wonderful nerve."
The article notes that Otis carried a "Philadelphia Press message from President Howard Taft" the previous fall. This was a run from Pittsburg to Upper Sandusky.
Otis is quoted in commenting on the state of country roads during the winter. Her message is relevant to the good roads movement taking place in the era: "I believe as Barney Oldfield does, that frozen roads are the kind to make records on. They don't cut up so easily as dirt roads do and there is really less danger of skidding on ice and snow than on sand."

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