Chevrolet Wins Cobe Trophy - 100 Years Ago Today


The date was June 19, 1909 - 100 years ago today - and the event was the Cobe Trophy (pronounced "Coe-Bee") and the winner was Louis Chevrolet. The above link will take you to fantastic coverage of this event.
The race was commissioned by Ira Cobe, the president of the Chicago Automobile Association. It was held a 23.23-mile circuit on public roads between the two Indiana towns of Crown Point and Lowell. Reports from the day indicate that the roads were extremely rough, creating tremendous attrition. Winner Chevrolet, driving a Buick, finished with only three of four cylinders functioning as the constant thuds of the trecherous terrain was blamed for jarring something lose.
Interesting to note is that Wiliam Bourque finished second. Two months later he would become the first driver to lose his life at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during their inaugural auto race meet in August 1909. The race was a financial disaster as was typical of these lengthy road courses because it was hard to charge admission. A few wealthy people paid for seats on the wood plank grandstand at start-finish, but otherwise they found vantage points from around the course.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Chief Historian Donald Davidson tells me that while the Cobe Trophy was never used again for a primary event, it was presented in some fashion as an award at the Elgin, Illinois road races that ran during the second decace of the 20th Century. If anyone knows what the trophy was presented for, I'd love to hear from you.
The following year Cobe took his trophy to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for their July 1910 race meet. It was a 200-mile race won by Joe Dawson in a Marmon.