Stutz and Mercer Video


This video is a viral promotion for the Simeone Museum, a facility I know very little about, but on the surface appears outstanding. In June 2009 they ran an exhibition of two old race cars that figured prominently in what I like to call "the heroic age," or pre-1920 auto racing. One is a Stutz, another a Mercer. A host of great drivers raced one or both these marques, among them Barney Oldfield, Ralph De Palma, Spencer Wishart, Gil Anderson, Earl Cooper and Charlie Merz.


The Mercer cars were named after Mercer County, New Jersey, where they were built. Ferdinand Roebling and his nephew Washington Roebling II were president and general manager, respectively. The cars were typically painted yellow and were well regarded for their craftsmanship. They were also a formidable force in auto racing, with Spencer Wishart driving one to second place in the 1913 Indianapolis 500. Eddie Pullen won the 1914 American Grand Prize driving a Mercer. After Wishart was killed in a Mercer in the Elgin National Trophy Race in 1914, the company withdrew from racing. Mercer fell victim to the inevitable shakeout of a new industry with too many players and started a sharp decline in 1919. The last Mercer was produced in 1925.


The Stutz Car Company was born in racing. Founded in 1911 as the Ideal Motor Car Company by Harry Stutz, it became known as "the car that made good in a day" when it finished eleventh in its debut at the inaugural Indianapolis 500. In 1914, in the face of overwhelming European competition, a Stutz, in the hands of Barney Oldfield, was the only American entry among the top five finishers in the race. Oldfield later went on to win the 1914 "Cactus Derby" with the same car. While Stutz cars did not ever prevail at Indianapolis, they won important races on the high banked board speedways, including the 1915 Astor Cup at Sheepshead Bay with driver Gil Anderson. The Great Depression caught overwhelmed the Stutz Car Company which curtailed production in 1935. The brand was revived with specialty cars in more recent years, with limited success.