Dan Wurgis and the REO Bird

This photo of driver Dan Wurgis originally appeared in a June 1905 edition of the trade paper Motor Age. It was taken at the June 10, 1905 national championship race meet at Morris Park in the Bronx of New York. This was the first points-paying national championship race in the history of American auto racing.
The car was a 32 horsepower "REO Bird," the product of the REO Motor Car Company which was founded by Ransom E. Olds, also the founder of the Olds Motor Vehicle Company which was eventually called Oldsmobile. Olds founded his original company in 1897, but sold controlling interest to outside investors in 1899. After clashes with his investors he left the company, which had been renamed Olds Motor Works and formed REO. He originally considered incorporating his name, Olds, in the company name, but Olds Motor Works threatened legal action. Subsequently, he used his initials, REO, in the company name.
Getting back to Wurgis and the REO Bird, the combination enjoyed some success including a victory in an event called  the "New York Cup" (for middle-weight class cars) at June 10, 1905 Morris Park event. Just a little more than a week earlier at another New York track - Empire City - Wurgis beat driver Guy Vaughn to win the Mount Vernon Cup. In a less glorious distinction, Wurgis ran into the back of Oldfield's Green Dragon racer at Grosse Point on August 8, 1905, drilling his through the inside rail of the horse track. The Green Dragon flipped, tossing Oldfield from the car. Oldfield was briefly rendered unconscious but recovered after a brief hospital stay. Wurgis' car spun and crashed through the outside rail. He was unharmed.

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