Racing on Lake St. Clair

This photo is a Model T Ford racing and ice boat on frozen Lake St. Clair, which is located between Michigan and Ontario, Canada. The driver is Frank Kulick, who raced Ford automobiles during the first quarter of the 20th century.
The lake played an important role in automobile testing in the early part of the century. Roads were atrocious and there were no speedways. Ormond-Daytona Beach was recognized as the best place in the United States and even the world for high-speed record runs. While the beach worked well, it was not convenient to Detroit-based automobile companies.
During winter months Lake St. Clair provided a flat smooth surface. This surface was conditioned with hot cinders to improve traction. Henry Ford drove one of the "999" racers to a world land speed record on the lake's frozen surface on January 12, 1904, with a time of 39.4 seconds for a speed of 91.37 mph. Check out another image of Kulick for more information about his relationship with Henry Ford who ordered his company to withdraw from oval track racing for a time after Kulick was injured in 1908.
Other car companies, such as Chalmers, used the lake for winter testing. Many times they engaged in speed contests with "ice boats" like the one seen here. Such vessels reportedly hit top speeds of 75 mph.

1910_lake_st_clair-frank_kulick.jpg41.05 KB