Whistling Billy Lands in a Buffalo Pond

This photo originally appeared in the August 24, 1905 issue of  The Automobile and depicts the aftermath of driver Webb Jay's accident at the Kennilworth dirt horse track near Buffalo, New York on August 19, 1905. This is a photo of the White Sewing Machine Company's "Whistling Billy" steam engine racer. The racer received its nickname because its high pitch release of pressure reminded observers of the sound of a tea kettle. White steam cars were products of the White sewing machine company, a business that still thrives today.
Packing tremendous torque off the corners, Whistling Billy was a terror in the mile and half mile dirt track races across the country in 1905. Driven by the fearless Webb Jay, it set unprecedented speeds and gave better known drivers Barney Oldfield and Louis Chevrolet all they could handle. The racer was a major force in the short sprint races of 1905, but never proved itself in contests of longer distances. A White steamer attempted the Vanderbilt Cup in 1905, but suffered engine failure at the start of the elimination trials and then endured a series of setbacks in the Cup race. One White steamer did score a significant long distance victory in the 1908 Los Angeles-to-Phoenix Desert race.  As for Jay, his short career ended when he crashed through a fence at the Kennilworth track in Buffalo, New York. He suffered a severe concussion that required months to heal. Despite mending, he never returned to auto racing. Jay did remain in the automotive industry.

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