White Sewing Machine "Whistling" Billy

This is a photo of the White Sewing Motor Company's "Whistling Billy" steam engine racer. Packing tremendous torque off the corners, it 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 Vanderbilt Cup 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. The racer received its nickname because its high pitch release of pressure reminded observers of the sound of a tea kettle.

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