During the early 1900s, the thought of a “horseless carriage” rumbling down the path - or better yet - a “flying machine” moving through the air, seemed unbelievable. Our ancestors often did not believe such devices were possible. However, the traditional horse and buggy quickly became history with the emergence of auto carriages like the 1905 Franklin and aircraft such as the 1909 Bleriot Type XI. These new modes of transportation were often raced in public demonstrations to prove to the public that such contraptions were not only possible, but practical.
If you can travel to Stow, Massachusetts in August, you can watch recreations of the races your ancestors may have watched:
Horse/Carriage Vs. 1905 Franklin Type A Roadster: No competition here… silly motorized carriage. We all know where the real “horse power” lies.
Horse/Buggy Vs. 1908 Stanley Steamer: This will be a close race. An automobile that runs on water? Incredible! Can it be the horse and buggy has met its match?
1914 Stutz Bearcat Vs. 1909 Bleriot Type XI Flying Machine: The most incredible race ever! - One of the fastest cars of the time racing against this amazing flying machine. The 1909 Bleriot will be in the air for this event.
1937 Offy Sprint Car Vs. 1942 Stearman: Fresh from the 1937 New England race circuit - driver “Blazing Bob” will go all out to prove a true race machine is faster than any aircraft in a 1/8 mile “nose to prop” race.
Who will win the Race of the Century? You can find out in Stow, Massachusetts on August 20th and 21st. The setting is ideal for this sort of an event. The Collings Foundation features a grass runway and "race track" in a picturesque country setting. The Foundation also will offer tours of aircraft and old cars rarely seen elsewhere. Aircraft on display (and possibly flown) include a Fiesler FI-156 Storch (a German reconnaissance aircraft from World War II), a Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star jet fighter (not in flying condition), a B-24 Liberator bomber from World War II, a B-17 Flying Fortress from World War II, a P-51 Mustang fighter from World War and and the Korean War, and a 1909 Bleriot Type XI. Most of the aircraft are flown regularly. How often do you see a 1909 Bleriot Type XI in flight?
Automobiles on display and driven regularly include: a 1901 Oldsmobile Curved Dash, a 1904 Franklin Type A Roadster, a 1906 Pope Waverly Electric Carriage (original, un-restored, and is driven occasionally), a 1906 Stanley Steamer Touring Car that will probably be driven during the "Race of the Century," a 1908 Cadillac Open Roadster Runabout, a 1913 Ford Model T Touring Car, a 1914 Stutz Bearcat, a 1915 Buick Touring Car, a 1916 Chalmers Model 120 Sedan, a 1916 Chevrolet Baby Grand Touring, a 1916 Oldsmobile Model 44 Touring Car, a 1919 Willys-Sterns Knight Touring Car, a 1921 Marmon Model 34 Speedster, and many others.
One automobile that I especially like at the Collings Foundation is the 1940 Cadillac Limousine V-16 owned by Al Capone. This is the car he purchased after his parole from prison. He was often chauffeured around Miami Beach, Florida, in this automobile. The Cadillac is in original condition, not restored. It looks almost as good as it did the day that Al Capone purchased it.
One of my favorites that is often seen at the Collings Foundation is an original Concord Coach stagecoach (pictured to the left) that doesn't belong to the Collings Foundation but is usually on loan from the nearby Wayside Inn. This coach has not been restored and is not kept in a museum, like most other Concord Coaches. Instead, it is a working stagecoach from the 1800s that looks great and is frequently used in local parades and other events.
Admission to the Collings Foundation "Race of the Century" is $15.00 for adults and $10.00 for children 12 years and younger. More information about the "Race of the Century" is available at http://goo.gl/3IDLH.
The Collings Foundation is privately owned and is open to the public a very few days each year. The events at the Foundation are not wdely advertised and they usually attract modest crowds. This is an opportinity to see everything "up close and personal." This event will allow you to tour the Foundation's collection of rare automobiles, race cars, aircraft, farm machinery, and more.
You can read more about the Collings Foundation at http://www.collingsfoundation.org/menu.htm.
You can watch a video of a previous "Race of the Century" at http://youtu.be/Dh2EVS6gJ-k or click on the image below:
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