Aug 06 2012
According to the Vanderbilt Cup Race rules, America could enter a maximum of five automobiles in the 1905 Vanderbilt Cup Race. On September 23, 1905, the American Elimination Trial was held to determine the five entries from 12 American candidates. A four-lap race totaling 113.2 miles was to be held over the new course.
A wide variety of American cars were entered, including the 90-hp Locomobile and a 60-hp Pope-Toledo, which had both participated unsuccessfully in the 1905 Gordon Bennett Race held in Europe; a 40-hp White Steamer developed by the White Sewing Machine Company; and a unique front-wheel drive Christie. Two cars eliminated themselves before the start of the race; the Matheson did not start and the Premier was ruled overweight. The Premier was to have been driven by Indiana daredevil Carl Fisher, the future developer of Miami Beach, Montauk, and the Indianapolis Speedway.
Of the 10 cars that made it to the starting line, four were not even running in the second lap. Bert Dingley in a Pope-Toledo overtook Joe Tracy in the Locomobile on the last lap, averaging 56.5 mph and winning by 59 seconds. Despite an outcry from newspapers and automobile magazines, the American Vanderbilt Cup Race Commission retained only the top two finishers and selected three also-rans to complete the team: the Christie, the White Steamer, and another Pope-Toledo.
A comprehensive review of the 1905 American Elimination Trial can be found in the Races section of VanderbiltCupRaces.com.