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Joe Matson in a National Racing Car?


Reader James Lisk has shared with us a pair of photos showing a National racing car. In his research he appears to have identified the racing driver as Joe Matson, seen posing in the mechanic’s seat above. You can view a photo of Matson here and witness the strong resemblance, and the same type of uniform being worn in both photos. The National was built in Indianapolis, Indiana and the manufacturer fielded a team of racing cars for a number of years. Matson a capable driver was a member of that team. The shining hour for the company’s racing involvement was winning the 1912 Indianapolis 500 with Joe Dawson behind the wheel.

Below is what appears to be the same car, but this time with the number fourteen on the radiator stone guard, instead of the mismatched number two it is seen wearing above. The hill and fence in the background behind the track are distinctive enough that hopefully both will help in identifying the setting. E.A. Waterman of Brooklyn, New York, a known period racing photographer took both photos. There is a possibility, based on his location that this may have been at one of the New York City area racetracks. Please send us a  comment if you can add more information. Of note in the top photo is a Mercer Raceabout behind and just to the left of the National.


3 responses to “Joe Matson in a National Racing Car?

  1. The NATIONAL driven by Len Zengle carried the #2 when he won at Fairmount Park in Philadelphia in 1910. He finished in third in 1911. Same car with the #2 won the Elgin Road Race.

    • Len Zengle won the 1910 FPMR with the #12 Chadwick, in 1911 he switched to the dark blue #2 National finishing 3rd in class, 4th overall in the FPMR, according to the Michael Seneca book. There were no Chadwicks in the 1911 FPMR despite their close proximity to Philadelphia, presumably this was about the time the bank pulled the rug out from under Lee Chadwick as per the car building portion of his Engineering company, and he deserted his own company in disgust, though it continued on another 5 years or so.

      Fabulous site you have here!

  2. Thank you for your great website. I am currently researching material for a paper I am writing on early American racing cars for the Journal of Automobile Historians, of which I am a member. Your website is a fine source of information. I will gladly acknowledge your assistance in the finished article.

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