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Automobile Images From The Clifford Henderson Collection

With impeccable timing in the wake of Charles A. Lindbergh’s epic May 19-20, 1927 flight, from New York to Paris – Clifford “Cliff” Henderson founded the National Air Races in 1928. The American public had its eyes on the sky and was eager to learn more, and soon became avid fans of the air races.

Henderson was a good promoter and quickly had the nation following this exciting and dangerous sport. Next he introduced the Thompson Trophy in 1929 – an intense race on a closed course around pylons. The Bendix Trophy, a cross-country or city-to-city race was also initiated with the winner receiving $15,000 for the long haul.

The two races also brought nationwide attention and sponsorship funding to the series. In 1929 E.L. Cord bought a majority interest in the Stinson Aircraft Company and became involved in sponsoring the races. The new Cord L-29 was used by Clifford Henderson for some of his travels and PR photos – the 810 and 812 Cords were used later in the thirties.

We will return in the future with a second set of images from the Clifford Henderson Collection.

The lead photo – Henderson was a promotor and may have arranged this supercharged Cord to be used as a pacer for this bicycle speed attempt.

Late-1920s Packard 7-Pass. Touring Car

  • A 1928 Packard 443 7-pass. touring car used by race officials.

National Air Races 1930

  •     Henderson poses with a model.

National Airshow Circa 1930

  •   Henderson posing with a race hostess.

L-29 Cord Convertible Sedan

  • L-29 Cord convertible sedan lent to Henderson by Cord, note the manufactures license plate.

Harry A. Miller Alloyanun Pistons

  • As a part of the races a large trade show was set up – this booth for Atlas Machine Works shows off the outfits engine rebabbitting. In the front center Harry Miller’s “Alloyanum” pistons are also shown.

11 responses to “Automobile Images From The Clifford Henderson Collection

  1. Not much to see of the car but I wold venture to guess that in the photo where Henderson is posing with the race hostess , the car is a 1929 series 13 Franklin. The metallic color is most likely silver, as I know from a period photo I have seen at least one 1929 Franklin roadster was painted metallic silver and post WWII owned by a friend in eastern Ohio. It is unusual that the car does not have a side mounted spare tire, all the roadster and phaetons for Franklin I have ever seen all had spares in the front fenders.

      • I think it should be mentioned that at this time Franklin’s ads were all built around “That Airplane Feel” and their models were referred to as the Airman Cabriolet, Sedan , Roadster, et al. so the association would’ve been a natural and advantageous to both Henderson and Franklin… not accidental at all that a flashy Franklin with a flashy race hostess would be on hand.

    • I have seen photos of a 55 Chevy outfitted the same way at Bonneville Salt Flats. As a cyclist myself I can’t even imagine pushing on a crankset sprocket the size of a large pizza!

  2. The Golden Age of Air Racing has always been an interest of mine. This behind the flight line view is rare and much appreciated.

    During those heady between the wars years, the fastest airplanes in the world were drawn out on hanger floors and built by innovative civilians. It makes sense that the event would attract performance minded auto enthusiasts as well. It’s said of that time: “when the world lusted for speed, it came to Cleveland”.

    Thanx for posting! I see something “new” here every day.

  3. A different picture of the fellow riding the bicycle behind the Cord was in the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club newsletter; Issue 2, 1976 titled “CORD PACES SPEED TEST” The late Bill Kinsman who was editor at that time wrote; Although we reprinted this same item several years ago, we recently received another copy of the LIFE magazine article from newer member Don Howell Of California and we republish it here at right for any newer members who may not of seen the very intriguing photos before. The bicycle speed trial pictured occurred in Los Angels on April 16th, 1937 and was accomplished by Albert Marquet of France “riding at the rear of a fast automobile” (What else but a Supercharged Cord Ed.). The rider “pedaled a mile in 41 2/5 seconds, an average speed of 86.95 miles per hour!” Quite a feat and of course, we’re proud that a CORD was instrumental in setting this record. The caption under the two pictures printed reads; This wind-breaking shield attached to the automobile which paced him helped Albert Marquet achieve his amazing speed. Above, top to bottom, you see him on a trial spin going 68 m.p.h. and officially crossing the finish line.

  4. I have seen similar photos of ‘shielded’ cyclists in Europe. One of the cyclists was shielded by a train with planks between the rails. (Without them it would have been a rather bumpy ride!) With our current knowledge of racing car drafting, I wonder what percentage of the cyclist’s speed actually came from his legs. He might have been able to coast at quite a reasonable speed, though with his legs stationary it would not have been so impressive…….or would it?

  5. I remember this Fast bike with huge front sprocket a few years AFTER it happened, as it appeared In Ripley’s: “BELIEVE IT OR NOT”, in L.A., CALIF., IN THE SUNDAY Examiner “Funny Papers” One of these fast bicycle attempts was done behind a locomotive! I SURE HOPE they paved over the ties!!! Edwin .

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