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“Smiling” Ralph Mulford Sets Speed and Distance Records in a 1916 Hudson Racer

Ralph Mulford was a “stand on the gas” kind of guy, who after his racing days were over, turned to setting new speed, twenty-four hour, and hill climb records for auto manufacturers. The lead image above and the enlargeable version below shows Mulford with Edsel Ford and his wife Eleanor Clay Ford standing on the running board behind him with her uncle J.L. Hudson in the car, and officials with the sleek 1916 Hudson “Super Six” racing car at Daytona Beach.

On the hard-packed Florida sand, Mulford set a speed with the car of 102.5 mph for the mile in only 35.11 seconds on April 10, 1916. Only three weeks later on May 2, 1916, at the Sheepshead Bay Board Track just outside of New York City, he set a new twenty-four-hour distance record after traveling 1,819 miles at an average speed of 76 m.p.h. The “New York Times” reported he even paused during fuel and oil stops every 150 miles “for a few sandwiches and several cups of coffee.”

Learn more about Ralph Mulford’s racing and record-setting career here at The Old Motor.

The newly introduced “Super Six” 288.6 c.i.d. L-head inline engine produced 77 h.p. at 2500 rpm, and the patent application drawings below show two of the reasons for the engine’s exceptional performance. Engineer S.I. Feteke designed a set of four bolt on counter weights that smoothed out the Hudson’s engine and helped to reduce destructive torsional vibration inherent in straight six engines.

  • The second improvement shown in the drawing below was the use of a lightweight cup cam follower with a  mushroom-shape just below the valve spring. This design eliminated a heavier valve lifter and adjustment arrangement and allowed the engine to revolve at a higher speed without valve float.

  • “The Automobile” May 3, 1916, issue below contained this ad by Hudson published the day after the New York record run at Sheepshead Bay.

11 responses to ““Smiling” Ralph Mulford Sets Speed and Distance Records in a 1916 Hudson Racer

  1. Looking at the balance of the chassis vis a vis machinery and passengers, makes one long to feel the task of controlling the racer. First though, I’d mention to Edsel that he should do something about that hat.

  2. Light weight, I can understand, but that looks like an overly complicated arrangement to manufacture and adjust. And no possibility of valve rotation.

  3. What an outstanding picture of a race car with a game changing engine, and one of the greatest drivers that didn’t smoke a cigar. I particularly value it because it shows an early car with white wall tires. I wonder when their earliest use took place? I keep a 36 x 41/2 white wall that was sold in the teens around to prove that they have been around for at least a hundred years. I figure that this tire size last appeared on 1916 cars.

    • That tire size was use up and including 1923. In 1924 the “baloon” tire was introduced and Hudson used 600 -21 wheels and tires until 1927 when they went to 19′

  4. Was all of this development work done hand in hand with the Hudson INDY car team, or was that a separate project? Bob

  5. Early Hudson Engines are very unique in how the engine is oiled : The oiling system was so designed that If it failed; – (loss of pressure) then the Hudson factory advises to: Slow down — to 25 MPH and proceed to the nearest Dealer, where: “The plunger type oiling system can be repaired”. How many other car companies can make that claim!!!??? Edwin. W.

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