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Joe Tracy and Friends 1900-1903

We have just opened up a fresh scrap book recently from the Peter Helck collection that is filled with wonderful early racing and motoring scenes. This set of photos shows well known, early racing driver Joe Tracy evidently before his racing career started, at the time when he worked as a chauffeur and assisted early motorists in New York State.

Above we see him in a high quality French Panhard. At the left (below) we see him stand-ing with the same car that is in the next photo filled with passengers. The sign in the first photo reads Armbrusters-Greenville and the last line other than park at the end is not legible. Greenville, NY. is North West of the Catskills, so these could have been photos taken with summer people who Tracy assisted. He is also shown on his early motorcycle in a photo that Helck has dated as 1900, no doubt assisted in that dating by Tracy later in his life, as the two became friends. The last photo is taken in front of the same house again, but the machine is by a different maker.

Other than the Panhard at the top, none of these four at the (below) are identified or dated other than the cycle, so please enlighten us if you can help with identifying any of them. Photos courtesy of Racemaker Press.


New Information: Mark Dawber and two other readers have identified the bike that Tracy is on as a Werner and more photos of them can be seen by following this link.

I was researching for a post on Packards and found the photo below of a Darracq on the Oct. 2, 1902, NYC to Boston run put on by the Automobile Club of America.  24 hrs. later Ariejan Bos has also come up with the same ID, read his comment below. Thanks to all.

4 responses to “Joe Tracy and Friends 1900-1903

  1. The motorcycle might be a Werner and might date from earlier than 1900. Note that the car in the fourth picture looks to have a tube frame and chain final drive.

  2. Posted for Ariejan Bos,
    The car Tracy is with is apparently a 1902 Darracq. The lever-rods parallel alongside the steering column, the V-formed metal strip construction to support the starting handle, the cooling package below the chassis and the form of the front axis all support this assumption. It seems to me an early example of a Darracq in America, the earliest evidence I have is a 1903 ad by the American Darracq Automobile Co. I don’t know if this Company already was active in 1902 or that this car was an earlier import.

    The second photo with his friends: The same Darracq as Tracy I, though the impression exists that the tonneau body attached here, is not present on the previous photograph. The female driver and the coloured passenger seem to me to point at a nonconformist view of life of Tracy and his friends!

    The last photo: This car is a mystery to me, but several remarkable features strike me. First the 14-spoke wheels, not very common to my opinion, but an existing 1902 Westfield has this type of wheels too and it can also be seen on a 1903 Westfield ad (normal are 10-12 or 12-12 spoke arrangements). The bonnet is Westfield-like too, but there is a difference in the direction of the air holes, oblique here and vertical in the Westfield case. Loomis and Sintz by the way have comparable bonnet forms. Interesting is the presence of the square boxes between bonnet and running board. I have no idea what they are for. The body is a form between break and tonneau, also not very common. And finally the breaking system seems slightly out of date, being more suitable for solid tires. I’m looking forward to the solution!

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