Recently we did a post about Ben Harper who rebuilt a 1913 Hudson into a racing car and then ran it coast to coast in a little over six days running time in 1921. His grandson Tom Harper also told us that he raced this Essex (above) at Beverly Hills, CA, on the board track circa 1919. Harper is in the mechanics seat and supposedly Mack Sennet, the famous director and actor, who was the originator of slapstick comedy, is seen behind the wheel.
The S-X and arrow logo seen on the car was used by the Essex factory racing team and it appears that possibly Harper or Sennet had some ties to the Hudson company that manufactured the Essex. Under the entertaining Sennet video (below) we have many more photos and information on the Essex racing car and you can also can take a look back at our earlier post on Harper and his Hudson here.
The film which originally was named “Lizzies of the Field” is a silent slapstick comedy that appears to have been made by Sennet in the mid to late teens. The film is a bit jumpy, but considering its age it is still very interesting and quite viewable. It is starts out with humorous garage scenes and then it moves on to quite a few racing cars involved in a “race”. It includes many funny scenes and stunt work, that you are sure to find entertaining.
The Essex four (1919-1924) was a very fast and lightweight car and it was used as a racing machine almost from the start by the Hudson Company as a way of promoting the car. Left to right (above) are three articles, all from the Hudson Triangle; The Essex winning the Pikes Peak Hill Climb in 1923, an article about an Essex that won for two weeks in a row at the Montana State Fair at Helena in 1920 and an article about well known racing drivers “Sig” Hugdahl and Ray Lampkin choosing the Essex and telling us of their success.
This article (above) will be of interest to early racing car enthusiasts as it shows and tells of all of the benifits of the Essex frame. The lightweight and strong frame was used as the back bone for many early racing cars and specials built for the next fifteen or so years. Much more Essex and Hudson information can be found here at the Hudson Triangle. You can also visit with the Hudson Club at www.HETClub.Org
We are looking for any information about Ben Harper regarding his involvement in racing that you can find. If you can add to the story, please send us a comment.