Jun 20 2009

Louis Chevrolet, Joe Tracy and the 1908 Matheson Team

The Matheson Automobile Company of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania made a strong effort to win the 1908 Vanderbilt Cup Race. They hired Louis Chevrolet as one of the drivers for their two entrants and selected retired veteran driver Joe Tracy as their team manager.

Dr. Mark DeSantis has forwarded these links to photos and a history of the Matheson Automobile Company found at the Hagley Digital Archives website. The above photo shows the Matheson racing team prior to the race. The back of the photo provided the following identifications:

1. Ross Anderson, superintendent; 6. Joe Nelson, Chevrolet's mechanic; 8. Louis Chevrolet, racer (white overalls); 9. Josef Reutershan, adc. [sic]; 10. L.C. Kenan, Matheson designing engineer; 12. Joe Tracy, racing manager for the Matheson Co. (cap and turtle neck); 13. Jimmie Ryall, racer; 15. Roy Hook, Ryall's mechanic; 16. W.B. McBurney, Matheson demonstrator; 18. Ferd [sic] Pilce, Matheson racing mechanic; 19. the Stromberg Co.'s expert.


My collection includes other photos of the two Mathesons that entered the 1908 Race. The Matheson team manager Joe Tracy was captured here discussing the race with William K. Vanderbilt Jr., the donor of the Vanderbilt Cup and the race referee.


In this photo, the two Mathesons, the #15 driven by Louis Chevrolet and the #7 driven by Jim Ryall, can be seen at the Vanderbilt Cup Race grandstand in the Hempstead Plains (now Levittown) just prior to the start.


Here, Louis Chevrolet and his mechanician Joe Nelson were practicing on the course. Chevrolet's car cracked a cylinder during the second lap of the 1908 race and finished 16th of the 17 entrants.


Jim Ryall's Matheson was doing better until it caught fire at the grandstand when completing the fourth lap. Note the smoke coming from the car and the man with the fire extinguisher. The car could not continue and finished a disappointing 12th.

Links to posts on Louis Chevrolet


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