Apr 13 2012

Mystery California Alco Racer Identified

VanderbiltCupRaces.com viewers were challenged on February 6, 2012 to identify the above Alco Racer. I believe Robert Rampton of Salt Lake City, Utah has solved the mystery.


Howard Kroplick

First let me state that I am a frequent visitor to your Vanderbilt website and blog and enjoy them very much. I am sending this note in regards to a blog post dated Feb 09 2012 with a wonderful photo of a mystery ALCO. The minute I saw it, I had a thought that the man in the mechanic's seat looked familiar to me. I have been working another project, so I set it aside. Well, I have been stewing on it since then and recently returned to the photo, and I believe I have a hunch, or possibly a good solid SWAG about it based on some information I turned up only recently. I have a very strong feeling that the man in the mechanic's seat is a gentleman named Domenich Basso. Basso came to Los Angeles, from Italy, at the age of 15 with an aunt to complete his education at an American high school. By the age of 17, in 1909, he was working for a local agency selling Pennsylvania automobiles. He was known, early on, as a gifted mechanic. By 1910, he was employed by Rand & Chandler, the L.A. agent for ALCO automobiles. He also started racing them as the agency's chief driver. He also often acted as riding mechanic for his boss, Ralph Chandler. The two raced an ALCO in the L.A. to Sacramento Road Race in 1913. In 1914, Basso rode with Eddy Rickenbacker in the Vanderbilt. 1914 also found Basso on the road as a mechanic and driver in the Moross auto circus, touring the western US. Star driver that summer was Teddy Tetzlaff who handpicked Basso for the tour. August 1914 found both of them, and others, in the cockpit of the Blitzen Benz No. 2, out on the salt flats of Utah making an attempt to break Burman's 1911 time for the mile. 142.85 mph, unofficially. So, I think the driver is Ralph Chandler and the mechanic is Domenich Basso, taken in Los Angeles. What race it may be, I am uncertain. That is my story and I am sticking with it.

Robert,excellent work!!

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Apr 14 2012 Robert Rampton 12:04 AM

Thanks, Howard.

Apr 14 2012 Howard Kroplick 11:12 PM

Robert,  thanks to you!

Apr 15 2012 penny 5:42 PM

A wonderful story. Putting names to faces in old photographs is challenging but oh so rewarding. Now we can celebrate Domenich Basso’s contributions to automotive history.

Ciao Dominich ,


Jun 27 2014 Ann Forrest 4:09 PM

My 92 yr old father gave me a scrapbook of newspaper clippings from Cincinnati started before the Civil War plus a photo of a race car in an old frame. His mother, Myers, moved to Los Angeles in the early 1900′s. I did some research and believe it is an ALCO, #14 which I cannot find any info about. Any ideas?

I can’t attach the photo to show you in this comment section.
rom Howard Kroplick

Ann, thanks or the email. Please send the jpegs to me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and we will see I we can identify them.

Dec 09 2015 Laurie 6:11 PM

Yes, that is Domenich Basso, my great-grandfather.  I just stumbled on this page.  Thank you!

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