May 18 2015

Mystery Foto #20 Solved: Barney Oldfield Driving a Stearns Racer in St. Paul on July 15, 1908

Chuck Rudy Jr. needed your help in identifying this very tough Mystery Foto.

Mystery Foto questions:

  • Identify the driver on the left. How was he linked to the Vanderbilt Cup Races?

As identified by Ariejan Bos and Wayne Carroll Petersen (the great great nephew of Barney Oldfield), the driver was indeed Barney Oldfiled with his trademark cigar in his mouth.

Barney Oldfield participated in both the 1914 Vanderbilt Cup Race (finishing 2nd) and the 1915 Vanderbilt Cup Race (finishing 7th).  Oldfield also starred in the Broadway musical The Vanderbilt Cup for ten weeks in 1906.

  • Identify his race car

Stearns Greyhound Racer

  • When and where was this photo taken?

According to Mark Dill, the race was held at the Hamline Track in St. Paul, Minneapolis on August 15, 1908.

  • Bonus: Who was the driver on the right and what was he driving?

Possibly Charles Soules in a Stearns.

Congrats to Ariejan Bos and Wayne Carroll Petersen for correctly identifying Barney Oldfield and the Stearns racer. Kudos to Mark Dill for his wonderful website .


Howard Kroplick


Barney Oldfield in the Stearns Greyhound Racer.

Possibly Charles Soules in a Stearns.


May 18 2015 Ariejan Bos 10:05 AM

Quite a challenge this time! First of all, we see Barney Oldfield (with cigar) in the light colored stock car racer, which appears to be a Stearns, recognizable by the white line radiator (patented in 1909!). It is one of the larger models, which had the round-bended springhorn with shackle. The year must be 1908, as this is the only year that Oldfield raced with Stearns. The other racer appears to be a Stearns too, but a smaller model, having a different front spring system. Oldfield’s regular team mate and opponent in 1908 was Charles Soules, who raced against him regularly on several tracks that year, so it could well be him. The track is clearly a very small one, but I couln’t find a track matching the background details of the photo.
The link with the Vanderbilt Cup is of course Barney Oldfield, who despite his brilliant career raced his first Vanderbilt Cup only in 1914.

May 18 2015 Greg O. 6:21 PM

After a few hours last night and a little time today researching, I am stumped on this one! I’m sure I’ll be kicking myself when I see the answer!

Need a little better resolution, but my only, and best guess for the driver on the left would be that it looks like Dario Resta.

May 18 2015 Howard Kroplick 10:49 PM

From Wayne Carroll Petersen:

I researched the car in the photo and I was up in the air as to what car it was. I contacted Mark Dill from and he seems to think it might be the Stearns from 1908, the link below has the information.

Best regards,
You Know Me!
Wayne Carroll Petersen
Great Great Nephew of Barney Oldfield, Master Driver of the World & America’s Legendary Speed King

May 19 2015 Ted 12:53 AM

Didn’t get many takers on this one. Greg, good try

May 19 2015 Chuck Rudy 4:33 PM

Thank you Gentlemen!  After putting all you gave me along with my own questions (such as the need for the headlamp brackets) I stumbled on both these cars in a photo once again.  I’ll leave it to those who are more knowledgeable, but the headlamps were needed for this 24 hour race. (note second photo) This photo claims the car Oldfield to be driving a “rare bird” which may be one’s way of saying a one-off. 

The photo is obviously not the 24 hour race mentioned in the old motor but an interesting study of racing R&D way back in time.  The photo is a mess with ink spots all about it and white dots from, most probably, bad handling of the negative.  But this gives me the impetus to clean it up and then maybe ask the question.  What was the horn all about?

Thank you all.


Jun 19 2016 Kelly Williams 1:15 PM

I’m not sure this is Hamline.  Photos of the stands taken at that time show a different roof line.  Oldfield & Soules raced the two Stearns all over the midwest during 1908 - this may have been taken at one of those venues.  By December, the 45/90 had been painted a dark color, so this photo would have been taken some time between July and then.

Leave a Comment