Mar 13 2009

The Alco Black Beast’s Last Great Race in 1911

The Alco-6 Black Beast Racer's last great race was the 1911 Elgin National Trophy Race held on the Illinois course. In the above postcard, driver Harry Grant and his mechanician George Babcock are shown prior to a practice run. This was the only major race in which mechanican Frank Lee did not ride with Grant. The reason was simple: Lee also drove an Alco in the race. Overall, three Alcos were entered resulting in a large team at Elgin.


Grant's Alco was randomly selected to be the first car off the starting line and, accordingly, was assigned #1.Several modifications were made to the Alco-6 for this race. The engine was replaced after being damaged at the first Indy 500 Race held three months earlier. The chassis was painted white and the Bete Noir (Black Beast) logo was painted on the diver's side. I believe that this may have been the only race that the Alco ran with this logo which was also misspelled- missing the "e" in Noire.


Here, the #1 Alco can be seen challenging the #3 Mercer driven by Hughie Hughes.


At the finish line, the #1 Alco finished second to the #2 National driven by Len Zengle, while Hughes' Mercer finished third.

Links to related posts on and the Elgin Races:

1911 Elgin National Trophy Results

Alco Black Beast Racing History (1909-1911)

Index: Alco-6 Black Beast Racer

History of the Elgin Road Race

The Elgin Road Race Collection- The Crittenden Automotive Library

Elgin Road Race Photos


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