Sep 08 2010

Willie K’s Cars #2: 1901 35-HP Mercedes “Red Devil”- The Fastest Machine in the Country

After William K. Vanderbilt, Jr. dominated the 1900 Newport Races with the Daimler "White Ghost", he returned for the 1901 Newport Races with a brand new racer from Germany, a 35-HP Mercedes called the "Red Devil".


Just prior to the 1901 races, The New York Times described the car: "Mr. W.K. Vanderbilt Jr.s new racing carriage the "Red Devil" has been tested for its greatest speed. It has developed an average speed of 74 miles per hour, which gives it the claim to being the fastest machine in this country."



On August 30,1901, high society came out for the races at Aquidneck Park. As described in the official program guide, 16 races and heats were held for tricycles and two-wheeled vehicles, steam propelled vehicles, electric vehicles, De Dion 5-HP Voiturettes, gasoline vehicles (less than 12 HP) and gasoline vehicles (greater than 12 HP). In the final race, the "Winners in all Classes" competed for the "Championship".


The "Red Devil" won the 5-mile heats for "Gasolene Vehicles developing more than 12 Horse Power". In the final 10-Mile Race, not surprisingly, the "Red Devil" out-powered the winners of the other classes and won the championship, averaging 39.0 miles per hour.

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