Jan 04 2011

The Planned 1912 Alco Racing Team & the Subsequent Withdrawal from Racing

In the Fall of 1911, the American Locomotive Company produced a brochure focusing on the features and specifications of their new four cylinder and six cylinder models.


The brochure also described plans to field a three car racing team in 1912 "to demonstrate even more widely to the American public the speed, endurance and durability of the Alco."


The brochure noted; "Harry F. Grant will continue to drive the car in which he won Vanderbilt Cup twice....No other car ever repeated like the Alco. It's repetition that counts-a car that can repeat like this must be a good car."


"Frank H. Lee, Grant's mechanician, will drive a second car, and Harry Hartman, the well-known racing driver, will drive the third. The new cars are being tried out daily to determine their speed and to test every part. No definite date has been set for the first public appearance of the team, but it is likely they will be entered in the Elgin race, in August. The Alco team will enter road races, track races and hill climbs in all sections of the country."


Despite the exciting plans laid out in the brochure, the 1912 Alco Racing never competed. The racing records show that Grant's Alco Black Beast did not compete in any major races in 1912. Moreover, it appears that the two new Alco racers were likely never built. Apparently the only time that Harry Grant, Frank Lee and Harry Hartman raced in Alcos was the 1911 Elgin National Trophy Race. Less than two years later, in August 1913, American Locomotive Company would announce that they had "decided to discontinue the manufacture and sale of automobiles and motor trucks."


Update: The September 16, 1911 issue of Automobile Topics reported that Alco withdrew from racing on September 8, 1911 issuing the following statement:

The American Locomotive Company has decided to withdraw from racing. Our reason for this action is that racing takes more time and attention on the part of our organization than we feel justified in devoting to it.

This decision will not apply to commercial vehicles if properly arranged contests for such in the future.

The six-cylinder stock car with which Mr. Grant won the last two Vanderbilt Cup races has been presented to him by the company as an expression of our appreciation of his services to us.

Links to related posts on VanderbiltCupRaces.com and the Internet:

PDF of the 1912 Alco Brochure

Harry Grant's Driving Record

Frank Lee's Racing Record

Harry Hartman's Racing Record

Index: Alco-6 Black Beast Racing History

Then and Now: The American Locomotive Company Plant in Providence, Rhode Island


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