May 25 2009

Joe Tracy and Old 16’s Last Great Victory

Joe Tracy drove in three Vanderbilt Cup Races (1904, 1905, and 1906). But, after driving the Locomobile to a 10th place finish in the 1906 Race, he decided to retire from racing . However, Joe never lost his love for speed and the "Old 16" Locomobile. In June 1946, Tracy was given another opportunity for glory. Peter Helck choose 73-year old Joe Tracy to drive "Old 16" at the Automotive Golden Jublilee sponsored by the Veteran Motor Club of America at the Mineola Fairgrounds.

In the above 1946 Jubiliee photo from the Helck Family Collection, Joe Tracy can be seen behind the wheel of "Old 16", the great artist and "Old 16" owner Peter Helck is on the far left and Peter's son Jerry Helck, the mechanician for the race, is on the far right.

Although the race was an exhibition of "Race of the Racers between Race Cars of Yesterday", Joe took the three-lap race very seriously. Reaching speeds of over 100 miles per hour, Joe and "Old 16" took the checkered flag winning by 6 inches over Bobby Breese in his Breese Special.

The 1946 Jubilee victory may have been the last great victory for Joe Tracy and "Old 16" and was captured in a film by the Long Island Old Car Club. A copy of this long-forgotten film was discovered by Walter McCarthy and will be posted on in the near future.


Jun 01 2009 Malcolm Collum 5:12 PM

Howard, I can’t wait to see that film!

Jun 07 2009 Howard Kroplick 6:14 PM


Great to hear from you! I showed an initial proof of the film to Jerry Helck last week. He remembers this race when he served as Tracy’s mechanician at the age of 15. I hope to post the film later this month.


Jun 30 2009 Huntley Perry 4:26 PM

If I remember correctly, the Locomobile factory was in Bridgeport, Connecticut. I grew up in Bridgeport and one could see the factory from Seaside Park, which boarded Long Island Sound. The last I head it was a shirt factory. I moved away from Bridgeport in 1951, so I don’t know if that factory building is still standing.

Jul 19 2009 Howard Kroplick 4:45 PM


The Locomobile factory was taken down in 1967 and became a powerplant. It is now part of the Bridgeport Energy LLC complex:

Here is the 1946 film of the Jubilee:



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