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SLIDER: 1904 – Three racers at an Ohio track

Three famous race car drivers: on the left, Carl Fisher on his Premier Comet; centre, Earl Kiser, on Winton Bullet II; on the right, the legendary Barney Oldfield on the Peerless Green Dragon. On 15 October 1904 at the Glenville track in Cleveland, Ohio, Oldfield defeated “little Earl Kiser” twice – vindicating his claim to be the champion track racer of the USA. But there were plenty of people who believed that with equal conditions Earl Kiser and his “old Bullet” could show dust to anything on wheels. The two races that day had been over only a mile, with Oldfield’s time being 53.8 seconds, the fastest of his life. But Oldfield had yet to go as fast as the Bullet for distances from 1 to 10 miles. The Winton Bullet held all the records at these distances.

Before the start of the first two races between Kiser and Oldfield that day, Oldfield and his manager demanded a standing start. Charles Mears of the Winton company objected, knowing that the big eight-cylindered Bullet was slow to start. The rules were not clear on this, so a compromise was reached: the first heat a standing start and the second a flying start. Kiser’s car was not on top form that day, and a return match was planned. Nevertheless, the crowd were highly appreciative of the competition between two of the greatest racers of their day on two magnificent machines.

Photo courtesy of The Richard Roberts Archive.

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