The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Medford Grand Prix 1911

Road Races Start at 8:30 O'Clock Monday Morning--
Will Be One of Principal Features of First Day's Celebration.
    One might term the engine of an automobile as being almost human. It's doubtful if there are many other pieces of machinery that will answer to the call of the driver more readily than that of an auto. These few lines are not meant for a treatise on machinery, but the point to be made is the fact that the driver in the automobile races to be held here on July 3rd have a great more to contend with than many realize. Stop and consider that the average automobile contains two thousand parts and over, and even though some of these parts that have their actual work do go wrong, the driver may still continue, and even though he be running at a disadvantage he still has the same determination to win as at the time of starting.
    Professional drivers have to train, and furthermore must be mechanics to the extent of understanding their car, its construction and the repair of the same. They are generally started as testers in the factories, and there is yet an instance to be recorded where any of the American racing drivers have not served six months or more in this capacity.
    Every man in tomorrow's races is a driver and a mechanic. Furthermore, every driver knows his car possibly better than anyone within miles of here. Every man in this race is in to win. Think of it. The prize will not pay his tire bill, neither will it pay for the time and labor he and his mechanics have spent in putting this car in shape to show its best. The question is asked them what will he gain. He will gain the satisfaction of showing the public that an automobile race can be run without killing or injuring everyone that enters and that skillful driving and a cool head can be maintained even though he may be traveling at a speedy clip.
    It's not likely that any records will be broken, but everyone expects a good race and a fast one.
    The course is 5 miles long, and to complete the race a car will have to make ten laps over the course--and twelve laps in the "free-for-all." The course is almost equally divided between pavement and country road, and this will show to a great extent the endurance of the car and driver.
    Taking everything into consideration this race should prove almost as interesting locally as the 500-mile race recently held at the Indianapolis motor speedway. It's true that we've had races here before, but it's doubtless that races with the field and classes of cars as are entered for tomorrow have ever taken place in this state.
    The free-for-all has 'em all guessing. Many think that 20-horsepower Ford hasn't got a chance with the big Simplex that has 96 horsepower to cut loose. Forget it. Every entry in these races have ample horsepower and are geared high enough to carry them over the course and still stay on the road without throwing the throttle wide open. This is a driver's race, and the man with the coolest head is the winner. The same applies to the class race, barring tire trouble and accidents. All drivers have generally shown to be pretty level-headed, and there is not a wild man among 'em, so when you make your bets consider the driver as the cars.
    The course will be in good condition, and while it is not expected that any of the cars will attempt to climb telegraph poles or plow up front lawns, the public are requested to be away from all the turns and off the curbs. The committee is endeavoring to exercise every effort to provide for the safety of all concerned, and this can only be accomplished with the cooperation of the public.
Medford Mail Tribune, July 2, 1911, page 7

Workmen Labor All Night To Put Road in First-Class Condition--
Big Race on Fourth Over Same Course at Noon.
    At the crack of the pistol tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m. seven autos, stripped to the frames, with engines unmuffled and drivers nerved for the speed of their lives, will shoot out from the corner of West Main and Oakdale Avenue near the city park for a road race of fifty miles.
    Cars from Portland, from Eugene and Medford will compete, and men are now at work on the road at the special order of the court to put the course in the best possible condition.
    This race will have no cars above thirty horsepower, and there will be three cars of twenty horse. This is the first long motor race that has been held in Southern Oregon, and it is expected that the course will offer some of the best tests of driving that the country has ever seen.
    The course starts from the Washington School, thence to the Jacksonville Road to Lawrence Corner, thence to the Orchard Home Road, thence county road to Stewart Avenue, and Oakdale Avenue to the starting point. Each lap will be a distance of five miles, and ten laps will be driven.
    The official entries on this race, with the cars and drivers, are as follows:
1st Race--8:30 a.m.
    Cars 40 horsepower and under, Monday, July 3, 50-mile road race.
    22-h.p. Ford--Driver Edwards of Portland, Ore.
    30-h.p. Cadillac--Driver Corrigan of Medford, Ore.
    20-h.p. Fraser-Buick--Driver Neff of Medford, Ore.
    20-h.p. Hupmobile--Driver Smith of Portland, Ore.
    30-h.p. Ford--Driver Ramsey of Ashland, Ore.
    On the day of the Fourth the free-for-all race will be held over the same course, but the race will start at 12 o'clock noon, and Jack Morrel's 96-h.p. Simplex will lead as far as power is concerned. Jack Neff of Medford will drive the car. Holman of Grants Pass will be entered with his Thomas 60, and Ramsey of Ashland will drive a 20-horsepower Ford.
    The complete entry list with cars and drivers is given below:
    60-mile road race, free-for-all.
    96-h.p. Simplex--Driver Neff of Medford, Ore.
    60-h.p. Thomas--Driver Holman of Grants Pass.
    30-h.p. Cadillac--Driver Corrigan of Medford, Ore.
    22-h.p. Ford--Driver Edwards of Portland, Ore.
    20-h.p. Ford--Driver Ramsey of Ashland, Ore.
Medford Sun, July 2, 1911, page 3

Fifty-One Miles Is Covered in One Hour and Eight Minutes
by Ashland Man in His Specially Built Racing Car.
Corrigan Drew Out on Account of Accident to Cadillac--Finish Is a Close One.
The 60-mile free-for-all auto race will be run this afternoon
over the same course as the one this morning, and will start
at 50 o'clock. The following are entered: Neff, in a Simplex;
Holman, in a 60-h.p. Thomas; Corrigan, in a Cadillac, and
Edwards with a Ford.

    A. J. Edwards of Ashland in his little Ford racer won the 50-mile class race for cars of 40 horsepower or less Monday morning, his time for the 51-mile course being 1 hour and 8 minutes. Jack Neff in a Buick was second, finishing 68 seconds behind Edwards. Jimmie Corrigan in a Cadillac was forced to quit during the third lap owing to an accident to his engine.
    Fully 10,000 people lined the course and saw the prettiest automobile race ever held in southern Oregon. The greatest number of people gathered at the point of starting near the Washington School. Each time the cars negotiated the course they were wildly cheered, and the crowd was as well behaved as a crowd can be and gave but little trouble comparatively to the special police who were active in keeping them from the street. All of the cross streets were roped off and the crowd kept out of the danger zone.
    Before the race it was conceded that Edwards in the Ford would win, barring accidents. He has a racing car, highly geared, and on the pavement he made this count against the Buick and the Cadillac, both stock cars, only partially stripped for the race.
    Corrigan got away first on the Cadillac. He drove the car owned by V. J. Emerick and made the first two laps in fast order. On the third a cap screwed loose from the bottom of his water pump, and the heating of his engine caused him to withdraw.
    Edwards in the Ford was the second to be started. He drove a splendid race, but did not have good luck on the corner of Oakdale and Main, his car skidding and turning clear around twice. Each time his engine was started, but he lost no more than 15 seconds in getting away again.
    Jack Neff in Frazier's little Buick was in the race all the time and drove well. He turned the corners in good shape, and it was a surprise to many that he kept so closely on the trail of the Ford. His time was 68 seconds behind on the finish.
    Corrigan will drive the Cadillac again this afternoon in the free-for-all, and will probably make a good showing, as he is there all the time in driving. His corners were the prettiest of the day.
Medford Mail Tribune, July 3, 1911, page 1

Makes Five and One-Half Mile Course Under Six Minutes--
Steady Driving and Good Judgment Secret of Success.
    "Lt-t-h-h-h-rum-Zip boom!" That's the way they took the corner near the Washington School yesterday in the greatest automobile races Southern Oregon has ever seen, and driver A. J. Edwards in his 20-horsepower Ford was the winner in both events.
    It was some going, and it is estimated that 25,000 people lined the five-mile course in the two contests.
    The sixty-mile race in the afternoon was the star event, the best time was made and the most hair-raising finishes were on the card.
    Edwards started first in his Ford at 5:20, and at the wave of the flag was off like a flash of lightning. Irving in Frank Frazier's twenty-horsepower Buick was second one minute later, and Corrigan was off in this Cadillac at 5:23, while Neff in Jack Morrell's 96-horsepower Simplex jumped into the start sixty seconds later.
    During the first two laps a better race could not have been asked for. Edwards maintained his steady 7:30-minute clip, while Irving, with the defeat of Barney Oldfield and a mile in 48 seconds to his credit, gave an exhibition of fast driving that has not been surpassed on the Pacific Coast. Giving the machine every ounce she would stand, he cut down the winner's lead by forty seconds in one lap, and in the second round set the fastest record for the day with 6:50 for the course of approximately five and one-half miles.
    The whirlwind driving was his undoing, however, for catching up with Edwards on the second lap, he tried to pass him at the park turn and, striking the corner at express speed, burst a tire and had to spend over half an hour adjusting another. Only a few minutes before Corrigan went over the curb when turning on the Oakdale stretch for his second lap and followed by the Simplex blowing out a tire, it was the Ford's race from that time on, barring accidents.
    But the interest of the contest was not over by any means. The crowds along the course, the people dotting the tops of buildings and craning their necks from automobiles, kept their places and stayed until the red flag was raised, and Neff in the Simplex finished his course a good fighting second.
    But for accidents the Simplex would undoubtedly have won the race, but the first blowout was followed by a second about a mile from the city, and this was too great a handicap for any car to overcome.
    Edwards deserved every credit for his victory and won by superior judgment and steady driving. Learning quickly by his experience in the morning when he skidded twice at the school turn and stalled his engine both times, he took the turns easily and had no trouble of any sort throughout the race.
    The winning time for the fifty-mile race in the morning was one hour and eight minutes, and the time for the sixty-mile race one hour, twenty-three minutes fifty-five seconds, which, considering the condition of the course and the fact that the turns weren't banked, was splendid going.
    The morning race was only second in interest in the sixty-mile event. The hard luck which pursued Corrigan in the Cadillac started in this race, and a cap screwing loose on the water pump, his engine became overheated, and after covering two laps in fast time he was forced to withdraw.
    Neff, in Frazier's Buick, drove a good race and was only sixty seconds behind Edwards at the finish. The greatest interest was taken in the event throughout, and as in the afternoon every turn in the course was greeted by thundering cheers from the crowd.
    The motor fans are so enthusiastic over the success of the day that it will not be long before another auto race is held in Medford. No sporting event in the history of the city has attracted such universal interest, and the committee in charge of the event is deserving of great credit for the excellent work it has done. The races were well policed, and the events run off with smoothness and dispatch. The accident to N. H. Mark, who drove with Corrigan, was regrettable, but it is considered very fortunate that the injury was no more serious.
    A great deal of praise was heard for Frank Frazier, Jack Morrel and V. T. Emerick for putting their cars in the race, and much credit for the success of the day must go to them. Frazier entered his Buick in both events, and last night there were innumerable compliments by the fans regarding his good sportsmanship.
Medford Sun, July 4, 1911, page 1

Only Skillful Driving by Corrigan Prevents Serious Accident at Oakdale Corner--
Throngs Witness Accident.
    While turning onto the home stretch at South Oakdale at the beginning of the 60-mile auto race yesterday afternoon, a rear tire on Corrigan's Cadillac burst and, losing control of his machine, the car smashed into an electric light post, painfully injuring the mechanician, N. H. Mark.
    Only the skillful handling of the car saved both men from serious and perhaps fatal injuries. According to the judges on the course, the front tire on one side of the machine was flat a quarter of a mile before the curve was reached, and effort was made to stop Corrigan, but he did not see the signal. When the rear tire on the other side of the machine blew up, the car was unmanageable and going close to a 60-mile gait, smashed over the curbing and swerving on the grass parking made for the pole like a thunderbolt. Quick as a flash Corrigan turned the wheel, bringing his car about so it struck the pole sideways near the front wheels. The axle was taken completely off, and the pole was broken like a stalk of corn. Corrigan retained his seat, but Mark turned a somersault over the radiator and landed on the back of his head on the cement sidewalk.
    Crowds ran to his assistance, and the ambulance and a doctor were hastily summoned, while the injured man was carried to a nearby residence. Mark did not lose consciousness.
    In a few hours he was able to be around as usual, with only a scalp wound to show for the accident.
    "It was a pretty bad smash-up, but I consider we were very fortunate to get out as we did," said driver Corrigan after the race. "The machine is pretty well smashed up, but I think it can be repaired without difficulty, and as far as I can determine the engine was not injured at all. I didn't realize that my tire was flat, and when I found that I had lost control I simply did what I could to get out of the situation as well as possible."
Medford Sun, July 4, 1911, page 1


    N. H. Mark, the mechanician who was injured Monday afternoon when the car driven by Jimmie Corrigan was wrecked on South Oakdale, is fast recovering from his injuries and expresses much appreciation at the efforts of bystanders to make him comfortable immediately after the accident. Mr. Mark states that he had not realized that there is as much humanity in man before the car hit the ditch and has requested that the Mail Tribune through its columns render his thanks to the many who rushed to his assistance.
    "I was well cared for," states Mr. Mark, "and I appreciate it very much. I was carried to one side while a dozen people rushed to various nearby homes and brought out pillows with which to make me comfortable. Everything was done for me, possible to be done.
    "I in no way attach any blame to Mr. Corrigan. He was driving a splendid race, and the accident was due entirely to reasons beyond his control. It was due to his head work when the fun started that we were not killed."
Medford Mail Tribune, July 5, 1911, page 4

Last revised February 18, 2011