Sep 09 2010

The Alco Practicing for the 1911 Indy 500: The License Plate & Mystery Car

Prior to the 1911 Indy 500 Race, the #18 Alco conducted practice runs on the Long Island Motor Parkway. On these runs, a New York license plate M1067 was placed on the front of the car. (Post corrected on November 10, 2011- Original post indicated the Alco was practicing for the 1910 Vanderbilt Cup Race).


Prior to 1910, New Yorkers who registered a car were assigned a license number and were required to provide their own plates. As described in, New York first began issuing official plates in 1910 with numbers 1000 through 2,999 reserved for dealers and manufacturers. The "M" designation were prefixed manufacturer plates.


Although notes that New York's only porcelain issue was an undated red & white issued in 1912, a close-up of the Alco's license plate does not reveal any rivots typical of the official 1910 plate. Can anyone explain the materials used to make the 1910 Alco plate?


Last week, I obtained additional photos of the Alco prior to the 1910 race. In this image, the two touring cars and two racers all have the same M1067 NY license plates. My favorite co-author Al Velocci informed me that it was the New York practice that dealers could be issued the same license number for a requested number of their cars. Accordingly, a logical assumption is that this photo shows the American Locomotive Company team and officials in their Alco cars with license plates issued from a local New York dealer.


Based on this assumption, the next question is what was the racer next to the #18 Alco? The mystery "Alco" racer looks very similar to the #18 Alco and the faded number on the radiator looks like an unlucky "13" ....or possibly an "18" which was painted over. The only American Locomotive Company car entered in the 1909 race was the #18 Alco. Moreover, the 1910 trade journals never mentioned a second Alco. One possibility is that the second car was a backup racer to be used if the #18 Alco broke down during the practice runs. A similar strategy was used for the 1906 Locomobile entry.


In this photo, the two racers were shown on the Long Island Motor Parkway. Note: the original cedar Motor Parkway posts in the background.

If you can provide any additional insight into the M1067 license plate or the mystery racer, please leave a comment in the Blog. Thanks!

November 10, 2011 Update: The mystery is solved! Check out the post May 7, 1911 The World : Harry Grant Practicing on the Motor Parkway at 107.8 Miles Per Hour

Related posts on

May 7, 1911 The World: Harry Grant Practicing on the Motor Parkway at 107.8 Miles Per Hour

The World May 7, 1911: Harry Grant Practicing on the Motor Parkway at 107.8 Miles Per Hour

The Alco racer and the American Locomotive Company:

1910 Vanderbilt Cup Race


Feb 12 2012 Bruce 10:23 PM

The plate would be a 1911 NY issue stamped steel, white characters on maroon background. The 1910 plates had riveted characters, 1912 porcelain , and then stamped steel again from 1913 on. I’ve got a decent example of a similar plate 1911 mfg plate in my collection if someone would like to see a modern photo of such an example.

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