Jan 11 2016

Mystery Foto #2 Solved: Edwin Ross (E.R.) Thomas and Charles Andrew (C.A.) Coey at Krug’s Hotel

Our second Mystery Foto of 2016 was a real tough one!

Answers to Mystery Foto questions:

  • Identify the two men. Hint: One is the owner of a manufacturer of Vanderbilt Cup racers, the other entered a car in the 1906 American Elimation Trial.

Left: Edwin Ross (E.R.) Ross, founder of  E.R. Thomas Motor Company of Buffalo.

Right: Charles Andew (C.A.) Coey of Chicago, an agent for Thomas cars, a balloonist, car manufacturer and race driver.

  • What was the likely location of the photo? Provide a rationale.

In the garage area of Krug's Hotel located at the intersection of Jericho Turnpike and Willis Avenue in Mineola. The rationale: Krug's was the headquarters for the Thomas racers for the 1906 American Elimination Trial and 1906 Vanderbilt Cup Race. Moreover, the garage wall seen in the Mystery Foto matches other images of the garage walls at Krug's.

Congrats to Ariejan Bos (see Bos' Bonus) for identifying Charles Coey and the Thomas headquarters and Art Kleiner (see Kleiner's Korner) for recognizing E.R. Thomas. Kudos to Tom Saal (see Saal's Searches) for finding the confirming caption for the Mystery Foto.


Howard Kroplick

Sunday Hint:

For the 1906 American Elimination Trial, C.A. Coey was listed as the entrant for the #6 Thomas driven by Hubert Le Blon, while E.R. Thomas was the entrant for the #4 Thomas driven by Gustave Callois.

The #4 Thomas personally entered by E.R. Thomas. Driver Gustave Callois can be seen directly to the left.

The #6 Thomas with driver Hubert Le Blon entered by C.A. Coey.

Edwin Ross (E.R.) Thomas

Edwin Ross (E.R.) Thomas (1850-1936) started the E. R. Thomas Motor Company of Buffalo in 1900. The company was quite successful, and Thomas remained its president until his decision to retire in 1911, when he sold his holding to the United States Motor Company. Although successful as an auto maker, Thomas probably gained his greatest fame as the designer-builder of the “Thomas Flyer,” winner of the 1908 New York to Paris (via California, Siberia and Europe) Race. Despite the fact that he officially retired in 1911, Thomas was active in numerous enterprises until his death. Coutesy of Americanautohistory.com.

E.R. Thomas (below the Willie K. profile) was a member of the 1906 Vanderbilt Cup Commission. He was often confused with Edward Russell (E.R.) Thomas of New York City who was also associated with the Vanderbilt Cup Races (see top left).

E.R. Thomas on the cover of the New York Thomas Flyer sales brochure.

In this photo liked taken prior to a practice run for the 1906 American Elimination Trial, E.R. Thomas can be seen next to 1905 Vanderbilt Cup Race chairman Robert Morrell at Krug's Hotel in Mineola. Note the #8 Frayer-Miller in the background. The man leaning over the car might be Eddie Rickenbacker!

The #4 Thomas entered personally by E.R. Thomas can also be seen in the background.

Charles Andrew (c.A.) Coey

A profile of Charles A. Coey, Chicago Tribune, November 15, 1953

Sheet music for the waltz song "Won't you come up and spoon in Coey's balloon."

Coey decided to become an automobile manufacturer in 1901 and then again in 1913.Seen here is the 193 Coey Flyer.

Profile of the Coey automobiles, Standard Catalog of American Cars (1805-1942), Kimes and Clark

View of Charles Coey and passenger racing a Coey cyclecar past grandstand during the 1914 Cyclecar races held at the Michigan State Fairgrounds in Detroit. Stamped on back: "Spooner & Wells, Inc., photographers, 1231 Woodward Ave., Detroit, Mich." Handwritten on back: "Coey in Coey passing grandstand. Cyclecar Race, July 4 & 5/'14."  Courtesy of Detroit Public Library.

Krug's Hotel, Mineola

Krug's Hotel was the Thomas headquarters for the 1906 races.

Saal's Searches (Submitted by Tom Saal)

Automobile Topics, September 29, 1906

Kleiner's Korner (Submitted by Art Kleiner)

Bos' Bonus (Submitted by Ariejan Bos)

La Vie au Grand Air, February 2, 1906

The Motor World, January 1906

Thomas Flyer Headquarters- 1906 Vanderbilt Cup Race. Note the garage wall matches the wall seen in our Mystery Foto.


Jan 10 2016 Howard Kroplick 7:24 PM

From Tom Saal:

The two men in the mystery photo are E. R. Thomas and C. A. Coey.
A similar photo appears on page 1842 of the Sept. 29, 1906 issue of Automobile Topics in a story about the Vanderbilt elimination trials.
I Xeroxed the story years ago (pre-internet) when I was writing the Pope-Hartford story for Automobile Quarterly.
Tom Saal
North Ridgeville, OH

Jan 10 2016 Howard Kroplick 7:27 PM

From Ariejan Bos:

These two men are Elwood Haynes (on the left) and Charles A. Coey. Coey was a (presumed) millionaire from Chicago, who raced with Thomas roughly between 1905 and 1907. He had entered the Thomas, which was raced by Le Blon in the American Elimination Trials for the 1906 Vanderbilt Cup. Haynes was of course the car manufacturer, who had entered a Haynes racer for the same trials, with driver H.N. Harding. The Haynes would end on 3rd place, the Thomas of Le Blon on 2nd place. In the Vanderbilt Cup race itself Le Blon would end on 8th and last place. The photo was shot in front of the Thomas Flyer headquarters: on the photo you can just see a glimpse of a Thomas being prepared, which could very well be the car of Le Blon. As to the day of the photo, I have not a real clue. My feeling says shortly before the Elimination Trials, but it could also be somewhere between the trials and the actual race.

Jan 11 2016 Art Kleiner 5:26 PM

Didn’t have much time this weekend, but I’ll throw in E.R. Thomas as the entry into the 1906 American Elimination trial.  Photo send to Howard separately might be my reason.  But other photos of Thomas confused me a bit.

Jan 12 2016 Mark Dill 12:57 PM

I just thought I’d offer a little extra info on Coey. Yes, he was a balloonist among many other things. His first wife, Carrie Hume Lewis, became the first woman to ascend in a balloon from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1909. That balloon, the Kathleen, was constructed by George Bumbaugh, one of the leading balloonist of the age. It was named, “Kathleen” after Bumbaugh’s teenage daughter. Interestingly, years later when Carrie passed away, Coey ended up marrying a much older Kathleen Bumbaugh, his final wife. http://www.firstsuperspeedway.com/photo-gallery/ca-coey-thomas-torpedo-1905

Mar 28 2016 Brian Szafranski 9:22 PM

I’m looking for specifications and any other detailed info on the Thomas Torpedo race car.  Right now I don’t even have documentation proofing that the Torpedo was made by the ER Thomas firm in Buffalo, NY.  I certainly believe it was (made by Thomas) but all I can seem to find on the car are race results, not details about the car.  Can anyone steer me toward some detailed information?  Does anyone have a guess as to whatever happened to Torpedo race car?  The Thomas Torpedo seems to be overshadowed by the Thomas Flyer which won the 1908 NY-To-Paris Race, and that’s probably why the Torpedo seems to have been forgotten.  Thank you in advance!  /Brian S.; Elma, NY USA

From Howard Kroplick

Brian, here are some links that may be useful:


https://books.google.com/books?id=oVIfAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA56&lpg=PA56&dq=thomas+torpedo+race+car&source=bl&ots=y6NeTy1sla&sig=kq1CLfc4muCQuKUD2nMp1iSFqro&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj0vJKdg-bLAhXMPB4KHf1vA1EQ6AEITDAM#v=onepage&q=thomas torpedo race car&f=false

Leave a Comment