Dec 02 2013

Mystery Foto #44 Solved: The #7 Alco Shaft Drive 6- Cylinder Racer in Elgin, Illinois

Last week's Mystery Foto featured a shaft driven Alco racer.

Answers to the Mystery Foto questions:

-Identify the car, the year it was manufactured, its driver and mechanician

The Mystery car was the Alco shaft drive, 6-cylinder racer manufactured by the American Locomotive Company sometime from 1910 to 1911. The driver was Harry Hartman and the mechanician was James Finn.

-Identify the race in which the car competed.

It raced  at the Elgin National Trophy Race On August 26, 1911. The #7 Alco finished sixth of the 10 cars that started. Three Alcos competed in the race: Hartman's #7 Alco, the #1 Alco Black Beast driven by Harry Grant and the #5 driven by Frank Lee.

Congrats to Ariejan Bos, Phil, Greg Oreiro and Frank Femenias for correctly identifying the racer, its team and the race.


Howard Kroplick



Prior to the 1911 Indy 500, the Alco Black Beast (left) and Hartman's Alco (right) practiced together.

The three Alco teams and their mechanics at the 1911 Elgin National Trophy Race.

Another image of Hartman and Finn in their Alco. Unlike the chain-driven Alco Black Beast, this Alco was shaft-driven.

Hartman and Finn wore the same Alco sweaters as their two other Alco teams.

Hartman and Finn in the #7 Alco during the 1911 Elgin National Trophy Race.

After breaking a fuel line, the  #7 Alco retired after completing 20 of the 36-lap race and finished sixth.


Nov 29 2013 Ariejan Bos 5:08 PM

The names of the driver, mechanician and car (with Alco license tag) are apparently a give-away because of Thanksgiving grin. The photo must have been taken before the Elgin National Trophy on August 26, 1911, where Harry Hartman drove an Alco with no.7 to 6th place. The only other photo of Hartman and Finn I have is a Lazarnick photo in which he poses in the ‘Bête Noire’ before the same event. This car however was of course driven by Grant with no.1. The car on the mystery photo has cardan drive and could be the same one as the one which can be seen on some of the training photos for the 1910 Vanderbilt Cup, published earlier on this site. However Lee also drove a cardan-driven Alco in this race, so this is a guess. The names Hartman and Finn remain mysterious for me, I can’t find their names anywhere else in the records.

Nov 30 2013 Phil 1:58 PM

I think the car, ALCO # 7 is a sister car to the Black Beast and so it was also built in 1909. The driver is Harry Hartman and the mechanician is James Finn. The race is the 1911 Elgin National Trophy Race.


Nov 30 2013 Greg O. 6:15 PM

Driver Harry Hartman and mechanician James Finn drove the #7 Alco to sixth place in the 1911 Elgin National Trophy Race.

Here’s the blog entry detailing the when and where it was built;

Dec 01 2013 frank femenias 7:04 PM

Possibly 1911 Elgin National Trophy Race, 1906 #7 Alco, Driver Harry Hartman/ Mechanician James Finn finished 6th Place, three lives claimed that day, two when the grandstand collapsed. Two other sister Alco’s at the same race, #1 Black Beast’s driven by Harry Grant/George Babcock and the #5 Alco driven by Frank Lee / W.R. Schoonmaker.

Dec 03 2013 Ariejan Bos 3:09 AM

Hi David,

Regarding the photo above with the team posing in the shaft driven Alco, in my opinion we see Lee and his mechanician Schoonmaker here. Hartman and Finn are the two men with the cow on the group photo (Hartman on the right) and have quite different features.


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