Dec 07 2010

Harry Grant Describes His Last Great Race with the Alco Black Beast

Harry Grant's last great race in the Alco-6 Black Beast Racer's was the 1911 Elgin National Trophy Race held on the Illinois course. Driver Harry Grant was shown here with his mechanician George Babcock prior to a practice run. This was the only major race in which mechanican Frank Lee did not ride with Grant. The reason was simple: Lee also drove another Alco in the race-one of three Alco racers in the Elgin.



Harry Grant and George Babcock driving the #1 Alco Black Beast on the Elgin course.


This amazing photo was accompanied by a commentary by Harry Grant describing his experience at the race. Based on the last paragraph, it was likely written with the help of the Alco sales department as a post-race press release.

"Cars receive harder usage in racing than imagined" says Harry F. Grant, who drove the Alco, a two-time winner of the Vanderbilt Cup. "It is the general impression that a racing car receives strains only rounding corners. Every little stone that protrubes through the surface of the road, every little ditch or imperfection in the course causes extra strain on the car. Upon hitting these imperfections, the car has the tendency to rise and leave the course."

"At Elgin there was a ditch on the back stretch, a straightaway. Every time we went over this ditch, it became deeper and deeper. This ditch finally extended from one side of the course to the other. When our "Old No.18" Alco, of Vanderbilt Cup fame, would hit this ditch both the front and rear wheels would leave the ground. Upon landing, first the front wheels would strike the ground and then the rear".

"To hold the car to the course it was necessary to brace my hand against my knee to take the strain off my wrist. One can imagine the consequences if a steering knuckle should break or the front or rear axle or any other part at such a critical moment. Of course, there are no such strains in ordinary touring."

"No one need to be afraid to invest in a stock car that can resist the strains of racing. This is one of reason that I am so proud of my "Old No.18" Alco. It is strictly a stock car and has withstood the strains of two Vanderbilts in succession. You will remember that the 1909 Vanderbilt was a stock car race. Should it had been a high powered racer, I would not have the feeling for "Old No. 18" that I have."


Tthe Alco Black Beast finished second to the #2 National driven by Len Zengle.

Links to related posts on and the Elgin Races:

Archives: Harry Grant

1911 Elgin National Trophy Results

Alco Black Beast Racing History (1909-1911)

Index: Alco-6 Black Beast Racer

History of the Elgin Road Race

The Elgin Road Race Collection- The Crittenden Automotive Library

Elgin Road Race Photos


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