1904 New York to Poughkeepsie Hudson River Race
Hudson River, New York, October 29, 1904
A new speed record for automobile boats was made yesterday on the Hudson River when Frank Croker's X.P.D.N.C. defeated Wilmer S. Kilmer's Vingt-et-Un II and Smith & Mabley's Challenger in a match race from the Columbia Yacht Club, at the foot of West Eighty-sixth Street, to Poughkeepsie and return, a total distance of 136.6 miles. The Croker boat covered the course without a stop in 5:11:50, making an average speed of 26.208 statute miles an hour. This is not only the fastest speed ever made by an automobile boat in American waters, but is also the record for a continuous run, no continuous autoboat race of any such length ever having been held before. The best previous speed record in this country was 25.36 statute miles per hour, mad by the Vingt-et-Un II, in a race on the Hudson River on Sept. 26 of this year.
The Vingt-et-Un II finished second in the race, covering the course in 5:58:35, an average speed of 22.85 statute miles per hour, which, however, included a stop to take on gasolene at Highland Falls, both going and coming. With the time of these two stops deducted the actual average time of the Vingt-et-Un would be considerably faster, but no account of these stops was taken in the race, the elapsed time only being considered by the officials.
The Challenger ran over a submerged log or some similar obstruction near Haverstraw which twisted the blades of her propeller so badly that she was unable to continue in the race.
The X.P.D.N.C., the winning boat, is forty feet long and has an engine of ninety horse power and a Herreshoff hull. The Vingt-et-Un II is also forty feet in length and has a motor of seventy-five horse power, while the Challenger is thirty feet in length with a 150 horse power motor. The hulls of both the Vingt-et-Un II and the Challenger were designed by Clinton H. Crane who steered the former boat. The Challenger was steered by A. D. P. Smith and the X.P.D.N.C. by Mr. Croker.
The race resulted from a challenge from Mr. Croker to Mr. Smith, the match between their two boats being subsequently made an open event. On account of the lateness of the season, however, the Vingt-et-Un II was the only other boat in commission, and so able to take part in the race.
The race was scheduled to start at 10 o'clock, and the two Smith & Mabley boats were on hand with their skippers at 9:30, but it was not until 11:30 that Mr. Croker appeared. It was then decided to start the race at noon.
The preparatory gun was fired at exactly noon and five minutes later the starting signal was given. The Croker boat was first over the line, crossing at 12:05:20, and was followed by the Challenger just two minutes later, at 12:07:20. The Vingt-et-Un II still lingered behind the starting line, and it was evident that some trouble had developed. It was explained later that in throwing over the controller lever for the start it had been pushed too far and the wires connecting it with the spark and carbureter were broken. Some ten minutes were required to repair the damage, and the start was finally made at 12:16:25. By this time the two leaders were almost out of sight, and the Vingt-et-Un II followed at full speed.
The Croker boat continued to gain steadily, and turned the stakeboat at Poughkeepsie at 2:35:50, almost an hour ahead of the Vingt-et-Un II, which turned at 3:24:30. Darkness overtook the two racers on the return trip, but the high speed was continued to the finish. Neither boat was provided with sidelights, but the flame from the exhaust was visible for a mile or more, while the rapid-fire roar of the engines could be heard almost an equal distance, so that ample warnings of their approach was given. The X.P.D.N.C. finished a winner at 5:16:50, but the watchers at the clubhouse had nearly an hour to wait before the Vingt-et-Un II came in at 6:15:00. The summary:
MATCH RACE - Start 12:05:00 Name Owner Finish Elapsed Time X.P.D.N.C. Frank Croker 5:16:50 5:11:50 Vingt-et-Un II W. S. Kilmer 6:15:00 5:58:35 Challenger Smith & Mabley Did not finish
(Transcribed from the New York Times, Oct. 30, 1904, p. 1 )
(The X.P.D.N.C., pronounced "expediency," would go on to be an active racer and legitimate contender for the next 5 years. Just as with the Standard, she would be handled carefully and skillfully by her owners. Unfortunately, Frank Croker would not enjoy her successes; he would die in a tragic auto accident early in 1905. - GWC)
[Thanks to Greg Calkins for help in preparing this pageLF]
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