View the early years 1916-1920s through newspaper ads .

“14,109 feet above sea level, 120 turns, 12 1/2 miles”

Chalmers ad from the 1916 Pikes Peak Hill Climb race.

1916 PPHC

The first race was split over two days. Motorcycles raced on day one and automobiles day two. On the second day there was three events. The cars were divided in two events by engine size and the third event was a “Free for All” and considered the main event with the Penrose Trophy going to the winner.

Local General Goods store in Colorado Springs newspaper ad from the 1916 PPHC race

A strange ad from the Rocky Mountain News in Denver Colorado prior to race day. The Briscoe Motor Company was banned . (?)

Briscoe Motor Company ad

With three events more then one car company had the ability to claim to be the winner of the Pikes Peak Hill Climb. While some hide the fact,  others went as far as listing which event they won.

The Hudson Super-Six ” You don’t care to climb Pike’s Peak at the speed the Super-Six showed it could”

1917 Stromberg Carburetor ad from the PPHC in 1916

WW2 halts the race in 1917,1918, 1919 

Lexington wins in 1920 !

Denver Colorado Lexington Dealership ad from the 1920 Pikes Peak Hill Climb race

1921 King Rhiley wins 

Hodson wins at the 1921 Pikes Peak Hill Climb

The ad above was the first ad in the local newspapers that used a race photograph instead of a drawing or dealer image. The ad mentions the victory in the snowstorm and also refers to the Hudson’s win in 1916. The ad below for the Lexington shows a more typical drawing based ad, with a very nice representation of the road to the summit.

Lexington ad from the 1921 Pikes Peak Hill Climb race.

1922 PPHC “Official Ambulance” 

1922 Pikes Peak Hill Climb race Official Ambulance ad
Not something you see everyday. A law firm sponsoring the ambulance for the 1922 Pikes Peak Hill Climb race. The ad was from the Gazette Telegraph in Colorado Springs Colorado. (If you can identify the make of the ambulance , let me know)  Another point of interest is the “Westinghouse Shock Absorbers” . 

The Ford hot rod driven by Noel Bullock made a huge splash in 1922 winning the race overall.  Western Auto Supply Company from Denver Colorado used the”Rajo Head’ PPHC win in their ad. To the right, a local Ford dealer featured him in their 1922 ad haling the first win ever for a 4 cylinder at Pikes Peak.

1923 PPHC

One of my favorite ads from the early 1920’s from the Pikes Peak Hill Climb

1923 Parco Gasoline ad for the Pikes Peak Hill Climb race.

Nice to see several pictures of the race cars and drivers. Seeing the early service station is nice too.

insert from 1923 PPHC Parco Gas ad
insert from Parco ad

1924 Pikes Peak Hill Climb

The Lexington camp went all out in 1924 taking the overall win and being awarded permanent possession of the Penrose trophy. The local Triangle Gasoline station took out this amazing advertisement to honor the win.

Below, the first Firestone Tires ad at Pikes Peak was in 1924

1923 Firestone Tire ad from the 1924 Pikes Peak Hill Climb race.

Below is a rare photograph showing the local Firestone Tire Shop in Colorado Springs. The winning Lexington race car is at his shop.! Hard to see, but that is also the Penrose trophy to the right of the Earl Udick. Great period photograph.

Hope you enjoyed seeing this group of advertisements from the 1920s.

If you would like to see additional ads from other decades contact me with what years you are interested in and I can put something together for the most popular requests.

Pikes Peak Hill Climb historic t-shirts !

Industry and Supply Company

Glad to see the history of the Pikes Peak Hill Climb being honored on T-Shirts and canvas prints.  Louis Unser, Neol Bolluck, Otto Loesche, Chuck Meyer and more !

Check them out at:   https://industryandsupply.co.uk/collections/pikes-peak-shirts

The company is an official licensed PPIHC vendor.  Nice variety of shirts and canvas prints.   Based in the UK, contact them for shipping costs. Hope to see a vendor in the USA for these products soon !

 

 

A Legendary Lexington (part two)

Winning brings sponsors. This was true in the 1920’s and still is today.

Racing in the first half of the 1920’s was good for the Lexington Motor Company.   Firestone, , Triangle Gasoline ,Rayfield Carburetors, Connecticut ignitions , Mobiloil,  just to name a few picked up Lexington and their Pikes Peak Hill Climb race cars wins in their advertising .

The racing success of Number “7” was only the first half of  the “Legendary Lexington” story. The second stage of the story, in my eyes, is just as important as the first half.  How does a hill climb race car survive for 90 plus years in as raced condition?  Most cars that were lucky enough to survive racing were usually torn down, parted out , or worse yet sent out to be scrapped, as technology pasted them by.

What would  happen to Number “7” ?

After the Pikes Peak Hill Climb win in 1924. The Lexington Motor Company and the mountain parted ways. The company was in dire trouble and would only hang on for a few years longer. The race cars were offered for sale to any interested Lexington Dealerships.  Lucky number “7” was going to have a new home.

A Diamond.

The New York City Lexington dealer Harry Diamond bought the race car and displayed it in his N.Y. dealership for many years.  Some where along the line at a later date, seven was  moved into the dealership basement for storage.  The good news it was stored in a  good place and not forgotten. Short term storage , turned into long term storage of around twenty years.  Details are not crystal clear, but some time in the early 1940’s a great caretaker was to appear , and the basement banishment  would  be over.

From a Diamond, to a DuPont, through a Stanley, and finally back home. Connecting the 1940s to the 1990 and back to home.

People have asked how does PPHC history get lost of worse yet forgotten over the years. Some compare it to Moonshiners’ history, passed down by word of mouth, (seldom in writing) from one generation to next . Tall tales embellished , dates and names crossed over ,with some stories becoming folk lore while others are totally lost.  One man went on a mission to get the stories put into print.  Stanley DeGeer, the most prominent “Race to the Clouds” author started  a hunt for the original Pikes Peak Hill Climb “Penrose” trophy .  Not only did he find the trophy, he alsoalong the way, with the help of Lexington historian Henry Blommel, found the Lexington race car number 7 stashed away in the DuPont  family collection.

The “DuPont” family !

If you look up DuPont family on Wikipedia, most folks will notice, ” Since the 19th century, the DuPont family has been one of the richest families in America.”  The DuPont’s’ also manufactured up-scale automobiles from 1919-1933. What Pikes Peak Hill Climb fans will remember about the family is they saved Lexington number 7.  Details of the time in the families collection are vague . The car was last kept in the Colonial Flying Museum in Toughkenamon Pennsylvania. What is known from their purchase in the early 1940’s until it was rediscovered in  1994 , the car still remained in as raced condition AND  was turn key ready and  running well.  (That is no small feat) .

Through the hard work of Stanley DeGeer, the DuPont family and the Pikes Peak historical group the Lexington number seven was going back to Pikes Peak. The car would go on to spend time displayed at the Hill Climb Museum in Manitou Springs Colorado and the Fayette County Historical Museum in Connersville Indiana .

Back Home !

Today its’ forever home is in the El Pomar Pikes Peak Historical Museum  in Colorado Springs along with several other PPHC historic race acrs and memorabilia.  Number Seven is displayed in the place of honor , at TOP of the display next to the Pikes Peak Hill Climb Penrose trophy . Stop in and check it out, the place is amazing.

Thanks for reading the story of the  Legendary Lexington !

Pass it on !

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A Legendary Lexington (part one)

A surviving unrestored race car from the 1920’s. How many times do you see one of those ?  How can a car designed to race in Hill Climbs survive for 96 years and not be well known ?

The Lexington Automobile Company history is covered in depth by Richard A. Stanley, in his book”The Lexington Automobile a Complete History”. Check out his wonderful book and learn the about the company history from the  beginning in 1908 until its demise in 1926.

https://www.amazon.com/Lexington-Automobile-Complete-History/dp/078646934X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1484930462&sr=1-1&keywords=lexington+automobile

The story I want to tell is about the Lexington Thoroughbred race car serial number 16585 or better known as Lexington #7.  From the factory numbers of the chassis it is assumed to be an early 1920 model. Coming standard with 272 cubic inch Ansted overhead valve, six cylinder engine. Factory rated at 75 horsepower . (Number “7” saw many updates and modification during the four years it raced Pikes Peak )

Automobile manufactures where still milking the press from the 1st Pikes Peak Hill Climb race in 1916. Being considered the highest highway in the world at the time . Lexington wanted a piece of the pie, the exquisite Penrose Trophy and the prestige that came with it.  Two cars were prepared and sent by rail to the 1920 race. One to be driven by Al Cline with mechanic Garner Lewis # 6 and the other driven by Otto Loesche #7 . Otto, an experenced racer decided to save the extra weight and NOT take a riding mechanic with him.

The cars ran without fenders, running boards and the main body removed. Two seats were added to #6 and only the one in #7.   On race day once again there were three events and in  Event Number Two AND the Main Event Number Three the Lexington’s shined. Otto taking 1st and Al taking 2nd in both events. Unheard of at the time. The only class they didn’t win was for smaller displacement motors. Lexington threw a huge party in Connersville  . Once it was shipped home the Hill Climb trophy was displayed in the front window of the main dealership for all to see.

Otto Loesche became a celebrity after the win and Lexington pushed the Pikes Peak victory in newspapers and magazines nationwide.  Race car number “7” and Otto Loesche were taken on a tour traveling to dealerships and many other points of interest. (Most of the early photographs you see of the Lexington race car for sale nowadays comes from the 1920 publicity tour)

The Connersville Indiana area at the time was a thriving automobile manufacturing area and could almost be called the little Detroit of the automobile industry.  The race cars ran a few aftermarket parts made outside of the typical Detroit area. Buffalo Wire Wheels , Connecticut Ignitions.  and a Rayfield carburetor.  Number seven still wears its Buffalo wheels and its  truck-bus Firestone Gum Dipped Safety-Lock tires, which may be from the 20’s.

Lexington would continue to come back to Pikes Peak and gather four first place wins and taking permanent ownership of the Penrose trophy in 1924. A feat that no one thought possible. To this day at the Fayette County Historical Museum in Connersville Indiana, that original trophy still survives.

Times for Otto Loesche using the same car # 7 at  the PPHC races.

1920-  1st place Event #3- 22:25,  1st place Event #2 -(time unknown)

1921 –  1st place Event #2 -19:47 9  (only race entered)

1922- Did not attend, ( no factory sponsored Lexington’s)

1923 -1st place Event #2- 19:29.8, 3rd place Event # 3 (time unknown)

1924- 1st place Event #2-  18:15 (new course record)

An amazing record for the period . A billboard was constructed in 1920 by the entrance to the Pikes Peak Highway to remind folks that Lexington was the King of the Mountain.  ( photo from 1924 below)

Stay turned for more of the story in Part 2 of the Legendary Lexington