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Racing through the square in York

A York-built Pullman 4-40 Gentleman’s Roadster raced a Studebaker in an auto race lasting over two-weeks in March of 1908 from Philadelphia to Savannah, Georgia. Racing on the dirt roads of that time, the leading Pullman passes through the square in York three-hours, 52-minutes after the start of the race in Philadelphia; reported as the fastest time ever made for that distance on a run of this kind.

This endurance race transpired largely due to the early success of an ambitious 24-week long, 22,000-mile auto race already underway; as discussed in last week’s part 1 of the series of posts about the Philadelphia to Savannah race.

The photo shows the 1908 Pullman 4-40 Gentleman’s Roadster passing through the square in York, on March 4, 1908; during the first day of the Philadelphia to Savannah race. Evidence suggests, and Paul Vaughn concurs, an incorrect caption was used for this photo on page 41 of the York County Heritage Trust book “Path to the Present—The 100-Year Journey of the Pullman Automobile.”

Click on this LINK for a yorkblog.com Full View of the original three photos/illustrations in this post if details are cut off in the cropping of the photos/illustrations, or if any have been removed from the ydr.com site.

While the Pullman factory driver Robert Morton did the majority of the driving, the car owner, Paul Gillette also drove; as he was doing in this photo rounding the northwest corner of the square in York. Sitting in the back seat is George Daley, the race observer assigned by the Quaker City Motor Club of Philadelphia. The rules for the race required only Morton and Gillette to drive the Pullman throughout the race and all three individuals had to be in the car whenever the car was racing.

Several of the newspapers, along the race route, printed photos of cars and/or drivers to accompany their articles covering the race. The following photo was captioned “The Pullman Crew” in the March 6, 1908, issue of The Times Dispatch of Richmond, Virginia. In that photo Robert Morton is driving, with Paul Gillette navigating and checking the gages. George Daley, sitting in the back seat, is always easily recognizable, with his narrow face and features.

Paul F. Gillette was the manager of the Star Motor Car Company in Newark, New Jersey; one of the leading agents for Pullman automobiles. Mr. Gillette was the owner of the Pullman in the race. He ceremoniously drove that car from New York Times Square to Philadelphia; the night before the start of the race. That run was made in four hours.

One can identify the photo of the Pullman 4-40 as being at the northwest corner of the square in York by the “Strine & Moore” sign in the background. At the time of the race, newspapers ads and city directories have Strine & Moore selling oxfords and shoes at their store on the northwest corner of the square. William E. Strine and David F. Moore were partners in this high-end shoe business. The following is a typical Strine & Moore newspaper ad:

It appears the Pullman was coming off North George Street prior to turning the northwest corner of the square, to end up heading west on West Market Street. Which makes sense, after all, the next towns on the race route were: Abbottstown, Gettysburg, Frederick Md., Rockville, and Washington D.C.

However why was the Pullman on North George Street? Very likely the car took a few blocks detour for a photo opportunity and/or driver swap in front of the Pullman factory at 240 North George Street. Somewhere, a photo probably exists of the racing 1908 Pullman 4-40 in front of the Pullman building on March 4, 1908.

Status of the race from Philadelphia to York made deadline to appear that same day in the Harrisburg Telegraph, an evening Harrisburg newspaper; which reported:

“According to a long-distance telephone message received from The Telegraph’s representative at York this afternoon, the start of the race was made this morning from Philadelphia at 8:30 and 3 hours and 52 minutes later the Pullman car passed through York in the fastest time ever made for the distance on a run of this kind. James Kline, manager of the Pullman Company, left Philadelphia by train for York at 8:40 this morning and had only sufficient time to get from the station at York to get to the square before the Pullman car passed. The Studebaker car followed 1 hour and 50 minutes after the Pullman car had passed through the city.”

In coming weeks, I’ll utilize a combination of newspaper articles, from Philadelphia, from York, from Savannah, from newspapers along the race route and from newspapers around the country; even as far west as the Los Angeles Herald, which reported on this race. The ‘Philadelphia to Savannah’ series of blog posts will share the ongoing adventures in the race to Savannah over the dirt (and mud) roads that dominated town-to-town travel in 1908.

Links to all posts chronicling the 1908 Philadelphia to Savannah race:

Part 1—Epic auto races sell newspapers in 1908. This introductory post provides reasons why the race occurred and covers the start of the race in Philadelphia.

Part 2—Racing through the square in York. This post reports on the section of the race between Philadelphia and York.

Part 3—Restoring a 1909 Pullman Model 4-40 Roadster. This post reports on the restoration of a 1909 Pullman Model 4-40 Gentleman’s Roadster by Paul Vaughn.

Links to other related posts include:

Reading the Headlines: A Quick Index to All YorksPast Posts