York-Built Car breaks York Fairgrounds Track Record in Winning Race against Aeroplane
A York-built 6-60 Kline-Kar, driven by John Menker, defeated a Curtiss Biplane, piloted by Charles K. Hamilton in a September 3rd, 1912, five-mile race around the York Fairgrounds track. One might wonder why the race was not against the more established York-made car; a Pullman Automobile. In all likelihood, an indirect connection, via the Kirkham Motor Manufacturing Company, was responsible for the pairing.
The Library of Congress photo of Charles K. Hamilton and an auto racing on Galveston Beach might be the same pairing; i.e. a Curtiss Biplane versus a Kline-Kar. Glenn Curtiss had a long history with the Kirkham Motor Manufacturing Company, of Bath, New York; a company that York based B.C.K. Motor Company purchased a controlling interest in during 1909, thus giving the start-up Kline-Kar instant access to cutting-edge motor technology.
Besides supplying motors for Kline-Kars, in 1911 Kirkham Motor Manufacturing Company again had Curtiss Aeroplane as a customer with a new innovative aeroplane motor. The motor designs of Charles Kirkham achieved some of the highest power to weight ratios in the country and in 1915 he went to work for Glenn Curtiss as Chief Motor Engineer. There is the possibility the 1912 race at the York Fairgrounds, pitting a Curtiss Biplane versus a Kline-Kar, was also pitting an aeroplane motor versus an automobile motor; both manufactured by the Kirkham Motor Manufacturing Company
Is Charles K. Hamilton racing a Kline-Kar on Galveston Beach? This 1912 Kline 6-60 “Meteor” Kar is likely the car that driver John Menker used to defeat the aeroplane flown by Charles K. Hamilton in the race around the York Fairgrounds Track on September 3, 1912.
This 1912 Kline 6-60 “Meteor” Kar is shown with designer James Allen Kline behind the wheel. At first glance, a 1912 Kline-Kar could have been built in Pennsylvania or Virginia. The reason, through October 1912 Kline Kars were built, where the cars originated, in York, Pa.; however starting November 1912, Kline Kar production shifted to Richmond, Va.
Turns out, this Meteor was actually built in York, Pennsylvania. Jimmy Kline got his automotive career start in Harrisburg and their newspapers continued to closely follow automobiles James Kline had a hand in creating. This exact photograph was published in the February 3rd 1912 Issue of The Patriot, a newspaper in Harrisburg, Pa.; therefore the 1912 Kline 6-60 “Meteor” Kar was produced very early in 1912.
The Meteor was outwardly similar in appearance to the Gentleman’s Roadster that Kline had designed for Pullman. However with Kline’s 6-60 engine, the Meteor had 50% more horsepower than the Roadster. Nevertheless the Meteor weighed less than the Roadster due to Kline’s innovative use of lightweight steel forgings in the Meteor frame.
This advertisement, for the first aviation meet in York, appeared in the August 31, 1912, issue of The York Daily. This aviation meet was under the auspices of the York Motor Club. At that date, the clubhouse of the York Motor Club was in Springettsbury Township; it was in a building that still stands today at 2025 East Market Street. One of the features, each day of the two-day aviation meet, was a five-mile race, aeroplane versus automobile.
The results of this race on the first day of the aviation meet, was reported in the September 2, 1912, issue of The York Daily:
The aeroplane proved its superiority for speed over the automobile in a race between Charles K. Hamilton, flying an 80 horse power Curtiss Biplane, and John Menker, driving a 6-60 Kline-Kar, in one of the events of the first aviation meet held on the fair ground Saturday afternoon under the auspices of the York Motor Club. Hamilton’s time for the five miles was 7-minutes and 41-seconds; the auto covered the distance in 7-minutes and 47-seconds.
The results of their race on the second day of the aviation meet, was reported in the September 3, 1912, issue of The York Daily:
That race was decided in favor of the auto, a Kline-Kar driven by John Menker, who established a new record for the half-mile track at the fair grounds, by making the five miles in six minutes and 25 seconds.
The York Daily headline was “Menker in Kline-Kar Breaks Five-Mile Track Record.” In 10 circuits of the half-mile track, John Merker averaged 47 miles per hour.
This is the fourth and final post in a series about the 1912 Aviation Meet, at the York Fairgrounds; related posts are:
- 1912 Aviation Meet at York Fairgrounds featured Curtiss Aeroplane racing a York-Built Car
- Curtiss Aeroplanes entertain York crowd during 1912
- A New Car by an Old Designer, the KLINE KAR; Pullman Pedigree to Racing Success, Part 1
- A New Car by an Old Designer, the KLINE KAR; Pullman Pedigree to Racing Success, Part 2
- A New Car by an Old Designer, the KLINE KAR; Pullman Pedigree to Racing Success, Part 3
- History Night video and 1925 Air Navigation Map
- Unplanned Motorcycle Races at York Fairgrounds in 1912
- The 1914 Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Truck; also 1914 Indian, Thor & Yale Motorcycles
- LaMotte’s Indian & Harley Motorcycle Feedback
- Coal Baron built Mansion in Springettsbury
- Dempwolf drawings of Laing Mansion
- Civil War Veterans guests at York Motor Club
- Stories of Aviation in Springettsbury