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Yorker won inaugural auto races at Pimlico

Robert Morton drove Pullman automobiles to victory in three automobile races at Pimlico on the Fourth of July in 1908. Competing were makes such as: Ford, Overland, Autocar, Cameron, Moon, Stearns and Pullman. These were the inaugural automotive races held at Maryland’s famous horse racing track; which opened in 1870 and has hosted the Preakness Stakes since 1873.

Besides being Pullman’s ace driver, Robert Leeper Morton was a machinist at the York factory producing Pullman automobiles. At the time of these races, Robert was 26-years-old; had been married to Yorker Anna Belle Rostetter four-years and had a two-year old daughter Edith.

It is possible Morton was a machinist on the engines installed in the automobiles he drove. The engine in the 1908 Pullman Model 4-40, which would go on to win countless speed and endurance races, was a Pullman 4-cylinder, 40-horsepower motor.

The middle photo shows the Pimlico racetrack during May 1943; believed to be taken during the running of the Preakness 75-years-ago and is from the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress. During the 1908 automobile races, the track likely had a similar appearance.

The lower photo shows a production 1908 Pullman Model 4-40, which was raced both stock and modified. That Pullman was introduced at Automobile Shows during the Fall of 1907. The photo is from page 131 of the October 1907 (Vol. XII, No. 4) issue of the publication “Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal.” The caption in that publication indicated a $3,000 cost and a top speed of 60 MPH.

Pullman automobiles were produced in York, PA from 1903 to 1917. Originally known as the York Automobile Company, the firm that produced the Pullmans was reorganized as the York Motor Car Company during January of 1906. Click on this LINK for a yorkblog.com Full View of the original photo story in this post if details are cut off in the cropping of the photo story, or if it have been removed from the ydr.com site.

Within that yorkblog.com site, the York Daily Record is presently experiencing gremlins, which, on some platforms, results in a new window opening at findbetterresults.com; a site no longer used by the York Daily Record. While the York Daily Record works on correcting this problem, simply close that window; the linked blog page, within yorkblog.com, that you were intending to reach should appear.

The gremlin also appears on the other yorkblog.com sites: Cannonball site of Scott Mingus, Only in York County site of Joan Concilio, Universal York site of June Lloyd, and York Town Square site of Jim McClure, where you can continue to access Jim’s older posts prior to October 30, 2015. As with all the yorkblog.com sites, the “Search this blog” within the page continues to be a fantastic search tool within each individual site.

The York Daily reported Robert Morton and Roy Stains were the Pullman drivers entered in four events at Pimlico, on the Fourth of July, in 1908: Event 2 run as a 10-miler Maryland Runabout Championship and open to stock touring runabouts or tourabouts, Event 3 run as a 5-miler open to stock touring cars of 24.1 to 40 horsepower, Event 5 run as a 10-miler runabout free-for-all handicap, and Event 6 run as a 50-miler championship open to stripped stock cars or stock chassis of 45 horsepower and under.

Quoting from the July 5, 1908 issue of The Baltimore Sun’s coverage of the auto races at Pimlico on the Fourth of July, in 1908:

“Considering the multiplicity of attractions yesterday, the Motorcar Racing Association has every reason to be satisfied with the splendid patronage accorded its Fourth of July automobile races. Something like 3,000 people turned out and the old course presented quite as brilliant an appearance as on a race day of the Maryland Jockey Club.”

“Perhaps the [most anticipated] feature number of the program was the Pimlico Free for All Handicap at 10 miles, run off as the fifth event. The best drivers had entered here. The talent was badly fooled in this race. The race went to Pullman 40 H. P., which under Robert Morton’s skillful guidance was from start to finish; with the Pullman 30 H. P., driven by Roy Stains in second place. The time of the winner was 10.36, a great performance over the Pimlico track.” Resulting in an average speed of 56.6 MPH.

“It was a banner day for the Pullman cars. Besides winning the [Pimlico Free for All Handicap] race they were first in the 50-mile championship, first in the touring car race and second and third in the Maryland Runabout Championship.” The following abridged Pullman details are pulled from the race summaries:

Robert Morton won the 50-mile championship at a time of 57.08. The other Pullman driver, Roy Stains dropped out on the 28th mile with tire trouble. An Autocar, driven by John Auchfield, finished second in 62.22. The winning Pullman car averaged 52.5 MPH.

Robert Morton won the 5-miler for stock touring cars at a time of 6.06. The second place Moon, driven by E. L. Leinbach, finished 50 seconds later at 6:56. The winning Pullman touring car averaged 49.2 MPH.

E. L. Leinbach won the 10-miler Maryland Runabout Championship for stock runabouts, in a Stearns, at a time of 11.04. Roy Stains was second in a Pullman. Robert Morton was third in a Pullman. The winning Stearns runabout averaged 54.2 MPH.

Links to related posts include:

Reading the Headlines: A Quick Index to All YorksPast Posts