The fourth of July was eventful for several reasons. The reason that might be a little different than most years was the arrival of a few Model T cars. There were approximately 30 cars that stayed over night at the Clover Creek Inn.
These amazing cars are part of the "Ocean to Ocean" endurance race. The race first took place in 1909. The race was a transcontinental automobile race, which started on June 1, 19002 the first car reached Seattle on June 23. The original. The race was held in conjunction with the "Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, a would's fair held in Seattle and both events began on the same day.
According to Wikipedia, "the race was co-sponsored by the Automobile Club of America, the Seattle Automobile Club, the Alaska–Yukon–Pacific Exposition and Henry Ford. The prize money and the trophy were donated by M. Robert Guggenheim. The first place prize was $2000.00 and the second prize was $1500.00.
The route was surveyed in advance by a designated pioneer car, a Thomas Flyer that had won the 1908 New York to Paris Race. It took two months for the Thomas car to establish a practical route, emphasizing the poor condition of roads at that time.
East of the Mississippi River, the race was an endurance run. The cars could operate only during daylight hours and had to observe local speed limits. West of the Mississippi, where roads were more primitive, the competitors had no limits on either speed or hours of operation.
The Ford No. 2 car, a stripped down Model T, was the first to cross the finish line after 23 days on the road. This was the second year of Model T production, and Henry Ford immediately advertised the race results heavily, and the Model T went on to be the best selling car in the first half of the 20th century.
Five months later, the Ford No. 2 car was disqualified because it had an engine changed during the race, in violation of the rules. The second place Shawmut car was awarded the win, but that company went out of business while the Ford Motor Company thrived. "
In 2009 the race was held in recognition of centennial of that long ago race. The cars traveled the same route as the original race and stopped in many of the same towns as those hardy races stayed in.
Ten years ago these racers stayed here in Montpelier and were seen by several of the local residents. They enjoyed the race and had such a good time, that several of these car enthusiasts, wanted to do it again. There were 30 cars in the group this year. They have been working on this and planning for some time. They made the reservations two years ago.
When visiting with one of the car owners he commented on how difficult it can be to travel in this area. Most of the cars have the gas tank in the back of the car. The fuel system is a gravity feed system. This can present a problem for some of these cars. The options are to climb the hill in reverse. Or as some of the owners have done, install a fuel pump.
The cars travel at a top speed of 40 mph. Because this can cause traffic snags, they travel in groups of five.
It was a real treat to see all of those cars in front of The Butch Cassidy Museum, where they stopped on the morning of the fifth, before continuing on the 1200 miles left of the race.
The car owners ranged from Grandma and Grandpas to young families with their little one in tow. I wonder if we will see them again in ten years.