Friday, 3 January 2014

Behind the Photo: "1923 Winning Race Car"

Often I will see an old photo or ad and spend a bit of time digging into the back story. Sometimes I find a great story, sometimes not. Either way, I learn a few things about the city's history. Here's my latest attempt:

"Wild Bill Fogg, winner of the Peter Dawson Trophy 1923" 
by L. B. Foote. Source: buflyer at Flickr.

In the late 19-teens automobile racing was becoming a popular spectator sport. In 1921 a group called the Western Sporting Club began an annual racing series at River Park, which was located at Osborne and Jubilee from 1891 - 1941.

Offering a variety of races for professionals and amateurs, it attracted drivers and car owners from as far away as Alberta and the mid-west U.S..

Aug 27, 1923, Winnipeg Tribune

In 1923 organizers introduced a five-mile amateur race that would be the first event of the day. The Peter Dawson Distillery Company, which had a sales office here in Winnipeg, donated a silver trophy to the cause. The winner got to keep it for a year and if they won it three times in a row got to keep it permanently.

September 17, 1923, Manitoba Free Press

The day appears to have gone well but the inaugural Peter Dawson Trophy race was a bust, as can be seen in the above article. Only two racers entered and Fogg's competitor broke down shortly after leaving the starting line.
The trophy was awarded jointly to Fogg and George Richards, the local mechanic and car enthusiast who built the Hudson-based car that was driven.

The Richards car was sponsored in part by Gutta Percha, you can see their name painted on the car's bonnet. Gutta Percha Rubber Manufacturing Company of Toronto made made hoses, conveyor belts, gaskets, even tires and hockey pucks. (See their 1910 catalogue here.)

This explains why he is being photographed outside the McDermot Avenue entrance of the Maltese Cross Building. Maltese Cross was a product line of Gutta Percha.

The race continued for at least one year. Fogg did not race in it though one of the racers may have been in Richards' car. After that there is no mention of the trophy until 1927 then it disappears from newspaper coverage.

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