Thursday, September 29, 2011

Race Car Driver Monty Roberts Obituary NY Times 1957

Please feel free to visit the Debold Gallery. Your first stop should be the "Main Gallery." Here is a collection of some of the finest and rarest of american prints and frames. There's over 500 to view (and examine with Picasa's magnifying glass feature). You may find some of the special exhibits fun and historically informative as well. One stop you should make is the Thomas Flyer at the New York to Paris Race of 1908. Here you'll find photos of family ancestor Montague Roberts, who was the driver at the start (in Times Square, New York City). He had to leave at   Wyoming however as he honored his commitment to drive in that season's French Grand Prix. I will add in the near future references to some further reading on the subject.

Below is Time magazine's Obituary on Monty.M.H. Roberts Obituary that appeared in the New York Times, September 21, 1957. (They didn't get it quite right however, [see above re: Monty' s departure] but for that matter, neither did the New York Times-shown below left.)

Time magazine Monday September 30, 1957:

Died. Montague H. Roberts, 74, mechanical engineer, pioneer automobile buff, who taught Franklin D. Roosevelt how to drive; in Newark, N.J. On Feb. 12, 1908, while thousands of waving spectators roared hoarsely, Roberts climbed into a Thomas Flyer, yanked down his goggles and dusted out of Times Square, pitted against five other massive autos in the first New York-to-Paris-via-the-West auto race. Surviving mud burials in Iowa, sandstorms in Montana, Roberts left his car mates in San Francisco, and they brought the battered Thomas—"the best car in the world in 1908"—into Paris on July 30, 26 days ahead of its nearest competitor (three of the six made the finish).Here's what American Heritage magazine (November 1996 vol 47 issue 7) said, as was verified by two other book authors, regarding the location of his departure:

Montague Roberts had just been given the nickname Get Here Roberts when he withdrew from the Thomas team in Cheyenne to fulfill a previous obligation to drive in a trophy race back East. By then he’d driven the car for forty days, and he’d driven beautifully, knowing when to press the car forward to make time and when to take it easy to stay out of the ditches as much as possible. As he left, the Thomas had a commanding lead of a week over the Zust; his replacement was a young man named E. Linn Mathewson who was associated with the Thomas dealer in Wyoming.
A beautifully written and detailed "must read" book on this subject is Julie M. Fenster's Race of the Century, published by Random House. I believe she was the author of the 1996 American Heritage article excerpted above.

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