(Click on YouTube Video Above)
Race at the Cape: Renewing the Cape May Motor Car Challenge 1905-2012
Sponsored by Ford, the Quality Plus Ford Stores, and Burke Chevrolet
Congress Hall is the official
hotel of the "Race at the Cape"
Here's the Media Coverage:
NBC News 40 Press of Atlantic City (Pre-Race) Press of Atlantic City (Post-Race) Cape May County Herald
On Saturday, May 19, Cape May Forum
(CMF) presented a re-creation of the famous 1905 automobile beach races in Cape May between Henry Ford and Louis Chevrolet
- only this time as a “race” of energy efficiency with the latest hybrid and electric cars from Ford and Chevrolet.
The "race" will re-created the historic contest
with vintage cars, and also paired vintage Fords and Chevrolets with the most advanced models to illustrate how far we have
progressed since 1905. East Lynne Theater Company had actors and performers re-creating the look-and-feel of the old race
began at 1pm in front of Convention Hall on the boardwalk in Cape May. There was a pre-race exhibition of cars held in Rotary
Park, in the center of Cape May, starting at 10am, and a post-race exhibition at 1:30pm. on Gurney Ave. and Beach Ave.
CMF partnered with the City of Cape May, a municipal leader in energy efficiency. The event was
co-sponsored by Ford and the Quality Plus Ford Stores, and Chevrolet.
- At the turn of the century 70,000 autos were registered
in the United States. However, they were still seen by many as new-fangled vehicles despite some of the inconveniences of
breakdowns that caused traditionalists to taunt, “Get a horse!”
- In the early 1900’s a few Cape May boosters met
at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia to start a Cape May Automobile Club and between 1903 – 1905 Cape May
was a mecca for fans of the new horseless buggy.
- An article in the Philadelphia Inquirer noted that “Cape May’s
beach is one of the finest for racing purposes.”
- Folks raced their cars on a two-mile stretch of sand extending from Madison
Avenue to Poverty Beach. Crowds came led by cars of “automobilists,” and a carnival atmosphere prevailed as they
entered the city honking the horns.
- In August the names of Henry Ford and Louis Chevrolet began to appear locally on the racing
charts. History and some legends have recorded that Ford operated a machine shop at the corner of West Perry and Myrtle Streets
in Cape May.
- On August 25, 1905 Henry Ford, Louis Chevrolet, A.L Campbell
and Walter Christie, a popular race car driver, had a head-to-head race. According to the records Ford
came in last with a time of 40 seconds. Campbell led at 38; Chevrolet second at 39.4; and Christie was
third at 39.8 seconds.
- According to eyewitness accounts, it was a rainy day. Ford’s vehicle
was hit by a wave knocking him out of the race. Ford was disappointed as he was depending upon the race
money to pay his hotel bill. He offered stock in his new company to the hotel clerk, but it was refused. He then tried to
sell one of his touring cars, used to tow the race car. A local fellow, Dan Focer, agreed to buy the car
with his brother-in-law, paying $400. Ford promised Focer that he would make him the first Ford Dealer
in America, and he did.
- In 1922 at age 75 Daniel Focer was the co-owner of Focer & Mecray, Cape May Ford dealership. Focer
proudly displayed the Model F he got from Ford at the dealership.
- During races in August, Mrs Clarence C. Fitler was the only woman driver
to enter the races and the only driver to remain undefeated during the two days of racing. So proud was she of her wins that
she paraded her car on Beach Avenue after the win and shouted “Hurrah!” at the cheering spectators as she passed