The Chicago 100 Mile Endurance Contest of 2 August 1902 & Other Contests

The Chicago Automobile Club organized a 100 mile endurance contest and scheduled it for 12 July 1902. They announced that it was to traverse some very poor roads in the countryside around Chicago and would take a course going through Oak Park, Des Plaines and Libertyville, as well as some other locations.

Henry K. Holsman had been experimenting with high wheel vehicle which he hoped to finalize and get it into production. He concluded that this endurance contest would be just right to show what his vehicle could do, so he entered his experimental vehicle. In fact, he commented that for a high wheel vehicle, the roads in question were not that bad at all as a high wheel vehicle is built for use on country roads, whereas, the standard wheels on the average automobile at that time were not.

Because of severe rains, making some of the roads impassable, the contest was postponed until 2 August 1902. There were originally over 40 applications but only 29 showed at the starting location, which was in front of the CAC CLubhouse on Michigan Avenue, Chicago.

H.K. Holsman’s experimental automobile was driven by his brother, J. Arthur Holsman. It also appeared as if he would be running into some tough competition as is shown by the list of substantial starters, posted below with their registered operators:


Autocar ~         F. Illsley

Darracq ~         A.C. Banker

Elmore ~          I.F. Newcomer

Fanning ~        F.J. Fanning

Friedman ~     R.R. Brown

Friedman ~     B.M. Young

Holsman ~      J. Arthur Holsman

Jeffery ~           Arthur Gardner

Jeffery ~           S.F. Symons

Jeffery ~           C.T. Jeffery

Knox ~              C.S. Mason

Locomobile ~ J.W. Sunderland

Locomobile ~ C.A. Benjamin

Locomobile ~ Stanley B. Arnold

Murry ~            J.H. Mears

Murry ~            W.G. Murry

Northern ~      J.D. Maxwell

Oldsmobile ~  M.E Haywood

Oldsmobile ~  M. Wigles

Oldsmobile ~  Roy D. Chapin

Oldsmobile ~  E.A. Brown

Packard ~         F.J. Pardee

Pierce ~            Percy P. Pierce

Winton ~         C.E. Bentley

Winton ~         Dr. F.H. Davis

Winton ~         John Farson, Jr.

Winton ~         John E. Fry

Winton ~         Frank X. Mudd

Wolfe ~            F.W. Wolfe, Jr.

The Chicago Automobile Club specified a maximum time for completion of the 100 miles of 12 ½ hours. This meant that the contestants would have to average 8 miles per hour in order to finish the run within the allotted time and be eligible for a prize. A Winton, driven by Frank X. Mudd, completed the 100 miles with a lapsed time of 7 hours, 22 minutes and 35 seconds, for an average speed of 13.57 mph. The Holsman, entrant No.23, was delayed by mechanical trouble, but managed to finish within the allotted time, taking 12 hours and 28 minutes.

One of the Locomobile drivers, Stanley Arnold, had been previously denied a drivers license due to his young age of 13 years. So, he drove in the contest without one.

S.F. Symons, the driver of one of the Jeffery cars, was arrested for speeding while racing with John Farson, who was driving a Winston. Symons was forced to slow down to navigate a curve, at which time the police arrested him. Evidently the police vehicle did not have enough speed to catch Symons at his full speed, and they never did catch Farson.

Percy Pierce drove his Pierce from Buffalo, New York to enter it in the contest. He also obtained the best gas mileage for the contest course, 30,77 mpg.

Henry K. Holsman explained the delays as follows: Unfortunately, our vehicle made a stop about 25 miles out on account of the loose packing in one of the spark plugs of one of the cylinders, and when 42 miles out a pin holding the exhaust cam sheared off. in order to continue the drive, the driver was compelled to walk back a mile and a half to Libertyville and get a drill. he drove 2 miles out of the way for a 45 minute lunch stop and passed the Chicago Automobile Clubhouse on his way home, 2 minutes before the maximum time expired.

H.K. Holsman commented on his experimental vehicle, the contest entry: This vehicle had already run about 800 miles over all kinds of roads. Our vehicle was made up of hit and miss parts, as might be expected in a vehicle that is being altered and experimented with. It created quite a little merriment among the manufacturers of finished vehicles on account of its peculiar make-up of patched and partly unpainted body and running parts.

In 1908, W. Hildreth, Vice President and Manager of the Holsman Automobile Company, sent out advertising letters stating that Holsman had received a blue ribbon in the 1902 Chicago 100 Mile Endurance Contest. But the official published record of 6 August 1902, listed the only 9 blue ribbon winners: 2 Winstons, 2 Locomobiles, 2 Oldsmobiles, and 1 each Knox, Packard, and Pierce. The Holsman was not listed as a winner. However, in an article published in Motor Age in 1909, it was stated that Holsman had a perfect score in this contest. The Company also stated in several of their catalogs that they won this contest. This indicates that they were either stretching the truth a bit, or that they Chicago Automobile Club, at a later date, awarded the Holsman a blue ribbon for completing the contest as the only one it its class to do so. It appears to have been the only high wheeler to finish.

Other contests in which the company entered their Holsmans and advertised the results, were:

  1. 26 July 1906: Chicago 100 Mile Reliability Run, perfect score – runabout class and first place – touring cars in its class.
  2.  6 September 1906: Algonquin Hill-Climbing Contest, made better time than machines of nearly double the price.
  3.  28 June 1907: Chicago 150 Mile Reliability Non-motor-stop Run. Perfect score.
  4.  9 August 1907: Algonquin Hill-climbing Contest, fastest time in its class.
  5.  13 September 1907: Chicago 95 Mile Fuel Economy Contest, smallest gasoline consumption., (with one exception), 29 mpg.
  6.  14 August 1908: Algonquin Hill-climbing Contest, first & second places – motor buggy class.
  7.  5 August 1909: Algonquin Hill-climbing Contest, first & second places – motor buggy class.