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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Fast Woman: 1915

Fast Woman: 1915

Washington circa 1915. "Women auto racers. Miss Elinor Blevins." Our second visit with the racy actress. For details on the car see the comments under the earlier post. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

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The automobile is a Stutz that is known as the Weightman Special. It is also shown in a previous Shorpy image here:

Other images of the car can be found on the web including this one.

It's easy!

I drive a 1930 ford, much "newer" than this car, and a family sedan. To start it, you have to turn on the fuel petcock, set the fuel mixture, set the spark, set the hand throttle, pull the choke, depress the clutch, turn on the ignition, press the starter, release the choke and adjust the hand throttle for a comfortable idle speed.

If the battery is low and you have to hand-crank it, it's even more interesting. At least my car has front wheel brakes.

Do those gloves have claws on them?

Levers of Power

The outer lever is the handbrake, with a knob on top to disengage the locking mechanism. The inner one is the gearshift, with two forward positions and probably two back, one of which would be reverse. It's shown in neutral.

Mystery Levers

Cars had many more controls long ago than they do today. I'm myself old enough to remember the choke knob you pulled out before starting. Miss Blevins's car probably also had a spark advance control -- this was often on the steering column -- and of course brakes, a clutch, a gearshift, and an accelerator which could be a hand rather than a foot control. Often the foot accelerator was between the other two pedals if there was a foot brake, but it was also common to have individually controlled brakes (front and rear), with hand brakes about as common as foot brakes. Some early manufacturers thought front brakes were too dangerous and only gave you rears, so spinning out was less likely. But rear brakes are less effective than fronts because of the weight transfer of deceleration.

Has anyone established the make and model? One would think a successful actress could have hired someone to do a better job painting on the race number, and would have had the little dent in the rear quarter fixed!

The two levers on the side of the car are interesting. They are too massive for spark advance or choke. I'm guessing one is the rear brakes (I can see what appears to be a brake drum inboard of the rear wheel). What could the other be? They both move only fore and aft so a gearshift is not likely. There's no linkage leading forward so front brakes are unlikely.

Could it be a hand clutch? I've never heard of such a thing but at this early period, designers were often experimenting. What a terribly dangerous setup that would be, since gearboxes would have been non-synchromesh and double clutching would have been necessary. If the clutch was needed at the same time as the brake, who's steering the car?

Dirty business

This auto racing stuff must be some DIRTY BUSINESS! Check out her hosiery!

[Those are spats. - Dave]

I want those gloves!

This lady knows how to dress for the occasion.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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