A Racer's Love Story
For all the single racers out there, I offer advice from Daredevil Joe Tracy. If it worked in 1906, it might still work today.
In September 1906 Tracy won an elimination race for the Vanderbilt Cup race despite being distracted by thoughts of Miss Millicent Taylor.
From the Los Angeles Herald, September 30, 1906:
Most of Tracy’s thoughts, in spite of the fact that he had to guide his ninety horse power locomobile so that not even a swerve of even a hair’s breadth interfered with the ninety-mile-an-hour pace at times developed, were for Miss Millicent Taylor the girl who promised to marry him if victory should be his.
“Yes, I did think mostly of her,” said Tracy, and the smile that accompanied the words was both reminiscent and tender.
“I took breakfast with Miss Taylor,” continued Tracy. “We had a long chat about the race. She feared there would be some accident to me, but I assured her I would be as careful as such a race permitted.
“Then I gave her a blue handkerchief. She was to wave this from the grand stand every time I passed.
“Of course you know that at the terrible pace at which one drives a racing car, one cannot distinguish faces. But I could see the flutter of the blue handkerchief and you may be sure it cheered me on to renewed effort every lap.
“I had another blue handkerchief which I told her I would wear around my neck, both for good luck, as it was the same color as hers, and so that she could easily see me.
“But in the little bit of excitement that came over me as I started, I forgot to put the handkerchief around my neck and stuck it in my pocket. Enough of it stuck out to bring me good luck and also for the good girl to see.”
After the race, Tracy continued to gush about his love:
“Well now I have won my race, I will claim my bride,” added Tracy.
Miss Taylor was the first to greet Tracy as he finished first in the big race.
She threw her arms around his neck as he slowed up his car just beyond the grandstand and then expressed her confidence that he would win the contest with the three foreign teams in two weeks.
Read the full story under the headline: Tracy Talks of Severe Auto Run: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042462/1906-09-30/ed-1/seq-9/. Bonus content: Tracy describes the 3 minute stop they made for coffee mid-race.