non-fiction nuggets…about the first American automobile race!

The Great Horse-less Carriage Race, written and illustrated by Michael Dooling


On November 28, 1895, in the great city of Chicago, six of those crazy, new-fangled, horse-less carriages raced through twelve inches of fresh snow, hoping to be the first to cross the entire 52-miles of the city in The Great Horse-less Carriage Race sponsored by The Chicago Times-Herald newspaper.

Two of the carriages were electric.

Three of the carriages used German-crafted engines.

One carriage was built completely in America.

At 8:55 AM, they were off!

They careened along at speeds up to seven miles per hour!  They ran into troubles with the snow and fading batteries, with collisions and wrong turns.  The drivers were not allowed a pit crew, but had to fix the vehicles themselves, racing to locate blacksmith shops or tinsmith shops in order to repair broken parts.  The battle for the finish continued into the early-winter darkness, in the icy-cold weather, until finally, 11 hours later, there was a winner — a dirty, exhausted driver and a slush-covered, tired-looking vehicle!

The illustrations for this very interesting account were meticulously researched to ensure authentic details in the carriages, clothing, people and Chicago cityscapes of 1895.  From the distinctive designs of each carriage, to the particular hats, moustaches and sideburns of the drivers, and the grey, miserable weather, Dooling wonderfully captures the look and feel of the day.   The story itself moves right along, full of excitement as a race should be!  A short afterword gives us the scoop on what happened next in the history of automobiles.

Great story about the adventurous few who made history that day on the streets of Chicago!