1909 Buick Racer

Wetplate collodion tintype photography by Conrad Young

History of the 1909 Buick Racer

This one of a kind Buick was the second car to be registered in Orange County, CA. Originally, it was a 1909 Touring which was changed into a racer by a Santa Ana blacksmith in 1910. (now the site of Knowlwood Restaurant on the corner of the 5 freeway and Sand Canyon Road in Irvine.)

Raced by the Ellis brothers of Santa Ana, the car took 5th place in a 1912 race from Los Angeles to Phoenix against Barney Oldfield.



The Pioneers of Buick Auto Racing

(from Wikipedia)

Walter Lorenzo Marr was an Automotive pioneer and talented engineer who worked with David Dunbar Buick perfecting the first Buick production automobiles. He worked with Mr. Buick a number of times around the turn of the century, building Buick’s first two one-off vehicles. He was the Buick Motor Company’s first Chief Engineer from 1904 through 1918[1] staying on as consulting engineer until 1923. He was also the founder of the Marr Auto Car Company[2] in 1903 which produced the Marr Auto Car. The Marr Auto Car was one of the world’s first automobiles with an overhead camshaft (OHC) engine.


Based on the team of Burman, Chevrolet and Strang, the race car was a 1909 Buick Model 16 with a frame supplied by Marquette Motor Company. The racers later became known as Marquette-Buicks. Their history and races were detailed in this 2002 article in Antique Automobile .

Three Marquette-Buicks raced in the 1910 Vanderbilt Cup Race.

Historic Buick racing photos (compiled by Vanderbilt Cup Races)

The 1909 Buick factory racing team – Flint, MI. – Bob Burman, driver – Luis Chevrolet, driver – Lewis Strang, driver – W.W. Brown, mechanician – Joseph R. Common, mechanician – Walter Lorenzo Marr, Buick’s first engineer – Glenn Breed, mechanician

Bob Burman and Louis Chevrolet in seats

Louis Chevrolet driving a Buick at the 200-Mile Race at the Atlanta Speedway on November 9, 1909.

1909 Buick Model 10 Runabout

1909 Buick Model 16

#29 Marquette-Buick (USA) driving by Louis Chevrolet. Finished 19th.

1909 races at the Readville racetrack in Boston, Massachusetts.

The 1909 Los Angeles to Phoenix Road Race was held November 6-7, 1909. Joe Nikrent and his brother Louis drove a Buick to victory in the race. They covered 480 miles in 19 hours and 13 minutes for an average speed of 24.98 mph. (source: kustomrama.com)