the late 1800s there were a number of inventers and entrepreneurs
working on the horseless carriage. Automobiles with internal combustion,
electric motors, and steam engines were all being developed. Races
were open to all.
high point for Electric Vehicles was the September 7-11, 1896 races
held at Narragansett Park in Providence Rhode Island, where 2 EVs
bested a field of 6 internal combustion automobiles.
race was held on a horse track and under the general rules for trotting
races. It was scheduled to be 25 miles total length broken down
into five mile heats.
first race was run on Monday, September 5. There was a rolling start
with the Riker Electric Motor Company car, driven by A.L. Riker,
on the pole. The Riker Electric completed the 5 mile race in 15
minutes and 1 second, with the Electric Carriage & Wagon Company
entry, driven by Henry B. Morris, only 13 seconds behind. The first
ICE car, entered by the Duryea Motor Wagon Company, was a further
3 minutes and 33 seconds behind.
second race, held on Tuesday, Septmember 6, was faster and closer.
The Riker Electric won again from poll, cutting almost two minutes
from the previous day's time; but only 7 seconds behind was the
Duryea ICE entry. Despite being 41 seconds faster than yesterday,
the Electric Carriage entry finished third.
and Thursday, races were rained out.
Friday afternoon, the track was dry enough to race on and 50,000
people gathered to watch.
Riker Electric still had the pole position but lining up in second
was the internal combustion entry of the Duryea Motor Wagon Company.
The Electric Carriage entry opted for a new driver, Henry B. Morris
stepping aside for Mr. Adams.
cars were even faster and the racing even closer. The Electrics
got a good start, but by the half mile mark, the Duryea Motor Wagon
entry was gaining. At this point, the ICE suffered a tire puncture
and could not maintain the pace. The Ricker Electric held a small
lead over it's Electric Carriage rival until the final straight.
There, the Electric Carriage entry put on a final burst of speed
and took first place with a record time of 11 minutes and 27 seconds.
The Riker Electric at 11 minutes and 28 seconds and the Duryea Motor
Wagon entry at 11 minutes and 29 seconds also set personal bests
and contributed to a thrilling finish.
contest paid 3/5 prize money since two heats were rained out.
The Riker Electric Motor Company vehicle was the overall winner
taking home $900.
went to The Electric Carriage & Wagon Company collecting $450.
The ICE of the Duryea Motor Wagon Company placed third and was awarded
the best of our knowledge, it would be 111 years, 3 months and 14
days before an electric vehicle again claimed victory against an
Internal combustion engine powered automobile, in a sanction close
of this information comes from Ernest Henry Wakefield's History
of the Electric Automobile. Pictures are courtesy of Pronyne Motorsports
Museum, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, USA.
Ernest Henry. History of the Electric Automobile.
Warrendale, PA: Society of Aytomotive Engineers, Inc.
Cutis D. and Judy. Electric and Hybrid Cars A History.
Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc. 2005