Racing the Twentieth Century Limited [1925]

Gar Wood Beats Time Of 20th Century Train

25 Minutes Faster Than Train, But Five Minutes Slower Than Teaser

NEW YORK, May 26 [1925] (A. P.) Gar Wood, driving his motor speed boat Baby Gar IV, today beat the time of the crack 20th Century Limited between Albany and New York City.

Gar Wood, who was in the boat with his brother George, said the craft's times for the journey was 2 hours 58 minutes and 20 seconds. The official time of arrival was given out as 8:50:20.

Wood's time between the railroad bridge at Albany and the Columbia Yacht Club at 86th St., Manhattan, was given out by the official observer in the coat as 2 hours, 58 minutes and 20 seconds. The 20th Century's official time between Albany Station and the Grand Central Terminal is 3 hours and 10 minutes.

The first section of the train was late in arriving today, getting in at 9:30 a.m.

R. F. Hoyt's Time Was 2h 40m

Richard F. Hoyt, who stole a march to Wood by sending his speed boat, the Teaser, over the course, racing against time from Manhattan to Albany last Wednesday, covered the same distance n 2h 40m.

The day after the Teaser's performance, Wood offered to bet Hoyt $25,000 "or any other sporty amount" that either of his boats could defeat the Teaser over the same course.

Hoyt did not accept the challenge.

Train 30 Minutes Behind Time

The first section of the Twentieth Century Limited arrived In New York at 9:30 a m. completing the trip from Albany in 3 hours and 39 minutes.

Officers of the New York Central issued a statement immediately after Hoyt's successful race against the rain's time to the effect that the Twentieth Century Limited would not enter into a race. The train would stick to its regular schedule at all times, they said.

The train's time was 30 minutes behind its ordinary running time for this trip, owing to the fact that it had left Albany 40 minutes ahead of its usual schedule and was compelled to loaf in its Journey, to be assured of a clear track ahead and not interfere with the regular movements of other trains.

Where the Twentieth Century ordinarily pulls out of Albany at 6:31, arrives at Grand Central at 9:40, today's train left the State capital at 5:51, railroad officials explained.

Averaged 46½ Miles an Hour

The Baby Gar IV averaged 46½ miles hour on the trip, it was it was officially announced at the conclusion of the trip.

The train's average for the entire trip—142.2 miles—was 38.94 miles an hour, but in this must be considered the fact that it "loafed" over much of the distance, owing to its too early start from Albany. Also figured in this time was stop at Harmon for a change from steam to electric locomotive and the low running time imposed on the train by the city limits.

It was a race against time and circumstance for Wood. Not only did he have to combat the vagaries of temperamental highly-powered motorboat engines, but he was thrown into confusion by the fact that the Twentieth Century's first section pulled out of Albany considerably ahead of its usual scheduled time.

Gar Wood Changed Boats Twice

Twice, in mid-stream, Gar Wood changed boats. On both occasions the boats were driving ahead at great speed and the transfer was made at some risk to the water speed king's safety.

Just as the train's locomotive poked its nose over the bridge at Albany the two Baby Gars, the IV and the V, awaiting below, started on their dash down the river.

As the boats were racing past Hudson, Wood, piloting the Baby Gar IV, decided that the leading Baby V’s engines were hitting best and signaled his brother, George, at the wheel of the V, that he wanted to exchange boats. George Wood slowed down and Gar Wood, accompanied by Charles F. Chapman, official observer and timer, made a hazardous transfer from one craft to another. But circumstance was against the racer. At Poughkeepsie the Baby V's engines began missing, whereupon Gar Wood and Chapman again had to transfer.

Contest Was Nip and Tuck

At times the Baby IV was seven or eight miles behind the speeding first section of the train, and the contest was a nip and tuck affair the greater part of the way.

There were four men aboard the Baby Gar IV when she arrived—Wood, Chapman, who is editor of Motor Boating, Orlin Johnson, Wood's superintendent, and a newspaperman. Wood, deafened by the roar of the motors, had little to say concerning the contest.

He did not mention the time made by the Teaser, Richard F. Hoyt's speed boat, which covered the distance from the Columbia Yacht Club to Albany in two hours and 40 minutes last Wednesday.

Wood said that he would bring "both or my Americas here after the Detroit races, and beat any train they can send on tracks beside the Hudson." The America boats, Wood said, are faster than either of the Baby Gars.

(Reprinted from P.M., May 26, 1925)