Frank Croker

Frank Croker May Die; Auto Plunged Into Sea

Going Ninety Miles an Hour, Hit Motor Cyclist

His Chauffer Was Killed

Rider Turned Into His Path on Beach Near Ormond — Was Practicing for Auto Races This Week

[NOTE: Frank Croker was best known as the owner and driver of X.P.D.N.C]

Frank Croker
Frank Croker

ORMOND, Fla., Jan. 21While Frank Croker, son of Richard Croker, was driving is racing automobile on the beach here at the rate of ninety miles an hour the machine struck a motor cycle ridden by H. F. Stanley and plunged into the sea, turning over two or three times. Mr. Croker's right leg was broken, his left arm crushed, and two ribs fractured. The doctors say that while his injuries are very serious, he will probably recover. Alexander Raoul, his mechanic, was instantly killed. Stanley had a leg broken and sustained other injuries.

Mr. Croker, who has been here several days, brought with him the big Simplex automobile, which he ran at the Vanderbilt Cup race on Long Island last Fall. Each day he has been testing the machine, speeding it up and down the beach. To-day he was out early and drove the machine several hours. Most of these time tests were opposite Ormond, where the beach was hard and smooth.

It was nearly 4 o'clock when Mr. Croker decided to take one more spin before winding up the day's sport. Laughing and joking with friends, he climbed into the big car and started toward Daytona, taking with him his chauffeur. Coming back from Daytona half an hour later, and when about half a mile below the Inn, he saw a bicyclist a few hundred yards ahead traveling in the same direction. Mr. Croker at that time was traveling at the rate of a mile in forty seconds.

Hit Motorcycle

The bicyclist who was on a motorcycle, evidently did not hear the automobile coming, and, turning to avoid a wet spot in the beach, ran directly in Mr. Croker's path. Notwithstanding the latter's efforts, he was unable to clear the bicyclist entirely, and the hub of the auto struck the pedal of the bicyclist and the leg of the rider.

The bicyclist was shot off into the sea the impact breaking his leg and cutting off the pedal of the bicycle as cleanly as if with an axe. Mr. Croker's machine was going at such a rate that the sudden turn ripped off the great tire and the auto for a few seconds was beyond the driver's control.

Before Mr. Croker could recover, the machine had plunged into the ocean where the two opposite wheels sunk in the soft sand and the automobile upset, rolling over and over. Mr. Croker and his chauffeur were thrown out and struck by the machine as it upset.

There were few spectators near the spot at the time, but help came and the three injured men were picked up. it was found that the chauffeur was dead, his skull being fractured and a number of bones broken. Mr. Croker was unconscious and was breathing faintly. He was removed to the Hotel Ormond. In addition to the injuries mentioned his whole body was a mass of bruises and contusions. The physicians cannot tell whether there are serious internal injuries. If possible, he will be taken to New York to receive hospital treatment.

The Dead Chauffer

Alexander Raoul, the dead chauffeur, was a married man and a father of two children. he resided in New York and had a position with Smith & Mabley, the makers of the automobile which Mr. Croker drove. He was about forty tears old and a fine mechanic.

The injured bicyclist has been boarding at the Ross cottage for several weeks and is said to be related to F. E. Stanley, the builder of the Stanley steam automobiles. Mr. Croker's mother and sister are said to be on their way here from a South Carolina resort and are due to arrive tomorrow.

Mr. Croker late in the evening is reported as getting along as well as could be expected, having rallied from the shock and subsequent operation satisfactorily.

*  *  *

Frank Croker became prominent as a racing automobilist with the running of the Vanderbilt Cup race on Long Island last October. He had before then owned motor cars, but with his entry of a seventy-five horse power American machine in that event he took rank at once among the wealthy young men who are prominent at nearly all big race meets. Mr. Croker remained in the Vanderbilt race until the contest was called off, and although his machine met with several reverses, he refused to give up and earned high favor from veteran automobilists for his ability in handling a high-powered car at high speed.

With improvements to his machine, which were made in this city, Mr. Croker was a leading contestant in the last track races of the season held on the Empire City track on Election Day, and at that time he established new amateur records for all distances from one to twelve miles.

He still further showed his enthusiasm for motor-driven conveyances by purchasing a fast autoboat, which he named the XPDNC, and in the last motorboat race of the season he established a remarkable record for speed by running the boat from the dock of the Columbia Yacht Club, foot of West Eighty-sixth Street, to Poughkeepsie and back, a total of 136½ miles, at an average of 26.29 miles per hour, the best speed attained by a motorboat in this country for a long distance. This was the longest motorboat race that was ever held in America. Mr. Croker had his autoboat shipped to Palm Beach several days ago, where it was his intention to compete in the motorboat races to be held during the first week in February, immediately following the Ormond Beach races.

Mr. Croker's racing automobile was made at the shops of the Smith & Mabley Company, at the foot of East Eighty-fourth Street. It has been considerably improved since the Vanderbilt race; and was expected to make very fast time. Mr. Croker had entered in fifteen races for Ormond this week, among them being the one-mile international championship, the 100-mile race for the W. K. Vanderbilt Cup, and the one-mile race for amateurs for the trophy given bu Col. L. C. Weir.

(Transcribed from the New York Times, Jan. 22, 1905, p. 1. )