Apr 06 2011

VanderbiltCupRaces.com Helps Solve an Old Oldsmobile Photo Mystery in the Lansing State Journal

Yesterday the Lansing State Journal published an article 'Old Oldsmobile photo leads owner on search for answers'. Barbara Wieland reported on a search for details on a vintage photo owned by an former Oldsmobile employee. After over 500 Lansing residents linked into VanderbiltCupRaces.com throughout the day, it was clear the answer was somewhere on this website. First, here's the article followed by the solution to this photo mystery.

Old Oldsmobile photo leads owner on search for answers

Exact value of antique can't be set without details on background

Lansing State Journal Apr. 6, 2011

Written by Barbara Wieland bwieland@lsj.com


Old photo: Donna McCoy of Owosso is trying to find out any information she can about this picture, which features two Oldsmobiles. The car in the foreground says "Oldsmobile Stillman" on the rear of the car.


Looking for information: Donna McCoy of Owosso holds the photograph she is trying to learn more about. Behind is Young Buick/GMC General Manager Josh Galardi. McCoy took the picture to an event at the dealership to try to get more information. / Rod Sanford/Lansing State Journal

The two cars in the photograph are Oldsmobiles. That's about the only thing that Donna McCoy knows for certain about a photo she's owned for nearly 30 years.

She doesn't know how old the photograph is, though it could be 100 years old or more. She believes it was taken in Lansing, though where, exactly, isn't clear. She doesn't know why there is a cluster of people gathered around the cars, or what event the photo was meant to commemorate.

"The photo was found in a (Haslett-area) landfill and given to us," the Owosso-area resident said. "That's really the only information I have on it."

The 81-year-old former Oldsmobile employee and retired nurse is seeking answers. So is Mike Gaylord, host of the Flint-based Everything Classic Antique and Collectible Show on the Radio. The show is broadcast in Lansing from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday on WLCM-AM 1390.

Gaylord took a look at the photo at a recent live broadcast at Young Buick GMC Cadillac in Owosso. Though the image is in good condition, it's impossible to set its worth without knowing more information about the photograph, Gaylord said.

"It appears to be in front of a hotel in Lansing," he said, adding that the picture may have been snapped outside the Downey House hotel, which burned down in February 1912. "I thought they were either preparing for a race or they are showing off new models of Oldsmobile."

Gaylord and McCoy are hoping that others viewing the photo might be able to identify who is in the picture and what the people are doing.

Any answers would help solve a riddle McCoy has had stashed on a shelf for decades. Since being given the photograph approximately 30 years ago, McCoy has puzzled over it. "I just never got around to finding out anything about it," she said.

Oldsmobile holds a special meaning to McCoy because she worked at the Oldsmobile plant in Lansing from 1953 to 1977.

People who believe they can identify who the picture depicts or where and when it was taken may call Gaylord at (810) 730-4900.

The answer to the mystery photo was found on the VanderbiltCupRaces.com post providing the starting lineup for the 1910 Vanderbilt Cup Race .

As I discussed with Barbara Wieman and Mike Gaylord, the photo showed the two Oldsmobile entrants for the 1910 Vanderbilt Cup Race. As described in the article, they were displayed in front of the Downey House Hotel in Lansing prior to the race. The car in the foreground was the #20 Oldsmobile driven by Harry Stillman. Behind it was the #5 Oldsmobile driven by Joe Nelson. Stillman's racer finished a respectable 11th in the 1910 race, while Nelson's car did not race due to a faulty starter. The #20 car was the only Oldsmobile ever participate in the Vanderbilt Cup Races held on Long Island from 1904 to 1910.

Links to related VanderbiltCupRaces.com posts:

Starting Lineup: 1910 Vanderbilt Cup Race

Entrants 1910 Vanderbilt Cup Race

Archives: 1910 Vanderbilt Cup Race

Archives: Alco-6 Black BeastRacer

Archives: Vanderbilt Cup Races Starting Lineups (1904-1910)


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