At last weekend at the Lime Rock Historic Festival I had the pleasure of meeting Howard Kroplick and seeing his Alco-6 racer. This car has a great history, as it competed in the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911 and many other important races of the era.
Howard Kroplick’s Alco-6 Racer
Howard Kroplick is an expert on the famous Vanderbilt Cup races that were held in the early years of the last century. That interest in the Vanderbilt Cup races led Howard to this car which competed in those races. Howard tracked this car down in Belgium and bought the Alco-6 car a couple of years ago.
This is a Very Impressive Car in All Ways
Howard showed me a picture of him at this past year’s Indianapolis 500. At Indianapolis, Emerson Fitipaldi drove the Alco-6 for a lap around the famous track with Howard as the passenger. The picture shows Howard in the riding mechanic’s seat at the end of the lap being congratulated by Mario Andretti with Fitipaldi at the wheel.
As Expected for a Race Car, the Alco-6 is a Very Basic Car
The 6-cylinder engine in the Alco-6 racer is quite large. I forget the exact size, but I recall that it is 10 – 11 litres. As part of the Worker’s Rides, Howard Kroplick took Chief Steward Bob Melhado for a lap around the Lime Rock track on Saturday of the Festival weekend. Bob really enjoyed the ride!
Howard Kroplick and Bob Melhado with “Bete Noir”
Howard has a website www.vanderbiltcupraces.com that is a great resource for information on the Vanderbilt Cup races and the “Bete Noir” or “Black Beast”. The picture shown below of “Bete Noir” in 1911 came from that website. Please check out Howard’s website as it is very interesting.
A Postcard of the Alco-6 in 1911
The picture below shows Howard talking about the Black Beast to Bob Melhado and myself. At the Lime Rock Historic Festival Howard was by far the most available car owner and he spent the whole day talking about his car to those who came to see it. He is a great ambasador for the history of the Vanderbilt Cup races.
Howard Kroplick Talking About His Car to Bob Melhado and Me
The picture below shows Howard Kroplick getting an award at the Lime Rock Historic Festival. By this time, I had left to return home so I don’t know which award that he was given. I hope that he got the People’s Choice Award, because there were more people around the Black Beast than any other car at the show.
Howard Kroplick and the Black Beast Getting an Award at the Lime Rock Historic Festival