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Thread: Christie 50 hp "Blue Flyer" 1904-1909

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    Christie 50 hp "Blue Flyer" 1904-1909

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    Christie was born in the Campbell-Christie House in New Milford, New Jersey on May 6, 1865. He started working at the age of sixteen at the Delamater Iron Works while taking classes at the Cooper Union in New York City. He eventually became a consulting engineer for a number of steamship lines and in his spare time did some work on early submarine designs. Following the Spanish-American War he developed and patented an improved turret track for Naval artillery.

    At the same time he was working on designs for a front-wheel-drive car, which he promoted and demonstrated by racing at various speedways in the United States, including the Readville Race Track and the 1905 Vanderbilt Cup race. His car was knocked out of the race by a collision with Vincenzo Lancia who was at the time leading the race in a Fiat. Lancia was enraged, but presumably noticed the Christie car's vertical-pillar coil-based independent front suspension: the then unusual configuration subsequently turned up on the Lancia Lambda.

    He was the first American to compete in the 1907 French Grand Prix: the V4 engine of 19,891 cc that powered his vehicle was the largest ever used in a Grand Prix race, but the car retired after four laps with "engine trouble". On September 9 of that same year, Christie was seriously injured in a crash when his car struck loose debris during a lap at Brunots Island Race Track in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In a twelve-car endurance race earlier that day, scheduled to run 50 miles, the Haynes car of driver Rex Reinertson had lost its right front tire with disastrous results, catapulting into the air and landing on its roof. Reinertson was crushed beneath the car, suffering injuries (including a skull fracture) that ultimately proved fatal, and his mechanic Clarence Bastion was ejected from the vehicle and thrown 50 feet through the air, breaking both of his arms and both of his legs. After ten more laps, the race was stopped so that the injured men could receive medical treatment, and the unlucky Reinertson's car was cleared off the track. Next up was Christie, driving the car he had used at the Grand Prix only a few months before. He was attempting to break the track's lap record of 58 seconds, and due to receive a $500 prize if he was successful. Christie completed the second half of his warmup lap in only 24 seconds, so he was well on pace for a new record, but at the 1/8 mile marker of his real lap his right front wheel struck part of Reinertson's car that remained on the track. Christie was thrown from the car, traveling twenty feet in the air and fifty feet across the ground, before coming to earth. Mark Baldwin, a former Major League Baseball player who became a doctor following his retirement from professional sports, happened to be in the stands as a spectator, and he ran to Christie and administered first aid until Christie could be placed in an ambulance and taken to the hospital, a task that was complicated by the large number of spectators who had climbed down from the grandstands and moved onto the track. Christie had been knocked unconscious by the impact He also sustained a broken left wrist, a cut on his right eye from the broken glass of his goggles, and a significant injury to his back. Doctors who treated Christie expressed concern that he might be crippled as a result of his injuries, or lose the sight in his damaged eye, and news of his accident was kept from his wife, who was herself seriously ill at their home in River Edge, New Jersey. Christie remained in the St. John's Hospital until September 19, at which point he was discharged and returned to New York.

    Source: wikipedia.org
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    Lack of charisma can be fatal.
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