Mueller Son Races from Bloomington to Decatur

A 1910 Thomas Flyer of the type driven by Philip Mueller

The story of Hieronymus Mueller and his interest in automobiles is pretty well known by those of us with an interest in Mueller history. Hieronymus earned a spot in automotive history through this success in America’s first auto race in 1895. Apparently, the Mueller urge to race cars didn’t end with the tragic death of Hieronymus in 1900. Recently, a short feature titled “How Time Flies” by Jack O’Keefe appeared in the Bloomington, Illinois Pantagraph which mentioned a 1910 race that Philip Mueller, second eldest son of Hieronymus, had with the interurban traveling from Bloomington to Decatur. Mr. O’Keefe kindly took time to furnish the entire story as it originally appeared in the Pantagraph August 4, 1910.

Automobile Beats Electric Car in Race between Bloomington and Decatur

Mueller Family Machine Gets Home from Big Picnic Ahead of Mueller Interurban Special

Philip Mueller’s Thomas Flyer raced the Mueller Special on the Interurban from Bloomington to Decatur last Saturday night, easily winning the heat, says the Decatur Review. The special Interurban train carried the members of the Mueller family on their return from the picnic and the Thomas Flyer contained Philip Mueller and family. The two left Bloomington at the same time, 7:25.

At the time of leaving there was no thought of a race, but when train and automobile found themselves clear of the city of Bloomington they were running parallel and at no great distance apart. Maybe the interurban crowd did not get excited about it but the temptation was greater than any automobilist could bear to try to beat that interurban car into Decatur.

First Advantage to the Trolley

For the first lap of the run the traction cars had the best of it. They had the best of it in track and also in distance. Where the automobile turned, it had to make a square turn while the interurban train had an easy curve carefully laid out by an engineer. The public highways for several miles south of Bloomington are not what a high class county like McLean should furnish. The road was rough and rutty to say nothing of a good many hills for which the highway commissioners are not responsible. The interurban car also had to make its schedule meeting points and stop occasionally for orders. The automobile was dispatched from the seat of the machine and its schedule was made to order. It was nip and tuck between the two from the edge of Bloomington to Clinton with the auto working its head off whenever it had a chance to work and the interurban having a shade the best of it all the time.

Where Machine Wins

From Clinton to Decatur, the roads were better and straighter. The Automobile really got into running on this stretch and the Flyer had no trouble keeping the lead. But at that the automobile had more miles to run, more turns to make, numerous turn-outs with occasional stops. For considerable distances the automobile was able to maintain a peed of forty-five miles an hour. The gasoline beat the electric train into Decatur. The automobile reached Division Street at 9:15, covering the distance from Bloomington in one hour and fifty minutes. The speedometer registered about forty-nine miles.

Originally published in
The Mueller Record, 2010

Your Invitation

The Hieronymous Mueller Museum is proud to display numerous exhibits and memorabilia from the Company’s history. We invite you to visit this incredible collection at your earliest convenience.

The museum’s address is 420 West Eldorado Street in Decatur, IL. We’re open to the public on Tuesday through Saturday (except holidays) from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. You can also schedule a visit by calling 217-423-6161. Admission is $2.00 for adults and $1.00 for those under 17 years of age.

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