May 18, 2016
It was just in April, that I was at the Petersen for a book signing of William F, Nolan’s “BARNEY OLDFIELD The Life and Times of America’s Legendary Speed King”. On the third floor of the museum was a fabulous yellow Mercer.
Mabel Normand owned a Mercer, not the 1913 35R Raceabout that was on display but another wonderful car! Mabel made a Keystone one reel released June 3, 1913 titled “Barney Oldfield’s Race for a Life” Dare-Devil Oldfield races a train to save Mabel, who is tied to railroad tracks. There were more races termed Keystone shorts starring Mabel “The Speed Queen” June 12, 1913 were she is arrested for speeding. Then there was Mabel in “The Speed Kings” October 30, 1913 where Teddy Tetzlaff competes at the
In any study of Mabel Normand the race car films shouldn’t be over looked so seeing the fabulous Mercer at the Petersen brought to mind how very special the Raceabout was/is!
Race drivers contributed their efforts to focus on the Mercer's quality by creating competition during the many road races during that period. The result was one of the most acknowledged American sports cars of the 1910 decade: The 1910 Type-35R Raceabout was a stripped-down, two-seat speedster, which speeded along at over 70 MPH (it was capable of over 90 MPH)... The Mercer won five of the six 1911 races it was entered in and hundreds of racing victories followed... Mercer produced only some 5000 Raceabout. .
One, film historian has done some research into what has happen to Mabel Normand Mercer. It seems that it was exhibited at Movieland Cars of the Stars which opened in
James Brucker acquired a number of the autos as part of his outstanding collection; however Mabel’s Mercer was not mentioned in the newspapers at the time. James Brucker joined with another collector and opened Hollywood Museum of Autos in
While Cars of the Stars in
Ken Gross, once director of the
“…The Mercer designer Finley Robinson Porter received carte blanche from
The Mercer 35J is thought the finest car of its era, with a four-speed Brown & Lipe gearbox and Harry A. Miller’s modified engine and crankcase. With regard to the pre-WWI the Mercer was the answer to the English Stutz Bearcats. It seems to be only 17 genuine Raceabout have survived and one is sitting at the corner of Wilshire & Fairfax at the
And just an email (May 16, 2016):
Joan Birdsall went with Charles Brabin (Uncle Charlie) when he delivered their custom made Bentley to
Birdsall, Joan, 05-17-2016, personal corresponds
Drew, William, 1997; Speeding Sweethearts
Gross, Ken; 02-09-2007; BusinessWeek, 1911 Mercer 35R Raceabout
Historical Marker 10-7-2008 Mercer Auto Camp
Looking-for-Mabel; cars; http://looking-for-mabel.webs.com/cars.htm
Melissen, Wouter; 07-03-2008; ultimatecarpage.com, 3768 Mercer
Nolan, William F.; 1989.Oldfield, Barney, The Life and Times of America’s Legendary Speed King
Peeples, Sam; Classic Film [x]Collector; (1962- 1980) “Madcap, The Story of Mabel Normand:
Petersen, Wayne Carroll; 05-18-2016, personal photo collection
Time River Production; Kevin Cloud Brechner; photo collection