Fatal racing accident, 1910 Illinois State Fair

Overturned Vredenburgh race car (Sangamon Valley Collection)

Overturned Vredenburgh race car (Sangamon Valley Collection)

Driver LaRue Vredenburgh (1882-1910) died in this crash during auto racing at the 1910 Illinois State Fair. The car, a green Stoddard-Dayton characterized as “one of the prettiest running cars on the track,” was traveling 60 mph when it went through the fence at the three-quarter-mile mark.

“The front portion of the car was caved in and the right front wheel was knocked off the axle and all the spokes broken,” the Illinois State Register reported on Oct. 4, 1910. “The steering wheel was broken in half …”

Vredenburgh, who had been married less than four months, was treasurer of the Peter Vredenburgh Lumber Co.

In 2011, Greg Cone drove a similar car — a 1912 Stoddard-Dayton — in a tribute lap on the fairgrounds’ 1-mile track; Cone’s lap can be viewed on YouTube.

Note: This entry has been changed to correct Vredenburgh’s speed at the time of the accident. Thanks to reader Jerry Waters. schs logo (2)

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5 Responses to Fatal racing accident, 1910 Illinois State Fair

  1. Jerry Waters says:

    560 mph?

    • editor says:

      Jerry: Wow, good catch. Yes, it was 60 mph, a pretty good clip in those days. I’m not at home and for some reason can’t get at the text right now, but I’ll correct it tonight. Please keep reading. I obviously need the help.

  2. editor says:

    Fixed now. Thanks again.

  3. Lynda Holton says:

    Looking for photos or articles on John E. Hickey born 1890 who made his 1st solo flight at 1910 State Fair. Believe he was involved in racing also. An early bird of aviation born and bred in Sangamon County. Any leads would be appreciated.

    • editor says:

      Ms. Holton: A real quick look at old newspaper files suggests that, while Mr. Hickey may have flown for the first time in 1910, it probably wasn’t at the state fair. There’s no mention of him flying during the fair, and a later article says just that he took off on his first flight from a field near Springfield. As far as racing, a 1922 story about Mr. Hickey being injured when someone opened an iron cellar door in downtown Springfield says he was planning to participate in “auto polo races” at the state fair.

      I hadn’t heard of Mr. Hickey before, so I appreciate your drawing my attention to him. I’ll try to put together a SangamonLink entry on him in the near future.

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