This 1903 Packard Gray Wolf racer was driven at Daytona Beach.
On January 2, 1904, Charles Schmidt drove the lightning-quick Packard Gray Wolf, at 1,430 pounds, to a new five-mile record of 4:21.6 minutes, in the medium weight category.
At the same time, the Stevens-Duryea Company brought its Spider to compete in the lightweight category. The Spider, with Otto Nestman at the wheel, set the five-mile record for his class at 4:47.8 minutes.
The Packard Grey Wolf is one of the most famous cars of early racing history. In 1901, the Packard brothers went to Europe in search of an engineer to design their first four-cylinder automobile. Charles Schmidt agreed to accompany them if he was allowed to build a race car to demonstrate the performance of the new Packard Model K. Only one example was built, at a cost of $10,000, and in January of 1904, Mr. Schmidt set two land speed records at Ormond Beach, FL, in the Grey Wolf. The original car won several other races, was wrecked several times. This example is a recreation of the Grey Wolf, from the original Packard plans. Every part was made exactly per the blueprints, 100 years later. The car returned to Ormond Beach in 2004 to re-enact the land speed record attempt.
During the very early 1900s, racers took to the beaches to set time and speed records, along with an assortment of racing. Daytona Beach was a popular favorite, with many important milestones achieved on its smooth, hard sand. The Packard Motor Company got in on the action with their Gray Wolf racing special.
The car fell in the medium weight limit category which had a limit of 1430 pounds. The car was shipped to Daytona from Ohio in a crate, which tragically got lost. It was later found in Tennessee. When it arrived at Daytona, it was joined by many other interesting types of vehicles. Many were in the shape of bullets or cigars; some were nothing more than a seat attached to a stiff frame with an engine mounted in the front. The Gray Wolf was a wedge-shaped vehicle that had a pointy front and rear end and bulged slightly in the middle to accommodate the driver.
The car had 24 horsepower, a two-speed transmission, pressed-steel frame, and tires that measured 34x3.5-inches. The total package weighed a mere 1,310 pounds.
The Gray Wolf showed little difficulty in displacing the Winton Special's five-mile record. A second run was attempted a short time later, on January 3rd. There was a strong breeze, suitable temperature, and well groomed sand which offered ideal conditions to shatter its prior record. It traversed the five-mile course in just 4:26.1 minutes. By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2008