NY to PARIS Driver Monty Roberts, Artist Peter Helck, Mechanic and driver George Schuster and race enthusiast Austin Clark. c1950.

But who was “Austin Clark?”

The others in the picture are will known in early 20th century racing circles. Race driver Montague “Monty” Roberts who previously raced against Barney Oldfield and Louis Chevrolet, and his mechanic and driver George Schuster (was at the wheel, winning at the finish in Paris) who drove when Monty had to leave at Cheyenne, WY for another racing commitment, (the French Grand Prix) . They were the driving team that won in the NY-Paris 1908 race. Peter Helck was an artist who loved auto racing and painted racing images.

From and online bio: Henry Austin Clark Jr. “Austie” was born in 1917 and from an early age showed a near-obsession for automobiles. While attending Harvard in the late 1930s, Clark purchased his first classic automobile starting a collection that would, by the late 1970s total over 200 vintage and classic “brass-era” automobiles, trucks and fire trucks. After naval service during World War II and marriage, Clark and his wife Waleta (“Wally”) moved to Southampton, NY and settled into a life of collecting, rallies and tours, and raising a family. Clark’s collection of cars outgrew the sheds and garages on the estate leading him to open the Long Island Automotive Museum in 1948, in large part to house his collection. Over the next thirty years, Clark bought, sold and traded cars, parts and accessories and entertained visitors and fellow enthusiasts at the museum and at vintage car club events and tours. By the late 1970s however, the museum’s operating losses forced Clark to begin selling many of his precious automobiles. In 1979, over two hundred automobiles were auctioned off and a year later the museum was shuttered. Throughout his life Clark also collected hundreds of thousands of photographs, slides, negatives, magazines, advertisements, clippings, and programs related to the history of the automobile. Henry Austin Clark, Jr. passed away on December 15, 1991 the day after his precious collection of automotive history began to be moved to the Benson Ford Research Center at The Henry Ford.

Who was Peter Helck?

Excerpt from the Peter Helck official website: (http://www.peterhelck.com/index.php)

Peter Helck, the artist and illustrator  was born in New York City 1893 and by the time of his death he had seen automobile racing from its early beginnings on Long Island. He knew drivers from Louis Wagner to Mario Andretti and his paintings documented their exploits.

The first race that he attended was the 1906 Vanderbilt Cup on Long Island. While an art student in New York he would spend many a lunchtime gazing at all of the wonderful showroom displays along that city’s automobile row. His first published work was for the Brighton Beach Motordrome. [He had] later commissions for the Sheepshead Bay Speedway.

In time Helck worked for most of the major publications of the day including The Autocar through which he traveled to England and Europe. While there he witnessed major races in France and Italy. In the 1930’s he was commissioned by the Sinclair Oil-Company to create a five paneled map. The result was a portfolio of lush service station scenes which monumentalized Sinclair and the idea of driving for pleasure. Helck himself has estimated that he created more than 600 racing sketches, drawings, and paintings that are owned by both private individuals and museums.

His death in 1988 at the age of 95 closed a window to the past when men drove huge monstrous machines at tremendous speeds over rock strewn roads. Beyond his paintings Helck authored many articles and at least two books, The Checkered Flag and Great Auto Races

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