1911 KNOX MODEL R: PRE- PRE- WAR ‘SPEED QUEEN’
Before the start of the first World War the Knox Automobile Co. in Springfield, Massachusetts was producing luxury cars for as much as 6.400 US Dollars: a small fortune in those days. By 1911 a total of 1.215 Knox vehicles were built and some of them were raced by a true ‘speed queen’..
THE WOMAN WHO GOT BANNED FROM RACING
Joan Newton was one of the first female racing drivers. Newton had shown an interest in cars after her husband bought her a Locomobile in 1902. In 1909 she teamed up with Knox cars to race its 50-horsepower strong Knox Giant at the inaugural Mardi Gras races in New Orleans. Newton won three races that weekend setting a new womens’ speed record. Despite her triumphs in New Orleans, the American Automobile Association were not impressed with Joan, the attention she was getting, or the idea of female racing drivers in general. Within a few weeks, women drivers were banned from all of their sanctioned competitions. She attempted to enter a race meeting in Massachusetts in August, but they held firm. This was the end of her active competition career.
Despite the prohibition on women in organised circuit races, Joan continued to drive the Giant. She did exhibition runs and speed trials throughout 1909 and 1910, continuing to better her own ladies’ speed records. The ‘speed queen’ was still a popular figure and a draw for spectators. She continued to use Knox cars and in 1911, the Knox factory built her a new Giant, which was christened the “Giantess” in her honour. It was used in demonstrations and record runs, and was also raced by Lou Disbrow. Until recently, Newton had received only a brief mention in automotive history as ‘the woman who got women banned from racing’.
OLDEST CAR AT THE EVENT
Nineteen years ago the Dutch car-loving Laarman family, all six of them, travelled to the United Kingdom to buy a 1911 Knox Model R: a car of the type driven by Joan Newton and the only one still in existance. It hasn’t left the family since, accompanying them, during among other long-distance events, from Paris to Peking, on three of its four cylinders. The 7.5 liter 40-horsepower 4-cylinder Model R cost $3,400 when new, nowadays it is priceless.
This 1911 Knox Model R is driven by Milton Laarman (like all members of the Laarman family, Milton is named after a famous car brand) during the Dutch Vintage Sportscar Club demonstration at the TABAC Classic GP Assen. It is the oldest car present at the event.