Winton 'Bullet' No. 1, 1902

In 1878, a Scottish immigrant named Alexander Winton arrived in New York City. By the turn of the century, he would be one of America’s best known automobile makers and race car drivers. The first Winton car was sold on March 24, 1898. Winton saw racing not only as a way to attract investors and customers but also as essential to developing and testing technologies for his production automobiles. He built the first of his three Bullet race cars in 1902. On September 16, 1902, on a Cleveland horse track, Winton drove his Bullet ten miles in ten minutes and 50 seconds, averaging 55.38 miles per hour. On March 26, 1903, Alexander Winton in the Bullet and H. T. Thomas in Ransom Olds’s Pirate competed in the first Florida Winter Speed Carnival, though in separate classes. Winton drove his Bullet a mile in 52.2 seconds, averaging 68.96 miles per hour. On the Carnival’s last day, Winton and Thomas faced off in the first Ormond Challenge Cup. It was a close race, but Winton won by a fraction of a second. After the Carnival, many declared the beaches of Ormond and nearby Daytona to be perfect for racing. Ormond Beach soon became known as the “Birthplace of Speed.” On October 25, 1902, Winton and his Bullet suffered defeat to one of Henry Ford’s automobiles and met the man who would become America’s first celebrity race car driver. Barney Oldfield had made a name for himself racing bicycles and setting records across the country. Henry Ford knew of Oldfield’s racing talent and hired him to drive his new racer. Winton and Oldfield raced against two other competitors, Oldfield driving Ford’s 999 and Winton driving the Bullet. Winton fell back in the race when the Bullet started misfiring, and Oldfield lapped everyone to take the victory. Winton recognized Oldfield’s talent and soon hired him to race his cars, paying him $2,500 a year plus travel expenses and winnings. In 1930 the Winton Engine Company donated Bullet No. 1, Bullet No. 2, and the first Winton sold to the Smithsonian Institution.
Currently not on view
Object Name
automobile, racing
date made
Winton Engine Company
overall: 4 ft x 64 in x 11 5/16 ft; 1.2192 m x 162.56 cm x 3.45338 m
overall: 48 in x 67 in x 135 in; 121.92 cm x 170.18 cm x 342.9 cm
place made
United States: Ohio, Cleveland
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Sports & Leisure
Road Transportation
See more items in
Work and Industry: Transportation, Road
Road Transportation
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of The Winton Engine Co.

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