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Here's What It's Like To Race Hundred-Year-Old Cars On Modern Streets

Screenshot: The Smoking Tire on YouTube
Screenshot: The Smoking Tire on YouTube

Every year the Audrain Auto Museum in Newport, Rhode Island hosts the Veteran Car Tour, a 50-mile street drive for brass era automobiles. A 50 mile run might not sound like much, but when you’re driving a car with no roof, wooden wheels, and leather banded brakes, it’s an exhilarating event. The Audrain invited Matt Farah out to drive a 1902 Yale 16HP Rear-Entrance Tonneau from the museum’s permanent collection back in April, and it sure looks like it was a total blast.

You might not know this about me, but I ran a brass era-heavy automobile museum for a couple of years, and it was an eye-opening experience for me. These are cars that have been behind velvet ropes and cordoned off from the public eye since my grandparents were born. I believe in what The Audrain is doing here, bringing these cars out and taking them down off of the pedestals, showing people that they’re still functional and exciting cars. Okay, maybe you can’t rip down the interstate at 80 miles per hour, but when it comes to driver involvement, these kinds of old machines can’t be beat.

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If you want to know why young people don’t care about brass cars, it’s largely because they have no experience with them. They don’t know what they smell like, sound like, or drive like, because they’ve been static display for basically nine or ten decades.

Calling this racing is a bit of a stretch, as the cars largely can’t exceed the posted speed limits, and The Audrain explicitly calls this event a tour for a reason. Racing isn’t condoned, but it happens anyway. If you’re participating in an event like this, you don’t want to lose, do you?

I wish more museums could take a hint from The Audrain and provide more people with more opportunities to interact with cars from before the world went to war. You can’t tell me that you aren’t at least intrigued by them after watching this video.

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