Repeatedly F.E. Lewis appears in various motoring magazines of the time period. Fitzgerald featured the new technology of the automobile prominently in his fiction –including one which is the turning point of The Great Gatsby.
Volume Forty – four of “The Hub”, March 1st, 1903 wrote
ONE HUNDRED MILE ENDURANCE RUN
The one hundred mile endurance run, under the control of the Long Island automobile Club, took place on April 26, which was intended as a nonstop endurance test, was in many respects a success, and in other s great failure.
The following entrants exceeded the speed limit of fifteen miles an hour for the open country and eight miles for the villages.
In this six hour and forty minute race Lewis was one of the Long Distance winners, driving a Knox. The Knox Automobile Company was a manufacturer of automobiles, trucks and farm tractors between 1900 and 1924. (1).The fact Lewis achieved as much with a tiller, rather than a steering wheel, is all the more remarkable.
On May 30, 1907 at Hyde Park, Massachusetts on a one mile dirt oval Fred Lewis, driving a Frayer-Miller 50, came in 3rd with a time of 2:38:30.2. The Frayer Miller retailed for $2500 or $62554.00 in today’s dollars. Lewis drove the most expensive cars of the time period .The 1909 Year Book (Motor Cyclopedia) reported that Lewis placed second in The Second Class Category ( 10 to 12 miles an hour) in completing 10.91 miles in the event in a Pierce Automobile. There was little doubt that Pierce was aimed at a very wealthy market. (2) Lewis competed against among others the Locomobile, Headquartered in Bridgeport, Connecticut Vice President James T Roche was present at the Gatsbian party Lewis threw in 1917.
In 1909 President Taft ordered two Pierce-Arrows, a Brougham and a Landaulette, for the White House. – Taft was the first President to use an automobile for official occasions and this tradition would continue into the Roosevelt administration, when the last Pierce-Arrows, 1935 models, were ordered by the White House. (3) Another one of his long distance races was from New York City to Buffalo in 1911.
The April 30, 1914 issue of The Automobile, A Journal of Automobile Progress and Construction, Volume XXX reported Lewis as owning a “KisselKar”. Of the 35,000 automobiles the company produced, only 150 are known to exist today. The Wisconsin Automotive Museum of Hartford has several of these remaining cars on display. The most famous car was one the company donated to Hollywood actress Anita King for her transcontinental trip in 1915 that marked the first-ever such trip by a female driving alone. (4)
F. E. Lewis is confirmed to have owned a Brewster Brougham which he is on record for purchasing for $7,000.00 ($130, 000 in 2015 dollars).
Greg Busch actually put me in touch with Pat Farrell out in California, who incredibly possessed Frederick Lewis’s 1916 Stanley Steamer Model 825 Mountain Wagon! It is a steeled frame 12-passenger Mountain Wagon with a 30 hp 826 Stanley engine, first set up for racing and then was used in exhibition races around our country to promote U.S. Army war bonds sales. (5)