The Rolls-Royce Light Twenty – factory race cars.

1906 Rolls-Royce (chassis 40523) at the Empire City Race Track in NY

Capt Hutton & Reginald Macready in chassis 40523 at Ormond Beach

Could this be chassis 40523 when owned by H.L. Edwards?
Ad touting H.L Edwards purchase of 40/50 hp Rolls-Royce
Charles Rolls and Percy Northey took two prototype Rolls Royce cars to the first Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Race in September of 1905, placing second. Inspired, Rolls introduced the 20 hp (4 cylinder) car in 1906, of which twenty-one "Heavy" and nineteen "Light" were built. The Light Twenty was the competition car for Rolls-Royce with a four speed transmission, overdrive top gear, and a shorter wheel base. In 1906, C.S Rolls would go back the Isle of man and claim the Tourist Trophy in just such a car.

In November of ’06, C.S. Rolls, Percy Northey, Capt C.E. Hutton, and Reginald Macready would sail on The White Star Line’s SS Baltic for America. Traveling with them would be a sister car to the Tourist Trophy winner – chassis 40523 (a 1906 Rolls Royce Light Twenty touring car). Soon after arriving in New York, the Hon. C.S. Rolls piloted the car to a win in the five mile race for cars of 25 hp on Nov 6th at New York’s Empire City Track. In December, he would win again at Yonkers. After sturring up considerable interest in  Rolls-Royce motor cars, Rolls returned to England, leaving Capt. Hutton and Reginald Macready with chassis 40523.

Capt. Hutton and Macready took the car, in January 1907, to the Ormond-Daytona Speed Meet. Making a big impression with wins on the 23rd & 25th (against larger cars), and a second place finish, in the 100 mile race, behind the 70 hp Mercedes.

When Hutton and Macready returned to England, chassis 40523 was sold to H.L. (Harry) Edwards of Dallas, TX.  Harry Edwards was the president of H.L. Edwards & Co – cotton merchants in Dallas. He was also an accomplished sportsman of the day, having won the State Amateur Golf Championship in 1906. Mr. Edwards must have been quite taken with the Rolls-Royce for he ordered a new 40/50 hp (Silver Ghost) car (thought to be chassis 60557) later that year. Chassis 40523 was raced again but quickly faded into History – the car is not known to have survived. Could the image shown herein be Chassis 40523 when later raced by H.L Edwards? If you look closely the body on the car pictured, it has been cut down from a touring car.

A reader of the blog as suggested that the last picture (chassis 40523 cut down) shows L.R. Burne and Frank Fuller in the Rolls-Royce Light Twenty at the 24 hour race at Morris Park, NY on Sept 27-28, 1907. After a bit more research, I'm inclined to believe that Burne & Fuller may have campaigned the car (chassis 40523) for Harry Edwards. I've found two references to a Rolls-Royce being raced in America in 1907 after January (Ormond Beach), and no references to any Rolls-Royce being raced in America in 1908:
1. Aug. 5-7, 1907 - Ventor Beach, NJ: Rolls-Royce 50, L.R. Burne (finishing 2nd) - I think the mention of the car being 50hp is a misprint.
2. Sept. 27-28, 1907 - Morris Park, NY: Rolls-Royce 20hp, L.R. Burne and Frank Fuller (they finished 12th in the 24 hour race) - the car's racing colors are noted as pink.

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