- Library of Congress

The Cootie

1y ago

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This photograph from the National Photo Company Collection (Library of Congress) shows "The Cootie," a racing car, parked near the White House in Washington, D.C. in 1922. The man seated in the car is Captain Frederick Kopper, Jr. In 1906 he was involved in creating the Lewis Power Company, an automobile company that may not have built any automobiles. He moved to Washington in 1919 where he worked for the Department of Commerce and the Bureau of Standards. Later, Kopper opened his own mechanical engineering practice, an auto repair shop and a machine shop.

He received a patent for a muffler in 1924.

He apparently enjoyed racing his Ford. The article below from the September 4, 1923 issue of the Richmond Times-Dispatch documents one of his races. He raced his Ford to a 2nd place finish in the 3rd race. The race track at the Virginia State Fair Grounds is now Richmond International Raceway. I can remember going there in the '50s to watch Lee Petty, Fireball Roberts and the other early NASCAR drivers race on the then 1/2 mile dirt track. Qualifying times for the NASCAR drivers in the '50s were around 30 seconds, so Kopper's average lap time of 33 seconds was really good for about 35 years earlier. The record in the headline equates to a lap average of under 26 seconds. One of my early posts on Drivetribe was photos that I took during the last NASCAR race on dirt at the Fair Grounds race track. You can find a link to them below.

Here is a photo that apparently shows it racing at what looks like the State Fair Grounds race track. It would be the number 7 on the far right.

"The Cootie" has a Paco custom body designed for racing. It was available from the Peoria Accessory Company of Peoria, Illinois for $65 without a top or windshield.

Frederick Kopper died mysteriously in Washington in 1927.

Xenia [Ohio] Evening Gazette, April 20, 1927

The car has been taken apart more times than I would like to remember to rebuild or install some of the special parts or machine work.

Jack Schafer

It appears that Jack Schafer later acquired the car in Tonopah, Nevada. He said it had been raced all over California, Arizona and Nevada.

Bud Johnson of Austin, MN owned the car from the '90s until his death. His collection was auctioned on June 29, 2013. "The Cootie" went on the block that day. It can be seen at the 2:27 mark in the video below. There were many nice cars auctioned that day.

The current owner is Bob Richmon. He said he bought it on eBay and then restored it. Here are the photos I took at Cars & Coffee.

#videos

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Comments (3)
  • Great read and amazing history

    1 year ago
    2 Bumps
  • It's just amazing to read your article. I liked the fact the car survives to his owner.

    1 year ago
    2 Bumps

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