Walter J. “Ruff” Lezotte
1898 - 1922
Walter J. Lezotte, Motor Car Racer, Killed at Allentown
“He met with accident one hour after setting a new one mile’s (sic) world record of 31.4 seconds on a dirt track. Lezotte was killed in first lap of last race at Allentown Fair on Saturday (September 23, 1922) and in racer shown in etching. The car was formerly owned by Ex-Crown Prince Fredrick William of Germany who is said to have won the Kaiser’s cup with it in 1914.” – September, 1922 Allentown, Pennsylvania newspaper clipping from the Jeff Adams collection
Another newspaper clipping states that 24-year-old Lezotte of York, Pennsylvania and a veteran of World War I, died at an Allentown, Pennsylvania hospital of injuries suffered when his car struck a wheel on the car that was leading the race. Note that Lezotte’s car had wooden wheels.
The car pictured on this web page was actually formerly owned by Ex-Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm (1882 – after 1940) of Germany rather than Fredrick William as stated in the Allentown newspaper. The car is said to have been built on a Mercedes chassis. At the time of Lezotte’s death, this car appears to have been owned by Arlen Shiesser. After Lezotte’s death, this V-8 Hispano-Suiza powered car was purchased by Larry Beals.
“The American Clarence Gary Dinsmore's driver, Wilhelm Werner, went to work for Kaiser Wilhelm in 1906 following Dinsmore's death. Werner brought some of Dinsmore's cars with him. These were 60, 70, and 90 H.P. cars (built) 1903-1906. The chassis of Beals’ cars were at least 1908, based on the design. For certain, many cars were imported privately at this time and it is possible between 1908 and 1923 this could of happened with the Schiesser cars. It is also very probably that Wilhelm owned later Mercedes. There is fairly good reasons to believe that Beals’ cars were ex-Indy cars (Spencer) Wishart (c1888-1914) and (Ralph) De Palma (1882-1956), that had 90 H.P. I-head engines and 1908 chassis originally, but this is not certain.” - Leland Gohlike
The #37 Shiesser Hispano-Suiza was the same car as the #11 Mercedes that Spencer Wishart qualified in 11th position for the 1911 Indianapolis “500” and then led laps 5-9 before finishing the race in fourth place having completed the full 500 miles at an average speed of 72.648 MPH. Wishart collected $2,350 for his efforts.
The Hispano-Suiza engine had been installed in the car and the car number changed to 37 by the time that Walter Lozette crashed it to his death.
Larry Beals acquired the car and drove it for a time before changing the number to 24.
The car was placed in an Ohio auto collection in 1939 and remained there for over sixty years before being acquired by the Mercedes collection in Germany for $1.2 million.