Auto Crashed into Wall in Tire Test (Sep, 1930)

It’s good to know that if I crash into a wall, my tires will survive even if I don’t.

Auto Crashed into Wall in Tire Test

DICK GRACE, famous movie stunt man, added another thrilling exploit to his long list recently by driving an automobile at a speed of nearly 40 miles per hour into a brick wall to test the endurance of a new type of tire.

When the 3,500 pound car was stopped abruptly by the 10 ton brick wall, however, Grace did not sail gracefully over the wall into the soft mixture of cork and sand placed there to absorb the shock of the fall as he expected, but was first thrown against the dashboard, his body bending double, and then hurled out onto the ground at the side. Grace had his usual luck and suffered only a slight injury to his knee.

The tires tested had built-in rubber shock absorbers and were said to be safer than the more common type. Tire men regarded the test as having considerable significance, for the failure of a front tire traveling at high speed almost invariably results in a bad crash.

The crash wrecked the front end of the car completely, and moved the engine back about four inches. The tires, however, were unhurt, even though they struck the wall with such force that they were flattened completely, and the rims bent behind them. Speed photographs of the test showed that the tires rebounded so that they were completely clear of the wall an instant after the impact.

The wall was built specially for the test.

The section weighed about ten tons and was imbedded three feet in the ground to give solidity. When the crash occurred the wall remained firm, thus placing all the recoil of the impact upon the car. The ground behind was ploughed to soften the fall.

  1. Anne says: June 27, 20085:50 am

    And not even really wearing any protection at all…

  2. Neil Russell says: June 27, 20087:04 am

    Poor old Chrysler! I’m surprised those old wood spokes came through that well. Pretty funny about the “ploughed ground to soften the fall”.

  3. LightningRose says: June 27, 20081:48 pm

    Dick Grace, the original crash test dummy, in whatever way one may wish to interpret the term, “dummy”.

  4. StanFlouride says: June 28, 20089:57 am

    Dick Grace was born in Morris, MN, January 10, 1898. His father was a judge, and he intended following in his footsteps attending the University of Minnesota. When the war broke out, he joined the Naval Air Service receiving his training in Pensacola, FL. He served in France and Germany, but, upon returning to the United States, gave up seeking a law career for the more exciting vocation of barnstorming.

    A chance meeting with Ormer Locklear at the Minnesota State Fair in 1919 gave him his first introduction to a Hollywood movie star (this was following Locklear’s success with “The Great Air Robbery”), and by the summer of 1920, Grace was in Hollywood working for Fox. But Grace didn’t initially start out as a stunt pilot, he was performing almost any stunt that came his way in the beginning.

    Grace’s stunting led him into acting, and his first leading role was in “The Flying Fool” (1925) for Sunset Productions. In this, Gaston Glass plays the bad guy who frames Grace for a burglary hoping to steal his fiancée. He only had one more chance for a starring role, and that came in 1927 in “Wide Open,” again for Sunset Productions.
    Throughout the twenties, stunt pilots like Grace and Wilson were much in demand, but there were few films that revolved around aviation. Most had aviation scenes that were woven into the stories. However, the greatest aviation picture of the silent era was about to be made, and Grace played a significant role in its success.

    “Wings” was conceived and written by former Army training command flyer John Monk Saunders and was directed by William Wellman who was a combat pilot during World War I. Another stunt pilot, Frank Tomick, was actually hired as the chief pilot for the picture, and Grace was hired for the two main crashes in the film, one in a Spad and one in a Fokker. Both World War I planes were in poor condition, and Grace oversaw somewhat of a “renovation” before he would fly them.

    During World War II he joined the Army Air Corps and flew several missions with the 8th Air Force as a B-17 co-pilot. It is said that during his movie career, he performed 45-50 crashes and broke over 80 bones in his body. Unlike many of his contemporaries, it was not a stunt that brought an end to his life. Instead, he died in his sleep from emphysema in 1965 at age 67.

  5. bob says: June 30, 20085:24 am

    wow, almost 40 miles an hour

  6. darren says: August 30, 200812:32 am

    Wow, just goes to show that these “crumply” car designs they have now days, though good at absorbing impacts, are terrible at actually taking them. A modern car at that speed would surely result in a fatality. This old thing, with no seatbelts, results in a sore knee. Admittedly, he’s spectacularly lucky (as the article points out)

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