Claremore Daily Progress

Community News

September 26, 2012

Remembering... The Great Bunion Derby Andy Payne



Tom Young, Andy’s trainer, explained his strategy to the homefolks in a letter to the chamber of commerce in Claremore.  
He knew Payne was capable of outrunning the Englishman, but he felt that Gavuzzi would fold of his own accord before reaching New York, allowing Andy to take first place without risking a pulled muscle or another injury which would force him to withdraw altogether.  “I hope the people of Claremore see the responsibility of my position,” said Young.  “Andy is only a boy and he is in a race that represents the best runners in the world, and to hold the lead is a straining position.  Andy will pull up after we leave Chicago.”
At Cleveland, Ohio, Young’s prophecy came true.  Gavuzzi was forced to withdraw because of teeth trouble, and Andy went into the lead.  
He maintained a loping pace which averaged 7 miles per hour and put him 18 hours ahead of second place, John Salo of Passaic, New Jersey, as they reached Waverly, New York. On May 26, approximately 3,400 miles from the starting line, Andy Payne trotted into Madison Square Garden in New York bearing the title of champion and the claimant to $25,000.00 offered by C. C. Pyle, promoter of the derby, as the first prize.  
Glenn Condon of the Skelley Oil Company in Tulsa and M. R. Harrison, president of the Claremore chamber of commerce, had flown to New York earlier in a Skelley-owned plane to greet Andy with letter of congratulations from Governor Henry Johnston, W. G. Skelley, and the Claremore chamber of commerce.
Andy was flown to Washington in the plane from home and received a standing ovation from the Congress when he was introduced to that August body. On June 1, C. C. Pyle quieted rumors that he could not pay the prize money by handing to Tex Rickard, the great promoter, a check for $25,000.00 which Rickard in turn handed to Rogers county’s Andy Payne.  

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