A hundred years ago, the First World War had begun and darkness had fallen over Europe. At this time, the United States were still neutral, and life for the Americans continued seemingly undisturbed. Everyday joys also included racing which was still in its early days back then, but already attracted lots of fearless young men and large crowds of spectators.
In January 1915, at the Point Loma circuit in San Diego, California, a spectacular race took place that probably only few vintage car enthusiasts are aware of. It stretched over 305 miles and was considered to be particularly dangerous due to a number of very tight turns and abruptly changing road surface. A total number of 18 cars entered the race, starting in pairs at 30 second intervals. Only five cars made it to the finishing line after 51 laps of wild racing. After Tom Alley had held the lead for 18 laps in his Duesenberg, the favourite Eddie Rickenbacker managed to overtake him pushing his Peugeot very hard. On the longest straight of the race circuit the fastest cars reached a speed of approximately 100 miles per hour, which demanded a maximum of courage and concentration from the drivers given the cars’ poor road-holding, weak brakes, and unreliable tyres at that time.
Eventually, after four and a half hours, victory went to Earl Cooper averaging 62 miles per hour in a Stutz Bearcat, one of the most famous and successful American race cars of its time. A crowd of 50.000 spectators is said to have watched him win. It was the last time, a race was held at the Point Loma circuit in San Diego.
Almost exactly 100 years later, in January 2015, the Horseless Carriage Club of America commemorated the event with a huge number of contemporary cars retracing the route of the race. This video shows the impressive cars and their owners – many of them in period clothing – during the preparations for the memorial run:
Source: YouTube © Copyright: The Barnaby Chronicles
Source: Michael Schlenger