So James’ time waster post reminded me of something kind of neat: My house once had front row seats to a historic race! Ok, not my house, but rather my property did about 20 years before my house was built. The date was January 1915 and San Diego was announcing to the world that it had “arrived” by hosting the Panama California Exposition (sort of like a World’s Fair type thing). The legacy of which still exists today: Balboa Park was built for the event and the San Diego Zoo got its start because of all the animals bought/brought in for exhibit. But that, my friends, is not even the coolest part.

The part of the story most relevant to our interests is the fact that the organizers also thought it’d be a great idea (and how) to host a race featuring some of the greatest drivers of the day in my very ‘hood!

50,000 spectators lined up along the course or in the stands to watch the ~300-mile race. The fastest drivers of the day, Barney Oldfield, Earl Cooper, Eddie Rickenbacker (yes, THAT Eddie Rickenbacker), and local boy “Bad Bill” Carlson (man, does THAT sound like a great guy to go drinking with!) fought it out on a 6-mile unpaved course wonderfully described in a UT article which features this glorious passage:

Advertisement

The most entertaining calamity occurred when Bob Burman’s Peugeot burst into flames coming out of the Roseville Turn. Burman frantically threw sand on the flames while his mechanic jumped out of the car and ran to a nearby house to grab a bucket of soap suds from a woman doing laundry. The suds put out the fire and soon Burman was on his way again after repairing burned-out wiring.

Cooper took the checkered flag and Carlson came in second place breaking the world endurance record in the process; he ran the entire race without taking a pit stop.