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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Pre-WWII Racing


The New York Times
December 4, 1922

Covers Course in 2 Hours, 10 Minutes and 53.10 Seconds—Curley Seriously Injured.

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 3.—Jimmy Murphy, driving a Durant Special, won the 250-mile championship automobile race held today at the Beverley Hills Speedway, completing  200 laps of the 1¼ mile oval in 2 hours, 10 minutes, and 53.10 seconds.  Earl Cooper, also in a Durant, took second place and Harry Hartz in a Hartz Special finished third.  A crowd estimated at 80,000 saw the contest.

Herschel McKee and his mechanician, Hugh Curley, were injured, the latter probably fatally, when their car crashed into the rear of Joe Thomas's machine while tuning up before the start of the race.

At the time of the accident the spectators were just beginning to arrive and McKee and Thomas were the only drivers on the track.

Apparently McKee was trying to pass Thomas when his right front wheel caught the tail of Thomas's car.  McKee's machine pivoted about, crashed into the top guard rail, burst into flames and rolled over and over down the inclined track.

Thomas was not injured nor was his car noticeably damaged.  McKee and Curley were taken to a hospital, where surgeons said McKee was injured only slightly, but Curley was in critical condition.

Murphy's average time for the distance was 114.6 miles an hour, or 3.4 miles faster than the record set on a one and one-fourth mile oval at San Francisco last year, when he completed 250 miles at an average speed of 111.2 miles an hour. Murphy won by less than a car length, with three other drivers within twenty feet of him at the finish.

Harry Hartz was cheated out of second place when, in a desperate effort to nose ahead of Cooper in the final sweep past the stand, his car skidded, spun around and crashed into the wall along the grandstand, bouncing back on to the course and across the line just behind Cooper.  Bennett Hill took fourth place, Tommy Milton fifth and Art Klein sixth.

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