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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Pre-WWII Racing


The New York Times
December 19, 1909

Lack of Financial Interest Likely to Cause Abandonment of Meet.

The once famous Florida beach races are likely to be a thing of the past, as it is doubtful if a tournament is to be given on the record-breaking sands this Winter.  The automobile tournaments were started by W. J. Morgan of New York in 1902, when he went to Florida to look at the beach he had heard about, thinking that it would be a good safe place for automobile racing.

Motoring history records the fact that his judgment was correct, as the beach now holds all world's records from 1 to 300 miles, the only record of any importance that it does not hold being the kilometer which was recently broken on the Brooklands three-mile track in London by Hemery.  The mile record of the world, and the two-mile record, 28 1-5 and 58 4-5 seconds, were made on the Florida beach, which extends from Ormond to Mosquito Inlet, 16 miles, and which gives a level stretch of sand as hard as adamant, and yet as level as a billiard table, and anywhere from 200 to 300 feet wide at low tide.

The tournaments have been largely financed by the people of Ormond and Daytona, and prizes donated.  The raising of money has become harder each year, and the glory of the 1904, 1905, and 1906 tournaments have largely departed, due chiefly to a lack of support by those benefited by the tournaments.

There is no particular reason why there should be any tournament in Florida this Winter, as there are no records of importance, and the time of the year which is preferred by the residents on the famous beach is not satisfactory to the manufacturers of automobiles, as they are getting ready and shipping their new year's product.  If a tournament is given it is suggested the last of January or early February and not in March as formerly.  All of the best records have been made in late January and early in February.

Some $50,000 has been donated in prizes by prominent sportsmen for the Florida races by such people as William K. Vanderbilt, Jr., Sir Thomas R. Dewar, Col. R. C. Clowry, H. L. Bowden, L. C. Weir, W. Gould Brokaw, William P. Clide, Charles R. Ryan, Charles C. Burgoyne, The Minneapolis Automobile Club, The Automobile Club of America, George W. Young, Howard Gould, and other prominent gentlemen and associations donated a wealth of prizes for the tournaments in the early days.

Savannah has also given up the idea of a big race, it seems.  Harvey W. Granger, who is one of the few big men of Savannah, and who was mainly responsible for the famous 1908 international race in his city, said we have abandoned the race proposition for this year, and until we are assured of foreign drivers entering a race here we will refrain from promotion of another contest.

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