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The Upcoming San Diego Exposition Road Race Centennial

On Saturday, January 10, 2015, the San Diego area Horseless Carriage Club of America regions will be gathering to commemorate the centennial of the San Diego Exposition Road Race. The event will be held at the San Diego Automotive Museum in Balboa Park and included in the activities will be a day-long car show and a tour of the original race course.

On Jan. 9, 1915, the 300 mile road race was held on a 5.982 mile course beginning at Point Loma. The race coincided with the opening of the 1915 Panama California Exposition at Balboa Park. Star racing drivers Barney Oldfield, Eddie Rickenbacker, Earl Cooper, Eddie O’Donald and Bob Burman were in the lineup of the eighteen cars that started.

Richard Crawford at the San Diego Union Tribune summed up the running of the event: “Five drivers would finish the grueling race. Oldfield dropped out after his fire. Rickenbacker was done after 23 laps with a broken rod. Cooper, driving a Stutz, took the lead at lap 24 and never gave it up. He finished in 4 hours, 40 minutes – at an average speed of 65.3 mph. San Diego’s Billy Carlson and his Maxwell took second place and established a world endurance record by driving the entire 305 mile race without a pit stop”. Read more of Crawford’s excellent accounting of race at the San Diego Union Tribune.

The photo at the top of the post shows: Glover Ruckstell in the No. 4 Mercer pursued by Eddie Rickenbacher in the No. 7 Peugeot, followed by Fred McCarthy in the No. 9 Peugeot with Earl Cooper the eventual winner bringing up the rear in his No 8 Stutz.

You can learn more about the event at website for the San Diego Exposition Road Race Centennial. All of the images in this post are courtesy of the organizers of the event.

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  • An original layout of the 5.982 mile race course.
  • The 1915 San Diego Exposition Road Race
  • The racers lined up for the start.
  • The 1915 San Diego Exposition Road Race
  • A scene from one of the straight sections of the course where speeds of up to 100 m.p.h. were reached.
  • A Peugeot at The 1915 San Diego Exposition Road Race.
  • Fred McCarthy and his Peugeot out on the 42nd lap with a broken connecting rod.
  • Earl Cooper and his Stutz at The 1915 San Diego Exposition Road Race.
  • Earl Cooper the eventual winner in his Stutz followed by Billy Carlson and his Maxwell.

6 responses to “The Upcoming San Diego Exposition Road Race Centennial

  1. Did you notice the chock under the rear wheel of McCarthy’s Peugeot? In lieu of a handbrake it was placed there to stop the car rolling forward while they worked on the engine. I doubt if they carried such a heavy piece of wood in the race, so it was probably lent to them by one of the nearby spectators from their own car.

  2. Thank you very much for helping us get the word out about this fun event in San Diego. We had a fantastic time. We particularly enjoyed the people waving flags and cheering along the race tour route. Many of our participants said that while they always like doing these shows and tours, the participation and enthusiasm of the public makes these events lifetime memories.

    Horseless Carriage Clubs of San Diego

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