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Buick Aero Car And A Baby Car At The Cotati Speedway

Automobile racing on board track speedways began in 1910 at the Los Angeles Motordrome and ended in 1931; during this period thirty-one of the wooden tracks were constructed around the country. This photo via Isabelle Bracquemond appears to have been taken at the Cotati Speedway, a 1-1/4-mile track located in the city Santa Rosa in northern California; it was in operation for only two years between 1921 and ’22.

The Buick “Aero Car” was possibly sponsored by both the local Buick dealer and the Speedway as some of the lettering the tail fin says “Going to Cotati Speedway.” The body of the car appears to have followed aircraft construction as the side of it is covered with painted fabric. The rear of the chassis is equipped with cantilever springing, and the six-cylinder o.h.v. engine is located about two feet higher than normal and may have powered a transmission mounted below by chain drive.

The chain driven “Baby Car” on the left-hand-side of the photo is of the type as has been seen earlier on The Old Motor and appears to have been built in the same manner as the miniature Art Smith racing cars. More can be learned about small cars of this type in earlier articles.

If you can add any more information about this Buick novelty car, please comment. 


17 responses to “Buick Aero Car And A Baby Car At The Cotati Speedway

  1. Given that the driveshaft underneath still seems to be hooked up, I wonder if the propeller on the front wasn’t more of a . . . well, a prop.

  2. It appears that the engine is mounted high so a propeller could be attached to the front of the engine. Thus the “Areo” in the name.

  3. The Buick engine is not only set up high, it has been reversed and the radiator placed behind.
    Could it have had two engines, one only for the propeller?

  4. In regard to the board track, the building of them was kind of a scam as the builder would collect the money and leave the lumber company holding his rear end.

  5. This is great! I am currently collecting any/all photos I can find of the Milton-Durant Special (#2 in the background) and Ira Vail’s Leach-Miller (#3) and I had yet to see this photo. Thanks for posting it! This photo was almost certainly taken in 1921. The Milton-Durant Special and the Leach-Miller raced there on 8/14/21 and 10/23/21.

      • My grandfather, William Castle, built the Milton-Durant Special replica around an original detachable head Miller 183. It is believed that there were only two of these engines. Afterwards, they went to an integral head. One engine was in the Milton-Durant and the other in the Leach-Miller. We’ve run the car at Milwaukee each year since 2010 and expect to continue doing so.

          • No, he was an engineer at the Allison Gas Turbine Division of General Motors. His interest in vintage Indy cars came from moonlighting as a mechanic for a couple teams in the late 40s. Automobile magazine wrote an article about my grandfather and the car a few years ago.

  6. I presume the Buick is sitting there with its engine running, from the diagonal ‘shadow’. It would be interesting to know if it actually worked. I see no other references to this one on the net.
    As Robbie M said the engine is reversed, and I also wondered if there may be a second engine but I don’t think there would be enough room. I guess this was someone’s experiment and it was turned into a publicity stunt. There were quite a few odd aero cars around this time.

  7. The late Griffith Borgenson wrote quite a bit about the board tracks. They used 2 x 4 on edge to build the track surface. Of interest to me was how the track would deteriorate during the course of the event and influence the drivers path. Splinters were a ongoing threat to the driver and the machine. Imagine all those little arrows sailing around getting stuck in your tires or radiator or your head. Supposedly, the kids would sneak under the track and watch the race from the potholes. Talk about stupid and thrilling at the same time.

  8. Loook at that!.I mad about prop propelled cars (Ups!).It´s really a prop in front or as David King says …just a prop?.

  9. Board tracks were a menace, but especially for motorcycle racers where those splinters meant instant pain and disfigurement in a not to rare fall. As noted on these pages before, LA had a number of board tracks, the fastest one in Culver City.

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