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Cycle Car Racing

This is one of a series of cycle car racing photos that we were very fortunate to obtain. These little pint sized racers where actually raced by young boys in support races. These photos were taken in Los Angeles, were they raced at Ascot Park (see thumbnails below), it is also known that they raced along with the Vanderbilt Cup event in San Francisco in 1915 and also at the Tacoma Speedway in Washington. A few of these children went on to become famous drivers and we have one more photo we will post soon of Harry Hartz, who went on to become a national AAA champion. One of the cars in the photo above is lettered Mercer and right next to it is a Stutz. We also have posted an interesting photo of  a car that was sponsored by the Thiem Motor Cycle Co. The Old Motor photos.

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One response to “Cycle Car Racing

  1. These ‘kid races’ are worthy of a lot more attention than they seem to have had. Some of the leading ‘big car’ drivers gave their time to getting racing going for boys up to and including 16 years (sometimes 18 years) and sometimes using cars they had to have made themselves (but take that with a pinch of salt).

    The best contemporary accounts I have found have been in local newspapers such as the Venice Daily Standard which gives chapter and verse on what may be the first such race around the streets of Venice CA on Saturday 10 January 1914. Described as the “Junior Vanderbilt” this seems to have become a generic term for subsequent races. This event was also the scene of the first movie released with Charles Chaplin in his famous role as ‘the tramp’. The following day there was a “pushmobile” contest and the starting ramp for this, and boys practising, can be seen in the Chaplin film.

    There was supposed to be another race on a 2mile course around Venice on Washington’s birthday but I don’t think there was. There was one on the streets of Culver City on 21 March and a report of that mentions future events both at Tacoma and the San Francisco exposition so somebody was doing some serious planning. Barney Oldfield, Earl Cooper, Teddy Tetzloff and Frank Verbeck were named as officials in advertisments for the Culver City event which was clearly more of a demonstration. Thereafter there seems to have been quite a bit of activity on closed tracks around southern California as well as the major events at San Francisco and Tacoma.

    It seems many of the boys went with Art Smith as part of a touring circus to Japan and maybe elsewhere in 1916 and then I guess the war put an end to it all for a while. There clearly was some activity post-war but I do not yet know how it was organised. Some of what may be the same cars are at the early ‘midget’ races in 1933.

    More information would be welcome and I’ll gladly post more of what I collected if there is interest and I can work out how to do it. It would be interesting to know of a forum where this little topic can be discussed.

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