Sunday, July 01, 2012

the Desert Classic, 1908-1914... the Los Angeles to Pheonix race


old US 80 started its life as the course of the wild 1913 Great Desert Race from Los Angeles to Phoenix. In preparation for the race, Locke took Barney Oldfield over the road to show him how to navigate rough desert terrain.



 Front page news, as so many publicity stunt car races were, imagine what passed for news in 1908-1914... not much. Publicity garnered by car companies getting stunts accomplished by the hardy and stamina having tough bastards that could hang in through exposure to all sorts of weather (open cars with no tops) and no roads, well this was nearly hero stuff in that age, and heroes making their way across your country is heady stuff that sold papers... everyone came out a winner. The drivers made a couple thousand per win.

That is why the 1908 New York to San Fran, the Paris to Peking, and the New York to Paris were etched in the cultural knowledge... new things that cars were, plus publicity, added to entertainment and a competition.. it's about as close to amazing as it got in 1908-1914. The times were full of historical firsts, heroes, and miracles. The first human flight in an airplane, the first roads, the first cars, etc etc


The first race was won by a steam powered White. The vehicles White made were so good, one was bought by the White House for President Taft's limo, and Buffalo Bill had one also.

 above on the far right is Barney Oldfield, and he is driving the car he took to 4th place in the Indy 500 just months before. He won the Desert Classic with it.
for more about this, see http://justacarguy.blogspot.com/2012/06/june-21st-6pm-san-diego-auto-museum-is.html

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