Barney Oldfield Wins Cactus Derby

The great Los Angeles-to-Phoenix off-road races prior to World War I were wonderful entertainment. I like to think of these events as akin to the Dakar Rallies or Baja 500s of later years. In 1914 Barney Oldfield entered his Stutz Indy Car that he drove to fifth place in that year's Indianapolis 500. Many thought he was crazy to attempt such terrain with a low-slung racer designed specifically for the Brickyard. He prevailed in a fantastic story of perseverance to win a gold medal designating him "The Master Driver of the Universe." There was a lot of colorful aspects of this event, including a special event party train that ran parallel to a good portion of the course, packed with a group of hard-drinking, card playing business men who dressed not unlike today's rabid football fans and called themselves "The Howdies." Truly one of the highlights of Barney Oldfield's career.

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