Oldfield, Harroun, DePalma Star - Playa Del Rey 1910

This article was published in the April 16, 1910 Indianapolis Star.
The attached article is additional coverage of the inaugural race meet at America's first board track for auto racing, Playa Del Rey. The race meet extended from April 8 to April 17. Other articles about the race meet can be found elsewhere on First Super Speedway:

The style of journalistic coverage of the day is evident in the attached article as the focus is on the accidents that occurred during the day of racing events. This is true even though the mishaps were not particularly serious with thankfully no one injured. In a ten-mile free-for-all race Ben Kirscher, leading with the Barney Oldfield-owned 1905 Darracq, lost a tire and skidded to a halt. Young millionaire amateur Caleb Bragg - who was building his reputation as a formidable driving talent - skirted the tire with his privately owned Fiat
A second accident occurred during the longest contest of the day, a fifty-miler. Joe Nikrent, a west coast driving star driving a Buick, broke a steering knuckle and slid off the high banked wood plank track. The article notes that the banking helped direct the car to the infield instead of allowing its momentum to carry it over the outside retaining fence. Again, while the accident probably provided observers a brief thrill but was of little consequence apart from the disappointment of the driver and team as well as the mechanics who had extra work to do. Still, the sensationalism of the newspapers probably served to sell the new sport as an exciting diversion.
Today we would expect the headline to focus on the winning efforts of the drivers who enjoyed success at the meet. The biggest, longest race of the day was the fifty-miler and it was won by none other than Ray Harroun. Harroun, who led a Marmon one-two finish in the contest, had enjoyed success during the multi-day race meet. A point worth noting, though, is that there were short fields in these races. The fifty-miler had only four entries and aside from the Buick that spun out there was a Chalmers entry. This car suffered some kind of mechanical malfunction and had a prolonged pit stop. A driver identified only as "Wade" was in the second-place Marmon.
Oldfield, always a favorite of the fans and much of the newspapermen, won the stock chassis ten-mile race for cars of 451-600 cubic inch displacement. There can be little doubt this was extemely satisfying for the stogie-chomping hard case as he prevailed over his nemesis Ralph DePalma who finished second. In what must have been a spectacular visual DePalma's unnamed riding mechanic rode astride the hood of his racer while it roared along at over 85 MPH. Exactly why he chose to do that is unclear but it was most likely an effort to distribute weight for better handling.
Buick driver Nikrent did enjoy success as he established a new American speedway record in the 161 to 230 cubic inch displacement class for ten miles. Farmer Bill Endicott drove a Cole to the runner-up finish in this competition. A nice summary list of all the races of the day is presented at the conclusion of the article and contains the information that appears below. Note that while the article fails to mention that DePalma won two ten-mile contests.

PlayaDelRey041610.pdf331.57 KB