A Mile a Minute!


All but forgotten, one of the great milestones of early automobile racing was Barney Oldfield's achievement of covering a lap on a mile track in less than a minute. Few people know about this event, and a large percentage of those that do confuse it with the first-ever achievement of traveling a mile in one minute anywhere. This was not a land speed record. Driver had been traveling a mile in one minute even before the turn of the century. The Oldfield achievement was breaking this important threshold over a track. Aside from comparing automobiles to horses - which was frequently done back then - the simple fact was that someone had been able to achieve this speed over a mile distance along a course that forced him to negotiate turns. Oldfield's barrier shattering run occurred in June of 1903 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds mile dirt horse track oval. He drove one of Henry Ford's first race cars, the "999," which was owned and maintained by his buddy and former bicycle champion, Tom Cooper. The articles you can access through the first two links in this post provide excellent coverage of this history making accomplishment and the picture below shows young Oldfield, Henry Ford and the famous "999" which resides today in the museum simply known at "The Henry Ford."
Barney Oldfield, Henry Ford and the "999"