Barney Oldfield's World Record

This is a photo of Barney Oldfield at Ormond Beach in March 1910. Oldfield, frustrated by criticisms of his "staged" barnstorming tours, wanted to assert that he was a world-class racer. He acquired what was known as the "Blitzen Benz," the German racer Frenchman Victor Hemery had driven at Brooklands in England at world record speed. On March 16, 1910 Oldfield made good on his vision, setting a new world land speed record at 131.720 miles per hour.
Ever the promoter, Oldfield had renamed the racer as "Lightning Benz," believing the name would play better in America. After taking the record, Oldfield took the car on tour across the country, reaping a fortune from curious spectators vying for a glimpse of the world's fastest machine. In May of that year, Oldfield also set the mile record on a track at the newly brick paved Indianapolis Motor Speedway. These speed records were not recognized internationally as the Automobile Club of France (ACF) stipulated that world speed records had to be the average of two runs: one from one direction of the course, the other from the opposite end. Also, there were no ACF officials present.

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