ABOUTTWO MILES A MINUTE
Two Miles a Minute tracks the history of the earliest days of racing on the beaches of Ormond and Daytona, Florida. With America’s automobile fascination in its infancy, men brought their fastest machines to the beach to see how fast they could go in the near perfect conditions. Year-after-year records were set and limits once thought unbreakable were broken. The site gets its name from one of the most significant barriers broken on the beach – driving a car two miles in one minute.
Two Miles a Minute isn’t a re-posting of race results and speed records, although there are elements of that. Instead, Two Miles a Minute focuses on understanding the story around the races. The site tracks the struggle to pull the races together, highlights the biggest headlines of the annual meets, and introduces you to the men who made the events successful.
Key Site Content
Start your journey through the site on the Timeline. The timeline traces the history of the annual Ormond-Daytona Automobile Tournament from the inaugural running in 1903 up until 1912 when the tournament faded. The timeline tells you who won the big events and set the important records and also introduces you to the major stories and controversies of the event.
The Tournament section gives you an insight into what it took to pull off the annual tournament. This section dives into why the beaches were the ideal location for the speed tournament. This section also introduces you to the men who founded Ormond-Daytona beach racing and made it a success. In spite of the beaches’ advantages for fast times, traveling to the races in an era without air travel or a reliable road system was a challenge. Learn how 4 men met that challenge and received a heroes’ welcome.
The Drivers section introduces you to some of the biggest stars of auto racing in the early 1900s. From the beloved Bob Burman to the controversial Barney Oldfield, the personalities made the racing more exciting. Learn how one driver’s mother proved that embarrassing your children is timeless.
Facts, Figures, and Fun
Finally, this section takes you beyond the cars and gives you a look at the character of early beach racing. Find out how much a record-breaking car would cost you in today’s dollars. Meet Ormond-Daytona’s first trophy girl. See how the drivers and promoters would describe the events in their own, very colorful, words.
Building Two Miles a Minute
All of the content of the site was built with information gathered from the Chronicling America database. By referencing newspaper articles of the day, we’re able to go back in time and feel like we’re there on the beach with Oldfield, Burman, Morgan, and Hathaway. Florida and New York newspapers offered significant amounts of coverage of the events, but the national appeal of the events is reflected in the newspapers referenced from across the country. On the Resources page you’ll find a list of the papers referenced to create this site. Those links give you a chance to explore the history for yourself.
Prior to beginning the research for this site I was a rookie on the subject of the early days of auto racing on Florida’s beaches. A long-time NASCAR fan I knew the story of beach racing in the 1930s and 1940s that led to NASCAR’s formation, but I wasn’t familiar with the racing in the early 1900s in the same location. By using the Chronicling America database I was able to reconstruct some of this early racing history. Along the way I laughed at the references to reckless, record-breaking speed - that is slower than our speed limits today. I marveled at how such a large, international tournament was pulled off annually without the technological conveniences we enjoy today, like email, Internet, television, and ubiquitous telephone service. And I admired the visionary men who became racers and race promoters in a time when Americans were seeing automobiles for the first time.
Two Miles a Minute takes you on a trip back in time to an era where cars were a mystery and a miracle. However, most strikingly, as you review their struggles and successes in the early 1900s, you realize how little automobile racing has changed. Strong personalities still drive excitement. Limits are continuously broken. Drivers and owners refuse to sit back and watch their competition accelerate past them. Money, weather, and defining the rules are all still major challenges. Two Miles a Minute is a reminder of what racing was like in the earliest days and a reminder of how little the sport has changed.