David Bruce Brown
David Bruce Brown was a young millionaire who became enchanted with driving fast and proved to be a strong competitor on the U.S. auto racing scene during his very brief career. Bruce Brown was born to a wealthy family in New York City on August 13, 1887. On Memorial Day 1907 Bruce Brown made his first racing starts at the Empire City track. He drove his own 1907 Oldsmobile to a couple of wins at the track, but more importantly he caught the attention of Emmanuel Cedrino, an Italian racer, who was also competing at the track.
Cedrino invited Bruce Brown to accompany him to the annual Ormond-Daytona beach tournament the next winter. As the racing crowd gathered in the winter of 1908 at Ormond-Daytona, Bruce Brown’s mother back in New York discovered her son had run away from his school in Connecticut. His monther assumed he had gone to Florida for the annual racing tournament and intervened to try to stop him from racing.
Mrs. Bruce Brown telegraphed the event’s referee Robert Lee Morrell to relay the message that Bruce Brown was not to race or participate in the time trials. Obeying Mrs. Bruce Brown’s command, Morrell told Bruce Brown he was not to even drive on the beach. However, Cedrino, Bruce Brown, and a group of accomplices pulled off a switch. While a group of men surrounded and distracted Morrell, Cedrino and Bruce Brown swapped places behind the wheel and Bruce Brown set off on a mile run before he could be stopped. On that run Bruce Brown would set the amateur mile record.
Following his Florida beach racing debut in 1908, Bruce Brown set more new records at Ormond-Daytona in 1909 and continued to make a name for himself on the American racing scene. Bruce Brown was on a roll, winning hill climbing races at Shingle Hill Climb at New Haven, CT and Giants Despair Hill climb at Wilkes Barre, PA. He finished 3rd in the 1911 Indianapolis 500, and had a strong 3rd place finish (that was later disqualified for illegal fueling) at the 1912 French Grand Prix.
Bruce Brown was killed in a racing accident in Milwaukee, WI in October 1912 as he prepared for the Vanderbilt Cup event. While driving over the course in tune up events, Bruce Brown’s Fiat machine blew a tire at a speed of 90 mph on the narrow road course.
Sadly Bruce Brown’s mother this time found herself on the receiving end of a message from the track as she received a long-distance phone call from Milwaukee informing her of her son’s tragic death.