STORIES FROM THE BEACH

Trophy Girl

As part of the 1906 tournament excitement the Jacksonville Times Union held a contest to find the prettiest girl in Florida to be given the honor of crowning the speed king. Mary Simrall, a teenager from Ormond, won the public vote to earn the honor of crowning Victor Demogeot the speed king. For winning the contest Simrall and her chaperone were hosted by the Florida East Coast Automobile Association for the tournament, receiving transportation to the tournament, the opportunity to ride in the Times Union car in the parade for the speed king, and a medal commemorating the event. 

Fiery Finish

The Blitzen Benz that Barney Oldfield and Bob Burman drove to records at Daytona Beach came to a spectacular end in December 1912. In a 1 mile time trial run on the west coast, with Burman behind the wheel, the car caught fire. Burman stood up in the car to avoid the fire and after he crossed the line in 28 seconds, he stopped the car and hopped out in front of the grandstand. Burman pushed the car into the Pacific Ocean to extinguish the fire.

You Can't Be Right All the Time

In 1905 the Daytona Gazette reported from an interview with W.J. Morgan that the days of racing on the circle tracks was passing. The paper attributed track racing’s demise to the danger, represented by a series of recent causalities. The paper predicted lawmakers would intervene to ban track racing. (They also expected football to be banned.)

 “It is no wonder then that drivers, newspapers, manufacturers, and sportsmen generally demand that the scene of races be shifted to a place where human life will not be endangered and indirectly the future of the sport be placed in serious jeopardy.”

Tip of the Cap

W.K. Vanderbilt Jr. gained international acclaim from  noted French driver Henry Fournier prior to the 1904 races. It wasn’t Vanderbilt’s record-breaking speed that impressed Fournier the most. While going a mile a minute Vanderbilt was able to raise his cap to salute his wife while driving by. Fournier wouldn’t dare take such a risk.

That's Another Word for It

The Ormond-Daytona area became a haven for automobile lovers in the early 1900s, but the new machines were not immediately embraced by all residents. When J.F. Hathaway’s car spooked a horse on the beach in 1900, one local had a more colorful name for the automobile – hell cart.

Faster than a Camera Flash

In 1906 the focus of the Ormond-Daytona tournament was on achieving a speed of two miles a minute. At the tournament Fred Marriott exceeded the 120 mile per hour barrier when he drove to the mile record. How fast was he going? Marriott was traveling too fast to photograph as one journalist from Minneapolis said: “There are no shutter, plates or lens sufficiently rapid to eliminate motion such as this, but the effort is worthy of trial.”

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