Two Miles a Minute Time Trials
The Two Miles a Minute Speed King time trials unfolded with edge of your seat drama at the 1906 Ormond-Daytona Beach Tournament. The auto world was eager to see if any man or any machine could go two miles in under a minute. The two mile a minute event was the much anticipated headlining event of the tournament and the winner was to be literally crowned the Speed King. On the final day of the tournament as the final event, officials staged the two mile a minute time trails. The trials pitted two distinct cars against each other – American Fred Marriott in his 50 horsepower Stanley Steamer versus Frenchman Victor Demogeot, a last-minute fill-in driver, in the 200 horsepower Darracq.
Marriott went first and ran 1 minute and 3 seconds. Then Demogeot ran 1 minute and 2/5 seconds. Being so close to the one minute barrier, each car was given another chance. Again, Marriott went first. On his second attempt Marriott lowered his time under one minute, running 59 3/5 seconds, becoming the first driver to go two miles in under one minute. However, now it was Demogeot's chance to set the record. This time Demogeot ran the two mile course in 58 4/5 seconds, officially winning the race and setting the record. Demogeot learned of his success by the roar of an elated crowd who had just witnessed automobile speed history.
Demogeot was the unlikely Speed King and perhaps the first underdog story in racing history.
Demogeot wasn't supposed to be behind the wheel of Darracq's headlining entry, the 200 horsepower, 8 cylinder car. Demogeot, a long-time Darracq mechanician, came to Ormond to serve as fellow Frenchman and Darracq star Auguste Hemery's mechanician. Early in the tournament, Hemery was suspended after a dispute with race officials. In a heat of the 5 mile open championship, Hemery was taking his Darracq out against a gasoline Fiat and a Stanley Steamer. The event was to start with a rolling start, but at the starting line while Hemery and the Fiat took off, the Steamer was not ready. The starter quickly called a false start, but there was no way to communicate the false start other than to let Hemery complete his run. In this qualifying heat, Hemery ran a time that would have been a record. However, because of the false start, the heat needed to be rerun and the times were unofficial. Hemery refused to run again and insisted that he be placed in the final. Officials refused and weren't happy with how Hemery conducted himself. Hemery was then disqualified and suspended. Without their star, Demogeot was chosen to drive the Darracq entry in the Two Mile a Minute event. The tournament was Demogeot's first time racing the large Darracq car. But Demogeot made the most of the opportunity.
Racing at Daytona has created many underdog stories, but Demogeot was the first.
The photographer apologizes, but Demogeot was going too fast for the camera.