Monday
Jan202014

November 28, 1903 - Barney Oldfield

Barney Oldfield won his first race in 1902 in this Ford Race Car, "999". The car had a steering bar, not a steering wheel. (Henry Ford Collection)On November 28, 1903, Barney Oldfield, probably the most famous race car driver of his time, made his first appearance at Association Park in San Bernardino.

In January 1903 the San Bernardino Valley Traction Company (electric streetcar company) purchased the old Cole Racetrack on Mill Street near Waterman Avenue.  Renovation plans included a large grandstand, a baseball diamond and a football field.  The racetrack that had been used for horse racing was now to include automobile racing.  The racetrack was renamed Association Park.

Barney Oldfield, a bicycle racer since 1894, became a race car driver in 1902, when he participated in and won his first automobile race driving Henry Ford's first race car, the famous "No. 999".   Some of Oldfield's racing records:

*  In June 1903, he accomplished the first mile-a-minute performance in an automobile

*  In 1903 Oldfield became the AAA American National Champion

*  In 1905 he won the National Motor Car Championship 

*  In March 1910, he set a world speed record of 131.724 miles per hour

*  In May 1916, he became the first person to lap the Indianapolis Speedway at more than 100 mph

Barney Oldfield refused to wear uniforms, often chewed cigars while he drove, talked loudly and swore often. He took his race cars to county fairs and other venues and gave the folks a show they would never forget.

On January 24, 1909, Barney Oldfield again raced at Association Park.  This time Oldfield drove his Stearns Six-Cylinder "Big Ben" against Gus Seyfried and his famous "White Flyer".