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100 years since the Corona Road Races

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Wed, Sep 11, 2013

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

1913 Corona Race by Hector Cademartori

HOT WIRE—At first glance, Grand Boulevard in Corona, California may seem like a quaint oddity: A perfect circle, with a circumference just over 2.75 miles. It’s the reason for Corona’s tagline as the “Circle City.” But, a century ago, giants roared here. The occasions were the Corona Road Races, held in 1913, ’14 and ’16. At the time, people couldn’t get enough of seeing fast, powerful, roaring racing cars, and the extraordinarily brave men who climbed behind the wheels. In 1912, Corona civic leaders and business interests started working up a plan for a race to be held on September 9, 1913. The total purse was $11,000, and it attracted the best drivers. Estimates for the crowd count ran as high as 100,000. The main race was won by Earl Cooper in a Stutz, and the event was considered a huge success. The last Corona Race was held on a steamy April 8, 1916. From the beginning, it seemed to not go well with only an estimated 25,000 people in attendance and the heat causing trouble for the track, the cars, and the tires. The end of Corona racing came when Bob Burman, one of the leading drivers of the day, had a huge wreck which ended his life as well as his riding mechanic and a security guard. Today there is only one indication that races once took place here. On Grand Boulevard, at the intersection with Washburn, on the sidewalk bordering Corona Fundamental Intermediate School is a brick and concrete monument. It marks the Start/Finish line of the races. On September 14, 2013, the City of Corona will celebrate the Centennial of the Corona Road Race. Whether you’re a racing fan, a follower of Southern California history, or a citizen of Corona, it will be an event that the city does not want you to miss. There won’t be a race, but it will be a day celebrating a part of Corona’s past. The day will begin with a procession of vintage race cars from that era around Grand Boulevard, beginning at 9:00 a.m. on the original Start/Finish Line for the race. From there, the celebration will continue at City Park, 930 E. Sixth Street, which is also celebrating its Centennial with a festival and car show from 10:00 a.m. through 4:00 p.m. Events at City Park will include music, entertainment, food, vendors and a Pinewood Derby. For additional information on the car show, email [email protected] or call 1-818-706-9999. Vendor space is also available. While the days of cars driven by racing giants around Grand Boulevard may have faded into the past, the city invites Southern Californians to celebrate an event 100 years in the making on Saturday, September 14th at City Park. About the painting The oil on canvas painting is by artist Hector Cademartori in commemoration of the 100 year anniversary of the 1913 Corona race, the first of the three events around the Grand Blvd circle in downtown Corona—along with Santa Monica, it’s the first of the races in California. The painting shows the winner of the Free for All, Earl Cooper on a Stutz, followed by Barney Oldfield (Mercer) and Ted Tetzlaff (Fiat). The original 30x40 painting is priced at $5,000. For more information, contact the artist at Motor Racing Art, 2884 Roosevelt Street, La Verne. CA 91750. 909.593.8424. For more information about the 100 year celebration, go to

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