Saturday 10th January 1914
Lincoln Beachey in his Curtis biplane and racing driver Barney Oldfield in a Simplex car staged their first “Championship of the Universe” match in Everyville, California, US. The race ended when Beachey’s plane nosedived into the track. They “competed” at 35 venues around the country, including Los Angeles; Salt Lake City; Hamline, Minnesota; Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio; and Brighton Beach, New York. According to an August 13, 1914, newspaper, Beachey’s demonstration at Cincinnati’s Coney Island Amusement Park was “a dazzling and remarkable exhibition of aeroplane flights…. After a bit of skirmishing, he dropped several bombs on a battleship created on the eastern end of the infield of the race track. The bombs were directed with unerring aim while Beachey flew at great speed.” Perhaps the explosives lodged in the mock battleship helped. “Yesterday’s race between the aeroplane and automoibile,” the account continued, “was the first contest of its kind ever staged near Cincinnati, and the contestants were cheered to the echo. On the last lap Beachey was hardly more than twenty-five feet above Oldfield coming down the home stretch.” Together, Beachey and Oldfield earned more than $250,000 (figure around $6 million today) in their 1914 Championship of the Universe. Who won? I’d say Lincoln Beachey and Barney Oldfield were both champions, with thousands of spectators the winners.