Friday 27th February 1914
Ralph DePalma beat his arch-rival Barney Oldfield to win the 9th Vanderbilt Cup in Santa Monica, California. Equipped with enormous engines and almost no suspension or steering technology, the pre-World War I US race car was a hunk of metal on wheels capable of propelling itself over 60mph on dirt tracks. Driving the cars was as much a test of brute strength and raw courage as it was a test of skill. Death was commonplace during early motor races, so perhaps it is no surprise that races between Barney Oldfield and Ralph DePalma attracted so much attention. The rivalry came to a head during the 1917 match races between the two men. Large-scale racing had been halted due to World War I, but head-to-head match races commanded considerable crowds. Oldfield, driving the Harry Miller designed “Golden Submarine,” an aluminium-framed technological wonder, defeated DePalma and his more traditional Packard, powered by a 12 cylinder aircraft engine.