The massive crowds in attendance at motor sport events were “treated to plenty of thrills in the way of cars catching fire, running into telegraph poles, breaking down, sliding off tires and otherwise misconducting themselves”. Swarming around the tracks and jamming into the grand stands, “speed-maddened visitors” witnessed the perils that these speed machines were subjected to. In cases of accidents, great throngs of people would rush on scene, further endangering themselves and the racers. The chances of some deadly incident were as high as the attendance at these great events. Read more about it!
The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.
The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.
|October 6, 1906||Spectators cause chaos on and off the track at the Vanderbilt Cup.|
|February 28, 1909||“Public Demands Danger” from high speed motor events.|
|July 24, 1910||Popularity of aeroplane events causes concern over deaths of audience members.|
|June 4, 1911||At the first Indianapolis 500-mile Race, the Evening Star reports that “promoters even went so far as to wager on the number of those participating in the event who would meet with death in the long grind.”|
|August 26, 1911||Crowd brushes off near death experience when the grandstand collapses. The race goes on.|
|September 22, 1911||10 people were killed at race, but the race goes on despite this fact.|
|May 31, 1912||Plane crashes into crowd because a photographer in pursuit of the perfect photo.|
|July 5, 1913||Crowd prematurely announces death of racer, storming the track even as other contestants race on.|
|November 13, 1921||Driver killed in accident. After, the crowd rushes scene and a careless spectator lights car on fire.|