1909 Portland Street Racing
During the early 1900s, car race tracks weren't yet an option. Instead, races happened on unpaved streets, later evolving into road race courses. In 1909, a few quiet Portland streets were turned into a race track, complete with crash and first-aid car.
While most of the streets named in the photo notes are no longer on a modern-day Portland map, these photos are a peek into not only early racing, but also the early layout of Portland's city streets.
The original photos are believed to have be taken by Leonard D. Merrill, and subsequently come into the possession of Ralph H. Stanley of Gresham, and then Harry Conway of Portland. When Conway passed, his brother gave them to a local racing-history enthusiast and collector. Digital images were later donated to World of Speed.
Received along with these 1909 race photos were images of Barney Oldfield, the first to drive over 60 MPH, in his race car. Another image shows him with the sports editor of The Oregonian and local race legend "Wild Bill" Fritsch at the Rose City Speedway in the early 1900s.