1909 Portland Street Racing

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. 

 

 Back of photograph reads: Intersection of Bairdsdale and Division looking SW   

Back of photograph reads: Intersection of Bairdsdale and Division looking SW

 

 Back of photograph reads: First aid car at intersection of Bairdsdale and Division looking SW   

Back of photograph reads: First aid car at intersection of Bairdsdale and Division looking SW

 

 Back of photograph reads: Top of Vance Hill looking NW   

Back of photograph reads: Top of Vance Hill looking NW

 

 Back of photograph reads: Between Bairdsdale Ave. and Stanley Ave on Division looking SE   

Back of photograph reads: Between Bairdsdale Ave. and Stanley Ave on Division looking SE

 

 Back of photograph reads: Between Bairsdale Ave. and Division St. looking SE   

Back of photograph reads: Between Bairsdale Ave. and Division St. looking SE

 

 Back of photograph reads: Railroad crossing at foot of Vance hill on Division street looking East   

Back of photograph reads: Railroad crossing at foot of Vance hill on Division street looking East

 

 

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. 

 

 Barney Oldfield at Rose City Speedway, 1900s   

Barney Oldfield at Rose City Speedway, 1900s

 

 Written on print left to right: Wild Bill Fritsch, Barney Oldfield, Sporting Editor of The Oregonian. Photo taken at the Rose City Speedway in the early 1900s.

Written on print left to right: Wild Bill Fritsch, Barney Oldfield, Sporting Editor of The Oregonian. Photo taken at the Rose City Speedway in the early 1900s.