While news reports abound with the proposal of a Bricktown Grand Prix auto race, the idea of racing high speed automobiles on Oklahoma City streets is not a new one.
“When the whir and whizz of automobiles, running in international races on the asphalt road known as the Grand boulevard of Oklahoma City, disturb the stillness of 1911 then the park board may rest–and not ’til then.
In their (the park board members) dream, or rather plan–for it is mapped out now, and grading is underway–they have conceived of a road 200 feet wide, interlaid with trees and flowers, an endless path of unobstructed ease for those who would drive and drive and drive.”
The Oklahoman Dec 12, 1909, story further described their dream:
“On this primrose path there will be none of the grade crossings, nor the halting unpleasantness of hucksters, pedestrians, sand piles and street cars that befuddle and make stuffy the streets of cities. Overhead and underneath, the vehicles which pass the course of the boulevard will go over viaducts and through tunnels.
On the auto-course road rules alone governing directions will restrict. Not only will there be no limit to speed but driving to the best power of the machine will be encouraged.”
As history and current experience shows, Grand Boulevard never quite reached the high expectations of those early leaders.
When Oklahoma City finally staged the Southwest Sweepstakes Race in April 29, 1915, the racers, including the famed Barney Oldfield, did not race on Grand Boulevard. The racetrack, 2.404 miles long, was laid out on Linwood Boulevard. The winner of the 200-mile race was “Wild Bob” Burman, and there were only two slight accidents. Burman received $2,500.
When Grand Prix racing comes to Bricktown, the prize money will be greater, but the excitement for the crowds will be much the same.