With the dust barely settled from the July 4, 1910 60-mile endurance automobile race from Bradentown to Mitchellville and back, won by Mr. Curry in a blistering time of 2 hours and 30 minutes, plans were being made for a bigger celebration in 1911.
The next race would be from Tampa to Bradentown, covering 54 miles.
The race rules were published in the Manatee River Journal on June 22, 1911.
Rule one: The race was open to all cars with no restriction or handicaps to class and size.
Rule two: Each car must carry an observer in addition to the driver, passengers were optional.
Rule three: The race would start in Tampa at Six Mile Creek road at 8 a.m., the route would run to Riverview, Willow, Mitchellville bridge, Mill Creek bridge, Platt's bridge across the Braden River, Oneco and Manatee ending at Courthouse Square in Bradentown. Cars would start at six-minute intervals; if a car over took the car in front, the car was required to sound their car's horn within 100 feet, and the car in front would turn to the right at the first opportunity so they could be safely passed. If a car broke down or was disabled, it must be removed from the road.
Rule four: 50 points for the best time, cars were
penalized 1 point for every minute over this time; 50 points for the condition or reliability of the car at the end of the race; points were deducted: 10 points if the hood or radiator was opened during the race, 10 points for a broken spring or an axle, 10 points for colliding with another car or other object, and 10 points for injury to the car.
Rule five: Cars had to have a large number displayed on the hood or radiator, numbers would be drawn by lot and cars would start in numerical order.
Rule six: The Tampa Automobile Club would appoint a technical committee to inspect the cars before the race; the Bradentown Automobile Club would appoint the judges and technical committee in Bradentown, both clubs would award prizes and trophies. Drivers would be disqualified if they did not complete the course in the set time limit, there was no entrance fee and the race was open to nonprofessional cars and drivers.
Rule seven: The automobile may be stripped of the top, windshield and lamps.
July Fourth included a barbecue dinner for 2,000 that was free to all, and motorcycle races from the railroad crossing in Manatee down Manatee Avenue to Courthouse Square in Bradentown, with a winning prize of $25 in gold.
Automobile races sponsored by the Bradentown Automobile & Motor Boat Club would cover the same route. The championship baseball game between Bradentown and Palmetto also took place; harness races, bicycle races and special excursion rates of 75 cents round trip from St. Petersburg to Bradentown and $1 from Tampa would bring people to town for the festivities. Coffee and lemonade were free, but it was advised to bring your own cup or buy one while you were here.
After surviving the "987" bumps and the muddy roads, the racers sped into town at 45 mph, the winner of the endurance race in the Runabout Class was Harry Land's Buick 1 hour 43 minutes, in the Touring Car class was Mr. Ferman's Cadillac 1 hour and 56 minutes.
Edison Curry's Stoddard-Davton won the speed race through town in Class A, John Vanderipe's EMF automobile won in Class B with Henry Curry's Everett finishing second in Class B.
With crowd estimates at 4,000, the only event that wasn't completed was the baseball game -- it was rained out; the standing 2-0 score gave the win and the $16 in gold prize to Bradentown.
The only road race casualties were an Angora goat and a reporter. Both fell out of the Tampa Times press car; they picked up the reporter and the goat was found on the return trip.
"The only people who failed to enjoy the day were those that couldn't come or thought they had something better."
A good time was had by all, with plans already in the works for next year's great race.
Cindy Russell, records librarian at the Historical Records Library, enjoys needlework, sewing, puzzles and genealogy. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 941-741-4070.