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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Pre-WWII Racing


The New York Times
February 29, 1920

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 28.-Jimmy Murphy, a new driver, won the Los Angeles Speedway opening event of 250 miles and captured the $10,000 first money today.  His time was 2 hours 26 minutes 17 69-100 seconds.

Ira Vail was second and Joe Thomas third.  Murphy's average speed was 103.2 miles an hour.

Murphy long had been known to automobile racing men as a mechanician, but made his initial Western appearance as a driver today.  Murphy came from behind when Joe Boyer, who had been in front for forty-four laps, was forced to the pits by a broken connecting rod that put him out of the race.

Vail captured $6,000 in prize money and Thomas won $3,000.  The newspaper scorers all had Thomas in ahead of Vail, but the official timing device gave the latter a shade the better of it by about seven seconds.

No serious accidents marred the race.  A thrill was sent through the stands when Art Klein and his mechanician skidded on the end turn of the big oval after a front wheel had collapsed.  The car rocked and bounced along, throwing both of them clear.  No other drivers were near and neither man was hurt.  Both walked back to the pits, passing two ambulances and a staff of doctors that had started on a run for the spot when the crash took place.

One surprise to race followers was the failure of Ralph de Palma to finish in the money.  De Palma had much tire trouble, was in the pits every few laps, and finished well down the list.

Eddie Pullen stayed out in front of the field for 170 laps, then dropped out of second place and the race, because of engine trouble.  Among other drivers who were forced out by mechanical trouble were Ralph Mulford, Cliff Durant and Roscoe Sarles.  Sarles, however, finished the race in the place of driver Ken Goodson and won fourth place.

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