Auto Racing

Early auto racing in Santa Monica, 1912. Source: Los Angeles Public Library

Early auto racing in Santa Monica, 1912. Source: Los Angeles Public Library

In the early 20th century, auto racing attracted droves of tourists to Santa Monica, prompting new businesses to open and others to expand. The first Santa Monica road race, organized by the Automobile Dealers Association of Southern California, took place in 1909. Eager to test their cars and gain publicity, early auto manufacturers and dealers encouraged racing in many communities. Santa Monica officials, seeing road racing as a means of attracting tourists and new residents, were anxious to join the trend, and volunteered to build temporary grandstands and other amenities for the races. Thousands of spectators flooded in to Santa Monica for the West Coast’s first major automobile race, during which stripped-down stock cars circled a course that began on Ocean Avenue, traveled up modern-day Wilshire Boulevard to San Vicente Boulevard, and returned to the start/finish line on Ocean Avenue.