The First Recorded Auto Racing Accident In History?

Blazing speeds, roaring engines, open wheels, and a leather cap for protection. The competition is fierce and the drivers are fearless reaching speeds of 120 MPH. While the title of the video claims its the first recorded auto racing accident, we found older on Youtube. However, this is still an interesting video. 

Photo Courtesy of Tacoma Public Library

One of those drivers in this video is one of the most hardcore Chevrolet racers ever, driving the number 7 Frontenac. That driver is Mr. Louis Chevrolet himself, Co-founder of Chevrolet Motors.  He also founded Frontenac Motors, which is what we see him racing in during this video. 

The year is 1919 in the month of September. The racing is taking place at the now famous Coney Island. There isn’t much to the video that’s posted on Motor Sports Retro, but we see Mr. Chevrolet’s race car catch fire, where he pulled off the track ending his race. The fire must have reached the drivers compartment because you can see Louis standing up about to bail ship. I would guess these cars lacked any sort of fire extinguisher or system to extinguish flames, so the car probably went up in flames unless a fire truck was standing by. 

Back during these races, the mechanic would actually ride with the driver as well. His mechanic is K.W. Gooding and would make repairs on the track, fixing flat tires or whatever else needed to be fixed. Hopefully in this video he’s carrying a fire extinguisher! 

This black and white footage should Louis racing at the age of 41 years old. Shortly after this race he retired and no longer competed.  Towards the end of the video we can see a car spin out, go up and hit the wall. There appears to be minimal damage to the car, but no further information provided. 

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About the author

Tim King

Tim grew up in the garage with his Father. From those early years grew a passion for anything with a motor. Helping his Dad and brother restore a '67 Nova is what fueled Tim’s passion for cars. At the age of 15 he bought his first car, a 1966 Chevelle which he still owns to this day. That car started his journey into the automotive world where he’s done just about everything, from being an auto mechanic to an aftermarket Sales Manager. Not only is he a gear head, but he also holds two Bachelors degrees from Cal State San Bernardino.
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