Land Speed Record Centennial
1906 ~ 2006
Ormond Beach, Florida
Photos by Chuk Williams
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These 5 photos by Pat Farrell
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The Land Speed Record Centennial Celebration was huge fun and quite a success. There were approximately fifty steam cars there, with about ten early gas cars also attending. The Stanley Museum and the City of Ormond Beach had organized a nice big parking lot alongside the headquarters hotel for the cars to be stored and displayed-which worked out very well. The NE SACA group was very well represented, with 16 members attending…the NW Steam Society also had quite a few members present. Pat Farrell had brought his Mountain Wagon all the way from Northern Washington-when he did the tours, there were 10-12 people aboard!
Three Vanderbilt replicas were there… Almost all the steam cars were Stanleys, with the exception of one Toledo and one Doble. The Toledo ran around giving everyone rides, but the Doble had superheater problems and wasn’t driven at all. The owner had shipped it in from the UK-twas a shame the car didn’t get to participate in the tours or the Centennial Event on the beach.
Wednesday was the first real day of the Event, with the Loop Tour during the day and the Reception at the Casements in the evening. The cars were all displayed under the lights, with free food and drink supplied by the Carrabbas Grill.
Thursday-100 years-to the day-after Marriott set the Land Speed Record, the wind was blowing at 15 knots from the north-directly onshore….the sky was clear and the sun was out, but conditions on the beach weren’t very good at all until around 9:30. The Centennial Reenactment was scheduled to begin at 10 am-by that time, there was approximately 75 feet of dry hard sand along the water’s edge—just enough! George Nutz and I were “Race Staff”-we helped with crowd control and such-and had a very good vantage point!
The Rocket was first down the beach, with a Stanley driving…Great-granddaughter of one of the Stanley twins. A Marriott descendent also piloted the Rocket for a run-both drivers giving us a real glimpse of history. The other cars-both Steam and Gas-lined up single file and were given a green flag to begin their run down the beach-each car running alone. A checkered flag marked the end of the 1/8th mile course, with a radar unit giving a readout of each car’s speed as they passed. The condition of the sand was such that speed was limited to 20-30 mph, and even though everyone was disappointed that we didn’t see any real speed, the beautiful day and the fabulous cars made up for it.
After the beach Event, the crowd made their way back to the Birthplace of Speed Park, where the cars were displayed while we had a picnic lunch. After lunch there was a dedication of the monument commemorating the Record set by Marriott in the Stanley Rocket. Later that evening , we attended a very nice dinner at the Oceanside Country Club.
Friday dawned blustery and cool-but was bright and sunny. The longest tour of the Celebration departed at 9am, with quite a few cars participating. They headed off to St. Augustine-50 miles to the north-with everyone bundled up and ready for the cold-I heard later that the trip was a very cold one. That evening one of the local auto enthusiasts treated everyone in the steam group to a barbeque at his very nice “Warehouse”, which was a large 3 bay garage with several 60’s vehicles displayed inside. Quite impressive when you realize that there were probably 200 people there-enjoying the food, drink, and great conversation….
Saturday morning I said goodbye to everyone and headed home-about three hours away. This was the first large steam car event I’ve ever attended, and I was quite impressed with both the cars and the people owning them. The Stanley Museum and the city of Ormond Beach did a very good job with the organization and handling of the event.
Meeting people for the first time that I already knew thru the internet was a real treat as well as seeing the Rocket run down the beach under its own steam!!