At first glance Grand Boulevard seems a quaint oddity. A perfect circle, with a circumference just over 2.75 miles, it’s the rationale for Corona’s tagline as the “Circle City.” But, a century ago, giants roared here.
The occasions were the Corona Road Races, held in 1913, ’14 and ’16. At the time it seemed people couldn’t get enough of seeing fast, powerful, roaring racing cars and the extraordinarily brave men who climbed behind the wheels and held open the throttles.
In 1912 Corona civic leaders and business interests started working up a plan and the race was set for Sept. 9, 1913. The total purse was $11,000 and it attracted the best drivers. Estimates for the crowd count ran as high as 100,000. The main race was won by Earl Cooper in a Stutz and the event was considered a huge success.
The last Corona Race was held on a steamy April 8, 1916. From the beginning, it seemed to not go well with only an estimated 25,000 people in attendance and the heat causing trouble for the track, the cars, and the tires. The end of Corona racing came when Bob Burman, one of the leading drivers of the day, had a huge wreck which ended his life as well as his riding mechanic and a security guard.
Today there is only one indication that races once took place here. On Grand Boulevard, at the intersection with Washburn, on the sidewalk bordering Corona Fundamental Intermediate School is a brick and concrete monument. It marks the Start/Finish line of the races.
On Sept. 14, 2013, the City of Corona will celebrate the Centennial of the Corona Road Race. Whether you’re a racing fan, a follower of southern California history, or a citizen of Corona, it won’t be an event that you will want to miss. There won’t be a race, but it will be a day celebrating a part of Corona’s past.
The day will begin with a procession of vintage race cars from that era around Grand Boulevard beginning at 9 a.m. on the original Start/Finish Line for the race.
From there the celebration will continue at City Park [MAP], which is also celebrating its Centennial, with a festival and car show from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Events at City Park will include: music and entertainment, food, vendors, a Pinewood Derby, and more!
The City is currently seeking entrants for the car show – all years, makes and models of cars are welcome! Registration for the event can be found at www.WorldClassMotoring.com. The registration fee before Sept. 7 is $20 and $25 the day of the event. For additional information on the car show, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-818-706-9999. Vendor space is also available.
While the days of cars driven by racing giants around Grand Boulevard have faded into the City’s illustrious past, we invite you to celebrate an event 100 years in the making on Saturday, Sept.14 at City Park!