Grand Blvd, in Corona.....
Built for Commerce, and one of a kind....And Racing?
Grand Blvd in Corona was built in 1896 as a one of a kind road for a one of a kind city, Corona....Known as the Circle City, the City Fathers of Corona envisioned there city as the crossroads of the Inland Empire.....and they wanted something that would remind citizens around the area of that image, so they hired an Anaheim Engineer by the name of Kellogg, to build the perfect round road, and he did.
Grand Blvd is a perfect circle, built at a time when there were no helicopters or airplanes to survey the area, it was all done by trianglezation of Longitude and Horizontal lines on the maps of the time....He succeeded in building a perfect circle, exactly 3 miles round, measured by driven cars for measurement.
It was and still is the only perfect circle street in southern California and unique to the Inland Empire and in fact to the entire southern California area.
In 1912, city fathers got together with several international known racing figures and decided they wanted to do something special with Grand Blvd....What they decided on was a road race, a rally of sorts, but closer akin to the Grand Pre races held in Europe at that time.
After much discussion, it was decided that the first race was to be held in 1913 and would be called the Corona Road Race....Messages were sent around the world to racing fans announcing the race and on September 9, 1913, 25 cars lined up at the starting line, with over 100,000 racing fans in attendance.. For a small town of 5,000 residents, that was quite a jump in population. The city fathers were ecstatic.
The likes of Barney Oldfield, Ralph DePalma, Earl Cooper and the one and only terrible Teddy Tetzlaff showed up for the race and made a rousing success.. As far as the city fathers were concerted....The first purse was only $3500.00, a lot then to the average person but not to the racing kings of that era, who were used to more like $10,000 purses.
The race was run again in 1914, 1915 and 1916, with slowly dwindling results.. Plus a car accident in 1916, where a speeding race car went off the road and crashed into a crowd in front of a home, killing and injuring several people, didn't help either, and war clouds were on the horizon....1916 was the beginning of the war in Europe, we weren't in it yet but war jitters and problems with money and the resulting lawsuits from the car accident, killed the race forever.
During the late 1990's there was talk of the trying to get the race up and running again but talks fell through with promoters and city officials, due to concerns with traffic, the condition of the roadway, and resident complaints....After that brief buzz of interest, nothing has ever been said about reviving the Corona Road Race.