Motoramic

October 25: Fighter Jack Johnson loses race to Barney Oldfield on this date in 1910

Justin Hyde
Motoramic

Such was the animus toward black Americans in 1910 that when racer Barney Oldfield agreed to a three-heat race against retired boxer and African-American raconteur Jack Johnson, the American Automobile Association not only denied a license to Johnson — necessary to make the race official at the time — but threatened to suspend Oldfield's license if the race went through. Given the nature of both men to never back down from a challenge, and the $5,000 the two had wagered, the AAA's decision only ensured the event would go as planned. On this date that year, the two raced on a dirt track in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, with Oldfield winning easily in the first two heats. "No more of that automobile racing for Jack Johnson," the fighter reportedly said. "I may be able to drive a car fast on a straight road, but I never will take any chances on the turns like Oldfield does." Oldfield would lose his license for two years, but never his search for speed:

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