The Big Race of 1910
How the first U.S. air race launched an aviation tradition.
- By Don Berliner
- Air & Space magazine, January 2010
(Page 3 of 3)
Though Paulhan was slower than Curtiss, he won more in prize money—$19,000 to Curtiss' $6,000. More than 200,000 people had turned out over the 11 days, and gate receipts were $137,520, against expenses of $115,000. (The Gordon Bennett Trophy race wouldn't be held until the year's last big air meet, at Belmont Park, Long Island, New York, from October 22 to 31; cold winds kept all but a few thousand people from attending.)
Today, there's little left of what the Los Angeles Times in 1910 called "one of the greatest public events in the history of the West." Where the hilltop grandstand once stood is now a five-million-square-foot warehouse complex called the Dominguez Technology Center. Tenants include aerospace firms TRW and Northrop Grumman, and streets around the center are named after the pilots who flew in the meet. The nearby Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum is planning displays, lectures, and other activities throughout 2010 to mark the race centennial.
The biggest legacy may be the continuing presence in southern California of the aerospace industry—the state's biggest employer. From Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works in Los Angeles to Boeing's sprawling space system offices in Huntington Beach (named for L.A.'s railroad king), the leading aerospace companies help prime the nation's economic pump near the city that welcomed America's first air race.
Don Berliner is a writer in Alexandria, Virginia.