Good Morning Obots!
This week’s feature will spotlight the rich history of black drivers on the racing circuit. Today we begin with the story of the Gold & Glory Sweepstakes.
In the 1920s, a group of black sportsmen created the nation’s single largest sporting event ever held by and for African Americans: the Gold and Glory Sweepstakes, a series of 100-mile auto racing events held through the U.S. from 1924-1936. On August 2, 1924, an estimated 12,000 spectators crowded into the grandstand at the Indiana State Fairgrounds dirt track to celebrate the single largest sporting event ever held for African Americans. There they witnessed a 100-mile spectacle that attracted newspapers and newsreel agencies from all over the country.
During the 1920s and ’30s, Frank Young was one of the most popular black sportswriters in America. During the inaugural year of the Gold and Glory Sweepstakes in 1924, the promoters of the Colored Speedway Association contacted Young and invited him to travel to Indianapolis and report on “the single largest sporting event ever to be held for African-American athletes.” Young could not pass up the offer. Throughout the twelve-year run of the Gold and Glory Sweepstakes, Frank Young penned some memorable quotes about the race and the race car drivers. Young’s reports even inspired promoters to christen the event The Gold and Glory Sweepstakes.
“This auto race will be recognized throughout the length and breadth of the land as the single greatest sports event to be staged annually by colored people. Soon, chocolate jockeys will mount their gas-snorting, rubber-shod Speedway monsters as they race at death defying speeds. The largest purses will be posted here, and the greatest array of driving talent will be in attendance in hopes of winning gold for themselves and glory for their Race.” – Frank Young, Chicago Defender, July 5, 1924
“This Gold and Glory event is the dawn of a new opportunity, another step forward, the brushing away of another barrier, another obstacle met and surmounted by our group in the realm of sports.” – Frank Young, Chicago Defender, August 2, 1924
“Just now everybody is buzzing about the big automobile derby in Indianapolis-the biggest sports event of the season…Now word comes from Indianapolis that twenty-six or more drivers will enter the elimination trials and on Saturday afternoon, fifteen will face the starter in the first big annual derby. It is certainly to be some race, and we are hoping that it is a whale of a success, because it opens a new field of sport for our fans, and it opens a new field for our drivers.” – Frank Young, Chicago Defender August 2, 1924
PBS has compiled a history of the races along with drivers and winners and available photos. Please visit the site to learn more about the Gold & Glory Sweepstakes.