SEMA News - May 2009
By Drew Hardin
Photo Courtesy Source Interlink Media Archives
Years before Bill France Sr. organized stock car racing on Florida’s most famous beach, stock cars of a different sort went wheel to wheel on tracks around the country. The idea was to pit cars in showroom-floor tune—primarily Fords, as it turned out— against one another to demonstrate their performance chops for prospective buyers. Think of it as “win on Sunday, sell on Monday,” the early years.
One of those races, the Gilmore Gold Cup, was held in February 1934 on a 1.9-mile track at Mines Field in Los Angeles, an area that’s now part of the Los Angeles International Airport. Some 60,000–75,000 people turned out to watch the 250-mile event, which took four hours to finish. Stubby Stubblefield’s ’33 Ford roadster was declared the Gold Cup winner, with an average speed of 62.37 mph.
Another Mines Field entrant was this ’34 Ford roadster driven by Shorty Cantlon and sponsored by W. I. Tupman, then a downtown Los Angeles Ford dealer. We haven’t been able to dig up Shorty’s results, but his hot iron displays many of the speed tricks typical of the era. To get the most out of the Flathead V8—left bone stock per the AAA, the race’s sanctioning body—the ’34 was streamlined and lightened by removing its fenders, running boards, bumpers, lights, windshield and more. The resulting iconic look has been imitated by hot rodders and abetted by SEMA members ever since.