While scanning photographs from Summerville resident Nena Colbert's collection, I ran across this series of pictures showing the Automobile Club of America's American Grand Prize, a Grand Prix auto race held on closed public roads outside Savannah, Georgia on November 12, 1910. Nena did not know who in her family attended the race or gathered the photographs, some of which were postcards.  Since all the photographs were glued into an album, the only direct information is shown on the front of the pictures.

The following information is from wikipedia.org:

car race

The race was originally supposed to run on Long Island Motor Parkway in 1909, but due to several deaths and injuries in a previous event, the Grand Prix was cancelled.

race track

The Savannah Automobile Club made a last-minute appeal to hold the 1910 race in Georgia.  The club had only a month to prepare the shorter 17-mile course along public roads.


The race began at 9:00 a.m. with cars leaving the starting line at 30-second intervals.  This photograph shows Italian driver Felice Nazzaro sitting in the Fiat he drove for the race.

race roadway

Other drivers included Victor Hemery from France driving a Benz, and Swiss American Arthur Chevrolet (brother of the founder of Chevrolet) driving a Marquette-Buick.

tragic end

After setting the lap record on lap 7, Felice Nazzaro (shown above left with his riding mechanic) slid off the road into a ditch, bending the rear axle of his Fiat.  The writing on this photograph says, "This one (the riding mechanic on right) was killed yesterday."    

race course

Frenchman Louis Wagner, driving a Fiat, assumed the lead, but lost control of his car on lap 17 and stuck a tree.  Despite front axle damage, he resumed the race, but soon wrecked his car again and was out for good.

more track

Victor Hemery was the first to cross the finish line, but due to the staggered start, had to wait for the next car, a Benz driven by American David Bruce-Brown, to also cross the line.  Bruce-Brown finished the 24 lap race 1.42 seconds faster than Hemery and was declared the winner.


hard labor

This image shows two road builders working on the Gran Prix course.  I don't think the guy wearing the stripes on the left is there because he loves racing.

Thanks to Nena Colbert for the photographs.

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Copyright 2012 Greg W. McCollum.  All rights reserved.