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Project Proposal: Motor history in Los Angeles

Proposed by: Ken Berg, The Motorsports Education Foundation

Mission Viejo, CA.
Contact: (949) 830 6888;
LAAS member info:

Project Mission: To recognize the Motor as the seminal technology in the growth
of Los Angeles City, County and Basin.

The motor, in one form or another, in one application or another, has been an
integral part of Los Angeles culture, economy, entertainment, mobility and
security since the earliest days. No other community has demonstrated such a
huge, continuous love-affair with the motor, over such a long period of time in
such a concentrated area.

The motor as a steam-engine may have first appeared on the decks of early
sailing vessels. When the automobile appeared, they were driven by steam,
battery-power, electricity, gasoline, kerosene, diesel and all kinds of fuels. As the
population grew, industrialists seized the market opportunities for manufacturing
motors, vehicles, and other motor-related products for domestic and export sales.
Wartime production was instrumental in winning foreign wars with planes, ships,
vehicles and other motorized armaments built in the Los Angeles area.

In peace, the motor flourished on land, sea and in the air. Manufacturers of
engines, parts, components, assemblies for cars, airplanes and boats … of all
sizes and descriptions abounded.

One of these was the auto-racing community. As there are various kinds of cars,
so there are various kinds of racing and various kinds of race cars. Sports-cars,
Stock-cars, Midget racers, Sprint-cars, Indianapolis cars, Hot-rods, Drag-racers,
Landspeed cars … all kinds were conceived and built and raced in Los Angeles.
Dirt tracks, board tracks, paved tracks, oval tracks, dry lake beds, road courses
… each had their own builders, teams, drivers and aficionados. Programs,
magazines and books were printed and published about auto-racing … many of
the publishers still in Los Angeles. Racers lived here, and raised their families

The lists, and the stories go on and on. Many of them are identified in my files. I
have scanned the albums and documents of many of these Los Angeles racers
and have created digital histories in PDF format along with tape-recorded oral
histories. My son-in-law Doug Drake is preparing a mini-documentary on the
Drake story that will involve many other Los Angeles racers.

SUMMARY: I’d like to work with LAAS and develop the protocols to capture and
recognize the part played by the Motor to Los Angeles.