Autos and motorcycles race, first time in the Northwest, at The Meadows on August 12, 1905.

  • By Dave Wilma
  • Posted 2/19/2001
  • Essay 2994

On August 12, 1905, automobiles and motorcycles race for the first time in the Northwest at The Meadows racetrack near Georgetown. "Contrary to expectations no one was killed and only one injured. One machine caught fire and burned, and two others broke down" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer).

The Meadows was a one-mile, dirt track for horse racing located south of Georgetown along the Duwamish River. In 1905, the Seattle Automobile Club organized a race. On August 12, at 1:00 p.m., auto owners assembled at 1st Avenue and Yesler Way. They drove their machines, some valued at $2,300, through the city, proceeded by a band. Racing began at 2:30 p.m. and approximately 3,000 fans watched eight races. A special ambulance staffed by Dr. McCracken and two nurses stood by.

The largest wager was said to be $500 between the Winton machine and a Rambler. The fifth race attracted the most interest. Harry Cummings won the 10-mile heat with his Winton Model "B" over H. P. Grant in a Franklin and H. B. Rector in a White Steamer. Two other machines dropped out before the race was half over.

Motorcycles competed for the first time as well with an Indian winning over both another Indian and a home-built model. 

According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "There were no Barney Oldfields [a championship racecar driver of the day] developed, but Dr. F. A. Bryant, who drove his own machine in several races, gave a clever exhibition of handling an automobile going at full speed."

The Meadows was a popular attraction during the time before Georgetown was annexed to the city of Seattle. Saloons, brothels, and gaming thrived, and were largely unregulated.


"Auto Races Are Held At The Meadows," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, August 13, 1905, p. 1; "Autos Will Race At Meadows Today," Ibid., August 12, 1905, p. 7; "As a Matter of Fact," The Seattle Daily Times, July 14, 1928, p. 5.

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