Grosse Pointe Race Track - Grosse Pointe MI

Address: 722 Emerson St
City: Grosse Pointe
State: MI
Zip: 48215
County: Wayne
Number of visits to this page: 22503

Please note that location entries may feature older photos or post card views that may not represent the current appearance, features, addresses, phone numbers, or contact names of the attraction. This site is intended to be a historical as well as current record of various attractions but it is not always possible to have up-to-date information due to the vast number of locations featured here. We ask you consult the propietor for current information.

General Information:

According to the 1905 Topographical Map, this track sat roughly where Dickerson Manor at 722 Emerson St does today. That isn't the location the Detroit Free Press states, but I don't necessarily believe them.

Dirt Oval - Operating Dates: 1901-1915

Source: Chris Fobbe

Built between 1894-1895, Grosse Pointe was constructed as a one-mile horse track before it was razed for housing development in 1905. Banked corners were constructed to allow motor-racing, and it became the headquarters for the Detroit Driving Club. A day of races was held on the 10th October 1901, the most famous race being that between Henry Ford and Alexander Winton.

Everyone was so sure that Winton would win that race, that the cut glass punchbowl prize was chosen from one that Winton wanted. After all, Winton was in the more powerful car. However, although Winton initially led by some 200 yards, Ford started to catch up before Wintons engine started to let go. Ford thus overtook him and won the race, promptly declaring that "once is enough" when asked when he would race again.

Click the following links for locations of interest nearby:
Info Updates:
6/30/2010 - Kiki Herfert
I said it exactly BACKWARDS!! Henry Ford race was track on LEFT in plat plan.
Sorry, Nick. Kiki Herfert
6/30/2010 - Kiki Herferet
I have a friend, Nick Sinacore, who has written a history of the Village of Fairview, an area that encompassed from Bewick in Detroit to Cadieux at the upper end of the Park, and also inland to Mack. He is the expert on this/these topics (tracks and racing on eastside) as well as a great deal of early automobile history on the eastside.
Now, as to the " track. " Nick has researched the track where the Henry Ford Race took place and it is the one on the right in the plat plan shown. Its entrance was in the Marlboro / Jefferson area. He has original photos from the event. No question he's got the goods. Old Henry is smiling for the camera.
There was ANOTHER track that ran along side Fox Creek inside the present Detroit border. It is the one on the left in the plat plan. One of the tracks had jockeys riding ON the horses the other in what seems to be like todays sulky or harness driving. Ford's race was at the Detroit Driving Club.
The remnant of the race course shown in the photos Next Kerby, and a few blocks below Morross (7 Mile) is still another former race course. I won't even take a stab at the name. There was also a Hamtrammck race track, but I don't know location. The information in my papers cited was written before I met Nick and his research.
Nick has done numerous presentations for groups including Ford Model T history groups and Grosse Pointe Historical Society. Kiki Herfert
2/29/2008 - Sean Fitzgerald
the two bottom shots are hte same turn from different angles and are of the Voltaire track. Going and doing a bit of digging you find out there were horse tracks all over that had early auto races.
12/3/2007 - Sean Fitzgerald
The Voltiare/Kirby track is farther up to the right, not in this shot and farther out. It is the track in the photo's that is part of a sub. The photo's are actually two different shots of the north turns from two different angles.
12/3/2007 - Sean Fitzgerald
It is the track on the left that was the track where the race took place. The track on the right was gone before 1900.
11/21/2007 - Sean Fitzgerald
Wow. I just found a blog that blew my mind with literally too much info to digest. I seems this track was in Grosse Point back then, as Detroit had not yet annexed the land. Also the guy working at the Henry Ford Estate in Deraborn was wrong. The track he is thinking of was the Detroit Jockey Club between Chalmers and Lakewood which disappeared BEFORE then Henry Ford Winton race.

I wish it had existed when I was kid, I grew on Lakewood. But the two tracks did exist side by side for a time as well as the Voltaire Track. The Detroit Driving club also I gather moved it's location at some point. There were literally horse tracks and driving ( harness tracks) all over town, off Ford Road, off Livernois off 6 mile, at the Fair Grounds and some other than the Algonquin track may have been used for motor cars. I will find the url and post it.
11/21/2007 - Sean Fitzgerald
I believe at the time of the Track, that area was still part of Grosse Point. Hamtramck used to be a much larger city as well. land was I believe anexed around the turn of the century.
3/4/2007 - Sean Fitzgerald
Got that, but there was also a track at the Kerby site. If you look at the Sanborn maps from that year there are tracks in both places. As a side note I recently spoke with someone from The Henry Ford who insisted it was at Chalmers. As the Sanborn Maps show, this is inaccurate.
11/7/2006 - Sean Fitzgerald
The Great aerial photos are of the Kerby site. Love to get in the plane used to take em. I drove this a year ago and this is the track mentioned in an essay about early grosse point. There is a debate about this track being the one where henry Ford beat Andrew Winton 1902. There was a track at what is now the waterworks park area in Detroit where many people feel that race occured. One of them was called Blue Ribbon racetrack I believe. In anycase there were two tracks and we need to find out which was which and what they were called. Maybe we should enlist the help of the history detectives.
5/9/2006 - Sean Fitzgerald
Ive read both locations are where the track was, on various blogs. And from what I saw I dont see what else the Voltaire location could be, but I will go down tho the Detroit Library Historical Collection, and check out the Baiste Maps and try to figure out what is what. Could there have been two tracks for horses? Check out the aerial photos the area.
5/9/2006 - Sean Fitzgerald
Just Found this on line and it seems to support a racetrack being at Kerby and Moross (Voltaire) It is from an essay byKiki Herfert called the The Growth and Development of Grosse Pointe: A Ride Around the Neighborhood Kiki Herfert We’re almost to the location of a long gone racetrack near Vendome. I first heard about its existence from a very dainty librarian at the library’s Central Branch. She had commented on my research interests and we began to chat. She told me that when her dad was a young man, he had ridden as a jockey at a racetrack in Grosse Pointe. Not long after that I came across a reference in an issue of the Grosse Pointe Historical Society’s Moorings that referenced a racetrack in Grosse Pointe as the site of Henry Ford’s first and last auto race. I’m going to assume that these are one in the same racetrack since I found no other mention. Ridge Rd. continues until it "deadends" on Moross at an old cemetery, no joke intended. The cemetery occupants at St. Paul’s were moved here in the late 1800s from the church cemetery. Also buried in the neighborhood, ( I apologize) behind the houses along Kerby Rd., are the greenhouses of Grosse Pointe Florist. They’ve been here since 1927 when Kerby, now a quiet neighborhood road, was the site of a thriving commercial district. Jim Farquar, whose family built the GP Florist, ticked of a long list of now vanished services and businesses. There was an icehouse, fire station early school and a long list of other businesses situated on Kerby. He also told me that the curve of Vendome follows one section of the old racetrack! Grosse Pointe High North at Vernier near Morningside was built on the "last working farm" 1966. Adjoining it is another large tract of land, Lochmoor Country Club. Turn right on Moross, towards the lake, and ride up a block to Kercheval. Before we turn on Kercheval, take a look at the lake up ahead. Beautiful, isn’t it?
5/7/2006 - Roger Luksik
Regarding the famous Grosse Pointe Race Track where the Winton - Ford race took place. It is not near Moross or Voltaire. It is on the south side of Jefferson at Algonquin -- before Grosse Pointe Township was annexed by Detroit. Only vestige of the track is the boulevard (divided) entrance of Algonquin going south. You can see this on Google Earth, coordinates are 42* 22 12.27" by 82* 51 24.54" - zoom in on it. Source of my information is from: (1) a Detroit News article (2) Ford Motor press release and (3) discussions with Nicholas Sinacori, author of book to be published fall 2006 by WSU Press. Nick also told me the entrance to the Race Track had large columns on Algonquin, similar to the entrance of Water Works Park (still standing) farther south on Jefferson.
1/27/2006 - Sean Fitzgerald
Got this from a website called quality, it was posted by someone named Machelle October 25, 1902 Oldfield and Ford race into history, and it shows the signifigance of this track. Racing was in Barney Oldfields blood long before he ever had the opportunity to race an automobile. Born in Wauseon, Ohio, Oldfields first love was bicycling, and in 1894, he began to compete professionally. In his first year of racing, the fearless competitor won numerous bicycling events and, in 1896, was offered a coveted position on the Stearns bicycle factorys amateur team. Meanwhile in Dearborn, Michigan, the entrepreneurial inventor Henry Ford had completed his first working automobile and was searching for a way to establish his name in the burgeoning automobile industry. In the early days, it was not the practical uses of the automobile that attracted the most widespread attention, but rather the thrill of motor racing. Recognizing the publics enthusiasm for the new sport, Ford built a racer with Oliver Barthel in 1901. Ford himself even served as driver in their automobiles first race, held at the Grosse Point Race Track in Michigan later in the year. Although he won the race and the kind of public acclaim he had hoped for, Ford found the experience so terrifying that he retired as a competitive driver, reportedly explaining that "once is enough." In 1902, he joined forces with Tom Cooper, the foremost cyclist of his time, and built a much more aggressive racer, the 999, that was capable of up to 80hp. On this day in 1902, the 23-year-old Barney Oldfield made his racing debut in the 999s first race at the Manufacturers Challenge Cup in Grosse Point. The race was the beginning of a legendary racing career for Oldfield, who soundly beat his competition, including the famed driver Alexander Winton. The cigar-chomping Oldfield went on to become the first truly great American race-car driver, winning countless victories and breaking numerous speed and endurance records. But Oldfields victory in the 999 was also Fords first major automotive victory, and together they went on to become the most recognized figures in early American motoring--Ford as the builder and Oldfield as the driver
1/2/2006 - Sean Fitzgerald
Just went for a drive around Voltare Street. Its totally residential but you know right away you are driving on a peice of track. I assume if they were running clockwise that whats left as streets are part of the back stretch turns 3-4 and the front straight. Man its so cool to know you are driving on a peice of history!
12/30/2005 - Sean Fitzgerald
From what Ive been able to piece together using Map Quest and Terra Server ariel photo and a Blog supplying street names part of the track may now be a street called Voltaire near Kerby and Ridge Road near Morross. There is a book published by Omnigraphics publishers in Detroit called Tonnancour that has a section devoted to the track as well. I think Matt Barbour is the guy to talk to there.
Grosse Pointe Race Track - Historical Map
Historical Map
Grosse Pointe Race Track - 1905 Topo Map
1905 Topo Map
Grosse Pointe Race Track - Dec 11 1927 Article
Dec 11 1927 Article
Grosse Pointe Race Track - Jan 9 1900 Article
Jan 9 1900 Article
Grosse Pointe Race Track - March 2003 Article On Track
March 2003 Article On Track © 2024 Over 73,073,237 Served