by David Cardillo, DDNP Staff
Before there was NASCAR and the Dover Speedway, Delaware often hosted bicycle races. Bicycles were a fairly prevalent element of society as evidenced by advertisements for bicycles, bicycle attire, and bicycle accessories. Adding bicycle races introduced competition and athleticism to an activity that was done for both leisure and transportation. This article from September 22, 1888 of The Daily Republican is an advertisement for the Wilmington Fair, which would feature a bicycle race.
As shown in this article from The Middletown Transcript of June 6, 1896, women also participated in these bicycle races. By 1896, these races had become an annual event. Prizes for winning the races included dolls for the women and watches for the men.
Bicycle races were national, and even international (as was the reporting by Delaware papers). The above picture is from a bicycle race at Madison Square Garden in New York as reported in the December 12, 1902 issue of The Daily Republican. The race featured racers from other countries, or “many lands,” as the short article states, as well as racers from the rest of the country. The race in question was not only about speed, but also about endurance, as it was a six-day event.
For more, search “bicycle race” in Delaware papers on Chronicling America!