By 1909, Mardi Gras had been drawing visitors to New Orleans, Louisiana from around the world for more than 50 years. While the crowds grew annually, complaints that parades and balls did not provide enough entertainment sparked an an effort to diversify the fun. The growth opportunity sparked an idea in the heads of the young New Orleans Automobile Club. For 1909, the club organized an a three day auto racing spectacle featuring some of the best drivers of the day. Among them, female driving sensation Joan Cuneo and Buick racer Bob Burman. Cuneo would capture the hearts and spirits of many as she won several races and set speed records over the course of the event. On day two, this day in 1909, Burman would take the trophy for the 100 mile race.
While racing would return to Mardi Gras in 1910, the event didn’t last much longer. By 1915, a ban on horse racing had been lifted. By then promoters failed to make Nola a hot spot for the emerging motorsports sector. Learn more about the history of New Orleans auto racing in this article by Elsa A. Nystrom.