David Bruce-Brown Biography

Born in 1887 to wealthy merchant parents, he attended the Allen-Stephenson School in New York City, and then the Harstrom School in Norwalk, Connecticut, a prep school for Yale. This only served to prove that the young man was not cut out for academic pursuits.

He instead showed an interest in auto racing, wrecking his mother’s Oldsmobile in 1906. It is possible that he caught the bug from his half-brother, George McKesson Brown, who that year purchased a Benz racing car and engaged a German driver, Karl Klaus Luttgen, to drive it in the Vanderbilt Cup race on Long Island. The 21-year old schoolboy bluffed his way into the 1908 Speed Trials at Daytona first as a mechanic then as a driver who went out and won the event. Emanuele Cedrino – manager of Fiat’s New York operations took the young man under his wing where he was jokingly known as Cedrino’s millionaire mechanic.

His mother horrified that her son might actually drive a racing car threatened legal action against the organizers if they allowed her son to drive but drive he did. In a Fiat he promptly beat the 1904 record of 92.30 mph set by William “Willie K” Vanderbilt. When Bruce-Brown’s mother heard the news she momentarily got caught up in a wave of enthusiasm but the dread was always there that her son would die at the wheel of a racing car.

David Bruce-Brown

David Bruce-Brown
In 1908 he won the Shingle Hillclimb driving a 120hp Benz. In 1909 he beat Ralph DePalma’s Fiat in the Dewar Trophy and DePalma would later remark that Bruce-Brown was “one of the greatest drivers who ever-gripped a steering wheel” In 1910 two preliminary races were held on Friday, the day before the Grand Prize for light cars.

The first race for the Savannah Challenge Trophy was won by Joe Dawson in an Indianapolis built Marmon while the second race was won by Billy Knipper in a Lancia, that race’s prize being the George W. Tiedeman Trophy named after the local mayor. When Saturday arrived the morning was clear and cool. Two strong European teams headed the entry list, that of Fiat and Benz. Fiat had top drivers Nazzaro, de Palma and Wagner while Benz countered with the legendary Hemery, Willie Haupt and David Bruce-Brown. The race started at nine o’clock in front of 60,000 spectators with the drivers departing at thirty second intervals. For the next six hours the race was a battle between Hemery in the Benz against the Fiats of Nazzaro, Wagner and de Palma. While the leaders battled, Bruce-Brown made steady progress and soon the race belonged to the two Benz teammates, Bruce-Brown and Hemery but who would it be. Bruce-Brown crossed the finish line first but based on time Hemery still had a chance to catch the young American.

The veteran driver gave everything he had as he flashed across the line. The crowd waited for the official time keepers, and then it was announced that the young American had beaten the veteran Hemery by 1.42 seconds over a six hour race. Another American, Bob Burman came in third driving a Marquette-Buick.

David Bruce-Brown

David Bruce-Brown

Hemery was one of the best drivers in the world but even he was taken in by the charms of the young lad. He became the sensation of American motor sports, the rich kid taking on the best that the Europeans had to offer. In 1911 Bruce-Brown drove for FIAT in the inaugural Indianapolis 500 and finished 3rd. He added another American Grand Prize later that year.

Bruce-Brown at the 1911 American Grand Prize in a 14.1-liter  Fiat

Bruce-Brown at the 1911<p><a href=Read More

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By: Nick Dellis
Title: David Bruce-Brown
Sourced From: sportscardigest.com/david-bruce-brown/
Published Date: Tue, 10 Aug 2021 02:43:09 +0000

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