SANTA MONICA—The city of Santa Monica will host an event honoring the historic Santa Monica Road Races on Friday, July 17 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows.

All proceeds from the event will benefit the Santa Monica History Museum.

The free event will include a presentation of the history of the road races in Santa Monica, as well as a film and photo display by historian and author Harold Osmer. Attendees will also have the opportunity to view an original 1911 Santa Monica Road Race car owned by Brian Blain. There will be an auction, prizes for which include: an overnight stay for two at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel, dinner for two at the FIG Restaurant, a spa package at Exhale and rides in the original race car.

The annual Road Race was held in Santa Monica from 1909-1919.
The annual Road Race was held in Santa Monica from 1909-1919.

Santa Monica has a long history with road races, dating back to July 10, 1909 when more than 50,000 people turned out to watch two dozen entrants take part in the inaugural Road Race. Harris Hanshue won the first Santa Monica Road Race in an Apperson Jackrabbit, averaging 64 miles per hour for 202 miles, or 24 laps through the 8.4 mile course.

Some historians argue that the annual Road Race helped prevent Santa Monica from being annexed by the city of Los Angeles. The Road Race, and other similar events, helped draw so much attention to the area that its popularity and population grew. This increased attention at a pivotal time allowed Santa Monica to remain as independent as it is today.