The photograph you see here is of something that could never happen at Goodwood: a horse racing a car, and neck-and-neck, too. The contest happened in America in 1944 and when the car won, an American performance legend was born.
RM Sotheby’s, which is selling the hot rod in the picture at auction in the US on Thursday (October 5th), says the story goes like this: the owner of an American quarter horse – a breed famed for its short-distance sprinting ability – won lots of bets challenging car owners to races.
The horse won each time apparently, until… a 1932 Ford highbody roadster with a reputation for being the quickest car in the San Fernando Valley turned up to take on the nag. With hot rod legend Pete Henderson driving and a large crowd watching on, the quarter horse and the car lined up next to each other for a specially staged race one Saturday morning on Highway 39 outside La Habra, California.
The Henderson-built deuce roadster – powered by a flathead 296 cubic inch V8 with hot cams, twin Strombergs and high-rise intakes – came home a winner by a short head and was forever after known as the “hot rod that beat the horse”.