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Auto Racing in the Sierra Foothills

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With the advent of automobiles after the turn-of-the-century, auto racing became a pastime for many and dangerous courses were the most exciting. Beginning in 1908, Toll House Hill Climb race started at Tollhouse and climbed for seven and a half miles and seven thousand feet to end at the Armstrong Resort. Each June, the challenge of the infamous 45° grade at Tollhouse lured racing enthusiasts from all over California. A San Francisco Call headline on May 28, 1912 read, “Fresno County Contest Will Be as Spectacular and Thrilling as the Great Meet to Be Held at Indianapolis.” Racers had to navigate muddy switchbacks over deep canyons and the whole course averaged a 30-35° incline.