Then & Now | The Great American Racing Derby

In 1921, a new carousel was introduced to park patrons at Euclid Beach Park. Its “proper” name was The Great American Racing Derby, but frequent park visitors called it simply The Racing Derby. It was destined to become a park favorite until its removal in 1965 when it was sold and relocated to Cedar Point. The Great American Racing Derby was located right next to the park’s grand carousel, manufactured by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, installed in 1910.


The Racing Derby was a true carousel in every sense of the word, but it was a more “grown up” version of any carousel that had been installed in the Park. First of all it was much faster traveling at nearly fifteen miles an hour which made it more of a thrill ride. The sixty four, two seated horses on its ninety three foot platform were arranged in sixteen rows with four horses abreast in each. The horses could carry two riders each for a total capacity of one hundred and twenty eight each time it turned. They not only moved up and down as the circular wooden platform turned, but also backward and forward as if they were racing each other. This is what made the ride so endearing…you weren’t merely riding a horse…you were in competition with the fellow riders in your row heading toward the imaginary finish line at the end of the ride. No one knew the outcome of the “race” and much of the ride’s excitement involved “egging” your horse on until the ride came to a complete stop. The design of the hand carved wooden horses created by the Williams Amusement Device Company of Denver
Colorado added to the mystique. The horses outstretched legs and elongated stance gave the illusion the horses were in full stride even when the ride was not turning. There was a sense of excitement just looking at the ride before it began. At full speed, leaning into the wind as the ride turned you couldn’t help but feel you were in a horse race.