Shot in Venice Beach, California, USA
The transient is not in every shot until he becomes aware of the cameras and then somehow we can't shake him loose, even after multiple cuts and panning away. He is in front of the camera which we are watching and he's in front of the camera from which we view. It's quite a thematically-rich effect for the character to take hold of the story-line, the cameras, and the editing, especially since the movie industry was rapidly becoming the cash cow of major corporations. The director so focused on documenting the spectacle of the race, misses the unexpected spectacle of the transient, and that very act of missing the opportunity buzzing around his face is the genius of the movie. The movie represents the underdog truth that humanity would hold a place in the increasingly commercial and formulaic medium even if it would have to steal the spotlight. The actual live crowd and actual live race heightens the excitement and momentousness of the transient's non-violent power grab.
This is the first appearance of Chaplin as his "little tramp" character, while his first performance in movies came earlier in the same year. That's director Henry Lehrman in the role of the frustrated director.