S. Berliner, III's sbiii.com Long Island Motor Parkway-Vanderbilt Cup Race Page keywords = Vanderbilt Cup race Long Island Motor Parkway auto car history Locomobile Old 16 Robertson Tracy Roosevelt Raceway BÍte Noir Black Beast ALCo Grant

Updated:   24 Oct 2019; 11:30  ET
[Page created 30 Apr 2000; converted 01 Aug 2012;

    original AT&T Worldnet Website begun 30 May 1996.]
Update info on the top on ALL pages for your convenience.

URL:  http://sbiii.com/limpvcup.html
[was at "home.att.net/~Berliner-Ultrasonics/limpvcup.html"]

S. Berliner, III
Consultant in Ultrasonic Processing
"changing materials with high-intensity sound"

[consultation is on a fee basis]

Technical and Historical Writer, Oral Historian
Popularizer of Science and Technology
Rail, Auto, Air, Ordnance, and Model Enthusiast
Light-weight Linguist, Lay Minister, and Putative Philosopher

note - The vast bulk of my massive Web presence (over 485 pages) had been hosted by AT&T's WorldNet service since 30 May 1996; they dropped WorldNet effective 31 Mar 2010 and I have been scrambling to transfer everything.  Everything's saved but all the links have to be changed, mostly by hand.  See my sbiii.com Transfer Page for any updates on this tedious process.

[Please note that these pages could also have been accessed as URL http://berliner-ultrasonics.home.att.net/lim*.html,
"vanity" URL (q.v.) that did not require the tilde (~), as was true of ALL of my old pages.}

S. Berliner, III's



(image-intensive continuation page)

{and these are only thumbnails, at that!}

note-rt.gif  The indexes on the LIMP main page and ON these many pages have been heavily truncated to save page space; see the LIMP Index preceding the LIMP main page.


On the main LIMP page:

    (continued on

For other of the many, many pages covering the Long Island Motor Parkway, see the LIMP Index Page.

On this LIMP-Vanderbilt Cup Race page:

(unindexed to date - please scroll away)

On the LIMP-Vanderbilt Cup Race continuation page 1:

1909 LIRR Special VC Timetable.
Other Vanderbilt Cup Maps. (moved from the main LIMP Vanderbilt Cup page on 18 Dec 02)
1908 Vanderbilt Cup Plaque Returns to Long Island (29 Dec 3005)
(balance unindexed to date - please scroll away)

This is yet another page to cover additional information and photographs of this interesting old highway and race; see also my Automotive, Chrysler, Dudgeon (really!), Mercedes, and SS and JAGUAR car pages and other related pages.

A Motor Parkway Panel had been convened to keep the LIMP alive in situ, in minds, and in museums; it has been disbanded and all activities thereof have been assumed by the Long Island Motor Parkway Preservation Society.

There is also a lot of automotive material on my ORDNANCE and HISTORY pages.

Also, if you like automotive history, see the links on the Automotive page, et seq.

RoW = Right-of-Way.

William K. Vanderbilt, Jr.
(Courtesy of Northport Public Library)
[Thumbnail image; click on picture for larger image.]

William K. Vanderbilt, Jr.
"Willie K."


{material about the Race will be moved here from the main LIMP pages as time permits.}

- - - * - - -

Vanderbilt Cup Disclaimer.

As noted on LIMP History Page 2, although the Vanderbilt Cup races are of great interest to any Long Island Motor Parkway aficionado, they are NOT the provenance of this site, except when they were run on or across the LIMP.  However, this separate LIMP-Vanderbilt Cup Race Page has been created to cover the races as they related to the Motor Parkway (and material formerly on the LIMP history pages has been moved to this page).

The prime mover and shaker behind the Motor Parkway and its precedent Vanderbilt Cup Races was Wlliam K. Vanderbilt, Jr., a noted scorcher of the day; here he is in an old photo, sitting in his Mercedes {?} in what sure looks to be Garden City:

WKVJr in Car
(unprovenanced photo - restored 25 Jul 2008)
[Thumbnail image; click on picture for larger image.]

The Vanderbilt Cup Races started in 1904 when William K(issam). Vanderbilt, Jr. decided it was time for an American car and driver to triumph in motor racing, then dominated by European cars and drivers.  He donated a magnificent silver cup for the purpose:

(Apr 2002 Ford Museum photo by and courtesy of M. Desantis)
[Thumbnail image; click on picture for larger image.]
{Image restored 12 Oct 2004}

note-rt.gif - The Vanderbilt Cup had returned to Long Island!

NEWSDAY for 11 Jun 2002 (page B9) had an article on a new exhibit at the Museums at Stony Brook (the Carriage House, now the Long Island Museum of American Art, History & Carriages) about LI sports.  A prized display is the original Vanderbilt Cup, on loan from the Smithsonian Institution (it's normally on display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan).

There was also an article on the exhibit in The New York TIMES for 16 Jun 2002 (LI page 9) with a photo of the Cup and of Walter McCarthy of Huntington driving his 1908 Simplex racer into the Museum for display.

2004 was the 100th anniversary of the race and both the New York TIMES (Section 14, pages 1 and 10) and Long Island's NEWSDAY (much of G section, LI LIFE, pages 1-3, 6-7, and 10-12) for Sunday, 03 Oct 2004, afforded significant coverage.

(See also 1910 race information below)

The concept of the Long Island Motor Parkway was thrashed out at the old Garden City Hotel by Vanderbilt and his friends and associates in 1906, after a fatality at his Vanderbilt Cup Race that year.  The races were then run on local roads and spectators crowded the course with reckless disregard for their own safety and that of the hapless drivers, who only had mechanical brakes, and solely on the rear axles at that, and had no place to go but into the onlookers when rounding a curve and finding the crowd in front of them.

Vanderbilt and his cŰterie hammered out a plan to build a racecourse from central Queens to Riverhead, with huge turning loops at Hicksville and Riverhead.  A holding company set out to aquire a right-of-way but, once word got out that someone was buying up an incredible stretch of land, they soon ran into serious financial restraints; even with all his millions and the money of his backers, Vanderbilt simply could not acquire clear title to a straight right-of-way.  As a result, instead of a 60-mile-long, straight racecourse, what they ended up with was a wildly zig-zag 45-mile private highway running only as far as the western shore of Lake Ronkonkoma.

One of their intentions was also that automobile manufacturers would test their cars on the road.

In one of the most dramatic (and prophetic) early racing pictures of all time, #19 slams around the hotel at Krug's Corner in Mineola in one of the first races (notice how vulnerable the onlookers are to the slightest slip-up on the dirver's part or to just plain mechanical failure or mischance):

#19 at Krug's Corner
(unprovenanced photo)

A pair of tickets for seats at the 1906 VCR, in virtually MINT condition, turned up on eBay, and I asked for, and got, permission to reproduce them here:

1906 VCR Tickets (cropped and rearranged from photo on eBay - all rights reserved to seller)

10 Nov 01 - These tickets (eBay Item #1027560429) sold for $924.27 the pair!  Bidding had started at $19.95.  The seats were at the corner of Jericho Turnpike and Roslyn Road.

1906 FIND:


{That "=" (equal sign) is just the way it appears, in lieu of a hyphen.}

  October 6,th
  {that comma is NOT misplaced - at least, not by me}

Here is the front cover:

1906 VC Guide
[Thumbnail image; click on picture for larger image.]

On Sunday, 10 Nov 2002, a friend of long standing GAVE me a complete 1906 "Official Program, Score=Card and Guide for the Third International Race for the William K. Vanderbilt, Jr. Cup"!

Yes, "GAVE"!  No strings attached.  Unfortunately, neither is the cover, which is both detached and separated, with part of the spine on the front and part on the back; infact, a crumb of the spine just parted company with the rest as I handled it.  The spine appears to advertise "DUNLAP {missing}ATED HATS"!

(The crumb is what contains the word fragment "ATED".)

The first page, an ad from Brooks Brothers for AUTOMOBILE CLOTHING AND LIVERIES, with such goodies as ENGLISH LUNCHEON BASKETS, LAP ROBES, LEGGINGS, GAUNTLET GLOVES, and such, is inscribed John Warner Foster; I wonder who he might have been.

The rest of the 6¾" by 9½" by 3/8" thick, 150-page booklet is in almost perfect condition; it is stapled together ¼" in from the spine in two places 2½" from the top and bottom, which makes it exceedingly difficult to get images from the inner pages without breaking them.  This copy even includes the original pasteboard score card, bound in as page 33, and it isn't even marked!

1908? VC Race at Central Park #22?
[Thumbnail image; click on picture for large image.]

1908? VC Race at Central Park #56
(both photos from an album - earlier provenance unknown - received "in the clear" via e-mail;
both obviously taken clearly through a glass darkly and reflectively - artificially lightened by SB,III.)

Same time, same station (nobody moved!), but, oh, my, are we ever in trouble in the second photo!
Who were those guys in #56 and did they clear the pole or not and, if not, did they live?

I had dated these photographs as being probably 1908 or later because I thought that's almost certainly the LIMP bridge over Central Avenue in the background behind #22{?} and #56, with the LIRR Central Branch crossing buck visible underneath (looking north from just east of the area of today's Parma Drive, instantly west of the SOB/I-135).  However, Panelist Art Huneke, who really knows his LIMP in this area, says they are more likely views looking north at the Hicksville Road (today's Route 107) bridge, with the cars careening off the E/B LIMP onto the N/B Hicksville Road towards Hicksville, thus dating it as 1909.

Vanderbilt Cup racing is of such great popularity even today that there are modern replicas of the Stanley Steamer racers built and running (replicars) and Websites about them.

One such site is Stanley Steamer - Stanleys, Whites, Dobles and other steam cars and you can link onwards from there.

There were a series of Vanderbilt Cup races run at Roosevelt Raceway (immediately E of Roosevelt Flying Field - now the shopping center) in the '30s and here [from disabled former bike-racer George Thane's Motor Racing old site (http://www.motorracingretro.i12.com/thane/thane.htm -no longer available)], is an aerial view of the course (ca. 1937) , looking WSW, with Roosevelt Flying Field at the top (W), Old Country Road on the right (N), Whaleneck Road at the bottom (E), today's Merrick Avenue, with Post Avenue continuing N across OCR, and (no fair - you guessed!) the LIMP running along the left (S) side:

30s Aerial of Roos Raceway
(photo from George Thane site - all rights reserved)

Note that there is a "L. I. MOTOR P'KW'Y GATE"* either in the upper left (SW) or upper center (W - "GATE 7") and what may possibly be a bridge in the center left (S), roughly where Endo Boulevard is today, crossing what would be an eastern continuation of today's South Street (that spot is now the E-W jog of the Meadowbrook Parkway)  The old Meadowbrook Club is just off the picture to the lower left and today's Eisenhower Park (previously Salisbury Park) is the bottom border.  The race was re-created ca. early-June 1960; the 1906 Locomobile, Old 16, which had won in 1906 with George Robertson at the helm, owned post-WWII by famed artist Peter Helck, was there and running (all 1,032cc/16.9 liters of it on four unmuffled cylinders!), and I got out on the course, very briefly, in my XK-120M Jag (after the race).

[* - No, no, no!  Those are two unrelated callouts!  The one on the left is "L. I. MOTOR P'KW'Y" and the one on the right is "GATE 7"!]

(There is more about Old 16 on my Automotive page 1.)

The NE-SW jog in Whaleneck/Merrick Avenue is gone, now, but there is still a NW-SE jog only about 100 yards further south.

For an aerial photograph of this course, see below.

[Aviation History aside - see that low, east-facing, sand bluff along the E side of Whaleneck?  There was a corresponding one facing the other way, between Roosevelt Flying Field and what became the raceway (the "Eastern Field"), with a smoothed path between the two, which is where (and why) Lindy took his grossly-overloaded Ryan off from the far NE corner (lower right), roughly where the "H" is in "CLUBHOUSE", to get the added, and desperately-needed, advantage of a downhill run.]

A few maps of the area and era; starting with the 1904 (first) Vanderbilt Cup Race course, have been moved to the

Here's a postcard view of Robertson driving the Locomobile #16 that won the 24 October 1908 race, at speed on a lightly banked curve, courtesy of Panel Associate Mark Desantis:

Old 16 08 VCup

Note the ubiquitous water pipe that ran alongside the early LIMP to supply water for construction, wetting the roadway, etc.

From the October 1st*, 1910, (sixth) race, here is parking space ticket No. 1077 for Pratt's Farm at the corner of School Street and Old Country Road in Westbury:

1910 Parking Space Ticket

From that same 1910 race, here is a poster (a chromolithograph - in B&W for the moment) from a non-copyrighted brochure announcing "The Crowd Goes Wild!!! - Spectator Sports on Long Island", an exhibit running to 03 Nov 2002 at the Long Island Museum of American Art, History & Carriages in Stony Brook:   new.gif (07 Sep 02)

1910 VC Race Poster

Note that the right front wheel, which should be grinding into the ground on that wild let turn, is 'way up in the air; in charity with the illustrator, let us assume the car had just hit a bad bump!

Note also that, as with so many images, the race appears to be on a dirt road, NOT on the LIMP!

* - Verrrry interesting - the poster clearly states October 15th!  If we had a color image, we'd see that the Cup race was on the 1st and a "Grand Prize" {sic} race was on the 15th.  Busy place, the LIMP and surrounding roads!  Notice also that the race started at daylight.

Associate Mark DeSantis sent this photo of a 1909 Cup Race pennant (thanks, Mark):

1909 Cup Race pennant

Oh, well; here's Mark's 1908 pennant instead:


His site had many more (all I find now are the pennant and the Cup and facts), including these two significant shots Mark sent out on 05 Dec 2001:

1908 Cup Race LIRR/OWRd

The first is of an LIRR train bringing fans to the race; the second is labeled "The turn from the old Westbury road into the new Parkway."

The train seems to be at Westbury station heading west and appears to have a Pennsy D16b-class American (4-4-0, Nos. 201 to 231) loco on point (they were leased to the LIRR) and is remarkable in that there are people all over the place, even on the tender and on the roof of the first car!

The road shot puzzles me; did they construct massive ramps to run from the public roads to the course/LIMP, or is the gap in the fence (beyond) the entry?

Note again that ubiquitous water pipe that parallels the LIMP in all early photos.  It was for construction and also probably to wet down dust and supply the lodges and service areas; 45 miles of water pipe?

This seems as good a place as any (where there's a bit of room!) to show a picture that Dr. Mark DeSantis sent me of Old 16, the Locomobile that won the 1908 race getting ready to run the parade lap at Roosevelt Field in 1936:

Old 16 at 36 VCR (courtesy M. DeSantis)

Only fly in this ointment is that it seems to me that the streamlined car behind Old 16 is quite clearly the 1939 World's Fair Lincoln Zephyr show car, which I knew quite well (see Automotive).  I suppose it must be the 1936 Pierce Silver Arrow concept car, witness those faired headlights, but an enlargement of the grille sure looks like the Lincoln.

Here's an unprovenanced photo of George Robertson and Joe Tracy@ seated in the car years later:

Robertson & Tracy in Old 16
(unprovenanced photo courtesy of M. DeSantis)
[Thumbnail image; click on picture for larger image.]

It's a nostalgic, yet sad, sight; there was a problem that day.  It seems that Tracy still owned her and Robertson pressed him to let him (Robertson) drive it again (and both of them elderly and frail).  Most reluctantly, Tracy aquiesced, warning Robertson to go easy on the old beast and Robertson REALLY FLOGGED her and ticked Tracy off so badly that Tracy vowed never to let anyone drive Old 16 again.  That held until Peter Helck bought her and allowed her to run ca. 1965, as noted above.

@ - Hmmm, we have some problems here.  For starters, that's Joe Tracy at the wheel.  Next, that may NOT be George Robertson looking on; there are a number of knowledgeabe folks who say it's Al Poole.  The two mechanicians are supposed to have looked somewhat alike.  The occasion was the "rerun" for the 50th anniversary of the 1906 Vanderbilt Cup Race and this picture was taken at the Buckley Country Day School, where lunch was served, on Saturday, 06 Oct 1956.  Once (IF) we get this sorted out, I'll re-revise this accordingly.   added (24 Oct 2019)

Now, here, thanks to Panel Associate Mark DeSantis, is an aerial view of the 1937 course, which I believed to be taken looking SW over what is now Roosevelt Field Shopping Center; the only lone hangar like that of which I know is the old Moisant Hangar in which George Dade lived and that was along Clinton Street.  Ah, but tread carefully, here!

1937 V Cup NW View
(unprovenanced photo courtesy of M. DeSantis)

{That dark line at lower right appears to be a wing strut.}

This is that same photo with suggested features added; the view is supposedly to the SW:

Thus {at first glance. eh?}, the LIMP RoW would appear comes in from the N at the upper right, run along the W side of the field, loop around past the Garden City Toll Lodge (TL) and Superintendant's House (on today's Vanderbilt Court - the dark blob is the water tower immediately N of the TL site and still there), and continue due E along the S edge of the Field, disappearing off the left edge of the picture near the top, as noted.  The white line at upper right was inducated as probably Washington Street (with Franklin Avenue out of sight beyond it) and Stewart Avenue running from just beyond the vertex of the SW turn off to the upper right.

1937 V Cup NW View, captioned
(unprovenanced photo courtesy of M. DeSantis; altered by SB,III)

The fill over that underpass allowing access to Old Country Road (supposedly out of sight to the lower right) might therefore well be the odd bridge-like structure shown in that other aerial shown elsewhere on these pages, before earth fill was added {?}.  Nope, that was on LIMP History page 3, 2/3 of the way towards the bottom, in 1931, and runs SW-NE, although it may well serve a similar purpose (access to the infield).

Well, in my enthusiasm, I homed in on the lone hangar, completely forgetting that this is Roosevelt Raceway, NOT Roosevelt Field!.  Thus, all the above is balderdash, except about the access underpass and the wing strut.  Having instantly been gently but firmly pulled up short by eagle-eyed Panel Associate Mitch Kaften, I redid the image as follows:

1937 V Cup NW View, re-captioned
(unprovenanced photo courtesy of M. DeSantis; re-altered by SB,III)

You can even see the line of Roosevelt Flying Field hangars along Old Country Road, between the apron and the road, between the words "FIELD" and "OLD".

So, now we realize that we are looking NW (NOT SW) and that the hangar is the one on Old Country Road at Roosevelt Raceway, to the E of Roosevelt Field, a small corner of which appear at the upper left, and that this is the same racecourse (apparently during construction) as that shown on a conceptual view near the top of this very page(!), and that the LIMP RoW runs diagonally, parallel to old Country Road, at the lower left, but, most unfortunately, OUT OF RANGE OF THIS PHOTO!  The N-S road between the Field and the Raceway may well be Ellison Avenue (note how cautious I am, now).

(Incidentally, the Moisant hangar faced Roosevelt Field, not sided on it; that fact, alone, should have clued me in!)

Oh, well; win a few, lose a few!

Far from being annoyed with me, Mark sent three more pictures; the first two are almost indistinguishable from the one above but the third (an earlier frame) is from an entirely different angle, looking NNW from roughly dead over the LIMP Row at Merrick Avenue.   If we could push up on the aileron strut (and it IS that; see the lower wing and the outboard interplane strut to its right?) to lift the port ailerons a wee bit and drop the port wings, we could see the LIMP across the lower margin, parallel to OCR which shows clearly near the top margin, running from left to right (W to E).

1937 V Cup NW View 50 1937 V Cup NW View 51

1937 V Cup NNW View 42
(unprovenanced photo courtesy of M. DeSantis)

{Those dark lines at the right are the aileron (l.) and interplane (r.) struts.}

These pictures appear to be from a single run; the course is clearly NOT just under construction; the stands are packed as is the parking behind them, but there desn't appear to be any infield parking; perhaps it was just practice (or "just" a motorcycle race or very poor attendance)?

Those streets in Westbury running down (N-to-S) to OCR are almost certainly (l-to-r) Ellison and Central Avenues and Grand and Fulton Streets, with Post/Merrick Avenue just off the image to the right, and Ellison Avenue and Maple, Pine, and Fulton Streets S of OCR, crossing Taylor Avenue and ending at Privado Road.

More material not directly pertaining to the Motor Parkway will be extracted from the LIMP pages
and placed here as time permits.

note-rt.gif  The index on the host's main page and these many pages have been heavily truncated to save page space; see the LIMP Index preceding the host's main page. A Motor Parkway Panel had been convened to keep the LIMP alive in situ, in minds, and in museums; it has been disbanded and all activities thereof have been assumed by the Long Island Motor Parkway Preservation Society.

Because the Main Page overloaded, please visit the many Continuation Pages noted on the LIMP Index page.


  What happens to all this when I DIE or (heaven forfend!) lose interest?  See LEGACY.


See Copyright Notice on primary home page.

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