Vanderbilt Cup – Race Profile Page Two
George Teste in a Panhard was first off. Paul Sartori in a Fiat was an hour and a half late, barreling through the Start-Finish at a high speed. After completing a lap, he was disqualified. He appealed and was allowed to proceed, but then retired with a failed clutch.
On the first lap, George Arents Jr. rolled his Mercedes, killing his riding-mechanic, Carl Mensel. Also on the first lap, William Wallace’s Fiat had to stop for repairs. Finally, he drove off, forgetting his riding-mechanic, who ran and jumped on, fell off and was run over, injuring his leg. Whereupon Wallace picked up another required mechanic, but then stripped his gears and retired. Joe Tracy had a propeller-shaft shear-pin break on the first lap. So he went to a shop in Queens for repairs. Back on the second lap, he went out for good with a cracked cylinder and crankcase. Maurice Bernin’s Renault retired on the second lap with mechanical troubles. George Teste averaged a very rapid lap speed of 66 mph, but retired during the fourth lap when his ignition failed.
The race boiled down to a contest between George Heath in his Panhard and young 19-year-old Albert Clement in the Clement-Bayard. On the next to the last lap, Heath was only a little over a minute ahead. Worried that Clement might be able to pass, Heath sped up and won by one minute, 28 seconds, averaging 52.2 mph for the ten laps. After the race, Clement lodged a protest with referee Vanderbilt, claiming he was delayed at Hicksville and Hempstead. The Race Commission denied the protest and, after a late-night meeting, awarded the win to Heath.
After the two leaders crossed the Start-Finish line, crowds of spectators rushed onto the course. So Vanderbilt stopped the race and notified the controls stationed around the course to stop the competitors. When the race was called, Herb Lytle’s Pope-Toledo was in third while five more cars were still racing. According to Motor Age, “Nassau County never saw such a day and will not again—until next year.” The American Mutoscope and Biograph Company produced a two-minute film, perhaps the first ever of a sporting event.
The Vanderbilt Cup continued on various courses on Long Island through 1910 with a year off in 1907. The 1905 event — run for 10 laps over a 23.5-mile circuit — was won by Victor Hémery in a Darracq. The French won again with a Darracq in 1906, piloted by Louis Wagner. That race was marred by the death of a spectator.
The 1908 Vanderbilt Cup course incorporated the new Long Island Motor Parkway, the first paved throughway in the U.S. More than 200,000 spectators watched George Robertson win in a Locomobile. It was the first time a U.S.-built car had won, plus the first time for an American driver! The 1909 race for production cars was but a shadow of its former self. Although one of the very first stock car races, only 20,000 or so showed up to see Harry Grant win in an ALCO. The 1910 Cup had 30 entries plus 15 smaller cars. With lots of advance publicity, some 300,000 watched. Grant in the ALCO won again.
From 1911 through 1916 — but skipping 1913 — Vanderbilt Cup races were held all over the country from Savannah to Milwaukee and out West at Santa Monica and San Francisco. None were held between 1917 and 1935. In 1936 at Roosevelt Raceway on Long Island, Tazio Nuvolari won in an Alfa Romeo 12C-36 entered by Scuderia Ferrari. The following year, Bernd Rosemeyer won in an Auto Union.
None were held again until a Formula Junior event in 1960 was billed as the Vanderbilt Cup. Then from 1965 through 1968, CART races at Bridgehampton were called the Vanderbilt Cup. The Champ Car US 500 races from 1996 through 2007 were also called the Vanderbilt Cup. But then the Champ Car Series went broke and was purchased by Tony George, who has since indicated some interest in reviving the name.
[Source: Art Evans]