By Stuart Light
The GNYR has had some very interesting meetings this past year due to the Board of Directors plus hard work by members such as Althea Travis.
For the April 2013 meeting we had the honor of a presentation by Howard Kroplick, an authority on the history of the Vanderbilt Cup Races of Long Island which ran from 1904 through 1910. Howard arranged for a computerized presentation including photographs and early movies taken during those races.
Howard went into detail about how William K. Vanderbilt Jr., an early automotive enthusiast used his family’s fortune and influence to set up what would become the earliest automotive endurance race in America. At a time when the total population of Long Island was perhaps 50,000 people, these races attracted more than several hundred thousand spectators. Roads which we are still familiar with today such as: Jerusalem Avenue, Jericho Turnpike, Hempstead Turnpike, and Glen Cove Road were used…a lap was approx. 28 miles and the 10 lap race was about 280 miles. The discussion also went into detail as to how William K. Vanderbilt Jr. used his wealth to build a toll road, the Long Island Motor Parkway…used as part of several of later Vanderbilt Cup races.
The lecture went into detail about the automobiles in those races. Names not familiar to most of us included: Panhard, Darracq (which evolved into Alfa Romeo), De Dietrich and Pope-Toledo. There automobiles many of us have heard of but long out of business such as: Packard, Marmon, and Locomobile. Of all of the car companies which participated in those races only three are still in business and sold in the USA which includes: Buick, Mercedes and FIAT…..yes FIAT.
Howard also went into detail about the 1909 Alco “Black Beast” which won the Vanderbilt Cup race twice in 1909 and 1910…..he knows soo much about this race car…it helps that he is the current owner.