Apr 09 2010

1936 Vanderbilt Cup Race: Photos from the Nassau County Division of Museum Services


Last month I spent a day exploring the photo archives of the Nassau County Division of Museum Services. These 12 photos were taken at the 1936 Vanderbilt Cup Race held at the new Roosevelt Raceway in Westbury.



 

The great Italian racer Tazio Nuvolari (second from the left) visiting the garage of Wilbur Shaw and his Gilmore Offenhauser Special.

May 18, 2010 Update from Michael Ferner: Car is correctly identified as the 1936 Shaw/Offenhauser, seated in it is Giuseppe Farina (1950 FIA World Champion), standing from left to right are Wilbur Shaw, Tazio Nuvolari, unknown, Rex Mays and Antonio Brivio.



 

Wilbur Shaw practicing on the Roosevelt Raceway course.



 

The Alfa Romeo team from left to right; Count Antonio Brivio, Tazio Nuvolari and Dr. Giuseppe Farina.



 

Tazio Nuvolari and his mechanics prior to the race.

May 30,2010 Update from Richard Armstrong: The mechanic standing beside Nuvolari in the Alfa on the grid is Attilio Marinoni, but I’m not sure about the other two.



 

A restaurant and bar at Roosevelt Raceway.



 

Inside the bar. The copy on the wall reads: "Toast! Here's to the Fastest Car on the Track and Here's to the Boys who Lost All This Jack!"



 

I believe this is Overton "Bunny" Phillips in his Type 35B Bugatti.

May 18, 2010 Update from Michael Ferner: This not Overton Phillips, but I’m not sure: I believe it may be Englishman Brian Lewis.

May 30, 2010 Update from Richard Armstrong: A Bugatti expert of my acquaintance is certain that this car is an ordinary T35, so it appears to be something brought along to fill out the spectacle on the press day - again no numbers or flags, but equally no road registration either. And despite my earlier certainty, the driver definitely isn’t Brian Lewis.



 

Elbert "Babe" Sapp in his Topping-Miller Special.



 

The following three photos did not have captions. Can anyone identify this driver?

April 20, 2010 Update: Tony De Seta identified the driver as "Babe" Sapp taken from a different angle.

May 18, 2010 Update from Michael Ferner: This not Babe Stapp, but Englishman Earl Howe in his ERA.



 

This car appears to be one of the eight Miller Specials entered in the 1936 race.

May 18, 2010 Update from Michael Ferner: This is Babe Stapp in the Topping/Miller again, as stated by Tony de Seta.



 

Who will be the first person to identify this car and driver?

May 18, 2010 Update from Michael Ferner: This is Floyd Davis in a Thorne/Miller. This car and its sister had been entered at Indy with Dodge engines, but did not qualify. They both ran in the Vanderbilt Cup and the following year’s Indy race with Miller engines.



The grid and results for this race can be found on The Golden Era of Grand Prix Racing website. This newsreel captured highlights of the 1936 Vanderbilt Cup Race.



Comments

Apr 12 2010 Tom 9:42 AM

Very much enjoy seeing these old time pictures! Thanks!

Apr 15 2010 Tony De Seta 8:02 AM

The next to the last photo is a low angle shot of Babe Stapp.

Apr 17 2010 Howard Kroplick 12:19 AM

Tony:

Thanks!

Howard

Apr 26 2010 Jim Scott 1:19 PM

The Rigling-Miller and Wetteroth-Offy chassis looked very similar; I am going to guess this is Georges Shafer, in the #26 Rigling-Miller

May 18 2010 Michael Ferner 8:35 AM

A few photo ids:

http://www.vanderbiltcupraces.com/vcrsys/Images/Alco/Top-739_edited-1.jpg

Car is correctly identified as the 1936 Shaw/Offenhauser, seated in it is Giuseppe Farina (1950 FIA World Champion), standing from left to right are Wilbur Shaw, Tazio Nuvolari, unknown, Rex Mays and Antonio Brivio.

May 18 2010 Michael Ferner 8:40 AM

http://www.vanderbiltcupraces.com/vcrsys/Images/Alco/Top-743_edited-2.jpg

This not Overton Phillips, but I’m not sure: I believe it may be Englishman Brian Lewis.

May 18 2010 Michael Ferner 8:42 AM

http://www.vanderbiltcupraces.com/vcrsys/Images/Alco/Top-746_edited-2.jpg

This not Babe Stapp, but Englishman Earl Howe in his ERA.

May 18 2010 Michael Ferner 8:44 AM

http://www.vanderbiltcupraces.com/vcrsys/Images/Alco/Top-747_edited-2.jpg

This is Babe Stapp in the Topping/Miller again, as stated by Tony de Seta.

May 18 2010 Michael Ferner 8:47 AM

http://www.vanderbiltcupraces.com/vcrsys/Images/Alco/Top-745_edited-2.jpg

This is Floyd Davis in a Thorne/Miller. This car and its sister had been entered at Indy with Dodge engines, but did not qualify. They both ran in the Vanderbilt Cup and the following year’s Indy race with Miller engines.

May 24 2010 Richard Armstrong 2:25 PM

Michael is correct - driver of the Bugatti is The Hon Brian Lewis. Phillips’ Bugatti’s bodywork was modified around the scuttle and had no aeroscreen.

His identification of Earl Howe is right too.

May 25 2010 Howard Kroplick 4:40 PM

Michael and Richard:

Thanks for the information. Much appreciated.

I have just received over 50 glass plates and negatives from the 1936 Vanderbilt Cup Race from the Cradle of Aviation. About 1/3 are drivers in unidentifed cars ...so I may need your expertise in identifying these previously unpublished photos:


http://www.vanderbiltcupraces.com/index.php/blog/article/friday_may_7_2010_from_the_drennan_collection_the_1936_awards_ceremony

Howard

May 27 2010 Michael Ferner 9:49 AM

Looking forward to it! grin

May 30 2010 Howard Kroplick 8:35 PM

From Richard Armstrong:

I thought I’d share these thoughts regarding the Nassau County Museum pictures. I’m 99.99% certain that these were taken on at least three different occasions.

Although some are race day or practice pictures, some of them appear to have been taken at the press launch, which I think only featured the local drivers as the Europeans hadn’t arrived. We worked this out during the HAMB thread.

At post #2037 there’s a picture of Joel Thorne, which prompted the discussion - this turned out to be from the press day, as the car number - and indeed the car - don’t match the race. Note the small number of people in the grandstand. See Michael’s and my comments in posts #2068, 2073 & 2075 regarding the Thorne car.

I’d now like to deal with the Topping Spl: the Museum pictures are actually from two different occasions! The one where Stapp is seen holding the flag is from the press day - if you examine the two pictures, you’ll notice that the car has no aero screen in that one and there are again very few people in the stand. In the other picture, Stapp is wearing different overalls, the car has acquired an aero screen and the decorative radiator cap has been replaced with a plain one. The details of this exactly match the car and driver as seen in the race day picture on page 27 of Smith Hempstone Oliver’s book.

On balance I think the Thorne-Miller picture was probably taken on the press day as well - it carries neither race number, nor a shield with the US flag, which it would have done on race day. The Gilmore Special action shot also shows no evidence of the shield, so I think this too is a press day picture.

Finally - that Bugatti! A Bugatti expert of my acquaintance is certain that this car is an ordinary T35, so it appears to be something brought along to fill out the spectacle on the press day - again no numbers or flags, but equally no road registration either. And despite my earlier certainty, the driver definitely isn’t Brian Lewis.

I do have a lead on the mystery “smart dressed man” in the garage, but can’t be certain on that at the moment. The mechanic standing beside
Nuvolari in the Alfa on the grid is Attilio Marinoni, but I’m not sure about the other two.

Best regards,

Richard

Dec 28 2010 Sandy Leith 10:19 AM

Gentlemen:
The Bugatti is chassis no. 4700, a standard T35A with owner Walter Gerner. The car raced with some frequency in the prewar ARCA (Automobile Racing Club of America), but to my knowledge did not appear at the Vanderbilt Cup Race. It may have been there as a spectator (Gerner lived on Long Island), but it did not race.
Sandy Leith
Registrar and Historian,
American Bugatti Club

Aug 25 2013 Bill Gerner 9:12 PM

I do believe Sandy Leith is correct.  Walter Gerner was my father and that picture is most certainly of him. I’m so glad I found this site as my father passed in 1970 when I was only 13 and I don’t know enough about him.  I do know he eventually moved on to building and racing Offy-powered midgets and was a big fan of Alfa Romeo until the end.  He owned a very rare 6C 2500 Cabriolet with aluminum body and was restoring it when he passed.  Not knowing it’s value, my mother sold it, a parts car and all Alfa parts he had accumulated for $400. I would love to find out where that ended up.

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