Feb 26 2010

The Two Deadman’s Curves in Bethpage (Central Park)

A famous feature of the Vanderbilt Cup Course in 1908 was the Deadman's Curve located in Bethpage, then called Central Park. However, few people know that there were two "Deadman's Curves" in this area. Here's the proof:


As seen in the above map (click to enlarge), the first Deadman's Curve was almost a 90 degree turn, located just below today's North Hermann Road. This photo was taken during the 1908 Motor Parkway Sweepstakes. Note the parked Central Railroad train in the background that was used as a viewing stand.


Here is the same Deadman's Curve today -100 years later. Note the pavement and the banked curve can still be seen. The utility tower in the background stands in the former Central Railroad right-of-way.


A 1909 postcard forever documented "Dead Man's Curve". But a closer look indicates this is not the curve at North Hermann Road.


This 1908 Motor Parkway Sweepstakes photo shows the same location as the postcard. Lewis Strang was driving the #P46 Renault near the shack that also appeared in the postcard. A bridge can also be seen in the background. Looking at the map, this "Dead Man's Curve" was located just pass the Central Avenue Railroad Bridge.


The turn was highlighted in this 1908 newspaper article entitled "Death Curve Fails to Deserve Name". Its location was described as "situated about three miles to the east of the grand stand. The turn comprises a descent of about forty feet just after crossing a bridge and then short "S" curves within a length of five hundred feet."


A 1912 view of the second Deadman's Curve looking east was likely taken from the shack at the top of the hill. Note the Motor Parkway sign to the left of the bush.The Stymus Farm can be seen in the background.


Finally, Michelle S. has forwarded this rare documentation of the sign. Michelle, thanks for your contribution to VanderbiltCupRaces.com!


Mar 01 2010 Bob Thomas 9:20 AM

The curve after the bridge impresses me as being the most difficult of the set, especially considering the relative lack of control that cars of the day had.
Today, the curves would not be considered worth more than a “Sharp Curve” warning sign.

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