Nov 03 2018

Herb Lytle’s Great-Great-Grandson Takes a Ride in the Alco Black Beast

Last Sunday, Scott Lytle, the great-great-grandson of Vanderbilt Cup Racer Herb Lytle, and his lovely wife Marie visited me in Roslyn and took rides in the Alco Black Beast. In honor of this memorable fun visit, below is a repost of the six degrees of separation between Herb Lytle and me (originally posted on September 17, 2017).


Howard Kroplick

The Amazing Six Degrees of Separation bwtween Herb Lytle and Howard Kroplick

Over the last ten years, several family members on drivers and mechanicians of the Vanderbilt Cup Races have contacted me for information and photos. It has been a pleasure sharing with them images from my Vanderbilt Cup Race collection. The latest request from Scott Lytle, the great-great grandson of driver Herb Lytle, revealed a surprising link to my business career.

Scott Lytle: "My cousin directed me to your website today via our family facebook page.  Thank you for sharing all the wonderful pictures of my, I think, Great- Great Grandfather Herbert Lytle!  The relation isn't the question, but how many greats there are....  People in our family have scattered photos and I know there is a glass box of the racing glasses up in Rochester New York....  Many thanks again for all your work preserving our family history."

I sent Scott my favorite Herb Lytle images and asked him to share them and the following information with his family:

One day after emailing Scott, I received a phone call from Tom Lytle, Scott's father. I immediately recognized his voice since Tom and I have known each for over 30 years in the pharmaceutical industry. We worked together at Pfizer Inc. Later, Tom became a client of my medical communications company while he worked at Pfizer, Lederle and Amgen. Until he received my email via his son, we had never linked my passion for documenting the Vanderbilt Cup Races over these many years with his great-grandfather Herb Lytle.

Tom Lytle: "Thanks for what you have done to preserve the memories of our Great Grandfather. I never knew him but have heard stories of his accomplishments and the wild things he had done since I was a child. As I told you, we really learned who he was when we found a box of stuff that my Dad had been keeping for years. Absolutely fascinating."

Below are two photos that I received from Scott Lytle and several of my favorite images of Herb Lytle.


Howard Kroplick

October 28, 2018

Herb Lytle (Courtesy of Scott Lytle, great-great grandson of Herb Lytle)

1911 Indy 500 Race

Herb Lytle

In his wonderful website, Mark Dill notes that Herb Lytle was the only driver to participate in two race firsts: the first Vanderbilt Cup Race (1904) and the first Indy 500 Race (1911). In addition to this "first race" distinction, Herb Lytle also drove in more races associated with the Vanderbilt Cup Races (6) than any other driver; three Vanderbilt Cup Races (1904, 1905 and 1908), two American Elimination Trials (1905 and 1906) and winning the Motor Parkway Sweepstakes (1908).

1904 Vanderbilt Cup Race

Herb Lytle at the starting line with his 24-HP #6 Pope-Toledo

Lytle at the Hicksville Control.

Lytle at the Hempstead Control.

In a surprise, the Pope-Toledo was running in third place when the 1904 race was called.

1905 American Elimination Trial

Two Pope-Toledos were entered in the 1905 American Elimination Trial to determine the five American cars that would compete in the Vanderbilt Cup Race.The entire Pope-Toledo Team can be seen here posing prior to the race. Herb Lytle was sitting on the stoop, third from the right.

Herb Lytle and the #12 Pope-Toledo at the starting line. Although the car finished a disappointing ninth, it was one of the five cars selected to compete in the Vanderbilt Cup Race.

1905 Vanderbilt Cup Race

A description of Lytle's #15 Pope-Toledo in the 1905 official program. Note the spelling of "Lyttle".

Lytle and mechanician Jack Tattersall practicing on the course.

My favorite Herb Lytle photo.

The #15 Pope-Toledo at the starting line.

Lytle crossing the LIRR railroad tracks on Jericho Turnpike in Mineola. The photo was taken by Roslyn native William Pickering. During lap 5, the car broke a cylinder, Lytle made repairs and was running in lap 6 when the race was stopped, finishing 14th.

1906 American Elimination Trial

Lytle and the #2 Pope-Toledo were featured on the cover of the September 20, 1906 issue of Leslie's Weekly


Herb Lytle at the starting line. Although the car finished a respectable fourth, it was disqualified because it was illegally towed during lap 8.

1908 Motor Parkway Sweepstakes

For the first race held on the Long Island Motor Parkway, Herb Lytle switched teams and drove the Italian #P42 Isotta.

Another classic photo showed Lytle driving on the Motor Parkway just pass the Jerusalem Avenue Bridge in the Hempstead Plains.

View from the Plainview Road Motor Parkway Bridge in Bethpage.

Lytle winning the Motor Parkway Sweepstakes.

1908 Vanderbilt Cup Race

Two weeks after his victory, Lytle was on the starting line with the same Isotta.

Passing under the Jerusalem Avenue Motor Parkway Bridge during the race.

Lytle finished second less than two minutes behind the winning Old 16 Locomobile.

1911 Indy 500 Race

For the Inaugural Indy 500 Race, Lytle drove the #35 Apperson "Jack Rabbit".

While being serviced during a pit stop at the end of 82 laps, Lytle's car was hit by the #8 Case and was taken out of the race. No one was seriously injured.

The accident can be seen at the 2:40 minute mark of this film. My film currently has over 43,000 YouTube views.


Sep 17 2017 Rich 8:45 AM

Great story and photos. One of the best!

Sep 17 2017 Brian D McCarthy 5:26 PM

This story continues to prove your doing exactly what is meant to be, Howard. Your site here has also brought many of us together due to common interest, Thankyou.

Sep 17 2017 Howard Kroplick 6:20 PM

Jan H.:


Sep 17 2017 Howard Kroplick 6:36 PM

Scott Lytle:

Six degrees!  Ha!  That’s great Howard… Thanks so much!

All the best,


Sep 17 2017 Ronald Sieber 10:11 PM

The side view photo of the Apperson that participated in the 1911 Indy that you displayed was used in the Apperson 1912 catalog with an Indy “Speed Eligibility Certificate” for their Jack Rabbit racer, number 35, and of course the implication was that one would find the same powerful spirit in their street models listed in the catalog. As they wrote, “You will want it because it is a Real Automobile (sic). Ironic that Apperson abandoned factory-sponsored racing after the 1911 pit incident.
Nice collection of photos!

Sep 17 2017 Ann 10:19 PM

Great story Howard!  And the beat goes on!!


Sep 19 2017 Howard Kroplick 10:20 AM

Warren H.

Amazing- Tom and Howard. To say it’s a small world may be a truism or a cliché but the internet has definitely made it smaller!!!

Sep 19 2017 Howard Kroplick 10:31 AM

Mike Curry

That’s a fantastic story about the Lytles, Howard!

Sep 21 2017 mark schaier 7:23 AM

You and Tom have something else in common, you’ve gone BALD.
Your bald groupie Mark

Dec 14 2017 James Lytle 5:55 PM

Herb Lytle eventually retired from the auto industry and operated a small resort on Tippecanoe Lake in Indiana.  It is worth mentioning that Herb Lytle’s son, Claude Herbert Lytle grew up to be an automotive test driver and then went into business for himself opening an auto repair shop in Toledo, OH.  His son, my Dad (and Tom’s dad) spent 46 years with the Champion Spark Plug Company.  “Gasoline” still trickles through our veins!
Howard Kroplick

James, very neat!

Oct 20 2018 Jim 9:26 PM

Hello…I am Robert Lyttle neighbors. He is a Herb Lytle’s son and is 97 years young. He is writing a book about his his life story and would be happy to make contact with you. He is at p.o. box 692 Lomita CA 90717. He was very happy to see the pictures that we found that you have posted of his father races on the internet…thank you.

P.S. The box you found was probably the one that Vic Lytle sent to Claude while Robert was in the navy.
Howard Kroplick

Thanks so much for the contact! 97 years ,wow!!!

Nov 03 2018 frank femenias 10:07 PM

What a fascinating time machine. Amazing!

Nov 04 2018 Joe Oesterle 12:39 PM

This is a fantastic post.  Wow.  Days like this has to make all the research worthwhile. 

Jan 08 2019 Kathryn Waller 5:57 PM

Hi I too am tracing my family tree. Herb was my gt gt uncle. I am related to Gerturde Fanny Harbord, his first wife. I would love to be out in contact with Claude if at all possible. Love this page have been following Herb and his racing for a while! Thanks

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