Feb 11 2015

The Most Exotic Vanderbilt Race Course: The 1915 Race at the Panama Pacific International Exposition

Of the 11 Vanderbilt Cup Races held from 1904 to 1916, the most exotic location was clearly the 1915 Vanderbilt Cup Race held in San Francisco.

The 3.849 mile course was held over a newly built one-mile trotting track and through the streets of the Panama Pacific International Exposition, one of the most memorable world's fairs ever held in the United States. The amazing buildings of the fair provided a spectacular backdrop for the race.

Racecar driver, team owner and writer Gary Faules has been collecting photos of the 1915 Vanderbilt Cup Race for years and has kindly offered copies for VanderbiltCupRaces.com to supplement aNew  series on the 1915 race. Part I: The course surrounding the Tower of Jewels building.


Howard Kroplick

The 3.849-mile course including a section through the World's Fair. The red circle indicates the location of the Tower of Jewels building.The winner needed to complete 77 laps for a total of 300 miles.

A map of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Click on this San Francisco Public Library website to see a virtual tour. A postcard will appear on each major location.

A Google Earth aerial of the course as it looks today.

The trotting track section of the course under construction. The grandstands will be built on the right. The large building in the background is the Tower of Jewels. Photo courtesy of Gary Faules.

The Tower of Jewels was the tallest building at the fair, which sparkled with thousands of twinkling free-hanging jewels. Inside were a variety of large painted murals, depicting allegorical scenes of such things as Balboa discovering the Pacific Ocean and the progress of the Panama Canal.

Looking into the Court of the Universe. Photo courtesy of Gary Faules.

Looking down the Avenue of Palms. The Tower of Jewels can be seen on the left. The domed building on the right is the Horicultural Palace.

The Palace of Liberal Arts is the building on the left.

This is the turn from the Avenue of Palms on to the Avenue of Progress. The Varied Industries Palace is on the right.

A 36-second newsreel of the 1915 race.


Feb 11 2015 Howard Kroplick 12:52 PM

From Mark Dill:

One of the most amazing settings ever, ever in history for an auto race. San Francisco, 1915. Dario Resta’s brilliant drive in the rain soaked American Grand Prize remains one of the impressive in all auto racing history. It must have been magic. More brilliant work from the world’s leading historian on the Vanderbilt Cup, Howard Kroplick. Just flat out amazing.

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