Aug 10 2011

VanderbiltCupRaces Exclusive: The 1900 Newport Automobile Races & the First Vanderbilt Cup Trophy

The first major race in which William K. Vanderbilt Jr. competed was held in September 1900 in Newport, Rhode Island. It was also at this race where the first William K.Vanderbilt Jr. cup was given to a winner of an automobile race...four years before the Long Island Vanderbilt Cup Races.




On September 6, 1900, Vanderbilt and his society sporting friends gathered at a half-mile Aquidneck Park horse track near Newport, Rhode Island, for a series of 13 automobile races. 22-year old Willie K. was the star of the meet winning three of the featured five mile races; including the final championship race with his Daimler White Ghost (#401), averaging 33.7 mph.


This program of the 1900 races was filled out by Andrew L. Riker, founder of the Riker Electric Motor Company, and showed the 13 planned races. Riker noted the automobiles that were unable to compete (out and broke) and marked the winners with a line. Note: Riker won the Electric Vehicle Race with the trophy donated by the Locomobile Company. In the summer of 1902, Riker became vice-president of Locomobile in charge of engineering and was instrumental in the success of their future automobiles..

The race was covered by national newspapers, the automobile trade journals and Newport newspapers. Some examples:


The New York Times September 7, 1900:

Newport, R.I.: The first automobile race ever held in this section drew about 10,000 people to Aquidneck Trotting Park this afternoon. The races were made up of all kinds of motor vehicles, from the gasoline tricycle to William K. Vanderbilt, Jr.'s French gasoline machine. Some of the events were most exciting , but the majority were tame. Mr. Vanderbilt's machine, as was expected, carried off the honors, winning in the final of its class and beating all machines in the mixed event. The programme was made of heats, the machines being divided into their special classes, the winners in each meeting in the championship.

Autobain- October 1900:


The much-talked -of race of autobains at Aquideck Park, Newport, arranged by the prominent society people in the colony proved a success. The incentive for a big display of vehicles and for a long list of entires in the races were given by William K. Vanderbilt Jr. , and Mrs. Herman Oelrichs, each of whom presented cups for competition.

Newport Herald, September7, 1900

The prizes for the winners in each class were handsome silver cups, offered as follows: Steam class by W.K.Vanderbilt, Jr..... The sixth race brought up three steam machines. The Mobile Company of America had J.H. McDuffee and J.J. Walker up and Mr. Scott drove his own machine, and T. Griffin managed one of the Locomobile company's that needed repairs. It lasted seven laps. Mr. Scott had a good machine but was not a racer, so McDuffie was first.


The trophy won by Joseph H. McDuffee had not been seen in public for over 110 years.... Until I received an email this week from the Tom McDuffee,grandson of J.H. McDuffee. He attached these photos of a beautiful family heirloom.


As engraved on the trophy, the cup was "Presented by W.K.Vanderbilt, Jr."


The engraving reads:

Automobiles Races

Aquidneck Park

September 6, 1900

First Prize

Steam Carriages

Thank you McDuffee family for sharing this treasure!

Links to related posts on William K. Vanderbilt, Jr. on and the Internet:

Archives:William K. Vanderbilt Jr.

Archives: Vanderbilt Cup Trophy

Index: Archives on

A.L.Riker and the History of the Locomobile Company


Aug 11 2011 Howard Kroplick 10:37 AM

Tom McDuffee:

“Wow Howard,
Great job - thanks for the added info - I love Riker’s program - where did you get that?
The Providence Daily Journal Sept. 7, 1900 also had a long article worth reading…
We are actually very grateful - its nice to see J.H. McDuffee immortalized on such a well done and informative website!
Hope to meet you sometime and thanks again!”

Aug 14 2011 joel Finn 8:13 AM


Good work, but needs some corrections.
Riker ran his own company at that time, he did not work for Locomobile.
Riker won the Electric Car race at Aquidneck. His trophy was presented by the Locomobile Club of America.
I have Riker’s trophy and program from the event and photos of WKV’s Daimler. By the way, the Daimler Phoenix was the first racing car ever imported into the U.S.
I could scan my program if you like.


Aug 14 2011 Howard Kroplick 12:04 PM

Hi Joel:

Thanks for the comments. Corrections made above.

Please send me anything that you would like to share to me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) .



Mar 03 2012 Lorenz 8:11 PM

Am writing a book about Cycling in Boston in the 1890s.  At least two McDuffees were involved:  Eddie and Peter.  They had a brother Joseph.  I would like to connect with the McDuffee family.

Mar 04 2012 Howard Kroplick 12:14 AM

Hi Lorenz:
I will send you Tom McDuffie’s email address.

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