Apr 16 2011

Midget Auto Racing at Roosevelt Raceway in 1939

Only two major road races were ever held at the Roosevelt Raceway in Westbury- the 1936 and 1937 Vanderbilt Cup Races. As described in Joel E. Finn's book American Road Racing The 1930s, "there was no future for Roosevelt Raceway as an automobile racing facility... two strikes and out". However, this Fairchild aerial looking southeast shows that auto racing was not quite dead at Roosevelt Raceway in 1939.


Joel E. Finn: "A number of midget races were also run there ...with one held on August 12, 1939 , drawing 55,000 fans for a 150-mile race."


Joel E. Finn: "The track was a half-mile long, utilizing the wide grandstand straightaway to create an odd oval, as the traffic went in both directions separated by a fence down the center. The 180-degree turns at each end were very sharp and consequently slow, reducing the average speeds of the racers to 50 mph or less."


Joel E. Finn: "The layout inhibited the midget drivers from doing what they did best and what the fans came to see, cars sliding through curves at high speeds and drivers exhibiting their skills."


An unidentified winner of a Roosevelt Raceway midget race accepting his trophy.


The 1939 Fairchild aerial also provides some additional gems. The Long Island Motor Parkway can be seen in the diagonal of this image, south of Roosevelt Raceway. The Meadowbrook Polo Club is to the right.


This close-up showed the Motor Parkway bridge over Merrick Avenue.


The Long Island Motor Parkway bridge over Newbridge Avenue (not Newbridge Road) in East Meadow.


North of Roosevelt Raceway, the Northern State Parkway was being constructed in 1939, running parallel to Jericho Turnpike in Westbury.

Links to related posts on VanderbiltCupRaces.com:

A Treasure Box of Long Island Auto Racing Discovered by the Cradle of Aviation

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

Book "American Road Racing the 1930s"

Archives: 1936 Vanderbilt Cup Race

Archives: 1937 Vanderbilt Cup Race

Featured Upcoming Automotive Events:

SCCA Annual Tech Day, Hauppauge, NY Saturday, April 23, 2011

56th Annual Easter Sunday Vintage Car Parade, Garden City, Sunday, April 24, 2011

Calendar of 2011 Long Island Automotive Events


Presentation “The Long Island Motor Parkway, the 1908 Vanderbilt Cup Race & Central Park” 7:30 pm, Bethpage Public Library, Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Apr 17 2011 Art 8:54 AM

Great pic Howard - my house is there somewhere a bit east of Roosevelt Raceway.  I do want to make a correction - the close-up of the bridge in East Meadow is actually over Newbridge Ave (today’s Salisbury Park Drive), not Newbridge Road.  Newbridge Road is further east, past the Wantagh Parkway that is shown running across the top of the main pic.  Looking at a 1939 Atlas, I see Newbridge Ave. running south through Salisbury Park and crossing Hempstead Turnpike. Interestingly, a 1950 Atlas shows it named Bellmore Westbury Road and ending where it meets the Motor Parkway (i.e., not continuing through the Park).  I know Newbridge Avenue extended south of Hempstead Turnpike through East Meadow, but probably around 20 years ago it was renamed East Meadow Avenue, to ease the confusion between it and Newbridge Road.  Hope this makes sense.

Apr 17 2011 Frank Femenias 9:51 AM

Nice aerial shots. It’s amazing how much the place has changed that keeps me analyzing ‘em. Howard, are there any aerial pics in the New Hyde Park area of the elusive LIMP bridge that crossed the NSP and NHP Road which was approx .75 mile east of the Lake Success double bridges? Thanks again for the interesting pics.

Apr 17 2011 Howard Kroplick 6:12 PM

From Ron L.
“Great stuff Howard. Keep’em coming!”

Apr 17 2011 Howard Kroplick 6:14 PM

From Wendy:

“cool aerial shot. also liked that pix of the bull hotel on northern & glen cove rd.”

Apr 17 2011 Howard Kroplick 6:16 PM

From JD:

“That aerial view is terrific.”

Apr 19 2011 Tom 1:47 PM

Indeed great aerial shots. Why did the Roosevelt Raceway only last for 2 “road races”?
Development creeping in already at that point?

Apr 20 2011 Howard Kroplick 11:08 PM


The track was losing money on each race. In addition, American and European drivers disliked the road racing course.


Apr 29 2011 Howard Kroplick 11:18 PM

Hi Frank:

There were two Motor Parkway bridges over Northern State Parkway built by Robert Moses:

In upcoming posts, I will post new images and aerials of the Motor Parkway bridges.


May 18 2014 Wayne Feulner 1:08 PM

In regards to the unidentified midget race car driver pictured, the driver should be Morris “Babe” Bower, a top notch midget race driver from Philadelphia PA. Three National Midget Championship Races were held during 1939. The first was a 100-lap event, staged on a specially constructed quarter-mile banked board track on June 25 at Soldier Field, Chicago. A 150-mile race, held on a half-mile track at Roosevelt Raceway, Long Island, N. Y., on August 12, was won by Morris “Babe” Bower; second, Joe Garson and third, Perry Grimm. The final championship race was a 150-lap event held on the quarter-mile Gilmore Stadium track, in Los Angeles. The winners in each of the above races drove Offenhauser midget cars.”
According to brief information at the website posted below, Bower was a very small man which fits your website photo well. Thanks for your time, Wayne http://midgetcarpanorama.proboards.com/thread/550/midget-racer?page=1#scrollTo=1716

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