Nov 19 2011

The 50th Anniversary of the First Vanderbilt Cup Race on October 9, 1954

The Vanderbilt Cup Races have been celebrated by vintage car clubs and historical organizations for over 75 years. The grandest and most memorable celebration was held on Long Island on October 9, 1954, marking the 50th anniversary of the first Vanderbilt Cup Race.


 The 50th Anniversary celebration was organized by the Long Island Old Car Club and the Mineola Fair and Industrial Exposition. Events included participation of Old 16, veteran Vanderbilt Cup Race drivers and mechanicans, a parade of 78 vintage cars built before 1924, a lunch at the Garden City Hotel and another parade at the 1954 Mineola Fair.

Highlights of these events have been made available through the courtesy of Walter McCarthy, who supplied a six-minute film from the Long Island Old Car Club, and Jerry Helck, who provided rare photos from the Helck Family Collection.





Vintage Car Parade

Over 70 vintage cars gathered at the original start/finish line on Jericho Turnpike in Westbury and retraced the original 1904 course.

 The oldest car in the parade was this 1897 Delahyde Brake owned by R. Dowling of New York, New York.







Henry Austin Clark, Jr. drove his 1903 Peerless Racer, which needed a push at the Garden City Hotel. The car was later purchased by Barney Pollard.







A 1904 Oldsmobile Roadster owned by H. Singe, Jr. of Hillside, New Jersey.






Bob Bohaty of Centerport, New York was attired in policeman garb as he drove his 1905 Renault Roadster.










Bob Breese was "smoking" in his 1911 Breese-Paris Raceabout.









Al Poole, Joe Tracy's mechanician for the 1904, 1905 and 1906 Vanderbilt Cup Races, drove a 1910 Simplex Speed Car. 







 The star of the event was the 1906 Old 16 Locomobile, the winner of the 1908 Vanderbilt Cup Race, brought to the celebration by its owner artist Peter Helck.









George Robertson and Glenn Ethridge in Old 16. This would be the last time the 1908 winning team would ever appear together. Robertson passed away nine months later.







Lunch at the Garden City Hotel



The parade stopped for lunch and photos at the Garden City Hotel, the official headquarters for the Long Island Vanderbilt Cup Races.





 The Vanderbilt Cup trophy was loaned from the Smithsonian Museum and placed on display at the hotel with its own security guard.





Three participants of the 1904 Vanderbilt Cup Race holding the cup; George Arents, Jr. (left), driver of the crashed Mercedes, Joe Tracy (right), driver of the Royal Tourist and his mechanician Al Poole (center).






George Robertson (left) and Glenn Ethridge (right). The plaque below the trophy read;


Automobile Racing Trophy


Established by William K. Vanderbilt, Jr. in 1904, this trophy was contested annually in the Vanderbilt Cup Races held in the United States under the auspices of the American Automobile Association.

The races were organized for the purpose of bringing the best foreign cars to America so that early automobile manufacturers might observe them.  It is believed that the trophy in this way contributed to the rapid development of the automobile in the United States.




Mineola Fair and Industrial Exposition Parade




The cars drove from the hotel to the Mineola Fairgrounds where they paraded for another two laps. 






Thanks again to Jerry Helck and Walter McCarthy for your continuing contributions to !


Check back next week on the website for rare film footage of the 1954 parade and the Vanderbilt Cup at the Garden City Hotel.


Links to related posts on

1954 50th Anniversary of the First Vanderbilt Cup Race Brochure

Archives: Vanderbilt Cup Race Centennial and Anniversary Events

Driver Profile: George Hepburn Robertson

Driver Profile: George Arents Jr.

Archives: Joe Tracy

Archives: Old 16 Locomobile

Archives: Vanderbilt Cup Trophy

Index: Archives on

Archives: Monthly Highlights (2008-2011)


Nov 20 2011 jim poole 4:09 PM

Howard, thanks for posting these memorable photos.  I remember being there with my Dad and Grandfather.  I was almost 10 years old.

Nov 25 2011 Howard Kroplick 11:21 PM

Hi Jim: It is a pleasure. I hope to have a film of the event with your grandfather driving the 1910 Simplex Speed Car.


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