May 09 2011 Exclusive: The Vanderbilt Cup Trophy Today

Courtesy of Roger White, Associate Curator, Division of Work and Industry for the Smithsonian Institution, yesterday I received a special birthday gift- a visit to see the Vanderbilt Cup trophy. Stephanie Gress, Director of Curatorial Affairs of the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, Roz Kroplick and I took a special trip to the Smithsonian storage facilities in Maryland. I am pleased to report the Cup is in wonderful condition:


A fine portrait of William K. Vanderbilt Jr. in his 90 horsepower Mercedes at Ormond Beach is worked up in bold relief on the front of the Cup. It celebrates Willie K's greatest personal racing accomplishment of breaking the one-mile land speed record on January 27, 1904 going 92.3 mph.


The back of the Cup has the following inscription:


Presented By


To The


under deed of gift

to be raced for

yearly by cars

under 1000 kilos.

Won By


Two more surprising discoveries:

-The 1915 and 1916 race information were never engraved on the Cup. Only winners for the first nine races (1904-1914) are on the cup.

-The engravings for the winner of both the 1912 and 1914 races, a Mercedes driven by Ralph DePalma, list the owner of the car, Edward J. Schroeder, rather than Germany, the country of the car's manufacturer.


Stephanie Gress and Howard Kroplick documenting the Cup.


Howard and Roz Kroplick and our favorite sports trophy.


Stephanie Gress, Howard Kroplick and Roger White with one of America's sports treasures.

Thanks Roger for hosting this special birthday celebration and to Stephanie for joining Roz and I at the very last minute!

Feedback request: If you would like to see an exhibit of the Vanderbilt Cup trophy on Long Island, please leave a comment below.

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May 15 2011 Walt Gosden 4:52 AM

Yes, let’s see the Vanderbilt Cup come back to Long Island for an exhibit, that would be absolutely wonderful.

May 15 2011 jim barnes 8:54 AM

The cup should come back to LI and be housed in the Vanderbilt Mansion.

How did it ever got to Wash DC anyway ????

How can it be transferred from a “storage” facility to a full time display ???


May 15 2011 al velocci 10:21 AM

Jim Barnes asked how did the Vanderbilt Cup get to D.C., Vanderbilt himself donated it to the Smithsonian in the early 1930’s. Can we get some of our elected representatives to petition the Smithsonian for permission to display the Cup some where on Long Island ? If security is an issue I’d settle for a location in the City. Al Velocci

May 15 2011 Tom Grant 12:05 PM

That would be terrific!  Please keep us posted.
All the best,

May 15 2011 Jim Sandoro 12:51 PM

Howard,I worked with Roger White on another loan project for our museum and I have done appraisals on cars and artifacts for them. He is a great guy, he can get a loan approved with the proper , insurance , site security etc. It also helps if a Congressman or Senator writes a support letter. Jim

May 15 2011 guy 5:13 PM

Please! We’d all love to see the cup.
A reproduction existed here LI until the late 1960’s. This was awarded to the victor of annual runoffs held at the Bridgehampton circuit between the EMRA and SCCA clubs. I recall that the EMRA clubs usually won and may have been the owner/keeper of the cup. Perhaps a visit from the original cup can shake it loose from it’s unknown keeper for public enjoyment as a part of Vanderbilt’s contribution to motorsports on Long Island.

May 16 2011 David B Traver Adolphus 7:45 AM

If the Cup isn’t going to be on display at Smithsonian, it should be in New York State.

May 16 2011 Michael McCabe 8:12 PM

Hi Howard,

I think it’s a great idea to have the trophy on permanent display at the Vanderbilt Museum and perhaps they would loan it to you when you display the Alco 6.

May 17 2011 Joseph (Motorpky) Debono 4:54 AM

Howard, This trophy is a work of art. It would be great if it came to Long Islan again.        Joe(Motorpky)DeBono

May 20 2011 Howard Kroplick 10:39 PM

From James Elliot:
“I think it would be far more beneficial to have an exhibit of this cup on Long Island rather than in storage in Washington, DC. I also think it is important for the improved access to the cup which is an important link so much Long Island auto racing history.”

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