Vanderbilt Offers the Cup

At the turn of the 20th century the superiority of European automotive craftsmanship cast a long shadow over America’s fledgling car industry. To encourage American automobile manufacturers to challenge European quality, William K. Vanderbilt Jr. envisioned America’s first international road race, modeled after those held in Europe. On January 8, 1904, the 26-year old Vanderbilt proposed that officials of the newly formed American Automobile Association (AAA) bring such a race to his native Long Island. He donated a 10½ gallon, 30-pound silver cup designed by Tiffany & Company. Embossed on the precious metal was the image of Willie K in his proudest racing moment, atop his Mercedes at the 1904 Ormond-Daytona Beach Automobile Tournament.