As you may (or may not) know, Long Island has a long history of carriage driving and coaching. And, these days, it has two enthusiastic “keepers” of that history: CAA members Jerry & Rita Trapani, who live on Long Island and are justifiably proud of their area’s past.

Jerry sent me a link to Howard Kroplick’s website (www.vanderbiltcupraces.com) and blog, where he has posted (and continues to post) all sorts of information, photos, and videos pertaining to the Vanderbilt Cup Races — which, according to his home page, were “held on Long Island from 1904 to 1910 [and] were the greatest sporting events of their day. These exciting and dangerous races were the first international automobile road races held in the United States, drawing huge crowds from 25,000 to over 250,000 spectators. The races had a far-reaching impact on the development of American automobiles and parkways and are a testament to the early racing spirit and drama. VanderbiltCupRaces.com provides comprehensive information on the Vanderbilt Cup Races, the Long Island Motor Parkway, and current Long Island automotive events, car shows, and news.”

I hope you enjoy Howard’s website and blog as much as I did. If you’d like to read about the American Mercedes, be sure to click on the link for his blog post from Jan. 15. From there, you can download a PDF of the full article, which appeared in The Star. (Note, too, under the “Specifications of the American Mercedes” on page 5, that the upholstery, painting, trim work, and detailing were all done by Brewster & Co.!)

Also …

As much as I love horse-drawn vehicles, I must admit that I do love old cars … and race cars … and road races. Which is one of the reasons that I’m fascinated with a recent discovery of  information about Speedways: those old race tracks for carriages. (You may have noticed a couple of references to them here on the blog and in the January issue of The Carriage Journal.) I’m still doing my research and will post a report here on the blog as soon as I have it finished.

And so … I found this reference on Howard’s website of particular interest:

Following a spectator death during the 1906 Vanderbilt Cup Race, William K. Vanderbilt, Jr. and the race sponsors determined that the huge crowds and risks to the spectators precluded [running] the race on public roads. Two days after the race, the concept for a privately owned speedway on Long Island was developed by Vanderbilt and his associates—the first highway built exclusively for the automobile. Vanderbilt’s dream was to build a safe, smooth, police-free road without speed limits and a place where he could conduct his beloved automobile race, the Vanderbilt Cup Race, without spectators running onto the course. After twenty months of obtaining the road’s right of way, construction of the first section of the Long Island Motor Parkway was begun in June 1908.