Jul 30 2013

Long Island’s First Major Automobile Competition: The 1901 100-Mile Endurance Test

Three years before the first Vanderbilt Cup Race, the first major automobile competition on Long Island was a 100-year endurance test and a hill climb organized  by the Long Island Automobile Club. As described by the New York Times "never before have so many machines propelled by gasoline, steam, and electricity have been seen together..to show the public just what they are good for in getting around the country conveniently and at a tolerable speed."


Howard Kroplick

Link to the Official Programme for the Endurance Test held on April 20, 1901.

Laying out the 100-mile course in Queens and Nassau County.

A hill climb contest was held at the Roslyn Hill on North Hempstead Turnpike.

The map for the 100-mile endurance test.

The test began in Jamaica.

67 cars participated  with a speed limit of 15 miles per hour. The winner was determined by which automobile could finish the 100-miles within a fixed time limit.

 A total of  31  of the 67 cars completed the 100 miles. However, 14 cars were disqualified for exceeding the the 15 mph limit. The winner  among the qualifying 17 cars was a 5-horsepower gasoline car driven by J.C. Chase and Dr. W.H. Hutchinson.

The hill-climbing contest at Roslyn had 12 entries with awards for the different classes of cars.

The hill was 2,880 feet in length.

The winner of the hill climb was a steamer, winning in 1 minute and 42 seconds.

April 27, 1901, New York Times "Big Run of Automobiles"

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Aug 01 2013 Ariejan Bos 4:56 PM

This is the real stuff! Of course I had to check and can give the following additional information, partly based on a report in The Automobile Magazine of 1901 (see the Internet Archive of the American Libraries, http://www.archive.org).
Only 14 cars left at the start, of which 10 reached the finish. Of these 2 Gasmobiles were disqualified because of exceeding the speed limit, including the one with no.18! Winner was an identical 9hp Gasmobile with no.22. On the other photographs of the actual run we see: with no.8 a De Dion-Bouton Motorette (only one of 5 reached the finish) behind probably a Packard 1901 model C (from the Ohio Automobile Co.);  the Locomobile steamer (overall winner of the hill climb) on 2 photos; the Haynes-Apperson (presumably) during the hill climb; and finally a De Dion Motorette, also during the hill climb. The EVC sent one of its first gasoline Columbia cars (picture on their site: http://www.kcstudio.com).
In the Official Handbook, which probably shows the cars of the organisers, we can see a Winton (p.19 en p.25), but the other cars need some investigation. However this will be difficult because of the low res of the pictures.

Anyway, Howard, thank you for this item! Liked it very much.

Aug 02 2013 brian d mccarthy 6:23 PM

Is Roslyn Hill located on what is now Old Northern Blvd, Howard?

Aug 02 2013 Howard Kroplick 9:58 PM

Brian, according to the course map, it appears to be Northern Boulevard (North Hempstead Turnpike) east of the village of Roslyn.


Aug 03 2013 brian d mccarthy 12:08 PM

Thanks, Howard. The Hill Climb photo reminded me of the area of Northern Blvd near the Roslyn Cemetary and the Museum of Art. But then I’m thinking of Old Northern Blvd, which also has the hill and curves. I’m not a big car buff, but the current mystery photo has piqued my interest.

Aug 03 2013 Greg Oreiro 6:39 PM

It’s too bad the hill climb photo wasn’t a little bit of a wider shot. At that moment in 1901, Mackay’s amazing Harbor Hill estate was in the middle of being built (1899-1902) and we might have gotten a glimpse of the construction.

Either way, it’s still a great shot of Northern Blvd at the top of the hill east of where the viaduct is now, taken with the photographer’s back to the railroad crossing (today, the tracks cross via a bridge over N. Blvd-Brian, you were correct with your guess) Rallye Acura/Benz now sits just at the second bend on the left. Just for the hell of it, I measured the distance on Google Earth, and sure enough, the hill is just over 2800 feet long!

Aug 08 2013 Lou 10:52 AM

Wow, amazing stuff. Really enjoyed reading about it….Thanks Howard…

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