Jun 19 2017

Mystery Foto #24 Solved: William Bruce Brown, the Brother of David Bruce-Bown

The Bayport Heritage Association and the Suffolk County Parks Department challenged you to solve this weekend's Mystery Foto.

Mystery Foto questions:

  • Identify the driver.

William Bruce Brown (1886-1918)

  • Who was the driver's brother? Identify the Vanderbilt Cup Races in which he drove.

David Bruce Brown (1889-1912) was William's younger brother. He drove in the 1910 and 1911 Vanderbilt Cup Races.

  • Identify the automobile.

1910 50hp Simplex Toy Tonneau

  • Where was the photo taken?

At the Vanderbilt Cup Race grandstand on the Motor Parkway in the Hempstead Plains (now Levittown).

  • Who was the photographer?

The photo was taken by William's friend and distant releative Gladys Roosevelt. Sayville resident Gladys was the daughter of John E. Rooosevelt and second cousin of President Teddy Roosevelt.

  • When was the photo taken? Provide a rationale.

May 1910. Rationale: August 10, 2016 post on the John E. Roosevelt Family Photo Album.

Comments (5)

Congrats and kudos to Steve Lucas and Ariejan Bos for identifying Gladys Roosevelt's photo of William Bruce Brown  in his 50 hp Simplex.


Howard Kroplick


David Bruce-Brown

William's brother David Bruce-Brown finished 12th in the 1910 Vanderbilt Cup Race in the #16 Benz.

He finished 11th in the 1911 Vanderbilt Cup Race in the #14 FIAT.

Gladys Roosevelt (1889-1926)

Photographer Gladys Roosevelt  loved taking photos and driving automobiles and became an artist.  In 1926, at the age of only 37, she tragically died in a horse riding accident at the Meadow Brook Hunt Club during a fox hunt.


1910 Simplex Toy Tonneau

Femenias' Findings (Submitted by Frank Femenias)

Before: 1910

After: 2011


Jun 17 2017 Greg O. 3:34 PM

Going with all guesses this weekend…

I’ll say this is Harry Grant’s brother in an Alco at Indy in 1911 when his brother ran in the inaugural Indy 500. Harry Grant was the winner of the ‘09 and ‘10 Vanderbilt Cup Races. Don’t know the photographer.

Jun 17 2017 Steve Lucas 9:34 PM

That’s William Bruce-Brown, sitting in a 50hp Simplex in front of the grandstand on the LIMP in present day Levittown. His brother, David Bruce-Brown, participated in the 1910 and 1911 Vanderbilt Cup Races. Since William was a friend of the John Roosevelt family, and John’s daughter Gladys took many photographs of the 1909 & 1910 races and another photo of William taken by her was dated May, 1910, I’m guessing that this photo was taken at the same time.

Jun 19 2017 Ariejan Bos 6:51 AM

The photo shows William Bruce-Brown in his 1910 Simplex 50hp toy tonneau in front of the grandstand at Levittown, May 1910. The photo was taken by Gladys Roosevelt, with whom he was related through an aunt of his mother. Another photo of William in his Simplex at the same location was shown at the site of TheOldMotor.com.
William’s brother was David, the famous racing driver. Though unsuccessful in the 1910 and 1911 Vanderbilt Cup races, he won in both of these years the American Grand Prize. He would be killed during practice for the 1912 American Grand Prize and Vanderbilt Cup.

Jun 19 2017 frank femenias 5:44 PM

Don’t know the driver but he resembles Spencer Wishart (American). Wishart raced in the 1909, 10, 11, 12, and ‘14 VCR races. Photo taken at the east end of the Levittown grandstand. I can see the crew pits between the grandstand and the Motor Parkway. The crew pits were once located where the new houses have recently popped up, just west of Crocus Lane. The vehicle could be a Locomobile

Jun 19 2017 frank femenias 5:48 PM

The year must be between 1908-1910 when the grandstand was in use for the Vanderbilt Cup Races

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