Jul 19 2009

Rare Photos of the 1904 Vanderbilt Cup Race Discovered

I recently acquired a 1904 scrapbook of 65 never-before published photos including 15 amazing images of the 1904 Vanderbilt Cup Race. The most significant photo in the scrapbook is the only known documentation of the difficulties of #10 Fiat driven by Paul Sartori and owned by Willie K's cousin Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt at the start of race. Here's the story behind the photo:

The big disappointment of the start of the 1904 Vanderbilt Cup Race was the absence of Sartori's #10 Fiat when his start time of 6:18 a.m. arrived and his car failed to show. Sartori was driving his car from the Garden City Hotel to the Westbury start-finish line when he encountered mechanical trouble. He stopped near Mineola about 5 miles from the grandstand to work on the machine, but the repairs required 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Sartori’s woes triggered the first controversy in the race when he finally got going and tore through the starting line 2 hours and 2 minutes late, at 8:20 a.m. As shown in the above photo, he was running nearly 70 miles per hour at the Westbury Grandstand. Sartori failed to begin with a standing start as required by the rules. Chairman Pardington ordered the Fiat flagged and started properly when he came back around. Sartori’s day would not improve. During the second lap, his clutch failed before he reached the Hempstead Control, less than 12 miles down the road and he was out of the race.

Check here to see more photos from this one-of-kind scrapbook.


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