Old amateur photos -7-
from a Maine eBay seller

Click: the photo for BIG size (760x???)
(Material supplementing my original, unresearched post is in italics)

Thumbnail: middle-lat 30s auto race at an American venue

Why do I love these old "black and white" photos? Just look at this one. Nice racing scene. Cursory look starts an interior monologue about what appears to be a large oval: our vantage point gives us a downward view, so we must be in a grandstand; much of the spectatoring goes on in the infield, where they have parked their middle-to-late 1930s American cars; a single race car approaching a turn to our right; can't quite read the sign and scoreboard that extends to the right of the base of the fourth-from-bottom X in the tower; no one on the tower (what's it there for? Public address system, I'd guess; maybe some lights up there out of view).

It's warm out, although overcast; three cars nearest us have the vents at the base of their windscreens open; plenty white shirts and short sleeves in evidence. (If made during the early July race, it was Monday after a rain postponement from Saturday.)

Now let's look a little deeper: one of the American cars is a white Cord; the man perched on the wrecker (can't quite read the name of the AAA approved service or its location) is taking a drink; is that an early air conditioner on top of the trailer rig? I'll bet we would recognize the names of those folks under the awning. Did you identify the Dymaxion-like tow car? Are they related to these, and I'm altogether wrong? Here's the verified Dymaxion car.

Finally, look at that single race car. Number 4. And it is travelling from right to left. An Auto Union Type C (I had called it "D").This must be a Vanderbilt Cup race. I have never seen a course diagram so I'm pretty much at a loss. Research time.

Scan: a vintage pin-back button, rusty on the reverse, from either the 1936 or 1937 (most likely) Long Island NY race

(Thanks to Neil Smith, London, England, who referred us to Leif Snellman's GP Pages, where Starters List, Grid, Results, and Story can be found. The event took place on July 5, 1937, at purpose-built Roosevelt Raceway, Westbury, Long Island, New York. Go directly to the 1937 Vanderbilt Cup page. See the course diagram. Now the challenge is: what is the field of view in the photograph?)

WRONG—>(I think we are in a grandstand near the top of the course diagram, and that the vacant area at the bottom of the photo is a section of track on which the cars would travel from left to right in front of us, heading for the first of two near-right-angle turns preceding the Start/ Finishing straight, which can be inferred from the grandstand visible beyond the "scoreboard" at the top of the picture.)

New Material: I now have at hand a copy of VANDERBILT CUP RACE 1936 & 1937 PHOTO ARCHIVE By Brock Yates · Photos by Smith Hempstone Oliver. ISBN1-882256-66-2, 1997, Iconografix, PO Box 609, Osceola, Wisconsin 54020 USA.

Among its excellent photographs is this one on page 107 showing the Prize, the George Vanderbilt Cup. The Cup stands on a table between two seated gentlemen. At the side of this placid scene is a sign affixed to a chain-link fence: "START SIGNAL—DIRECT WIRE VIA WESTERN UNION From PRES. ROOSEVELT AT HYDE PARK".

Click to see 588x Scan of p. 107 from the Iconografix book, VANDERBILT CUP RACE 1936 & 1937 Photo Archive
Smith Hempstone Oliver Photo from
By Permission of the publisher, Iconografix, Inc.

In the background beyond two other chain-link fences and one low barrier, just to the left of our friend the Public Address tower, is another acquaintance: the White Cord. I'd reckon that your Prize and your Announcement of a World-Figure Starter would be displayed before the Grandest Stand, on or near the Starting Line. Now I inspect the track surface of what I conjected as an unoccupied left-right section of track, that empty space that dominates the bottom of our picture, and I see what seems to be, could be, probably is, a grid-box mark or two. Very like the marks evident in other photos in the 1937 section of the Photo Archive.

So there you have it: we are in the main grandstand, looking across the S/F straight and the one beyond. Bernd Rosemeyer in the winning Auto Union, moving from our right to left will very shortly make a bend to his right, another to his left, and one more to his right before entering a section of the course that doubles back to our right, passes a receding distance more than half the length of our straight, doubles back again and wiggles a bit prior to entering a new, specially banked curve designed to increase launch-speed down the S/F straight, left to right and right in front of us.

Oriented at last. I feel much better now.

2014-10-18 — More New Material: "kevracer" of the Yahoo Group "Racing History" found a trove of photos made at this event, in the NYC Museum's collection.

(Terraserver offers aerial views and a map of the track area. They might be revealing.)

(I have a 1:43 scale model of the second-place #15 Mercedes-Benz W125 car of Richard Seaman, complete with swastika. I thought I had one of Rosemeyer's car, but the #4 I have looks more like a Type D. I guess that's where I got my bad early guess.)

Why do I love these old photos? There is always something surprising and rewarding in them. This was one of two, $2.25 the pair, plus a dollar shipping. The other is interesting, too, but nothing like the AU one. Or another eBay find, the one with the Cub Scout sitting on a fender as Swanson in the Sampson whizzes by . . .

Thumbnail: seen better days, Maryland license plate

Are there other remarkable things in any of these photos?
Please email.
I'd like to know what you see.

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