Dec 05 2013

Chaos at the Finish of the 1908 Vanderbilt Cup Race

The primary goal of the newly built Long Island Motor Parkway for the 1908 Vanderbilt Cup Race was to keep crowds under control and off the course. Unfortunately, chaos once again prevailed at the end of a Vanderbilt Cup Race.


Howard Kroplick

On the last lap of the race, spectators near the grandstand came on the course in order to have a better view of the finish.

Moments later the problem became more acute as spectators blocked the Motor Parkway. The Irish Volunteers jumped in and momentarily cleared the course.

Driver George Robertson soon drove the #16 Locomobile to victory- America's first win in the Vanderbilt Cup Races. Note the crowds suging to the west of the officials' stand/press box.

The Race Commission had previously notified the teams they did not intend to call the race until five competitors had finished.  It was not to be. The race was officially called off at 10:55 a.m.  and telephone calls went out to signalmen to display white danger flags to waved off the remaining nine cars still running. 

Before word reached him, Jim (Joe) Florida in the#1  Locomobile burst onto the scene expecting the crowd to part as usual. By now, though, not only were there more people on the course, but touring cars as well. Florida slammed his brakes and veered to miss 18-year-old David Shuh of Brooklyn but could not avoid striking the young man. Just 100 yards shy of the finish line, the Locomobile then caromed into a roadster carrying two girls and a driver.

Shuh suffered the most serious injury of the day, a broken leg.  The occupants of the roadster were shaken but otherwise unharmed.

Soon after,  William Luttgen, driving Willie K's #5 Mercedes, barged through the crowd at what observers judged to be tremendous speed. One newspaper called it “a mystery” that he made his way through the throng with no contact more severe than scraping a few shins in the crowd with his wheel hubs.

The remaining five drivers still running: Al Denison, Wilfred Bourque, Joe Seymour, Willie Haupt and George Salzman were robbed of the chance to complete their races despite nearly 5 hours of valiant effort. Another dramatic Vanderbilt Cup Race finish was tarnished by the unruly crowds the Race Commission had hoped the Parkway would help control.


Dec 09 2013 Lou 1:06 PM

Pretty unruly crowds….. Pretty annoying to say the least…

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