William K. Vanderbilt Jr. and the AAA selected the 1904 Vanderbilt Cup Race course based on the quality of the roads and the need to make a complete loop.
Triangular in shape, the 1904 Vanderbilt Cup course was 30.4 miles of macadam (crushed stone) and dirt roads slicing through Long Island villages and the countryside of Nassau County. Forming the course were three long, basically straight sections of road: Jericho Turnpike, which was 12.5 miles, Massapequa Road, 6 miles, and the combination of Bethpage-Hempstead Turnpike and Jamaica-Hempstead Plank Road, which was 14 miles. About 7 to 8 miles of the course was viewed as too narrow to allow passing.
Even though there were three main sides to the “triangle,” the course actually had four primary corners. The first of the major turns was on Jericho Turnpike in Jericho; the second at the intersection of Massapequa Road and Bethpage Turnpike, and the other two were in Queens. The two sharp turns in Queens were about an eighth mile apart on a street called Creed Avenue, now Springfield Boulevard. The final corner emptied out onto the home stretch, back on to Jericho Turnpike.
The two “control points” in the towns of Hempstead and Hicksville consumed 1.8 miles. These were the areas where the cars were stopped, their times recorded and then they were held to a crawl as they passed through the population centers.
Counting the controls, the total distance of the course was 30.4 miles, or 28.4 excluding controls. This made the ten lap race 284.44 miles or 302.4 miles.
The Westbury start-finish line on Jericho Turnpike and the Massapequa turn on to Bethpage-Hempstead Turnpike were highlighted in this 1904 American Biograph & Mutoscope film. Experience one lap of the 1904 course in this film.