May 08 2010

The Dagradas and the 1960 Cornelius Vanderbilt Cup Race at Roosevelt Raceway


Roger, thanks for the question all the way from the land of the Kiwi. In June 1960, an attempt was made to revive the Vanderbilt Cup Races with Formula Junior racers on a course created in the parking lot of Roosevelt Raceway harness race track in Westbury, New York. The donor of the trophy was 62-year old Cornelius Vanderbilt IV, a nephew of William K. Vanderbilt, Jr.



 

The one and a half mile course was laid out on the paved parking areas of the harness race track facility and included 11 curves and a 2,350 foot straight-away. The Vanderbilt Cup Race totaled 75 miles consisting of 50 laps.



 

The Formula Junior cars were single-seat racers limited to 1,100 c.c. in which only proprietary pushrod engines could be used. A record 40 Formula Junior racers were entered in the 1960 Vanderbilt Cup Race and attracted some of the world's best drivers of the era including; Carroll Shelby, Jim Rathmann (winner of the 1960 Indy 500), and Rodger Ward (winner of the 1959 and 1962 Indy 500s). Two Dagradas were scheduled to participate in the race; #666 driven by Allan Lance of New York, NY and #50 driven by Jerry Titus of Hicksville, NY.



 

On June 18, 1960, two qualifying heats of five laps (7.5 miles) were run to determine the pole positions for Sunday's big race. However, this press release of the results from the first heat indicates that the #666 Dagrada did not participate among the 14 cars in the heat as planned.



 

In the second qualifying heat, the #50 Dagrada driven by Jerry Titus was listed with the 13th best time of the 17 racers in the heat.



 

A total of 33 racers started in front of 37,300 spectators. Unfortunately, it is not clear which two starting racers did not participate in the two heats. Was one the #666 Dagrada? It is still a mystery to be solved.



 

The winner of the race was Harry Carter of Litchfield, Connecticut in a Stanguellini, averaging 74.95 mph. Chuck Wallace in a Scorpion DKW was second, followed by Jerry Truitt (Stanguellini), Newton Davis (Stanguellini), Pedro Rodriquez (Scorpion DKW) and Lewis Fink (Scorpion DKW). Jerry Titus' #50 Dagrada can be seen at the 45 second mark of this 1960 newsreel of the race. To date, I have never found a complete listing of the results of this race. The best tally sheet, although incomplete, is on champcarstats.com. But, neither Dagrada is listed.


In summary, two Dagradas were entered in the 1960 Vanderbilt Cup Race. Only the #50 Dagrada participated in the qualifying heats and definitely started in the 1960 Vanderbilt Cup Race. More information will hopefully be provided by other race fans.

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May 10, 2010 Update: The 40 racer entry list for the two qualifying heats for the 1960 Vanderbilt Cup Race as listed in the Program Guide, including the #666 and #50 Dagradas.


Hear and see a Lancia Dagrada at Monaco in this YouTube film.

More information and films of the Dagradas.
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May 17, 2010 Update: Michael Lynch has forwarded this 1960 article on the Cornelius Vanderbilt Cup Race published in Road & Track.


The race was also described in this article published in "Sports Car".

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May 26, 2010 Update: This is the current summary of documentation on the 1960 Cornelius Vanderbilt Cup Race:

-40 race cars were entered- Documented in 1960 Program Guide

-31 race cars participated in the qualifying heats- Documented in race summaries

-33 race cars started including two cars that did not participate in the qualifying heats- No documentation

-14 race cars finished- Only partial documentation



Comments

May 09 2010 Richard A. Williams 3:04 PM

Does anyone have film of the 1958 Vanderbilt Race held at Roosevelt Field celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1908 Vanderbilt? I was in college but my father drove my 1922 Marmon Mod 34 Speedster in it. Austin Clark and others,who went on to build the Bridgehampton race track, were the organizers.They called it a race but i’m sure it was just a parade of old vehicles.

May 09 2010 Howard Kroplick 9:40 PM

Hi Richard:

I have photos of the 50th anniversary of the 1904 Vanderbilt Cu Race…but have nothing on the 1958 celebration.

Howard

May 26 2010 Roger Linton 1:12 PM

Otto Linton and Lew Fink owned the Scorpion - DKW/Rytune that he ran there and I had always heard stories about the car. There were only three of them, the Rodriguez brothers owned the other two…..eventually selling the one that Wallace drove.

There are lots of bad info on these early races…..Ray Heppenstall started working for Otto right out of high school, and he was used to transport some of the cars for Otto and Tom Flemming…...he often shows up in the records as having owned / driven them (but he did not).

The dagrada was a nice car….Otto had a good look at one at the Fairmont Park races in Philadelphia. The Scorpion was blindingly fast in short distances as it could lap the entire field within the first few laps. At the time, Lew mentioned that the champ car drivers we taken back at the huge speed difference between the cars during practice having told Lew “you guys in the Scorpions must be crazy”. The Scorpions seemed to be in a class of their own…..but in long distance runs the DKW engine heated up and the pre-charge did not work as well and their advantage would evaporate.

So had the two Lancia/dagrada cars run….they would have shown well over the 75 mile race.

cheers,

Roger Linton

Jun 08 2010 dick gaul 6:30 PM

Hi
I bought the Scorpion from Lew Flink (not Fink).
Want to talk about it?
Dick

Aug 23 2010 dick gaul 8:07 PM

Hi
I thought a bit more info might generate some interest from someone about the Scorpion I bought from Lew Flink in 1962. It was re-painted silver with a black center-stripe, and ran the F-Jr. races on the east coast against the rear-engined cars that by now were way faster than the front-engined ones. In fact, at Elkhart Lake that year I was surprised when I was awarded a 1st. place trophy for “Front-engined class”. We didn’t even know they were going to do that! That was kind of funny!. At that race the rear motor-mount broke in practice, and my “crew” (fancy name for my three friends who came along for the fun) made a motor mount from a tent peg that was part of our camping stuff. It worked. Why do I mention this? First, if whoever may have ended up with my car found it, it will help identify which of the three DKW Scorpions they got! I never replaced the tent peg. Second, it was a lot of fun in those days going from race to race, sleeping on the ground in the pits, and enjoying the camraderie of a simpler time.
I would be happy to share more facts and fun stuff about that car with anyone who might care to know.
Best regards,
Dick Gaul

Oct 18 2011 Nigel Russell 3:43 AM

Hello Howard Two Gemini Mk2 FJ took part in the 1960 race. #70 driven by one Vic Meinhardt and the #246 Gemini car by Jordon king. Whilst Meinhardt drove sports cars, this was the only race I can find for Meinhardt driving a Gemini FJ. Jordan King continued to race his Mk2 in Events on the East Coast through 1960-1961.
The excellent video clip you have of this race appears to show, 16 seconds in one of the Gemini (furthermost from the camera) and the second 35 second in, involved in the racing incident where the Stanguellini runs over the rear wheel and takes to the air.
The 1961 Vanderbilt Cup race at Bridgehampton this time saw two of the newer rear engined Gemini take part. The Sebring winning Mk3 of Charlie Kolb and the Gemini Mk3A driven by the USA agent for Gemini Cars Racing Cars; Bob Johnson from Ohio. The Kolb Mk3 is here in New Zealand undergoing restoration. Currently I am researching Gemini Racing cars in the USA and any help on photos or information on the Mk2 and Mk3’s at the Vanderbilt cup races to help with the racing histories would be much appreciated. Kind Regards Nigel Russell Auckland NZ. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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