April 24, 2017
Metro NY Racing Issue »1908 Briarcliff Trophy Race »1896 NYC to Irvington Cosmopolitan Race »1903 & 1905 Racing Records at Yonkers’ Empire City »Mamaroneck’s FDNY Racing »Grand Prix New York, Mt. Kisco »Poughkeepsie Raceway »NYC ePrix Formula E Racing »Aurora Straus, Racing Prodigy
April 24 2017
4 Briarcliff Trophy Race American stock car racing history is made in Westchester County 17 White Plains Mammoth Garage 1908 home of the Isotta Race team 18 Setting Records at Empire City Yonkers Empire City Casino and racetrack have central place in American motorsports history 19 The Cosmopolitan Race From NYC to Cosmopolitan Maga zineâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Irvington Office in 1896 MetroSports Region Racing Today 20 NASCARâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s FDNY Racing 21 Grand Prix New York 26 Poughkeepsie Raceway 28 NYC ePrix Coming in July 30 Aurora Strauss, Racing Prodigy
Cover Image: Atlas of the Rural Country District North of New York City Embracing the Entire Westchester County, New York, Also a Portion of Connecticut. Published by E. Belcher Hyde, 1908. Creative Commons License. Photomerge of Upper Westchester and Lower Westchester Maps with 1908 Briarcliff Trophy Race course highlighted. http://www.davidrumsey.com/maps1140857-30340.html
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A1908 Briarcliff Trophy Racen When most people think of northern We hen most people think of Westchester County, whether it be the late 1800’s or today, they think of it as a place of quiet rolling fields, apple orchards and horse farms and that was, and still is, largely true. Few are likely to realize that northern Westchester and, in fact, the entire New York Metropolitan area were also an important part of the historical home to automobile racing in America.
Auto racing in the New York Metro area will once again return to prominence with the inaugural FIA Formula E road race to be held on July 15-16, 2017 on the streets of New York City. The Formula E series is the first Indy car-style all-electric racing series. With races in the Formula E series scheduled for Paris, Monaco, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Marrakesh, Mexico City and Montreal, this is truly an international road racing event. While America’s most popular stock car auto racing series, NASCAR, can trace its roots back to the Appalachian moonshiners of the 1940’s, the first international road race of production stock cars in the United States actually took place on a 32.4 mile road course that wound its way through the northern Westchester communities of Briarcliff, Millwood, Yorktown, Mt. Kisco, Armonk, Kensico, Valhalla, Eastview and Pocantico.
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Figure 1, below Spectators lining North State Road in Briarcliff Manor, just north of Route 9A.
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ggb2004000311/
Figure 2, above: Emanual Cedrino and his mechanic in their Fiat Cyclone on the race course
National Press Coverage of the Briarcliff Trophy Race
Fig 3b. Lowell (MA) Evening Mail. April 25, 1908
Fig. 3a.New York Tribune. April 25 1908
Fig. 3c. Indianapolis Star. Feb. 2 1908
Fig. 3d. N.Y. Morning Telegraph. April 19, 1908 MetroSports Magazine | 5
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Originally scheduled for 324 miles or ten laps around the circuit, the Briarcliff Trophy Race was reduced to only eight laps covering a total of 259.2 miles. The 22 cars which competed in the April 24, 1908 race were required by the rules to be stock cars, a validation which had to be made by the race’s technical committee. The race rules required that cars had to be regular production models, available to the public, and had to be produced in no less than a minimum run of ten automobiles. While other automobile races had been taking place in the United States since the 1880’s including the 1896 New York to Irvington Cosmopolitan Race and the 1900 Waldorf-Astoria to Ardsley-onHudson Race, the Briarcliff Trophy Race was the first that truly mandated the use of production stock
cars and featured international entries. The Indianapolis Star newspaper in its February 2, 1908 issue stated that, “the stock car automobile race set for April 24, which is to be held over a thirty-mile road course in Westchester County, will be one of the most successful events of the kind in the history of the sport.” The Yale University Sheffield School of Engineering referred to it as, “the most successful automobile road race ever held in this country” going on to add, “Few people realize what an affair of this kind means. The Briarcliff race was a stock car contest, that is, the competitors were not specially constructed racing machines, but consisted of mere stripped stock car models, which were being duplicated daily in their respective factories.” (Yale Scientific Monthly, June 1908)
Fig. 4. F.W. Leland and his mechanic in the Stearns racecar. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ggb2004000311/ Dining on the 1908 Briarcliff Race Course
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In anticipation of crowds estimated to be upward of 300,000 on hand to view the race, the New York Central railroad (now Metro North) put on extra trains from NYCs Grand Central Terminal. Special trains began leaving Grand Central at 1:00 am on race day and continued throughout the early morning hours bringing spectators to the Valhalla and Mt. Kisco train stations which were located near sections of the race course. The New York Times reported that 10,000 automobiles were expected to choke the small rural roads leading to the Westchester road course, bringing spectators from across the northeast. One thousand National Guard troops from New York’s twelfth and twentieth regiments were called in to help control the crowds. In order to allow the competing cars and drivers to practice on the race course in the days leading up to race day, local municipalities suspended municipal speed limits during the early morning practice hours. While you’d be hard pressed to find coverage of stock car racing in the sports pages of today’s New York Times, the 1908 Briarcliff Trophy race received multiple days of coverage including prominent placement on page 1. The race received coverage on page 1 of The Los Angeles Herald, the Atlanta Georgian, the Washington D.C. Evening Star, Omaha Daily Bee, Pacific Commercial Advertiser, Ocala Evening Star, Iowa Evening Times Republican, Salt Lake Herald, and Lake County Times (Indiana). As reported in the Washington Evening Star, speculation that the Briarcliff race would be so treacherous with its sharp turns and narrow roads that one of the drivers, Emanual Cedrino, took out a life insurance policy for $3,000. One of the more hazardous sections of the course was the eight-mile section along Lake Road, Pines Bridge Road and Croton Road just before entering Mt Kisco. The highest speeds, approaching 80 mph, were reached along the relatively straight and flat section running along the current route 100, from Pleasantville, through Millwood, and to Kitchiwan and again along what is now part of Route 128 between Mt. Kisco and Armonk north of Wampus Lake and referred to as Bishops Flat. 8 | April 2017
Race winner Louis Strang stated that, “the Briarcliff course is the worst that I have ever raced on, I don’t know whether to call it a stone quarry, a gravel pit, or a swamp.”(Yale Science Monthly June 1908). Fig. 6The New York Times, April 24 1908
Briarcliff Trophy Race Cars and Drivers Women Need Not Apply On the eve of race day, The New York Times noted that, “The circuit over which these men will drive is absolutely the roughest and most hazardous on which a road race has ever been held.” And, as the Times pointed out, all 22 racers were men. It didn’t have to be that way. On Jan 12, 1908, The New York Times reported that the country’s most prominent female race car driver, Joan Cuneo, had visited the race course, said it was a “good one”, and wanted to participate in the race. According to a citation in the book “Automobiles”, Mrs. Cuneo submitted the $1,000 entry fee to race her 50 hp Ranier stock chassis in the event. The Race Committee questioned whether a “lady” had the ability to handle a car in a speed contest and she was denied entry.
Driver Lewis Strang Emanuel Cedrino Guy Vaughn Herb Lytle Paul Sartori Joe Seymour Frank Leland Al Poole Hugh Harding Barney Oldfield William Hilliard Julien Bloch Montague Roberts Maurice Bernin Louis Bergdoll Harry Michener George Robertson William Watson Ralph DePalma Ralph Mulford Daniel Murphy Edward Parker
Car Country of Manufacture Isotta Frachini Italy Fiat Cyclone Italy Stearns Cleveland, OH Apperson Indiana, USA Bianchi Italy Simplex Speedster New Brunswick, NJ Stearns Cleveland, OH Isotta Frachini Italy Isotta Frachini Italy Stearns Cleveland, OH Hol-Tan New York, NY Renault AX France Thomas Flyer Buffalo, NY Renault AX France Benz, Kaiserpreis Germany Lozier New York, NY Panhard France Simplex Speedster New Brunswick, NJ Allen-Kingston Kingston, NY Lozier Plattsburg, NY Maja New York, NY Fiat Cyclone Italy
Briarcliff Trophy Race Driver Highlights Barney Oldfield, driver of the 30 horsepower # 13 Stearns car in the Briarcliff Trophy Race, is considered to be the most famous American race car driver of all time by the authors of The Encyclopedia of Auto Racing Greats. Over the course of his 17 year driving career, Oldfield was known to be cigar chomping showman who sometimes issued challenges to race against trains and airplanes. Not unlike some of today’s celebrities, Oldfield was known to wear expensive jewelry, run up thousands of dollars in bar tabs, and get into public brawls. Oldfield finished 10th in the Briarcliff Race completing only seven of the races eight laps. Oldfield’s participation in the 1908 Briarcliff race was not his first foray into Westchester County racing. Earlier in the new century, on Memorial Day in 1903, Oldfield set the world automobile speed record of one mile-a-minute by circling the one mile Empire City Racetrack (see page 18). Ralph De Palma, Driving the #17 Allen-Kingston car to an 18th place finish in the Briarcliff Trophy Race is a member of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame along with such notable drivers as Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Dan Gurney, and Al and Bobby Unser. DePalma was the 1915 Indianapolis 500 winner. Briarcliff Trophy Race winner, Lewis Strang, was a not only one of the participants in the first ever Indianapolis 500 held in 1909, but won the pole position for that inaugural race.
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Although specific details of the actual route of the race course are hard to come by, our research leads us to believe that the race started on what is now North State Road just north of the current site of Squires Restaurant. Although many sources, including the North Castle History, Vol. 8, have identified the position of the Start-Finish line as being either adjacent to businessman Walter Lawâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s former Briarcliff Lodge or close to that site, our evidence points otherwise. While the map accompanying the Charles Meegan article in the April 19, 1908 Morning Telegraph shows the StartFinish line to be before the bend in the race course, at the junction of the current Pleasantville Road turning right onto North State Road (Fig. 3d, page 5 and 6a, page 11), a map published in the Yale Scientific Monthly clearly shows the Start-Finish line to be located after, or north of the bend, on what would be North State Road as depicted in Figure 6b on the facing page. To further support the North State Road starting point, the series of photographs on pages 12 and 13 show a portion of the Start-Finish line banner behind which can be seen both the building that currently houses the Thompson & Bender public relations firm and the old Briarcliff Lodge water tower. This North State Road site for the Start-Finish line would also be adjacent to property then owned by Walter Law. Furthering support for the North State Road starting point is what we believe to be the Thompson & Bender building just over the left shoulder of the driver of the car below.
Figure 5. Above: Start-Finish Line: Source: La Vie au Grand Air (La Vie au Grand Air, 16 mai 1908) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons Facing Page: (A) NY Tribune Map showing Start-Finish (green arrow) before the Pleasantville Road-North State Road intersection (red arrow) (B) Yale Sci Monthly showing Start-Finish (green arrow) after the Pleasantville Road-North State Road intersection (red arrow) (C) 1914 map showing the bend at the intersection of Pleasantville Road and North State Road
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Figure 6. Alternate Depictions of the Start-Finish Line 6a
Above and Below: Red arrow indicates the right-hand bend at the intersection of Pleasantville and North State Roads. Above: Green arrow indicates the Start-Finish Line denoted in each article.
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Figure 7, above. Spectators on the 1908 race course along the current North State Road.
(Library of Congress, Bain Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ggb2004000311/)
Figure 8, below. The Figure 8 location as it exists today. (Warren Rosenberg)
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Figure 9, above. A site believed to be further along North State Road past the Start-Finish line Visible in this image are the two buildings evident in Fig. 7 and the Briarcliff Lodge water tower
(Library of Congress, Bain Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ggb2004000311/)
Figure 10, Left.
We believe this to be a photograph of North State Road, heading north, further along from the Start-Finish Line. Confirming this belief is the Briarcliff Lodge water tower at the top right, the two triangular pine trees also svident in Figures 7 and 9, and the house with the two chimneys and two center windows which weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve indentified as very likely to be the present day 229 North State Road.
Source. Indiana University indiamond6.ulib.iupui.edu2
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After leaving the Start-Finish line, the racers would have continued north on the present day North State Road, formerly Route 100 (the current route 100/9A spur wasn’t constructed until 1938) passing The Briars restaurant, Maya Riviera, Baccari’s Auto Repair and Club Fit before entering today’s Route 100 just across from Echo Lake. Accelerating to upwards of 80 mph, the race cars continued north on Route 100 through Millwood, Kitchiwan and into Yorktown, passing Rocky’s Deli, Spaccaralli’s Restaurant and the Traveler’s Rest before turning left on Crow Hill Road just before the Pines Bridge. Speeds drastically slowed as the cars wound their way across Lake Road on the shore of the Croton Reservoir (constructed in 1906), then turning right and heading south along Pines Bridge Road and Croton Road. The race cars entered Mt. Kisco traveling south along Kisco Avenue passing the current site of the Tesla Motors showroom, turning left on route 133, and then right along South Moger Avenue. The race cars then turned left onto Green Street, passing between the present day police and fire stations as shown on the comparative 1908 and 2017 photographs seen on the facing page. After turning right onto Main Street, the race cars encountered a “Control Zone”, below, where speeds were limited to 10 mph. The course continued south on Main street turning left onto the present day Route 128 where, once again, speeds of
up to 80 mph were reached in a region known as Bishops Flats, passing Wampus Lake and entering Armonk where the cars turned right onto what is now Old Route 22 (the current 4-lane wide stretch of Route 22 hadn’t yet been constructed), passing the Beehive restaurant, and continuing down Route 22 until reaching the old Kensico Dam. At the time Route 128, Main Street and Route 22 were known as Mt. Kisco Road and our research shows that part of the course through Armonk was along the winding stretch of Old Mt. Kisco Road to the west of present day Main Street. Much of the Route 22 portion of the course no longer exists, having been flooded over when the current Kensico Dam was constructed in 1915. Traveling a short distance north, up the east side of the Kensico Reservoir, the racers turned left, heading east on Lakeview Avenue and, after passing through what is now Kensico Cemetery, turned left onto Bradhurst Avenue. Just before reaching the site of the present day Cabin Restaurant, the race course veered right and followed Grasslands Road past the current site of the Westchester County Jail, and turned north on Saw Mill River Road. Once again, the cars would have accelerated to near maximum speed as they raced north past the Executive Diner, Rosedale Nursery, the Westchester County Police headquarters towards Pleasantville Road.
Figure 11. The Mount Kisco Control Zone. Courtesy of the National Automotive History Collection, Detroit Public Library https://digitalcollections.detroitpubliclibrary.org/islandora/object/islandora%3A177565
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Figures 12 (above). Race cars of winner Louis Strang (#4 Isotta) and Louis Bergdoll (#20 Benz) on Green Street in Mt. Kisco. Courtesy of the National Automotive History Collection, Detroit Public Library https://digitalcollections.detroitpubliclibrary.org/islandora/object/islandora%3A177536 Figure 13 (below). The same view as it exists today
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Figure 14, above. Lewis Bergdollâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s #20 Benz on Main Street in Armonk (then Mt. Kisco Road)passing a crowd of specatorrs in front of the Armonk United Methodist Church, now the Westchester Chinese Christian Church. Source unknown. Figure 15, below. This same area today.
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39 Mamaroneck Avenue, White Plains Link to the Historic Briarcliff Trophy Race The parcel of property located at 39 Mamaroneck Ave in White Plains can also claim an historic connection to the Briarcliff Trophy Race. This had been the site of the Mammoth Garage (below), an auto manufacturing and repair facility that had served as the home base for the Isotta-Fraschini teams competing in the Briarcliff Race. The Mammoth Garage owner, George John Grossman later went on to produce and sell his own line of automobiles out of that facility under the brand of the GJG Motor Company until the company’s demise in 1914.The building subsequently housed Cadillac and Oldsmobile dealerships and was later demolished.
Figure 16. From “The Private’s Car and the Mammoth Garage”, Hemmings Daily Blog 04/08/2010
BTR Competitor M. Roberts wins the 1908 NY to Paris Race Thirteenth place finisher in the 1908 Briarcliff Race, Montague Roberts, had previously that year participated as one of the six entries in the New York to Paris Auto Race that started off from Times Square in NYC on February 12, 1908. Roberts and his team were declared the winner of the race on July 31st following the disqualification of the German entry which crossed the finish line a day earlier but was penalized for shipping their car across the U.S. by train.
Fig 18 Photo Courtesy: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-B2-1234]
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Setting Records at Empire City Barney Oldfield’s participation in the 1908 Briarcliff race was not his first foray into Westchester County racing. Earlier in the new century, on Memorial Day in 1903, Oldfield set the world automobile speed record of one mile-per-minute by circling the one mile Empire City Racetrack in Yonkers in 60 seconds. The one mile dirt oval at Empire City, founded in 1899 as a horse racing facility, regularly hosted motorsports races between 1900 and 1907. Yes, this is the same Empire City Racetrack, later known as Yonkers Raceway and now the site of the Empire City Casino and race track. In July of that same year, Oldfield broke his existing record, exceeding one mile-a-minute and completing the one mile circuit in 55.8 seconds, once again, at Yonkers’ Empire City Racetrack. On June 24th, 1905 at the Empire City track, Oldfield lost a race to a gentleman driving a Fiat named Louis Chevrolet. Chevrolet went on to cofound the Chevrolet Motor Car Company in 1911. Right: Guy Vaughan sporting a new Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) sweater. Indianapolis Star, June 16, 1909. Below: Empire City Racetrack. Courtesy, Detroit Public Library
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The Yonkers Empire City Racetrack was the site of another record, this one set in 1905 by a Westchester native. On Friday, June 23rd, 18 year old Guy Vaughan of New Rochelle set the world’s 24 hour automobile endurance and speed record logging 1,015 5/8 miles in 23 hours 33 minutes and 20 seconds at Empire City, finishing his run on Saturday, June 24th. Vaughan completed New Rochelle High School in 1898 and went to to be president of the Curtiss-Wright Corporation.
The 1896 Cosmopolitan Race NYC to Irvington, NY While the 1908 Briarcliff Trophy Race is widely noted to be the first International Stock Car Race in America, it doesn’t hold the place of being the first automobile race in the New York State. That honor most likely goes to the May 30th 1896 Cosmopolitan Horseless Carriage Race, a 52 mile long event that ran from New York City’s City Hall to the Westchester County village of Irvington and back. Six cars participated in the race, four produced by the Duryea Motor Company and one each by the Booth-Crouch carriage company and the Roger Carriage Company. The winning driver was Charles Duryea driving one of his company’s own cars who completed the race in just over seven hours posting an average speed of 13.4 KPH and collected his share of the race’s $3,000 purse. The race was sponsored by Cosmopolitan Magazine which had its headquarters in Irvington. Although there appear to be no published maps of the Cosmopolitan Race’s course, written accounts refer to it as alternatively starting in front of City Hall, the Post Office building, or the King’s Bridge. At the time of the race, there was a U.S. Post Office near City Hall on what is now the site of City Hall Park. The City Hall Post Office was demolished in 1939. An account from the New York Times of May 31, 1896 states, “The racers appeared in the neighborhood of the Post Office about 9 o’clock and paraded till nearly noon, when they left for the starting point at Kings Bridge.” Kings Bridge, which connected the island of Marble Hill to the Bronx was dismantled in 1914 when a branch of the Spuyten Duyval was filled in connecting Marble Hill to the Bronx mainland at 230th Street. While it is in dispute as to whether the race actually began at the City Hall Post Office or at Kings Bridge, the Times clearly references its ending at City Hall, “The first of the horseless carriages returned to the Post Office at 7:13 p.m…as the vehicle came down Broadway at a smart rate of speed and turned into Mail Street, north of the Post Office Building This route would have taken the race course directly up Broadway for it entire length north of City Hall.” The route then continued north, along Broadway as it passed through the Bronx, Yonkers, Hastings, Dobbs Ferry and Ardsley-on-Hudson, part of what is now the Village of Irvington. Some references put the Westchester destination as the Ardsley Country Club. Our research shows that the destination was more likely the then Ardsley Casino located near the intersection of Broadway and West Ardsley Avenue, just north of the present day campus of Mercy College in Ardsley-on-Hudson, a community within the village of Irvington. From there, the cars turned around and retraced the route back to City Hall. MetroSports Magazine | 19
MetroSports Region Racing Today FDNY Racing Although operating out of a shop in the heart of NASCAR country, Concord North Carolina, the New York Metro area is the home base of a unique and very special NASCAR racing team. Headquartered in the Westchester County town of Mamaroneck, the FDNY Racing team fields the # 28 truck competing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Owned by Mamaroneck native Jim Rosenblum, and driven this year by Bryan Dauzat, FDNY Racing operates with an all-volunteer team drawn from the ranks of the FDNY and NYPD with all winnings donated to the Uniformed Firefighters Association’s Bravest Scholarship Fund and Widow’s and Children’s Fund. Jim Rosenblum, brother of Mamaroneck’s mayor, Norm Rosenblum, was himself a race car driver in the Trans-Am and NASCAR Winston Cup Series. He started the FDNY Racing Team following the September 11, 2001 attack along with two partners, FDNY member Mike Bolnik and businessman Bob Rahilly.
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MetroSportsRegion RegionRacing RacingToday Today MetroSports Grand Prix New York Located at 333 North Bedford Rd (Rt 117) in Mt. Kisco, NY, the action entertainment complex at Grand Prix New York (GPNY) is located just a few hundred yards away from a section of the 1908 Briarcliff Trophy Race course and provides residents of the Metro NY region with a place to continue to participate in the region’s historic racing tradition. While GPNY hosts a variey of activities ranging from bowling to video arcade games, as its name would imply, kart racing is at the heart of its activities. GPNY’s Track Manager, Mike Poe, told MetroSports Magazine that, “We love running these competitions. We get to see a variety of racers come out each time and it is always fun to watch. You got the special chance to see the race on the wet track which always makes things more interesting. This isn’t the only competitive racing we do here at Grand Prix New York. A lot of the adults and kids who race these iron man competitions have come up through our summer camps, kids racing leagues and adult racing leagues. The best part about these iron man competitions is getting to see the kids and adults we have seen get better, race against each other, which is something a lot of other places won’t give you.” MetroSports Magazine visited GPNY for the start of its spring 2017 Iron Man Racing Series and, in our search for NY Metro area racing action, we weren’t disappointed. As the racers manuvered around tight hairpin turns, then accelerated to 50 mph on the straightaways, they passed a backdrop of urban townhouses, storefronts and parklands reminiscent of both the 1908 Briarcliff Trophy Race and the upcoming NYC ePrix Formula E race track in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
Photos: Warren Rosenberg www.nyspg.com
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Above: Race winner, Ari Gatoff #96, leading Dylan Beckwith #90 (white helmet) and 2nd place finisher Kristina Esposito #95, in the first race of the Spring 2017 Iron Man Series at Grand Prix New York. Below: Third place finisher, Josh Green #97 posted the fastest lap, completing the 1/2 mile course in 45.665 seconds or an average lap speed of 39.42 mph.
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While GPNY provides a great setting for a safe and fun racing experience and also makes for a great group or corporate outing, make no mistake about it, the experience and skill level of the drivers in the Iron Man and other GPNYcompetition series is intense. The highest level of karts that can be raced at GPNY attract some of the regionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most talented drivers, many of them up and coming prospects who race throughout the year on a variety of tracks. Pictured at right driving the #78 kart in the Spring 2017 GPNY IronMan Competition is professional race car driver Aurora Strauss, featured in our article on page 28. As youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll read in our article on Aurora, her racing career began under the tutelage of veteran race car driver and instructor Stevan McAleer. Many of the competitors in the GPNY Iron Man Series who were racing during our visit are also prodigies of McAleer and train at his ColdStream Motorsports Junior Driver Development Program. These include Nick and Kristina Esposito, Josh Green, Jovani Miguel Williams and Evie Kosak. MetroSports Magazine will be sure to follow their developing Above. Ladies Welcome. Unlike the 1908 Briarcliff Trophy Race where female racing careers. racer Joan Cuneo was not allowed to compete, the GPNY IronMan Series welcomes women. Upper Photo: Aurora Straus, #78. Lower Photo: Miranda Eline #9
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Facing Page: Kristina Esposito puts on her game face prior to the start of race 1 of the GPNY 2017 Spring Iron Man Series competition.
GPNY Iron Man Series racers, Josh Green, Kristina Esposito and Dylan Beckwith have competed against each other before as they make their presence known in New York metro area racing. As an example, these three had raced against eachother in the recently completed 2016 Northeast Junior National D2 ROTAX Series in which Josh Green placed second overall with Kristina Esposito not far behind with a fifth place standing. Already an accomplished racer, Green got his start in kart racing only a short while ago, in 2015, and at GPNY. in their summer driving camp. In the Iron Man race that we visited, Josh set the fasted lap speed of the event. Setting records at GPNY is nothing new to Josh having set an overall track record at GPNY in November 2015. This acomplished athlete also hold a Youth Black Belt in Mixed Martial Arts.
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MetroSports Region Racing Today Poughkeepsie Raceway The weekend of April 8th & 9th kicked off the 2017 season of Vega Tires King of Asphalt (KOA) cart racing series at three NY Metro area tracks, Pomfret Speedway in Pomfret CT, Wall Stadium Speedway in Wall, NJ, and Poughkeepsie Raceway in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. The Poughkeepsie weekend races included the Senior Champ Animal 160 lap race on Saturday and the Senior Champ Flathead 80 lap race on Sunday.
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The current facility, billed as the fastest 1/5 mile asphalt track in New York State, was originally constructed in 1986 as a 1/8 dirt oval intended for cart racing although full size cars did race there on the dirt during the 1988 season. In 2001, the track was reconfigured and paved over as a 1/5 mile asphalt oval.
Photos by Clark Thompson. www.Clarkshots.com
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MetroSports Region Racing Today
Federation Internationale De L’Automobile (FIA), the sanctioning body for open wheel international formula car racing, has announced that the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal will host the first FIA-sanctioned open-wheel race to take place within the five boroughs of New York City. This historic event will take place over two days on July 15 and 16. The public announcement was made on January 26th in New York City with N.Y. Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz on hand to help out. Cruz was joined by Andretti driver Antonio Felix da Costa as he got to grips with the location of the Brooklyn Circuit on the shores of New York Harbour.
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“I’m excited to be here, excited to be a part of something special,” said Cruz. “To bring a motorsport event to the heart of a city, especially a place like New York, is huge. I feel like sports are at the epicentre of this city - and we’re definitely excited about seeing Formula E this summer.” Formula E driver Antonio Felix da Costa, has said that “I think New York is going to raise the bar on any other city. It’s one of the greatest cities in the world. To have a race - especially with Formula E - where we’re developing electric vehicle technology, will create awareness for all the people that have had question marks about this. I can’t wait to race here for real in July.”
Two separate and individual races will be run on the weekend with both Saturday and Sunday events consisting of qualifying, practice and the actual 50 minute race. The races will be conducted on a 1.2 mile road course with 13 turns with speeds expected to reach in excess of 120 mph on the short straightaways. Each race will run for about 50 minutes with one mandated pit stop scheduled for drivers to change cars. With the current state of battery technology and insufficient time for a re-charge during the race, each driver will require two cars in order to complete the race.
Race spokesperson and former New York City Sports Commissioner Mike Hopper (pictured at right) said that approximately 15,000 fans will be accomodated each day. New York’s mayor, Bill deBlasio sayst that, “There’s no better home for the ePrix. Bringing this international event to the five boroughs is a huge win for New York City. It will bring thousands of visitors, boost Brooklyn tourism and spur investment in our neighborhoods.”
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MetroSports Region Racing Today
Aurora Straus Following in the tradition established by 18year old Westchester resident and race car driver Guy Vaughan who, in 1905, set the world’s 24 hour automobile endurance and speed record at Yonkers’ Empire City racetrack and competed in the 1908 Briarcliff Trophy race, the New York Metro region has a new 18-year old racing phenom, Aurora Straus. Driving for the first time at age 13, Aurora took the wheel of a manual transmission Mazda Miata at the Monticello Motor Club under the gudiance of veteran race car driver Stevan McAleer. Adapting quickly, Aurora rapidly progressed, entering her first on-track competition at age 15. In January of 2015, at the age of 16, Aurora posted a second place finish at Sebring International Raceway in a six hour endurance event and turned pro two months later. This year, Aurora is competing in the #18 ModSpace RS1 Porsche, splitting driving duties with teammate Connor Bloum. So far this year, the Hackley High School student has competed in the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, two of this season’s races in the 2017 Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. She currently stands at 4th place in the series ranking. Photos: Courtesy Aurora Straus
30 | April 2017
MetroSports Goes One on One with
Aurora Straus MSM: OK, so you drive a Porsche Cayman at Datona and Sebring International Raceways as a professional race car driver. When we first met you at Grand Prix New York this month, you were racing a go kart on an indoor track. Why? Aurora: I actually have no real experience in karts - I learned how to drive a manual-shift car at 13 years old, and went straight into a Mazda Miata under the instruction of Stevan McAleer. In a competitive series like the Continental Tire Series Challenge (CTSC), karting at Grand Prix is a great way to stay loose in between races. Karts have little to no suspension, only a few inches of ground clearance, and no power steering, so the techniques that I employ are incredibly different from the ModSpace #18 that I’m driving in CTSC this year. However, it’s a great workout, it helps develop racecraft, and it helps developing drivers grow comfortable with sliding in a lower-risk situation.
MSM: Tell us how you got started in racing. Aurora: I got started in racing under the tutelage of Stevan McAleer, another GPNY regular (and legend - he sets track records all the time). He taught me how to drive a stick shift and he co-owns the team that I used to race with in the MX-5 Cup (McCumbee McAleer Racing), easily the most professional team in the series.
MSM: For those who don’t have the opportunity to race in the top notch equipment and on international circuits that you do, how realistic a racing experience does the facility at GPNY provide? Aurora: For those who don’t yet have the opportunities that I do in CTSC or are eager to learn, GPNY is a great jumping-off point. The leagues that they have there are fairly competitive, and will teach you good racecraft skills like those that help me when I get into a car.
http://www.aurorastraus.com/ MetroSports Magazine | 31
MSM: What would you say to young girls who want to try out for what are typically considered male sports? Aurora: Female racecar drivers are rare enough, but I also look young, which makes me approachable. I love the shock and awe of little girls who suddenly grasp that they, too, might upend stereotypes and join the sport. If I could give any advice, I would say to look for driven women in the industry to help mentor you, and to learn to tune out anyone who says it’s too difficult, or too competitive. I’m lucky to be surrounded, in my family and in my community, by strong-willed, passionate women who are trailblazers in their field, and have raised me to believe I can do anything I want to. Once I strap into a racecar, nobody can tell that I’m a girl - and that’s how it should be! MSM: Care to give a shout to anyone that has been important in your career? Aurora: The aspect of mentoring in racing is particularly important - I could never have gotten where I am without the support of ModSpace, a modular construction company that I have had the pleasure of working with for a few years now. I also rely wholeheartedly on the seasoned advice of Nick Longhi and the amazing car that my new team, RS1, has built for me and my codriver Connor Bloum. Look out for us for the rest of the 2017 season! MSM: We will! Thanks.
32 | April 2017