Driving to Win the 2016 Bridgehampton Road Rally

Driving to Win the 2016 Bridgehampton Road Rally

Did you know that Mario Andretti raced in Bridgehampton? In 1967, with movie star Paul Newman riding shotgun, he drove the Bridgehampton Race Circuit, a racetrack that closed in 1998. But you don’t have to be a superstar racer to take Bridgehampton by storm.

If you are a classic car owner, you’re probably gearing up for the Bridgehampton Road Rally and Tour d’Hamptons presented by the Bridgehampton Museum and Dan’s Papers on Saturday, October 1. If you are on the fence about whether or not to put your foot on the gas, read what past participants have to say about this fun and exciting event.

“It’s a great day out,” says Anthony Liberatore, who has competed three times with his 1952 Thunderbird. Liberatore drove with his navigator, James DeMartis, each time, including 2011, when they placed third; 2014, when they placed second; and last year, when they won!

“It’s very exciting and exhilarating,” echoes DeMartis. “It’s fantastic. We’ve been fortunate enough to have had great weather. It’s a joyful thing to be cruising around in a beautiful old car like that. I initially thought, ‘oh, nice day out for a cruise,’ but as soon as the word ‘go’ [was declared] I was locked in and became Mario Andretti’s copilot! I was full-on ‘we’re going to win!’”

DeMartis enjoys the spontaneity that can come from events like this, but also acknowledges the intensity. “I remember once there was a marathon taking place the same day, and they moved and obscured [route signs]! We looked back and forth and running out of time and traffic and who-knows-what-else. You have to calculate and hit all the spots and do this while you’re moving.”

Does being a local help with navigating the route? “That helps a great deal,” says DeMartis. “Having lived out here for 25 years and knowing my way around back roads fairly well, I know more [about the area].”

But while it helps to know your way around the Hamptons, the Bridgehampton Road Rally and Tour d’Hamptons is also a great way to see the many sights of the Hamptons. “A really interesting thing is you get to see Hamptons areas that you’ve never gone to or driven down,” says Liberatore. One year we went to Shinnecock, where the canal is. I never saw it before and I’ve been there a few times since. I discovered a lot of areas around the Hamptons [through the rally].”

While the exact route will be revealed the day of the race, you can expect a few definite things. The route encompasses about 60 miles and will include four stops to collect poker cards (the best hand upon everyone’s return wins a special prize) and stops at historic trivia sites. The route should take about three hours to complete. This year there will also be a prize for the car that returns back to the Bridgehampton Museum closest to the official projected Rally time, as predetermined by the Rally Coordinator.

So there you have it. If you want to be the Mario Andretti of the Bridgehampton racing scene, it’s time to get revved up for October 1. DeMartis adds, “If you’re the kind of person who has any shred of competitiveness, this will suck you in!”

The Bridgehampton Museum is located at 2368 Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton. Gates open for Road Rally and Tour d’Hamptons cars and exhibitors at 9 a.m. on October 1. Gates open to the public at 10 a.m. The Road Rally begins at noon, immediately followed by the Tour d’Hamptons. To sign up for the Bridgehampton Road Rally & Tour d’Hamptons presented by the Bridgehampton Museum and Dan’s Papers and for more information, visit BridgehamptonRally.com.

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