On the very date, August 28, that the first Bridgehampton Racing Circuit event was held back in 1957 on 600 acres just east of Millstone Road, Dan’s Papers and AVENUE on the Beach magazine announced that next summer the Tour d’Hamptons will arrive on the East End, bringing the historic spirit of classic automobiles back to the Hamptons.
With a crowd ranging from New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele to representatives of the real estate community from Douglas Elliman and Corcoran to excited vintage-car collectors gathered at Matthew Ammirati’s Bridgehampton Motoring Club, Dan’s Papers CEO Bob Edelman recounted the stirring history of auto racing in the Hamptons and set the stage for next summer’s big event.
“The Tour D’Hamptons will establish itself as a classic and antique sports car event that will represent the best automobiles and the best the Hamptons has to offer,” said Edelman as guests enjoyed cocktails and fine food on the lawn of the Bridgehampton Motoring Club. The classic cars inside the garage provided the perfect backdrop as a history of horsepower, fine machinery and the men who drove them came roaring back to life.
There was a time when the Hamptons, Bridgehampton specifically, was a hot spot for auto racing in the United States. Back in 1915, Stanley Brown of East Hampton won the first recorded race, which started and ended on Main Street in Bridgehampton and took a course through dirt roads around the potato fields. Cars at that time were stripped-down touring cars or roadsters, and were raced by locals in contests that lasted until about 1920.
After a 29-year hiatus, racing resumed on June 11, 1949 when 15,000 spectators showed up in Bridgehampton for what wasthe second largest postwar racing event at the time in the U.S. Over the years people would come to hear the MGs, Ferraris, BMWs, Chryslers, Jaguars and Cadillacs competing to win the Bridgehampton Cup, the Mecox Trophy, the Hamptons Cup and others, with all of the racing taking place on public roads.
In 1953, things changed. “CAR HITS 3 SPECTATORS, ROAD RACE IS CANCELED” screamed a May 24 headline in the New York Herald Tribune, and races on public roads came to an end. But within a few years, 600 acres had been purchased east of Millstone Road and the first Bridgehampton Racing Circuit event was held on August 28 and 29, 1957. Racing was back. Eventually, even NASCAR showed up—Richard Petty raced at Bridgehampton in 1963 and 1964, finishing first and 13th, respectively. Over time, the racing once more subsided, but the Tour d’Hamptons will revive the spirit that drove so many fans and race participants for so long.
In addition to an event for car drivers themselves, “we also intend a partnership with a major auction company to heighten interest in this event and to attract collectors and enthusiasts from all over. The day will finish with a Great Gatsby–style cocktail party set in an elegant atmosphere representative of the Hamptons,” Edelman says.
“The races and industries on Long Island had a far-reaching impact on the development of American automobiles and parkways, Next year, Dan’s Papers and AVENUE on the Beach will celebrate this storied history,” Edelman adds, looking ahead to the day the Tour d’Hamptons “will reignite a passion and shine a light on this little known piece of East End and American lore.”