The name “Bridgehampton” conjures up a lot of images: gorgeous shingle-style mansions, pristine beaches, and peaceful potato fields come to mind. But for people of a certain stripe, the name “Bridgehampton” summons up images of racecars.
Le Mans, Daytona, Watkins Glen, Laguna—perhaps these names are better known in the world of car racing. But Bridgehampton has been firmly associated with auto racing, both professional and amateur, since 1915. Those were pretty early days in automotive history, and rural Bridgehampton was a pioneer in competitive driving, first with organized road races—dangerous events staged on public roadways—and then with the legendary Bridgehampton Race Circuit. The Race Circuit, one of the first permanent racing venues in the U.S., operated north of Bridgehampton—to be completely precise, it was in Sag Harbor—from 1957 to 1998.
2015 is thus an auspicious year, as Bridgehampton passes its 100-year mark as a destination for sports car drivers and sports car enthusiasts alike. And, since 1993, Bridgehampton has been commemorating its importance in automotive history with the Bridgehampton Road Rally. Taking place this year on Saturday, October 3, the Rally is organized and run by the Bridgehampton Museum. This year the Bridgehampton Road Rally is open to cars built before 1970. Like the earliest Bridgehampton races, the Rally takes place on public roads—it starts by tracing the original route of the early road races, only now in the midst of traffic and obeying all speed limits and traffic laws. The competition isn’t about speed, but rather involves careful reading of maps and answering trivia questions. Drivers may have a navigator to help locate destination points and to help answer trivia questions.
Of course, there are many classic car owners who might like the idea of a few hours spent touring the back roads of the Hamptons in the company of other classic car owners but who might not be into the whole competitive thing. For these drivers, the Bridgehampton Museum offers the Classic Car Tour, concurrent with the Road Rally, following the same route as the Road Rally but without the time pressure. The Classic Car Tour is open to cars and motorcycles built before December 31, 1959.
While the drivers are out putting their vintage autos through their paces, visitors are welcome at the Bridgehampton Museum to look at vintage autos that will be on display on the Historical Society grounds at 2368 Main Street in Bridgehampton. Gates will open to the public at 10 a.m.
This year’s Bridgehampton Road Rally takes place Saturday, October 3, at the Bridgehampton Museum, 2368 Main Street in Bridgehampton, opening to the public at 10 a.m. Call 631-537-1088 and visit bridgehamptonhistoricalsociety.org for more information.