On Saturday, October 3, Bridgehampton’s automotive history will be celebrated at the 2015 Bridgehampton Road Rally, organized by the Bridgehampton Historical Museum. Open this year to cars built in 1970 or earlier (usually the cutoff is 1959), the road rally gives people a chance to take a drive down memory lane.
Every car-lover knows that the Hamptons is a good place to spot exotic automobiles—from the super-expensive to antique obscurities. Some might think this is a relatively recent phenomenon, but the truth is it has been going on for a very long time—and Bridgehampton in particular has always been a center of car culture. With its pioneering road races and the establishment of one of the first closed racing circuits, Bridgehampton has held a central place in the history of competitive driving. As a playground for the rich, the hamlet has also long demonstrated the link between wealth and fancy cars. None other than Charles Addams, the famed cartoonist who lived on Bridge Lane, acquired a fleet of racecars and delighted in driving them around Bridgehampton.
In honor of the Bridgehampton Road Rally, here are 10 highlights from Bridgehampton’s automotive history.
1915—First road races take place in Bridgehampton but are halted with the coming of the first World War. The original course is replicated as part of the Bridgehampton Road Rally.
1947—Bridgehampton’s famous cartoonist and racecar enthusiast Charles Addams acquires his first serious racecar—a 1926 Bugatti T35 Roadster. Addams became a frequent presence at the Bridgehampton road races and later at the Bridgehampton Race Circuit.
1949—Bridgehampton road races are revived. In 1951, Bridgehampton’s races become part of the SCCA National Sports Car Championship, the first sports car series organized after World War II. Road races continue annually until 1953, when fatal accidents, both in Bridgehampton and Upstate in Watkins Glen, prompt New York State to ban racing on public roads.
1957—Opening of the Bridgehampton Race Circuit (referred to as “The Bridge”), one of the first closed tracks in the country and considered one of the most challenging. Over its history, The Bridge attracted some of the most renowned drivers of its day, including Richard Petty, A.J. Foyt and Al Unser.
1964—NASCAR Grand National Races take place at Bridgehampton Race Circuit, the first of four NASCAR Grand Nationals to take place there.
1964—Richard Petty sets qualifying record at the Bridgehampton Race Circuit, with an average speed of 90.6 mph.
1966—The first running of the prestigious Canadian-American (Can-Am) Challenge Cup takes place at the Bridgehampton Race Circuit.
1967—Film heartthrob and racing enthusiast Paul Newman experiences the Bridgehampton Race Circuit for the first time as a passenger in a Mustang 427 with racing superstar Mario Andretti at the wheel. Newman later reports feeling great relief to make it out alive.
1993—Bridgehampton Historical Society hosts the first Bridgehampton Road Rally.
2015—100th anniversary of car racing in Bridgehampton celebrated with the Bridgehampton Road Rally on October 3.
The Bridgehampton Road Rally takes place on Saturday, October 3 at the Bridgehampton Museum, 2368 Main Street, in Bridgehampton. The event opens at 10 a.m. Call 631-537-1088 or visit bridgehamptonhistoricalsociety.org.