20 Things to Know About the 2016 Bridgehampton Road Rally & Tour d’Hamptons

Bridgehampton Race Circuit, 1971
Bridgehampton Race Circuit in 1971, Photo: Courtesy BridgehamptonRaceway.net

Bridgehampton has a long, illustrious history of auto racing dating back more than a century. From the early days of organized street racing in 1915 to the heyday of the Bridgehampton Race Circuit, this rural town has long been an unlikely bastion of the sport. Since 1993, the Bridgehampton Museum has celebrated this storied past with its annual Bridgehampton Road Rally, a vintage car drive on public streets that conjures the spirit of the hamlet’s first road races.

Now, instead of speed, the Rally—and also the brand new Tour d’Hamptons—invites drivers and their navigators to come to Bridgehampton on Saturday, October 1, to become part of this history with a leisurely, yet thrilling, drive through the Hamptons. In preparation for the big day—which also includes a classic car showcase, food, drink, live music and a lineup of exciting activities on the grounds of the Bridgehampton Museum—here are 20 fast facts to get your motors running.

1. In keeping with Bridgehampton’s racing history and the community’s love of vintage automobiles, any car looking to enter the Road Rally must have been built before 1970. Entry is only $100 per car (that includes a driver and a navigator), and comes with a pair of box lunches, gift bag, and access to the post-Rally cocktail party and awards ceremony.

2. The Road Rally route—kept a guarded secret until event day—is approximately 60 miles and includes historic trivia sites, along with four stops to collect poker cards (a fifth card will be given upon returning to the Bridgehampton Museum at the Rally’s conclusion). After all cars are back, the car with the best poker hand wins a special prize.

Bridgehampton Road Rally 2013
Bridgehampton Road Rally 2013, Photo: Jennifer Meihofer

3. The best hand in poker is a royal flush: That’s 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace—all in the same suit (hearts, spades, diamonds or clubs).

4. The shorter Tour d’Hamptons event—a drive lasting about 40 minutes—is open to all cars of interest that celebrate the spirit of the open road. So fire up your Batmobile, James Bond Lotus Esprit, 1982 Delorean DMC-12 (with or without Flux Capacitor), chrome Lamborghini Countach, even a classic Brass car—this is the ride for you! Like the Rally, entry is only $100 per car (includes a driver and a navigator), and comes with a pair of box lunches, gift bag, and access to the post-drive cocktail party and awards ceremony.

5. Drivers in the Road Rally will answer trivia questions by getting out of the car and exploring the property at each trivia stop. A great way to learn some Hamptons history.

6. This year there is a prize for the Rally car that returns to the Bridgehampton Museum closest to the official projected Rally time, as pre-determined by the Rally Coordinator. Teams must obey all traffic regulations while making allowances for lunch, “pit stops,” poker stops and trivia stops.

7. Local firemen sponsored Bridgehampton’s first road races as part of their summer Fireman’s Fair carnival in 1915. The drivers ran laps around a rectangular course that included Main Street, Halsey Lane, Paul’s Lane and Ocean Avenue. These early races continued until 1921.

8. The races were revived in 1949, drawing as many as 180 cars New York press corps and up to 40,000 spectators, but in 1953 these thrilling events again came to an end after a number of accidents here and in other street-racing venues.

RELATED: Look Back at Bridgehampton Racing History, 1951

9. One of America’s first closed tracks—and one of its most challenging—the Bridgehampton Race Circuit, aka The Bridge, started construction in 1953 and opened in 1957. Thus began a long history of professional auto racing in the Hamptons. The Race Circuit closed for good in 1998.

10. The Bridgehampton Race Circuit property was developed into a beautiful golf club, also called The Bridge, which opened in 2002. Remnants of the Race Circuit, such as the Chevron Bridge, the famous Millstone Turn, a scoring tower, and guardrails and flag stations, still stand as part of the Rees Jones–designed golf course.

11. NASCAR brought its Grand National Races to the Bridgehampton Racing Circuit in 1964. Three more Grand Nationals occurred there in subsequent years.

Mario Andretti at the Bridgehampton Race Circuit
Mario Andretti at the Bridgehampton Race Circuit, Photo: Courtesy BridgehamptonRaceway.net

12. Film star Paul Newman sat shotgun in racing legend Mario Andretti’s Mustang 427 as he raced the Bridgehampton Racing Circuit in 1967. Later he said he felt lucky to have survived. “I thought I’d have a better chance of surviving Custer’s Last Stand than this,” Newman said. “When we stopped in the pits, I hurled myself from the infernal machine, belly down, kissed the ground, thanked my Maker…”

13. World famous Bridgehampton cartoonist Charles Addams was a regular at both the early road races and the Bridgehampton Race Circuit. His first serious racecar was a 1926 Bugatti T35 Roadster, which he bought in 1947, two years before the Bridgehampton road races were revived.

14. The Bridgehampton Museum will play host to a day of free, auto-centric fun—all open to the public! First, everyone is invited to come view the Road Rally and Tour d’Hamptons participating cars on display the morning of the event. Three will also be a classic car Invitational Showcase on the grounds of the museum, offering guests the chance to walk among a curated collection of beautiful autos. Once drivers take to our local highways and byways, the Main Tent at the Museum will offer talks by automobile aficionados and authors from the world of cars, racing and Bridgehampton history; a special edition of the Dan’s Papers Literary Salon featuring local writers and Dan Rattiner himself reading stories about the wonders of driving in the Hamptons; a specially curated exhibition on the History of Auto Racing in Bridgehampton.

15. A new level of fun has been added this year for the Bridgehampton Road Rally and Tour d’Hamptons. The Winner’s Circle VIP experience includes entry into either of these events for a driver and navigator plus an official event driving cap, limited edition event poster and VIP swag bag, and an invitation for two to an exclusive gourmet dinner where VIPs can share stories of the road with fellow drivers and noted guests from the day’s Main Tent activities. Plus, guests get to sip and savor treats in the VIP Hospitality Lounge under the tent all day.

Bridgehampton Race Circuit MAP
Courtesy BridgehamptonRaceway.net

16. Many of history’s greatest and most beloved racing legends drove the Bridgehampton Race Circuit, including Richard Petty, Stirling Moss, David Pearson and John Surtees.

17. The Road Rally and Tour d’Hamptons are rain-or-shine events!

18. To best enjoy the Rally and Tour d’Hamptons, make sure your car is in good running order, dress for the weather and bring a cell phone. All participants must submit copies of their driver’s license, car registration and insurance certificate, as well as a release signed by the driver on behalf of the driver and all passengers.

19. 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.

20. To sign up for the Bridgehampton Road Rally & Tour d’Hamptons presented by the Bridgehampton Museum and Dan’s Papers, to become part of the classic car Invitational Showcase, and for more information, visit BridgehamptonRally.com.

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