A study on The Vanderbilt Cup Race at the dawning of the auto race
Eiji OZAWA (Sugiyama Jogakuen University)
The Vanderbilt Cup Race held from 1904 to 1910 was the first full-scale
race in America. The race was received with enthusiasm by the general public,
and drew a lot of spectators. But in 1910 the race was finished. The purpose of
this study is to clarify the actual conditions of the race and the reason for calling
off the cup. Most of the sport historians have ignored the history of auto races.
They have regarded it as a sub-sport. But it is one of the very important sports,
when we understand the various conditions of the present sports, especially
The Vanderbilt Cup Race was held as the road race on Long Island. It was
the first large-scale international race in America and had a geoglaphical advan-
tage, so the first race in 1904 had 25,000 spectators, there after the number of
spectators increased year by year and at the race in 1910 it amounted to 285,000.
Inspite of the conditions, the cup was called off in 1910. The reason was as
follows; the first, the crowds were too large to be controled and the promoters
could not keep the safety of the contestants and the spectators. Keeping the
safety was necessary so that it was recognized as a sport. The second, the race
was so popular that W. Vanderbilt, the promoter of the race, spoiled his interest
in it. He expected the race to be a social gathering, but it lost the respectable
character and got to be out of keeping with his intention. And so he decided to
call off the cup.
The rising of popularity of the Vanderbilt Cup Race and calling off the cup
reflected the change of the American automobile industry in 1900's. Automobiles
came to be popular among the public, and to be no longer only for the wealthy
class. The rise and stop of the race symbolized the acception of automobiles to
the American society and the role of the wealthy class in the transition period.