Apr 20 2015

Mystery Foto #16 Solved Again: Ralph Beardsley’s Simplex Practicing for the 1910 Vanderbilt Cup Race

Chuck Rudy Jr. challenged you to identify this photo which he recently obtained.

Answers to the Mystery Photo questions:

  • Identify the location and structures in the photo.

The photo was taken on the Long Island Motor Parkway looking east in the Hempstead Plains area of the officials'stand/press box (left) and grandstand (right).

  • Identify the race car in the photo

Ariejan Bos of the Netherlands has documented below that the race car was Ralph Beardsley's Simplex which raced with the #10 in practice and #6 during the race. Why the racer had # 4 in this photo is still a mystery.

As discovered by Art Kleiner,  the Alco Black Beast  had  thes #4 during practice. The official numbers for the 1910 race were not issued until the entry deadline date of September 24, 1910. Accordingly, all the entries prior to this date were issued practice numbers.

  • Bonus question: Identify the automobile on the road.

As discussed by Ariejan Bos (see below Bos' Best), the automobile is likely a 1908 or 1909 Mercedes.

  • Hint: The photo was dated September 24, 1910

Congrats to Tim Ivers, Frank Femenias, Greg O., Art Kleiner (see Kleiner's Korner) and Ariejan Bos for correctly identifying the location. Kudos to Art Kleiner for identifying the practice numbers. And special kudos to Ariejan Bos for correctly resolving the Mystery Foto!


Howard Kroplick

Bos' Best (Submitted by Ariejan Bos)

Howard, I am sending a Lazarnick photo of the same # 4 car at the exact same location as the Mystery Foto. You may even notice a glimpse of the other car (presumed Hotchkiss by me) behind it. The text is very clear about car and driver. If you compare the car with the Simplex racers in the Vanderbilt Cup (nrs. 6 and 11), you will note the resemblance.

The #6 driven by Ralph Beardsley with J.D. Coote as the mechanician.

For the identification of the car on the road I am sending these two photos, The car on the road has the horizontal segment stripes, typical for a Mercedes. Shape of the radiator is clearly Mercedes, as is the front axle. Probably it is not a 1910, but a 1908 or 1909 Mercedes by the way.

Thanks as always for your nice blog and weekly challenges!

All the best,


Practice Numbers

The September 24, 1910 issue of Automobile Topics provided a list of practice numbers for the 1910 Vanderbilt Cup Race.

#18 Alco Black Beast

1910 Grandstands and Officials Stand/Press Box


The race car has the license plate #50208NY. The racer was the Alco Black Beast with its #4 practice run number.

This automobile has the license plate #8378NY. This automobile was likely just driving on the Motor Parkway which was open on this date. The make of the automobile is still a mystery.

From Chuck Rudy Jr.: " Thank you for the interesting observations on the photo.  The #4 being the Black Beast is quite a fabulous discovery.  I don’t know if it will help, but I’ve enlarged the two other cars as much as I dare before I start losing rez.  Perhaps you may recognize either of the two lads in the front seats, but they are covered up a bunch..  I just noticed it *appears* there is another car behind the Beast but very little to discover, but not shown here. I can understand it may not be able to be confirmed beyond doubt because of the resolution but still worth the try. Thanks again for all the info.  It was enjoyable and worth the wait and suspense of a few days."

The grandstand is on the right and the officials stand/press box is on the left.

Kleiner's Korner (Submitted by Art Kleiner)

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, September 25, 1910

Now: The grandstand area in Levittown where the construction of two houses has unearthed more of the Motor Parkway and concrete posts.


Apr 19 2015 Tim Ivers 12:02 PM

Looks like the 1908 view of the Levittown grandstand looking east with the officials’ and press boxes on the left.  The number 4 Chadwick is seen on the right.

Apr 19 2015 frank femenias 12:09 PM

Hempstead plains looking east, preparations for the 1910 Vanderbilt Cup Race as it’s LITTER-FREE! Grandstand on right, pressbox/official’s stand on left (adjacent dual scoreboards not visible). If 1910 is correct, the racer could be the retired #4 Supercharged Chadwick from 1908 VCR. Auto/driver possibly Joe Tracy checking the course.

Apr 19 2015 Greg O. 10:24 PM

Identify the location and structures in the photo.
Looking East on the LIMP. Grandstands on the right- Pressbox on the left

Identify the race car in the photo.
Don’t know which car specifically, but guessing a 1908 Simplex.

Bonus question: Identify the automobile on the road.
Still looking for the answer to this one and the race car, but might not have the time.

Apr 19 2015 Art Kleiner 11:46 PM

Identify the location and structures in the photo.
Vanderbilt Cup Race grandstand and officials/pressbox.  Levittown

Identify the race car in the photo.  Not sure about this - but maybe the Alco.
My reasoning - while not the actual number used in the 1910 race, the Alco used practice #4 on the date of the photo (documentation sent to Howard).
Bonus question: Identify the automobile on the road.
Could this be one of Willie K’s. autos?


Apr 20 2015 Ariejan Bos 11:22 AM

Interesting photograph, which turns out to be more difficult than it looks like at a first glance. The year is 1910, the location is the Vanderbilt Cup race course in front of the grandstand. The numbers indicate the the pits. The structure on the left is the officials stand with clock. With respect to the cars: easiest seems to be the 1910 Mercedes on the left. The race car on the far right is the Simplex, driven by Beardsley and mechanician Coote with no.6 in the Vanderbilt Cup race. The 4 on the car is probably a number from an earlier race, possibly the race at Brighton Beach held early September, where Beardsley competed in the 1 hour race. At that time Beardsley had just joined the Simplex team as a professional driver. The car in the middle is unclear to me at the moment: is the radiator round or not? If its is round, an option is Hotchkiss. Details however are hardly visible (though the shapes of radiator and front axle do match more or less), but still I have some doubts about the roundness of the radiator. A better scan would be very helpfull!

Apr 21 2015 Greg O. 9:10 PM

Unless he shaved his mustache the day of the race, that almost looks like it could be WK Vanderbilt himself at the wheel- especially since that does appear to be a Mercedes.

Apr 22 2015 Chuck Rudy 5:28 PM

As noted, despite it looking like the 1910 winner of the VDBC race early in the conversation we dropped all the way down to 15th place with the Simplex of Beardsley…....I’d rather it be factual, so all is well there…....a possible Hotchkiss in the center.

The focus of the photo by the photographer is a 1908-09-10 Mercedes.  My guess is either the person (or car) was significant or driving through with a significant amount of speed catching the photographer’s eye.  Was it Willie K?  We may never know, but the lad in the passenger seat with the huge mustache would be an easy validation if another photo is known of a driver or someone involved with the race had that mass of undernose thatch. 

Who knows what is still out there to be discovered.  Thank you all and enjoy your day.

Apr 23 2015 frank femenias 11:58 PM

Could also be a third occupant sitting behind the driver. I’ve yet to see anyone sitting behind Willie K while driving.

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