Apr 18 2016

Mystery Foto #16 Solved: Two Winning Racers at the Plainview Road Curve in Bethpage

This weekend's Mystery Foto documented an exciting battle between two winning racers.

Answers to the Mystery Foto questions:

  • Identify the race(s) and its date

The 1908 Motor Parkway Sweepstakes and the 1908 Jericho Sweepstakes which ran concurently. The races were held on October 10, 1908, the opening day of the Long Island Motor Parkway.

  • Identify the drivers and race cars in the photos

W.R. Burns driving the #J11 Chalmers-Detroit.

Herb Lytle driving the #P42 Isotta.

  • What is the exact location of the photo?

The curve just west of the Plainview Road Motor Parkway Bridge in Bethpage. The photographer was stationed atop the bridge.

  • What is the structure at the beginning of the curve?

"Well #1" and the elevated water tower used to build the concrete Long Island Motor Parkway.

Congrats to Tim Ivers,  Chuck Rudy, Steve Lucas, Art Kleiner (see Kleiner's Korner), Greg O., Frenak Femenias and Ariejan Bos for correctly identifying the two races and the winning race cars. Kudos to Tim Ivers, Steve Lucas,  Art Kleiner, Greg O., and Frank Femenias for identifying the correct location and the water pumping station.


Howard Kroplick

#J11 Chalmers-Detroit

#J11 Chalmers-Detroit driven by W. R. Burns. Finished first in the 1908 Jericho Sweepstakes averaging 46.2 miles per hour.

Submitted by Art Kleiner

#P42 Isotta

#P42 Isotta driven by Herb Lytle

Lytle winning the 1908 Motor Parkway Sweepstakes with an average spped of 64.25 mph and, two weeks later, would finish second in the 1908 Vanderbilt Cup Race.

The Curve West of the Plainview Road Bridge

"Well #1" and the elevated water pumping station used to create the concrete road can be seen just before the curve.

"Well #1" looking west. Note: the sandy mound in the background.

The view of the water pumping station and the Plainview Road Motor Parkway Bridge under construction looking east on June 6, 1908.

Another view from the bridge showing a White Steamer ambulance.

Current view of the Plainview Road curve.  Note: The ever-present utility lines indicating the Motor Parkway right-of-way.

Kleiner's Korner (Submitted by Art Kleiner)

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, October 11, 1908

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, October 10, 1908

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, October 11, 1908


Apr 15 2016 Ted 5:37 PM

Omg!!got to get this one,seen this so many times,it almost seems too easy. We’ll see.

Apr 15 2016 Tim Ivers 9:34 PM

October 10, 1908 the Motor Parkway Sweepstakes
The J-11 Chalmers driven by W. Burns and the P-42 Isotta with H.  Lyle (winner)
The view is looking west from on top of the Plainview Road bridge in Bethpage.
The structure on the curve looks like a water pumping station and tank.

Apr 16 2016 Chuck Rudy 9:17 PM

The race is the 1908 Motor Parkway sweepstakes.

The J11 in the Jericho Sweepstakes class is a Chalmers-Detroit driven by Burns.
The #(P)42 is the Isotta of Herb Little in the Parkway Sweepstakes.

Both finished first in their respective classes.

As for location it appears there’s a 50/50 chance of me guessing one of two spots….I will guess….the west side of the race course on the LIMP. Which would mean the road shooting off straight is headed west back to NYC.  (The other curve would be the most eastern point of the LIMP on the course which would have the straight road going south)

It appears a crowd is gathered in sight of the billboard looking item which I will guess was a scoreboard updated by telephone, as noted there is a toll lodge and telephone nearby, but lines would still have to have been brought to the sign board I believe. 

As always I learn something and usually guess…....poorly.  But still enjoy it.

Apr 16 2016 Steve Lucas 10:26 PM

This photo was taken on October 10, 1908 and shows two racers competing in separate yet simultaneous events. In the rear you have Herb Lytle driving the P42 Isotta during the Motor Parkway Sweepstakes appearing about to overtake W.R. Burns in the J11 Chalmers-Detroit (foreground) running in the Jericho Sweepstakes. Amazingly, both drivers won their respective races. The photo was taken looking west towards Central Park (Bethpage) from the top of the Plainview Road Bridge. I think the structure is a water storage tank that had been built during construction of the LIMP since the crew had to provide their own water for concrete mixing and dug their own wells.

Apr 17 2016 Art Kleiner 10:04 AM

Identify the race(s) and its date: The Motor Parkway Sweepstakes and the Jericho Sweepstakes on Oct. 10, 1908 (opening day of the Motor Parkway). 

Identify the drivers and race cars in the photos:  WR Burns driving a Chalmers-Detroit (nearest camera) and Herb Lytle driving an Isotta.

What is the exact location of the photo? View from Plainview Motor Parkway Bridge looking west, approx. 1/2 mile north of Powell Ave.

What is the structure at the beginning of the curve? Water Storage tank, well and pumping station.

Apr 17 2016 Ted 12:36 PM

I’m a little frustrated with now,is this the second Deadmans Curve,I’m pretty sure it’s one of them,but which one,I guess I have to search a little more,

Apr 17 2016 Ted 2:18 PM

The clue to my answer is the water tower and landmarks,I’m searching both Deadmans Curves. On the 2nd curve is the Central Railroad,but not in the mystery,maybe that’s what being built,but that’s too close and there’s no water tower, it’s turning out not to so easy for me,for you guys it’s easy. Just can’t find what I’m looking for. Gotta take a break from this.

Apr 17 2016 S. Berliner, III 2:24 PM

No clues, but, rather than a battle, it looks more like an overtaking.  The mechanician in the lead car sure seems to be gesturing to the trailing car to pass.  Note that there’s no exhaust plume from the lead car.  As to the structure, it appears to be one of the water tanks that fed the pipe that ran the length of the RoW during construction to supply water for the concrete pours.  Sam, III

Apr 17 2016 Greg O. 6:36 PM

Identify the race(s) and its date-
From VCR.com; On September 10, 1908, the AAA Race Commission announced plans to christen the Motor Parkway with an event called, “The Long Island Motor Parkway Sweepstakes.” Five concurrent stock car races were scheduled for October 10, 1908. The idea was to create an opportunity to test the new course, timing systems, and crowd control for the Vanderbilt Cup Race scheduled two weeks later.

Identify the drivers and race cars in the photos-
Not really battling it out, but that’s #J11 Chalmers-Detroit driven by W. R. Burns. Finished 1st averaging 46.2 miles per hour in the Jericho Sweepstakes and #P42 Isotta (Italy) driven by Herb Lytle. Finished 1st with an average speed of 64.25 mph in the Motor Parkway Sweepstakes.

What is the exact location of the photo?
On top of the Plainview Road LIMP bridge looking South/ South/West

What is the structure at the beginning of the curve?
Water was not readily available during the LIMP constuction, so wells were dug every mile or so along the construction zone. The structure is/was a well and a pump station and elevated water storage tank.

Apr 18 2016 frank femenias 2:09 AM

This mystery photo may show 2 first place winners! Here is the J-11 Chalmers-Detroit up front, being driven by W.R. Burns of the Jericho Sweepstakes; and the P-42 Isotta trailing, being driven by Herb Lytle of the Parkway Sweepstakes. Both vehicles are part of a 5 Sweepstakes’ race that ran concurrently at the 1908 Motor Parkway Sweepstakes. The other 3 Sweepstakes were Meadowbrook, Garden City, and Nassau.

This race was the christening for Long Island Motor Parkway’s opening. The photo was taken atop the Plainview Rd parkway bridge looking SW. The structure is a left-over water tower used during the parkway’s construction. Just to the right (south) of J-11 by the ROW fence, was the site of an airplane crash that claimed the lives of all two servicemen on board, 31 years later in 1939.

Apr 18 2016 Ariejan Bos 3:58 PM

This scene was shot from Plainview Road Bridge during the opening races of the new LIMP, the Long Island Motor Parkway Sweepstakes, which were held on October 10, 1908. In all there were 5 races for different stock car classes, driving different distances. Apparently the races were held concurrently. Driving in front with J11 is W.R. Burns on a Chalmers-Detroit, competing in the Jericho Sweepstakes. He is followed by Lytle on Isotta P42, competing in the Motor Parkway Sweepstakes. Both drivers would win the classes they were competing in. About the structure in the background I could only guess, so I leave that to other, more knowledgeable people in the field.

Apr 18 2016 Brian D McCarthy 9:13 PM

I didn’t really commit to trying to solve this past mystery. What always impresses me is how the LIMP was constructed with teams of horses, etc. We all know hand digging is back breaking work. These laborers had to hand shovel deep enough to hit ground water. God bless modern day machinery.

Apr 19 2016 Michael LaBarbera 10:53 AM

In noticing the sandy mound in the background of the older picture, could that be the exact spot where the electric tower stands today in the current photo ??

From Howard Kroplick

Michael, I was thinking the same thing when I saw the current view.

Apr 21 2016 Dick Gorman 7:58 PM

Is the Tim Ivers who has replied to a number of your Mystery Photos the same Tim Ivers who grew up in Uniondale on Park Place???

Apr 25 2016 Tim Ivers 10:06 PM

Dick Gorman:
Tim Ivers is the same you asked about. (Park Place, Uniondale)
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