Saturday 8th October 1904
The first Vanderbilt Cup automobile racing event was held in Hicksville, New York. It was created to introduce Europe’s best automotive drivers and manufacturers to the U.S. Named after the event’s organizer, William K. Vanderbilt Jr., the grand prize of the race was the elegant Vanderbilt Cup, crafted by Tiffany & Co., the famous American jewellers. The race, a 10-mile lap course over a 30-mile circuit, had 18 entries: five Mercedes cars, three Panhards, two Pope-Toledos, two Fiats, and one each by Renault, Simplex, De Dietrich, Packard, Clement-Bayard, and Royal Tourist. George Heath, a Frenchman, won the first Vanderbilt Cup in a Panhard automobile, edging out his competition with a brisk average speed of 52.2 mph. French-built cars continued to dominate the Vanderbilt Cup until 1908, when daredevil George Robertson drove a 90hp Locomobile, known as “Old 16,” to victory in the fourth Vanderbilt Cup. It was the first major international racing victory for an American car, and served notice that the U.S. could compete in motor racing and automobile production. The annual Vanderbilt Cup event continued until 1916, when the demands of World War I put an end to the tradition.