Bridgehampton Racing:
From the Streets to The Bridge

bridgehampton race

by Joel E. Finn

In Bridgehampton Racing, Joel Flynn lays out the history of racing on the Eastern End of Long Island in a highly compelling narrative that spans the 20th century. In doing so, he not only offers a detailed account of how racing on Long Island came to be, but he offers a vivid example of how sports car racing in this country began and then grew in the post-war years into a professional spectacle.

The book is structured chronologically, starting with the account of racing as early as 1900, as public roads were built. Wealthy sportsman, who could afford the machines and had the wear-with-all to run them, organized competitions. One had the idea to pit the best American machines against the best Europeans. William K. Vanderbilt Jr., created and sponsored the Vanderbilt Cup Races that eventually drew the famed Auto Union and Alfa Romeo Grand Prix cars.

Post-war, racing returned to Bridgehampton as sports cars gained popularity. This is where Mr. Finn’s research and detail is most impressive. He chronicles how from 1949 to1953 participants ran the Bridgehampton Road Races on a four-mile course, created using secondary roads through area farms.

It is fascinating to read that one man, Bruce Stevenson, was the BRR visionary. Stevenson possessed a single-minded drive and the needed local connections to stage the racing. The events drew a who’s who of participants – wealthy racers like Briggs Cunningham, New York entertainment personalities and experienced drivers like John Fitch. The racing was fast and dangerous. Spectators crowded the course, separated from the speeding cars by hay bales.

The Bridgehampton Race Course, “The Bridge” was born when racing on the public roads was banned after 1953. In meticulous detail, Mr. Finn describes how the course was laid out, financed (shares sold in BRC Corporation) and constructed. The result was one of the truly awesome road racing courses in the world.

In what I would consider the final section, Mr. Finn documents the activities at “The Bridge” from the 1950’s through the Can-Am and Trans-Am years in the 1970’s. In the end the Bridgehampton Race Course was the victim of regulations, population growth and financial pressures. In the final pages Mr. Finn tells how, the race track became a golf course.

Despite all of the excellent information that Mr. Finn has included, it is the vast number of period images that makes Bridgehampton Racing so special. The images, mostly shot during the post war period truly make the narrative come alive and the book worth acquiring. If you are even a casual fan of American sports car racing, this book is a must have for your collection.

Since “The Bridge” is gone and I never had the opportunity to drive it, I looked online for video and found a few posted on YouTube. The links below will give you an idea of what racing was like through the years.

Bridgehampton Road Races - 1951

Can-Am at Bridgehampton Race Course in 1968

Laps of Bridgehampton before its demise

Review by J. Hazen
Jim is a long time car guy with a penchant for English marques. He is currently the Chairman of the Aston Martin Owners Club Section East for North America. As a budding vintage racer, Jim campaigns his Feltham Aston as often as time permits. When not doing car stuff he is the President of a new clothing and accessories brand called The Drivers Society. Jim lives in Cohasset, Ma with his wife Melissa and their two Bouviers de Flandres, one of which is named for Tazio Nuvolari.

Bridgehampton Racing: From the Streets to the Bridge
by Joel Finn
www.racemaker.com
$125.00
ISBN: 09647769-1-X