Astor Cup (auto race)
The Astor Cup Race was an American auto racing event, first run in 1915 at the Sheepshead Bay Speedway at Sheepshead Bay, New York. The winner's trophy was donated by Vincent Astor, whose name and connections ensured the attendance of members of New York City's fashionable and wealthy elite.
Owned by a group of Wall Street and other business investors, including Harry Harkness of Cleveland and Carl G. Fisher of Indianapolis, the Sheepshead Bay Speedway Corporation acquired the defunct horse racing facility known as the Sheepshead Bay Race Track (which had been owned by William Kissam Vanderbilt and Leonard Jerome's Coney Island Jockey Club). The purchase was completed in April 1915 and the first Astor Cup race was held on October 9 that year.
Run over a two-mile (3 km) banked oval board track, the 350-mile (560 km) race was marred by the death of Harry Grant who died when his vehicle crashed during a practice run. Won by Gil Andersen in a Stutz, the first Astor Cup drew the top drivers from across the United States and Europe such as Ralph DePalma, Barney Oldfield, Eddie Rickenbacker, Dario Resta, Johnny Aitken and Howdy Wilcox.
The race ceased to exist after two years. Other auto races continued at the track until 1919. The Sheepshead Bay Speedway Corporation ran into financial difficulties, following the January, 1919, death of Harry Harkness. The property was sold for residential real estate development.
The original cup is now held by Indy Racing League, LLC, which is a descendant of Fisher's Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as both are now owned by Hulman & Company. A black granite base has been added displaying the names of all the AAA, USAC, CART, and IRL series winners since 1909. Originally announced on October 12, 2011 as the new championship trophy for the IZOD IndyCar Series, it was first presented to Dario Franchitti on February 13, 2012, during the organisation's State of INDYCAR address at Hilbert Circle. The winning driver and team owner are each presented with a scaled replica of the trophy during official IRL business meetings. Starting in 2012, the trophy will be presented at the final race of the season.
|Year||Date||Winning driver||Car||Race distance||Time of race||Winning speed|
|1915||Oct 9||Gil Andersen||Stutz||350||175||03:24:42||102.59 mph (165.10 km/h)|
|1916||Sept 16||Johnny Aitken||Peugeot||250||125||02:23:04.03||104.484 mph (168.151 km/h)|
IndyCar Drivers Champions
|IndyCar World Champion|
- Galpin, Darren; A Record of Motorsport Racing Before World War I.
- Harry S. Harkness dies of Influenza, New York Times, January 24, 1919
- Website for the 1915 Astor Cup race & Sheepshead Bay race details Archived 4 November 2006 at the Wayback Machine (Site contains newspaper articles and an excellent collection of photos)