Bridgehampton Race Circuit

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Bridgehampton Race Circuit
Location Sag Harbor, New York, United States
Coordinates 40°58′48″N 72°20′28″W / 40.98000°N 72.34111°W / 40.98000; -72.34111Coordinates: 40°58′48″N 72°20′28″W / 40.98000°N 72.34111°W / 40.98000; -72.34111
Opened 1957
Closed 1998
Length 2.85 mi (4.95 km)
Turns 13

Bridgehampton Race Circuit was a race track located near Sag Harbor, New York, United States. The circuit opened in 1957, following a series of road races held from 1949 until 1953. It was one of the first permanent road racing venues in the United States, opening after Thompson Speedway, two years after Road America, the year after Watkins Glen International, and the same year as Lime Rock Park and Laguna Seca Raceway.[1] In its early years, Bridgehampton was host to major international series, including the World Sportscar Championship, Can-Am, and NASCAR Grand National. By the early 1970s, the track was used mostly for amateur events, and closed permanently in 1998.

Bridgehampton was renowned as a fearsome course, requiring the utmost of driver skill.[2][3][4]

History[edit]

Early road races[edit]

The first road races in Bridgehampton were held on public roads around the hamlet of Bridgehampton from 1915 until 1921. The course ran counterclockwise on an approximately 3-mile (4.8-km) rectangle, beginning on Montauk Highway, then turning left onto Halsey Lane, left onto Pauls Lane, left onto Ocean Boulevard, and left back onto Montauk Highway.[5]

The races were revived in 1949, utilizing a 4-mile (6.4-km) circuit adjacent to the pre-war circuit in Bridgehampton and Sagaponack. It ran clockwise beginning on Ocean Road, turning right onto Sagaponack Road, right onto Sagaponack Main Street, right onto Bridge Lane, and right back onto Ocean Road.[6] The races proved successful, and joined the SCCA National Sports Car Championship when it was created in 1951. The road races came to an end in 1953, after a driver was killed in practice and three spectators injured during the race.[7] These events, combined with a spectator death in a crash at Watkins Glen in 1952, led the State of New York to ban racing on public roads.

Permanent circuit[edit]

Local racing enthusiasts formed the Bridgehampton Road Races Corporation in 1953 to finance the construction of a permanent race circuit in the area.[2] The corporation purchased a 550-acre (2.2 km2) parcel known as Noyack Hills in 1956, and constructed a 2.85-mile (4.59 km), 13-turn road course. Although construction was not completed, the first races were held in 1957.[8] The headline event, the Bridgehampton Sports Car Races, were a part of the SCCA National Championship; Regional races would be added in 1958. The race would shift to the professional United States Road Racing Championship in 1965, and resurrected the Vanderbilt Cup, which had been run on Long Island from 1904 until 1910. A second National event was added in 1961. This event would shift to the World Sportscar Championship for 1962, marking Bridgehampton's biggest event. The WSC gave way to Can-Am from 1966 until 1969. Can-Am was scheduled to return in 1970, but the race was moved to the newly opened Road Atlanta after heavy storms damaged the track.[9] A 1971 IMSA GT Championship event was the last major event at the track.

Decline and demise[edit]

Bridgehampton's facilities remained primitive. Only a small media and scoring building and a small grandstand were installed. The Bridgehampton Road Races Corporation did not have the money to upgrade and maintain the tracks infrastructure to world-class standards. The track's land had appreciated to several million dollars in a few decades.[8] Locals began complaining about noise in the mid-1970s, and in 1983 the town passed an ordinance limiting noise and effectively ending any chance of big-league racing returning. Plans were announced in 1994 to turn the property into a golf course. Races continued until 1997, and a racing school and club meets lingered until 1998.[2]

Events[edit]

NASCAR Grand National results[edit]

Year Date Driver Car Make Winner's Prize
(USD)
Distance
Laps/Miles (Km)
Average Speed
(mph)
Race Time
1958 August 2 Georgia (U.S. state) Jack Smith Chevrolet $800 35 / 99.8 (160.6) 80.696 1:14:10
1963 July 21 North Carolina Richard Petty Plymouth $1,000 35 / 99.8 (160.6) 86.047 1:09:04
1964 July 12 Texas Billy Wade Mercury $1,225 50 / 142.5 (229.3) 87.707 1:37:29
1966 July 10 South Carolina David Pearson Dodge $1,375 52 / 148.2 (238.5) 86.949 1:42:16
[10]

Trans-Am results[edit]

Year Winner Entrant Car
1968 United States Mark Donohue Penske-Hilton Racing Chevrolet Camaro Z28
1969 United States George Follmer Bud Moore Engineering Ford Mustang Boss 302
1970 United States Mark Donohue Penske Racing AMC Javelin
[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Galpin, Darren. "Bridgehampton track info". The GEL Motorsport Information Page. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c Miller, Elizabeth Kiggen (2 May 1999). "Last Lap for Bridgehampton Race Circuit". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 27 April 2011. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  3. ^ Walla, Claire (30 September 2010). "Rally Recalls Days of Daring Young Men and Their Driving Machines". Sag Harbor Express. Retrieved 28 April 2011. 
  4. ^ "Bridgehampton Race Circuit". COM Sports Car Club. 
  5. ^ "The Bridgehampton Road Rally - Why We Rally". Retrieved 19 April 2011. 
  6. ^ "Bridgehampton Sports Car Races (Program)". Racing Sports Cars. May 23, 1953. pp. Track Map. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  7. ^ Leigh, David. Trouble at Bridgehampton. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  8. ^ a b Hartwell, Andrew S.; Guy Frost (20 May 2008). "Guy Frost’s History Of The Bridge – From Streets To Straights To Fairways". ash automobilia. Archived from the original on 27 April 2011. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  9. ^ Granger, Gene (4 August 1970). "New Road Atlanta Gets Can-Am Race". The Spartanburg Herald. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  10. ^ "Bridgehampton Raceway". Racing-Reference.info. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  11. ^ "Bridgehampton - List of Races". Racing Sports Cars. Retrieved 27 April 2011.