Briarcliff, NY Road Race

This category for the 1908 Briarcliff Road Race currently includes four files sourced from Barney Oldfield’s scrapbook and a few from local Indianapolis newspapers. The race was won by Lewis Strang in an Italian Isotta. The field was large for the day – 22 competitors in all, including: Ralph De Palma, George Robertson, Herb Lytle, Barney Oldfield and Emanuel Cedrino. Briarcliff proved to be the final road race for the Italian ace Cedrino, who was killed in his Fiat at Pimlico the following month.

This article provides driver Herb Lytle's perspective on the Briarcliff road race. He was extremely critical of the course which provides insight to why the race was never conducted again. Some of his descriptions are colorful and provide a sense of the setting on race day. The course was crowded with spectators who apparently became unruly around the cars.

Unfortunately this artifact is in very poor condition. It comes from Barney Oldfield's scrapbook which I understand was maintained by his father who frankly made a mess of it. The article is incomplete and virtually unreadable. It has a couple of interesting images but the useful feature is a scoring chart with cars, drivers, finishing order and laps completed all listed. There is some value here but it could have been so much more.

This is a good article published just prior to the Briarcliff road race, probably in a paper local to the area. The byline (rare in 1908) was credited to a gentleman by the name of Charles Meegan. The information provided includes an entry list - very useful - as well as some notes about the tough terrain of the course and the tremendous level of interest in the community reflected by a strong turn out of spectators just for practice. A good drawing of a map of the course is also supplied.

This set of articles were extracted from Barney Oldfield's personal scrapbook which was a bit of a disorganized mess. The articles in some cases are chopped off and therefore incomplete. I believe most were originally published in the New York American newspaper - a publication I believe Duncan Curry wrote for during this time period.

These two articles from the Indianapolis Star discuss preparations for the Briarcliff road race held in April 1908. The first article was published November 10, 1907 and while it does not call out the specific Briarcliff event I am confident this is what is discussed. In this article the decision about exactly what course will be selected is under review.

Robert Lee Morrell, a prominent leader of early auto racing with executive positions at the Vanderbilt Cup and with the American Automobile Association (AAA) is quoted in this December 22, 1907 Indianapolis Star article about preparations for the Briarcliff road race of 1908. Briarcliff is not mentioned but I am confident that is the race the article refers to.

This interesting article is from the Indianapolis Star, February 23, 1908 and notes that the big Briarcliff road race of that year was in jeopardy. The race, scheduled for April 24, was expected to bring commerce to the Westchester County of New York but state officials feared excessive damage to the dirt and gravel highways that made up the course.

The attached brief article discusses preparations for the Briarcliff, New York (Westchester County) road race of 1908. This race was eventually won by Lewis Strang in and Italian Isotta racer. The event proved to be a "one-off" as the terrain was so rugged and treacherous no one in their right mind would want to return for more abuse. Given the poor roads of the region the course preparation was an overwhelming task.

The article in the attachment below comes from the April 25, 1908 Indianapolis Star and reports on a pretty amazing road race that occurred that year. The race kicked off the best year of Lewis Strang's brief career.

This article is more about engine rules than a second Briarcliff race in 1909 but the information is presented in the context of the race's future. Briarcliff was destined not to occur again and it is curious that its organizers would debate special rules for the event. The easy solution would be to continue as a stock car race and open the contest to various classes of cars.