On July 18, 2010 the town of Port Jefferson celebrated the centennial anniversary of one of Long Island’s most famous automobile competitions – the Port Jefferson Hill Climb. Dozens of beautiful antique and vintage cars from 1975 and earlier lined the parking lot of the Village Center. It was a sea of beautiful paint, finely polished brass and beautiful wood grain.
The course for this event began at the corner of East Broadway & East Main Street and climbed 2000 feet to the top of the hill terminating at the gateway of Belle Terre at Cliff Road. Historically the hill climb race was a measure of a car’s strength and torque.
Cars on display before the climb:
click all photos to enlarge
The car owners were friendly and happy to tell you about their beautiful vehicles. We spent some time talking with the owners of this beautiful Ford. He even let my daughter give his ahooga horn a go. I think I might have enjoyed that more than she did.
He mentioned an interesting fact that I was complete unaware of. The original headlamps were powered by acetylene. He does not run a tank so he only drives the car during daylight hours.
When I first moseyed into the parking area of the Village Center, the first car that I laid eyes on was a long, tough looking racer that bore the number 8 on it’s radiator. For some reason it rung a bell with me but I couldn’t place why I would’ve ever seen it before.
When I came home and started looking for information on the car, I was lead back to Vanderbiltcup.com. As it turns out that was one of the sites I’d used as a source of information when researching the De Dion Bouton tricycle. Ah ha!
This 1909 Alco-6’s pedigree boasts 2 Vanderbilt Cup wins in 1909 and 1910 as well as participation in the very first Indy 500 in 1911. Not too shabby, huh? The car returned to Long Island in 2008, when it was purchased by local motorsport historian and enthusiast Howard Kroplick.
Link and Information on the 1909 Alco-6 “Black Beast”
- The Alco-6 Black Beast Racing History
- Conceptcarz.com – 1909 Alco Six Race Car news, pictures, and information
- If the Alco-6 Racer tickles your fancy as much as it did mine, make sure you stop by the Vanderbilt Cup Races blog and peruse the history and videos of the beautiful Black Beast.
Up, Up, Up We Go!
Port Jefferson Mayor Margo Garant dropped the green flag sending the first cars on their way. It was so exciting to watch them chug up the hill cheered on by onlookers. Admittedly a few cars looked as though they might not make it but most of them powered on steadily up, up, up.
When the beautiful blue Bugatti made it’s way to the starting line I knew we were in for a treat. The driver easily sped his way up the hill past us. The sound of his car zipping by was like a song.
In the line behind the Bugatti was the car that held my fascination for the day; the Black Beast. I was so excited to see him roll away from the line. He began his ascent and then… the big black racer chugged and chugged and slowed… and sputtered to a stop partway up the hill.
Oh no! I could see steam coming out from under the front of car. Unfortunately I wouldn’t have the opportunity to hear it rumble past me on the hill on this day. I was fortunate enough to see and hear it driving earlier in the day so that would have to do.
Some of the more “modern” vehicles on hand:
I’m afraid most of the cars did not have signage with their details, so I am short on information on makes, models & years. If anyone knows anything about these beautiful vehicles, please comment below!
We had such a great time at this event. I only hope we don’t have to wait another 100 years to attend it again!
Historical Port Jeff Hill Climb Information:
- Portjeff.com – Port Jefferson Hill Climb Centennial 1910-1929 a re-enactment for cars 1975 & earlier
- Vanderbilt Cup Races Blog – Port Jefferson to Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Hill Climb
- New York Times – GETTING READY FOR BIG HILL CLIMB; Port Jefferson to be Scene of Attack on Ralph De Palma’s Record (1911)
- Port Jeff to celebrate 100th anniversary of Hill Climb