Aug 26 2019

Mystery Foto #34 Solved: Joe Tracy at the 1939 Automobile Old Timers Luncheon in NYC

The Helck Family Collection challenged you to find veteran Vanderbilt Cup Race driver Joe Tracy in this 1939 photo of "Old Timers".

Answers to the Mystery Foto questions:

  • Where was Joe Tracy located?

Joe was seated almost dead center in the photo.

  • What was the name of the luncheon?TAGS00010011fdda

Automobile Old Timers Luncheon

  • What was reason for the luncheon?

The luncheon brought together 125 pioneers of the automobile industry including Charles B. King, Augustus Post, David Hennen Morris, Judge William H. Hotchkiss and Eddie Rickenbacker.

  • Where and when was it held?

The event was held at the Lexington Hotel in Manhattan on October 18, 1939.

Comments (5)

Congrats to Casey DeNicola, Steve Lucas, Greg O., Frank Femenias and Brian McCarthy for locating Joe Tracy in the photo.


Howard Kroplick


The New York Times, October 19, 1939

"Kleiner's Korner"

As noted, the Automobile Old Timers was organized in 1939 at a luncheon at the Lexington Hotel in NYC.  To become a member an individual had to have been associated with the auto industry for at least 25 years prior.  As such only the early contributors (from 1914 on), to the industry would be considered.  Here are some documents reflecting that and other information about the Association.   And check out the connection to William K. Vanderbilt, Jr.

The Organization Letter, courtesy of the The Henry Ford Museum which houses a collection of the founder of the organization, Augustus Pope. Pope was the first person to purchase an auto in NYC - in 1899!  Interestingly the collection was donated to the Museum by none other than Henry Austin Clark, Jr. 

Following the the initial luncheon, members were asked to vote on whether to become a national organization vs. regional associations.  Members could vote via the mail;  ultimately the vote was to became national in scope.  

The New York Times, October 16, 1941 - Each year key contributors to the automobile industry received special recognition.  Here is Willie K. receiving his in 1941. 


Aug 25 2019 Casey DeNicola 12:49 PM

Joe is 5th from right in middle close up photo,that’s all I can come up with.I can only guess that it was a celebration of Cup race anniversary.

Aug 25 2019 Steve Lucas 8:28 PM

Well I think I found Joe Tracy but that’s about it for answers. Looks like him almost dead center of the photo directly behind the guy with his left arm on the back of the chair. Looking forward to the rest of the answers.

Aug 26 2019 Greg O. 9:15 AM

Many other drivers and mechanicians in the photo as well. Joe Tracy is dead center seated next to Ralph DePalma.
Unfortunately I was unable to identify the luncheon which appears to honor VCR drivers.

Aug 26 2019 frank femenias 4:57 PM

At the Revere room somewhere. Not sure but I think he’s sitting here….

Aug 26 2019 Brian D McCarthy 6:08 PM

Really wanted to figure this out 100%, but time isn’t on my side.

Joe Tracy is seated at the table to the left of Table 8. Al Poole is left/next to Joe Tracy. Fairly sure Harry Grant is left of Al Poole. George Robertson is seated at Table 8, and I recognize a young, dark haired Peter Helck in the near right. I see the Revere Room sign. Manhattan 30th anniversary of the 1909 VCR maybe?


Aug 26 2019 frank femenias 11:29 PM

1939, the New York World’s Fair in Flushing Meadow Park as well, with Robert Moses at the helm. And the Motor Parkway closing just one year earlier. Seems like so much activity in such a little stretch of time.

Aug 27 2019 Howard Kroplick 10:08 AM

Art Kleiner has added an edition of “Kleiner’s Korner” to this week’s mystery photo above.

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