Feb 23 2015

Mystery Foto #8 Solved: The Packard Gray Wolf Approaching the LIRR Crossing in Queens

This weekend's Mystery Foto  documented  a rarely photographed location for the Vanderbilt Cup Races.

Mystery Foto questions:

-Identify the year of the Vanderbilt Cup Race in this photo.

The 1904 Vanderbilt Cup Race course. Based on the few spectators (see the Pope-Toledo photo in Kleiner's Korner), it is likely the photo was taken during a practice run.

-Identify the racer, its driver and the mechanician

The #16 Packard Gray (AKA Grey) Wolf driven by Charles Schmidt and mechanician William McIllrid. Schmidt, born in France, was also the designer of the Gray Wolf.

-Identify the location. What was unique about this section of the course?

The LIRR crossing on Creed Avenue (now Springfield Avenue) just before the right turn on to Jericho Turnpike (Queens section called Jamaica Avenue). O'Connor's Tavern was on the west side of the course.

This section of the 1904 course was unique because  it was held in Queens- the only Long Island Vanderbilt Cup Race not held in Nassau County. It was also unique because it was one of only three railroad crossings on the 1904 course (the other two were in Hicksville and Hempstead). Moreover, the Gray Wolf was the only Packard to compete in the Long Island Vanderbilt Cup Races.

Congrats to Robert Greenhaus, Greg O., Tim Ivers, Steve Lucas, Brian McCarthy, Art Kleiner (See Kleiner's Korner) and Ariejan Bos who correctly identifed the Mystery Foto. Kudos to Robert Greenhaus for recognizing that  the Mystery Foto may have been taken during a practice run and Art Kleiner for his supporting documents.


Howard Kroplick


Note the flagman and officiers ready to stop the racers if a train was approaching.

John O'Connor's Tavern is on the right.

Packard Gray Wolf at the 1904 Vanderbilt Cup Race

The Packard at the starting line. The referee William K. Vanderbilt Jr. can be seen in the fur coat on the far right.

Making the turn on Massapequa-Hicksville Road on to the "new" Hempstead Turnpike.

A Peter Helck painting of the Packard Gray Wolf which graced the cover of the 1978 Anniversary issue of The Packard Cormorant.

The Packard being held at the Hempstead Control just before reaching another LIRR crossing.

Approaching the LIRR crossing on Creed Avenue.

The Packard Gray Wolf taken can be seen at the 1:01 mark of this 1904 Vanderbilt Cup Race film  by American Mutoscope & Biograph.

Creed Avenue (Springfield Boulevard) and Jericho Turnpike in Queens

The Queens section of the course can be seen at the 6:08 mark.

Now 2015: The Mystery Foto location as it looks today in Queens Village.

Kleiner's Korner (Submitted by Art Kleiner)

A profile of the Packard Gray Wolf from ConceptCarz.

The #6 Pope-Toledo at the same location.

Creed Avenue (Springfield Boulevard) looking north to Jericho Turnpike form the LIRR crossong (September 6, 1911)

1907 Belcher-Hyde Map of the location.

New York Times September 1, 1911: Elimination of the grade crossing.

Now: Google aerial of the location.


Feb 20 2015 Robert Greenhaus 10:12 AM

Identify the year of the Vanderbilt Cup Race in this photo:
• 1904; however, this may be a pre-race practice run since the driver and mechanician are not wearing the helmets and goggles visible in other race photos)

Identify the racer, its driver and the mechanician:
• #16 Packard, the “Gray Wolf,” driven by Charles Schmidt with mechanician William McIllrid.

Identify the location. What was unique about this section of the course?
• The LIRR railroad crossing at Springfield Boulevard, Queens, NY. 
• This section may be unique for other reasons but it is the only section of the course outside Nassau County.

Feb 20 2015 Greg O. 11:46 PM

-Identify the year of the Vanderbilt Cup Race in this photo


-Identify the racer, its driver and the mechanician.

The instantly recognizable #16 Packard Gray Wolf driven by its designer Charles Schmidt, and his mechanician, William McIllrid.

-Identify the location. What was unique about this section of the course?

Railroad crossing at Springfield Avenue in Queens. the only VCR that took place in Queens. -Thanks for the assist from my wife Dee who broke the mystery photo open for me! She recognized the 1904 NYPD uniforms.

Looking forward to hearing the history from everyone on John O’ Connor and his tavern/hotel, and the ‘then and nows’!

I also later found the mystery photo on an older video starting at 6:09…


Feb 21 2015 Tim Ivers 11:13 AM

1904 race
Springfield Boulevard, Queens at the railroad crossing
Driver : Charles Schmidt
Mechanician: William McIllrid
Location was one of four sharp turns on course.

Feb 21 2015 Steve Lucas 3:44 PM

This photo was taken during the 1904 Vanderbilt Cup Race and shows the number 16 Packard “Gray Wolf” heading north on Springfield Road (now Springfield Blvd.) in Queens Village. The driver was Charles Schmidt (who also designed the car) and the mechanician was William McIldrid. They are crossing the LIRR mainline and are about to turn right on Jamaica Avenue (Jericho Tpke.) heading east into Nassau County. This section of the course was the only time any Vanderbilt Cup Race was ever designed to run in any part of New York City.

Feb 22 2015 brian d mccarthy 8:16 PM

OK, here I go. The photographer was looking south at Springfield Blvd/RR mainline during the 1904 VCR. The building s/o the tracks is the original Queens Village RR Station, built in 1871. When the station was rebuilt in 1924, the original station was relocated on Jamaica Ave and converted into a store. Charles Schimdt (Driver) and William Mcllrid (Mechanician) are traversing north across the tracks and soon to be heading east on Jamaica Ave/Jericho Tpke in their “Packard #16 “Gray Wolf”. If it was’nt for your website Howard, and Bob Andersens LIRR history website; I would’nt have any clue about this. Thankyou.

Feb 22 2015 Art Kleiner 9:52 PM

-Identify the year of the Vanderbilt Cup Race in this photo

-Identify the racer, its driver and the mechanician
1903 Packard Grey Wolf, #16 driven by Charles Schmidt, mechanician William McIldrid.  Finished 4th in the race. 

-Identify the location. What was unique about this section of the course?
Queens Village (known simply as Queens at the time).  Springfield Ave. (aka Creed Ave.) Railroad Crossing.  O’Conner’s Tavern located near Creed Ave. and Jericho Rd. (aka Jamaica Ave.)  Unique might have been the course took the racers over a ground level railroad crossing.  Hence the need for police officers near the crossing. 

Additional documentation being sent Howard.

Feb 23 2015 Ariejan Bos 5:57 AM

The photo shows Charles Schmidt on his Packard Gray Wolf with no.16 during the 1904 Vanderbilt Cup race. He is just passing the railroad crossing at Springfield Boulevard in Queens, which was located at the most western part of the 1904 circuit. The future circuits of the VC races on Long Island would never extend that far to the west. He finished on a respectable 4th place, and as the 2nd American car (behind Lytle on his Pope-Toledo).

Feb 24 2015 brian d mccarthy 11:47 AM

I’m just correcting myself. Within my comment, I stated that the building in this mystery photo was the original Queens Village RR Station. The RR Station is on the N/S of the tracks, this tavern on the S/S.

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