May 16 2018

Video/Film of the Week: Classic Bridgehampton Racing

This film captured the sights and sounds of the Bridgehampton Race Circuit highlighted by an appearance by Paul Newman to a big crash.

Oddly,  the YouTube comments have not be able to pin down the actual year of  the races. Best guesses are 1979 to 1981. Can any Bridgehampton race fans help out?


Howard Kroplick


0:31: Paul Newman preparing for a race

13:47: A driver  describing the cause of a crash.


May 17 2018 john mesawich 9:50 AM

I was at this race.  1981.  Newman finished 2nd to Ken Slagle in a TR8.  What a great race track!

May 20 2018 Earl Gandel 1:51 AM

In my memory, it was 1980, but John is probably right with 1981. The Formula Ford field was huge, so their race ran last. It was a joint SCCA/EMRA event as part of a 2-weekend event we called “Speed Week”, the track’s 25th anniversary. The F Ford field didn’t even make it to turn 1 when 17 of them piled up, no one hurt except a wrist or two. One driver, Tony Andrews running in front got out of his car and said, “well, gentlemen, the party starts early.”

May 20 2018 Earl Gandel 1:56 AM

p.s. We “borrowed” the name and called it the Vanderbilt Challenge, along with a picture of the real cup from the Smithsonian.

May 20 2018 James Spina 7:37 AM

So sad that Long Island abandoned its venerated position in the world of motorsport. That track ignited my passion for all things auto!

May 20 2018 Gary Cossaboon 9:15 AM

Michael Andretti’s year in Ford #55
Dave Weitzenheit confirms wreck in Pro-FF feature

May 20 2018 slambert 9:54 AM

A great track. Spectated starting in’68 at the Trans-Am and Can-Am. raced FV later in the 70s. If those right handers after going under the bridge didn’t get your heart racing-you’re not human. Wonder how the golfers like it?

May 20 2018 Howard Kroplick 3:47 PM

Terry Stafford:

Howard, I was at the race pictured in your Bridgehampton Video.  I don’t remember the year, but it was the first year the V8 powered Triumph TR8 was racing in SCCA Pro Racing competition.  So I believe it to be 1979. (I think there was a question as to weather they had made enough cars in 78’ to be properly homologated.)

I went to watch Paul Newman in the Bob Sharp, Budweiser, Datson Z car.  It was his last Regional race for the season and he needed the points from 1 more win to qualify for the National Runoffs that year.  (I remember the 25’ tall inflatable Budweiser can in his Pitt.)  The TR8 was pulling ahead of Newman about 50 to 75 feet with every passing lap.  Toward the end of the race he was behind about 600-800 feet and I had to leave with a few laps to go, for a family obligation.  He did not make the runoffs that year.

Two Bridgehampton notes from that race day.
It was the last SCCA Pro Series race ever to run at The Bridge.

And, (after I left,) there was the biggest accident ever at The Bridge, (I don’t think there were any serious injuries.)

As described to me by my friend Guy Frost who watched it…. the Formula Vs, (or Formula Fords,) were the last scheduled race on the card that day.  A Chevelle had blown a big V8 engine on the Pit Out lane earlier that day and oiled it down.

Everyone was cautious the rest of the day as they came thru and tried to avoid the dusted oil patch just before the merge onto the main track.  And with all races being 1/2 hour Sprints that day, (not 3 hr Enduros with pit stops,) no one was roaring out of the pit at full speed after a tire change or something.

As the Formula cars came down the straight at speed and took the green flag, an adventurist driver from the 2nd row was just executing his plan to slingshot into the lead by accelerating early and swinging around everyone thru the Pit Out lane to take the lead.  He did, but jerked the wheel to pull back onto the main track just as he went through the oil.  Even with the Speedy Dry on the oil, not enough cars had driven right thru it.  He lost control and skidded sideways in front of the entire grid as they all stepped fully into the throttle to begin the race.  Only 4 or 5 cars out of more than 30 that started, made it thru the ensuring mess finishing 1 lap, to a Black Flag .  Some of the 29 or so cars involved in the accident might have been able to pound out this or replace that or tape up this, and get ready to restart the race that day.  But they couldn’t get the track cleared and cleaned up before the race was called because of darkness.

Terry Stafford

May 20 2018 Howard Kroplick 3:55 PM

Gary C:

SCCA footage from 1981
Pro-FFord event at the Bridge, wreck at start

Thanks for posting!
Gary C

Leave a Comment