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The Bridgehampton Racing Heritage Group: Why Slow Down?

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t_Guyfrost

Guy Frost in a photo taken at
Watkins Glen in 1979.

" This was my first outing with the Vintage Sports Car Club of America. We were running as a supporting race with the Formula One U.S. Grand Prix. The car is a Formula Three 500, which began it's life as a Swedish-built EFFYH (initials of four brothers named Haakenson) circa 1950. It was developed by Senator T. Newell (Tim) Wood, who held an annual race on his property in Harvey's Lake, PA from 1952 through 1956 called Brynfan Tyddyn (the house on the hill in Welch language). Senator Wood Installed a rear suspension developed by the Cooper Car Co. to hold a Norton Manx motor and he designed and built the streamlined aluminum bodywork while he was at it (an early attempt at aerodynamics). He also chromed all the suspension pieces, installed Borrani wire wheels, a Nardi wood steering wheel and upholstered the cockpit. I bought the car in 1978 when Wood died and was told it had remained on display in his playroom since the demise of the Brynfan Tyddyn races in 1957, when the roadways were deemed too dangerous for the race cars of the time."

In 1982, an ad-hoc collection of brain-addled racers and car collectors who met regularly at the Bridgehampton Candy Kitchen suddenly got a reason to organize. The Bridgehampton Race Circuit -- as revered a piece of asphalt as any in the States -- was to become a giant condominium complex.  Springing into action, the group repaired to Bobby Van’s, a darkened watering hole to plan a counterstrike.

 

(Above) BRHG co-founder Peter Klebnikov (center) with the Dead End Kids, circa 1984.
(Above) BRHG co-founder Peter Klebnikov (center) with the Dead End Kids, circa 1984.

That’s how the Friends of Bridgehampton, later the Bridgehampton Racing Heritage Group (BRHG) was born. Led by Guy Frost, a Roslyn, NY architect and SCCA racer, the group included Bob Devol, local farmer Richard Hendrickson, journalist Peter Klebnikov and a dozen other hardcore members. Running a David against Goliath campaign, we forged links with environmentalists, business owners and the car racing community throughout the Northeast. We conducted polls, financed water analyses and car shows, wrote op-eds, and in less than a year, sent developer Carol Konner home packing. A short while later, we recruited Wall Street trader Bob Rubin to buy the track and preserve it for racing, fending off yet another ploy by developers. This allowed racing to continue unabated for another 16 years.

 

We had big plans for The Bridge: With Bob Rubin, we sought to return the track to its former glory, staging vintage events and pro races that would be a magnet for car lovers the world over. Ultimately, however, the realities of trying to run a race course in a wannabe suburb where people warm to the roar of leaf blowers caught up to us. We were unable to prevent Bridgehampton’s demise and its subsequent conversion into a golf course.

 

Today, BRHG works with the Bridgehampton Museum and golf course owner Bob Rubin to perpetuate the lore of Bridgehampton and its half century of racing. Under the guidance of its new director, Susan Savochka, BRHG members help organize the Bridgehampton Museum’s annual Road Rallye, held generally on the first Saturday in October and organize an exhibition of race cars and memorabilia at that event central to Bridgehampton’s history. For more information: http://www.bridgehamptonhistoricalsociety.org/events.html.

 

Some of us remain successful racers; others are more famous for igniting borrowed Ferraris; all of us have survived sandstorms and hurricanes and many glorious sunny days at Bridgehampton.

 

We invite you to join the Bridgehampton Racing Heritage Group free of charge and help us preserve the memory of a very special chapter in American road racing.

 

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