WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT THE BRIDGE...
Classic quotes from drivers, world famous and unknown as well as spectators who spent many a day at The Bridge. Do you have a memory of or experience at Bridgehampton you would like to share? Contact Us and we'd be glad to post it.
Paul Newman on his first ride around Bridgehampton with Mario Andretti.
"It was 1967 and Mario took me around Bridgehampton in a 427 Mustang... my first ride with a professional driver. As we approached a fourth gear,blind,down hill righthander, I thought I'd have a better chance of surviving Custer's Last Stand than this. When we stopped in the pits, I hurled myself from the infernal machine, belly down, kissed the ground, thanked my Maker, and vowed never to kick my dog or as it turned out later, his pig."
A ride with Walt Hansgen, Master of The Bridge:
"Every time he charged over the hillcrest and drifted through the
right-handers - sawing casually on the wheel and discoursing on a variety of subjects - I was convinced I was about to die. I had ridden with many professional drivers, including a number of laps in excess of 170mph around Daytona while sitting on the floor of Lee Roy Yarbrough's Grand National Dodge Charger, but never had I been more petrified than at Bridgehampton with Walter Hansgen." ~Legendary automotive journalist Brock Yates in his classic book "Sunday Driver".
A long way from home.
"This here is the end of the earth, and that ain't no shit."
NASCAR grand national champion David Pearson, gazing around the paddock after arriving for practice for the 1966 Bridgehampton Grand National race. (He won, after rival Richard Petty did not start.)
John Fernie - Illustrator
Memories from his son, Bruce Fernie
It was the Can-Am, 1967 and I was walking the pits as a 15 year old with full access and near the chicken wire door at the rear of the paddock. There was a kid maybe a few years older than myself in a heated argument with the 'security' who wouldn't let him in... “no way. no how without the correct credentials,” said the guard. I went up and we discussed with the guard how easily he could sneak in over or under the fence, and It was quite a scene until a 'suit and tie' came running over in a huff and passed credentials through the fence so the 'kid' could come in... the kid was Edsel Ford II.
My dad, John Fernie was one of New Yorks great illustrators (if I do say so myself) and for personal pleasure he painted many scenes from races we attended or competed in.
Here is one from the 1967 Can-Am.
From the California Superbike School forum: "What is the most difficult turn on the planet" One poster replies:
"Bridgehampton - Turn 2: End of the front straight, flat out, pinned under the bridge, thru kink, down the hill, thru 2 at the bottom and all the way to turn three. (But only on a smallbore) Slightest off-track excursion onto the beach = broken bones. Kinda like coming onto the front straight at Road Atlanta. A good bit faster and imagine no curb and the immediate runoff three inches beyond the edge of the track being deep sand. Always gave me butterflies. Brutal corner worker training, what with bones sticking thru leathers and exploded bodywork/machine clean up after every crash. It was so normal that I never saw a race stopped for an ambulance on track until I left the northeast."
"Some of my fondest memories are the great times running for Shelby at the Targa Florio in Sicily, Le Mans, Goodwood and Bridgehampton."
~ Dan Gurney
"The Bridge put us through Perils of Pauline adventures - It was variously vibrant, then deathly ill, then on life support, then back to being merely deathly ill. I went there first during the Can-Am days, when the racing was glorious...Dan Gurney, Scooter Patrick, Denny Hulme - the names ring in memory -- the Can-Am days at Bridgehampton were as wonderful as that wonderful series got at any track in the land." ~Leon Mandel, Publisher, Autoweek
"It's one of the most difficult course to drive in the country. A very challenging track. It's got some fast sweeps and a lot of blind corners. It's truly a driver's course." ~ Hap Sharp, winner of the 1965 Double 500 International Race, aboard a Chaparral.
"Everybody's always wondering if that road is really where they remembered it when they go over that hill. ~Skip Scott, musing about the task of throwing a monster 427 Cobra into Turn 1.
"It's very fast, tricky and great fun."
~ Ronnie Bucknum, Honda Factory Formula 1 driver
"This is really a very tricky course. You have to be concentrating every moment because of the blind spots. I'll have to be very, very careful!" ~ Mario Andretti, feeling apprehensive moments before the start of his first-ever road race. The 1965 Bridgehampton Double 500.
"Believe it or not, my son and I just visited the track and climbed up onto the Chevron Bridge. What a beautiful track Bridgehampton must have been. I like golf, but the race circuit must have been better. Thanks" ~John Foley
My first trip to Bridgehampton Race Circuit was in May of 1964 for an SCCA National race. Prior to that my auto racing experience was the occasional Friday or Saturday night at Freeport Stadium to watch the stock cars or quarter midgets run on the eighth of a mile oval. We had taken a trip out to West Hampton Drag Strip to watch Art Arfons run the Green Monster and heard fans talking about Sports car races being held out east on a road course at Bridgehampton and decided to trek out for the next event.
I had been accepted to Southampton College for the fall semester of '64 so our trip would allow me to check out the campus on the way to the track. The wonderfull thing about the Bridge was the trip there, the traffic building as you headed for Milstone road awash in cars not seen every day about town, Ferraris, Aston Martins, Lotus sevens, XK120s,40s,50s the stuff of dreams for an 18 year old. Before you saw the track you heard it. The rumble of big bore engines was carried on the breeze with screaming crescendos and staccato downshifts…..then silence…..then another car would sing its wild song……Step up folks you aint seen nothing yet the Big Show is on the inside. And so we drove in up the oil soaked dirt road around small craters here and the to the parking area…the beginning of a beautiful but much too short friendship.
My camera for the day was a Kodak instamatic. With its fixed focus and shutter speed not exactly what Jesse Alexander would opt for but to my amazement some of the images were not bad if you got lucky while panning. I remember that day we picked wild blueberries while walking the inside of the circuit something you won’t find at today’s venues to be sure. In the years that followed I bought a 35-mm camera and improved my skills to a reasonable degree. Since I was attending college down the road a piece I was fortunate to attend many events during the 1964 to 1970 period and presently I am sorting through my old photos hoping to create my own website when I retire. The last major race I attended was the 1969 Trans Am that Mark Donahue won in a hellacious rainstorm driving a Javelin for Roger Penske.
I returned several times for regional events in the 70s and 80s still taking photos and trying to explain to my small son the marvelous noise made by 30 or so group 7 Can Am cars streaming under the Chevron Bridge. Meanwhile spec racers with MUFFLERS ye gads were humming down into turn one……it was like watching traffic on the Southern State Parkway!!! Something really special to a lot of folks had slipped away and it is greatly missed by those of us who were lucky enough to make the trek out east and be transfixed by the Siren Song of real Motor Racing.
Deer Park New York
"I raced at the bridge in 1979 on my 1978 Suzuki GS1000 superbike as an amateur. We drove all night because had to work and missed the ferry. Had one lap practice due to rain. I ran first until rest of class realized I didn't know where I was going. The bike I am riding USCRA and AHRMA now is almost a replica of that bike. Great times! "
- Alan Perry
"I raced the Bridge in the early 70's on grand prix motorcycles, had a ball, it was my favorite track. The Bridge was a real big-time professional track, wide, with all kinds of corners, many blind, great elevation changes. Once went there on a friday, preliminary to a weekend of racing and 'rented' the track for about $50 for the afternoon. No corner workers, no medical, but we were young and carefree but had enough brains not to overcook things and tempt fate. Never got a chance to drive the Porsches I later tracked for fun there, surely wish I had." -Bill McCulley
"A lot has been written about what it was like to race at the Bridge but not much about what it was like to watch a race there. Sure I scared myself silly on my Ducati at the Penguin Motorcycle Racing School but my fondest memories of the Bridge are of my wife and I driving our Wagoneer with our infant son through deep sand to get to our "private" viewing area at the top of hill. There we would spread a picnic blanket, tune the radio to the race call andspend the day watching the bikes come down the back straight, into the horshoe then up the hill right beside us. All the while we had a spectacular view of Long Island Sound. It was our own "place in the Hamptons."
Thank you for the phenomenal site.
"I found this website about Bridgehampton road racing while just surfing around one day. It's nice that some history of the track still attracts some interest. As a member of the AAMRR, I raced at the Bridge a few times from 1978 to about 1981 on my 1978 Yamaha XS500E running number 571 or 516. A few fond memories for sure as I got my first win there in the rain in 1979 as a novice, and still have my trophy to prove it!" -Steve Kouzoujian
"I had a pretty powerful experience when my wife and son decided to go to the south fork for the first time since he was born. I was hoping if the old Bridgehampton Race Circuit sign was still up that I could get a picture there with him. What we got was much more.
I've told my son a lot about the place, and was disappointed to see the sign is down and the entrance road is just a load of weeds growing through the concrete. I asked my wife to continue down Millstone, hoping maybe my son could get a glimpse of the downhill through the winter trees. Then I saw a small sign on the right with a checkered flag and we went in. There we were driving up the downhill and under The Bridge. We took it all the way to the end of the straight, the whole time with me telling my son where the pits were, the scoring tower, etc. As we drove back in the normal direction of the circuit, a UPS truck passed us...it was absolutely surreal. I took pictures of us by the Bridge, still with the Chevron Gasoline sign on it. As we left I told my wife had we done nothing else out east, that would have made it worthwhile. It was so special just to be there again, and to be there with my boy.
Afterwards, I couldn't get over what had happened. I told my wife it was kind of like closure for me. I was thrilled and sad at the same time. Then my son chimed in from the back seat and said "Well Dad, it's kind of like when I make a sand castle. I take all that time working on it, and then the tide just comes in and washes it away. That's just how things are." My wife and I looked at each other, stunned at such a profound comment from our boy who turns 7 in a week." - William Tynan
"I can't believe I found your site. My father, along with Steve Ross, used to run the AAMRR races at Bridgehampton. I have a lot of fond memories of that place. Memories that started out when I was a young child, getting my father's helmet to corner working and eventually racing an RS 125 at the bridge.
The sunday morning bicycle races are also forever etched into my mind. (we couldnt start racing until 1:00 PM on Sunday)
I will also never forget the fear I felt as a Novice racer the first time I came into turn 1 flat out. It was actually the second time seeing turn 1that frightened me. (If I recall you car guys used different numbers, 1 was the first kink after the straight, 2 was the turn at the botom of the hill) coming out of the pits 2/3 of the way down the front straight, turn 1 was a piece of cake. However, my second time around after a mile on the front straight turn 1 was intimidating.
Going through my head I remembered the ribbing others had gotten when their friends heard them back off . . just a bit coming into turn 1. The telltale sign of a guy's survival instinct getting the best of hime. I also remembered the stories of the SAND. Oh god, you get into the sand and your front wheel will knife in and over you will go. Broken collar bones were the bread and butter of the cornerworkers.
Who can forget echo valley. Or this one SMOKING hot woman who always used to work on turn 12. (13 and 14 to car guys). Half the time she worked, she would screw up my exit line, which of course haunted me all the way down the front straight. But oh god those cutoff jean shorts. . . but I digress.
Anyway, thanks for the walk down memory lane, complete with a picture of my father on his MTT125."
-Don Mei Jr.
"Sad that the 'Bridge went under. I n my humble opinion, the greatest spectacle in racing was the start of B Production race, watching a dozen Corvettes coming down the hill 3 abreast- all waiting for the other guy to lift before the right hander at the bottom- THOSE WERE THE DAYS!" -Dan Chapman
Great Web site! I raced Bridgehampton when it first opened. I drove a 1953 Austin Healy 100 that had been set up for racing. My buddy, Panteleone (Leo) Rizzo, drove an Arnolt Bristol. I think he may have been the first driver to discover that you could go flat out at the end of the straight, before entering the downhill curve. He "whispered" that gem of knowledge to me, and I was having a ball passing all the> fast, exotic cars at the end of the straight. Eventually, of course, everyone caught on. - Daniel F. Stanfill III Goodyear, AZ
A flagger's memories
My first weekend flagging was at The Bridge. I was in Thunder Alley, station 5 & 5A. It was in the Spring, 1977, at a NYR event.
I remember during an SCCA event, the folks at station 4 were making fun of a car with flames ...that car ended up ON their station! Almost took out a whole family. That started a tradition of not putting more than one brother together on any corner that lasted for many, many years! My fastest lap was in a Ferrari BB something or other. Its licence plate said "its fast" . I was the passenger . We did a few laps, and the last time down the front straight, he was going over 150 MPH as we went past the starter's stand. They said my smile got out first...
I flagged there for many years, stayed with the rest of the workers at the local home of a good friend of the track, Many many good memories!
Thanks for the website!
- Diane (Seum) Case
Mario Andretti gets ready to turn a hot qualifying lap for the 1968 Can-Am in his Lola Ford.
I just happened upon your website this evening. Thanks so much for preserving some of the memories of a TERRRIFIC place. Growing up in NYC in the 60’s and early 70’s – The Bridge and Lime Rock were my haunts and I was fortunate to have spectated and pit crewed at the great events such as the early Trans-Am,Can-Am, and the heyday of SCCA. Later- I participated (B Sedan) in LISCA/EMRA,and SSSCCBDS Solo events with great success. I too got to experience the Big Cojones required to keep your foot in it at the end of the main straight.
I was fortunate to have visited many major tracks around the country and even in Europe but the ‘Bridge was special.
I started going to the Bridge for the racing- Trans-Am, Can-Am, and SCCA in 1968 at age 16. For the ’68 Trans-Am- my 2 friends and I drove out in my first car - Sunbeam Imp- which we decided to drive around the infield on Saturday night. Somewhere near the Kromm Overlook- we got hopelessly mired in the sand and unfortunately I wasted the clutch attempting to drive out. We abandoned the car there as I didn’t have enough money then to tow it out and get it fixed so end of car. We watched Donohue win the next day standing on its roof to the amazement of the people around us who must have thought we were a bunch of hoodlums.
This is TOP SECRET (of course!)- In 1969 ( I was 17), my friend and I snuck into the pits and got to be “gophers” for the Canadian Mo Carter running a Camaro- they were pitted next to Jerry Titus as we got to strike up a brief friendship that weekend with Jerry’s son, Rick.
The next year , 1970- I was the helper for Al Cosentino on his FIAT–Abarth Berlina Corsa driven by Craig Fisher. I helped him swap the engine in the pits, just getting it done in time for the race. Fisher didn’t last long though. We also were friends with a couple of the mechanics on the Bavarian Auto Sales BMW 2002Ti driven by Peter Shuster so got to hang around with them.
These were great times as the crews would hang around the pits until dusk or later working on the cars, mostly drinking beer etc and they were all very friendly especially to a couple of enthusiastic teenagers. All very informal –even with the factory teams-unlike today.
When I started doing solo event- I held the time trial lap record for my class ( B sedan)at 2:12.07. Bear in mind that this was in an OPEL of all things, on COLD street tires (Pirelli 1985/70-13’s), COLD brakes, and from a standing start- right before the Lowenbrau bridge. This was also with NO roll bar- only a helmet- not many professionals would be that foolish to try that (what did I know..). I still have all my trophies.
You might note that one of the other difficult places on the circuit was the left hander preceding the hairpin. It was pretty easy to overcook that turn and wind up on the sand on the right which –if you got sideways- over you went. I went off there but managed to keep it straight but I’m sure I was airborne for ½ the time as the ground was not exactly smooth- more like a motocross track. I watched my friend Lloyd Washington, in a B sedan Datsun 510 screw that turn up- went off to the right and got sideways – but instead of rolling- somehow shot across the track and wound up on the left where he went up the embankment and THEN rolled. I had my father with me for his first race and he was agast.
By the way- did you know that lore has it that Bob Sharp- great Datsun racer that he was- stopped racing at the Bridge after a while due to the turn 2….
You got me started- great memories
- Mike Patlin
Thousand Oaks, CA