Aug 23 2012

Hemmings Daily: Savoring Milwaukee’s best: The Milwaukee Masterpiece

Hemmings Daily has posted an article on this weekend's Milwaukee celebration of the 1912 Vanderbilt Cup Race.


Howard Kroplick

Savoring Milwaukee’s best: The Milwaukee Masterpiece

Hemmings Daily

Though just eight years old by 1912, the Vanderbilt Cup had by then become one of the most prestigious automobile races in the world, an event that attracted the world’s top drivers at the wheels of purpose-built machines from both Europe and America. It’s no overstatement then that the 1912 edition has been described as the most significant international automobile sporting event to ever take place in Milwaukee. To commemorate the centennial of that event, the Milwaukee Masterpiece will dedicate a special class to racers of that era.

“These historic races took place in Milwaukee only once, but left a lasting impression,” noted event organizers. “You will be able to see some of the world’s earliest race history on our showfield. The Vanderbilt Cup and Grand Prize Races of October 1912 will come alive when you join noted race historian and automotive author Joel E. Finn for a special presentation at noon at Sunday’s Masterpiece seminar. Mr. Finn will take you through each hair-raising turn of the race and discuss Milwaukee’s lasting impact on the ‘greatest sporting events of the day.’”

The special class will include cars such as a 1909 Blitzen Benz, 1912 Mercer, 1910 Fiat S74 and 1908 Mercedes Brookland, the latter two on loan from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum.

Other special classes for this year’s Masterpiece will celebrate Mercedes and Fiat. Also sure to be big draws are this year’s Electric Car Class – celebrating the electric cars that populated cities before the gasoline engine rendered them and steam-powered cars obsolete – and the new Post-1973 Exotics Class, which will include crowd-pleasing supercars like the Lamborghini Countach, Ferrari F599 and McLaren MP4-12C.

The Milwaukee Masterpiece will take place August 25-26 at Milwaukee’s lakefront Veterans Park, with a club day on Saturday and the concours itself on Sunday. For more information, visit


Dave Nurse says: August 16, 2012 at 9:32 am

That antique is a joy to behold. The only way to describe it is “exquisitely beautiful.”

Alan Mills says: August 16, 2012 at 12:39 pm

It is. Hard to believe these works of art were run so hard back in the day.


Ray Costa says: August 16, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Well, back in the day they were not considered works of art. They were state-of-the-art racing machines. Things have changed! Costa’s First Law of Obsolescence is that if something does what you want it to do, it isn’t obsolete. These “works of art” are obsolete as racing machines today, but if you want to take them on a HCCA run, they are GREAT! Is a Model T a museum piece or a car? If you are willing to go 20 mph to the store with no heat or weather protection, a Model T is not obsolete. I do love old cars and “art” is in the eye of the beholder.


Michael Craig says: August 16, 2012 at 10:14 pm

So, which car is this a picture of?

Mark McCourt says: August 20, 2012 at 8:34 am

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum contributed the following information about the 1910 FIAT pictured above:
“This magnificent 589-cubic-inch, 4-cylinder Italian Fiat is believed to be the one driven to second position in the 1912 Indianapolis 500 by renowned American road racers Teddy Tetzlaff and Caleb Bragg. Tetzlaff led the first two laps before bowing to the Mercedes of Ralph de Palma, which was to lead the next 196 laps. When de Palma’s car failed within sight of the finish, the National of Joe Dawson swept by to win, followed by the Fiat, driven since just before the halfway mark by Bragg. Fiat racing cars enjoyed quite a bit of success in early day American events, both on road courses and ovals.”

Packratdave says: August 17, 2012 at 6:08 am

Those guys that drove these cars has brass kahunas! Picture your self going 80 or 90 mph, open sides, no roll bar, and only a leather helmet and goggles. When men were men.

Ken says: August 17, 2012 at 12:45 pm

The owner of the1909 Alco, which ran in the Vanderbilt cup is out here on Long island and he shows up yearly at one of the east end car shows I attend. It’s a loud 690 cu in engine with chain drive. Just a big engine on wheels with some beautiful brass work. Vanderbilt built a nice highway just to race these cars when it was all farm fields. Most of the highway is gone with patches still in use(but repaved of course).


Images From the 1912 Vanderbilt Cup Race


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