Jan 23 2016

The Race to a Doctorate: Michelin, Bibendum and the Vanderbilt Cup Races

Professor Pau Medrano Bigas, Professor of Graphic Design at the University of Barcelona, has spent ten years researching Michelin's graphic history. In July 2015, Pau presented his doctorate thesis The forgotten years of Bibendum: the American stage of Michelin in Milltown. Design, illustration and advertising at tire companies (1900-1930). Several sections of his thesis detailed how Michelin promoted and advertised their tires at the Vanderbilt Cup Races and other great races of the era.

With the professor's permission, below are several Michelin graphics used in his thesis.


Howard Kroplick

1905 Vanderbilt Cup Race

A large Michelin banner on a tire station located on Jericho-Oyster Bay Road in East Norwich.

1906 Vanderbilt Cup Race

Several of the Michelin tire men.

The classic Vanderbilt Cup Race photo at the Hairpin Turn on Wheatley Road in Old Westbury. Check out the Michelin sign behind the racer.

1908 American Grand Prize Race

An odd graphic symbilizing the American Grand Prize Race.

1909 Vanderbilt Cup Race

1910 Vanderbilt Cup Race

Michelin tires were on the winning race cars for every Long Island Vanderbilt Cup Race except the 1905 Darracq.

1911 Vanderbilt Cup Race

The American victory promoted in Germany.

Uncle Sam celebrating with the Michelin mascot Bibendum.

Professor Pau Medrano Bigas

Professor Pau Medrano Bigas' thesis consisted of four volumes totalling 2,520 pages in Spanish. It was a honor to contribute several images from my Vanderbilt Cup Race collection

In late 2015, the University of Barcelona announced that Pau Medrano Bigas was awarded a Doctor of Graphic Design. Felicitaciones, Doctor!!

The thesis is available at the University of Barcelona Thesis Depository. The text in Spanish is complete, however images are blurred due to respct for copyrights.

If you wish to contact Dr. Pau Medrano Bigas at the University of Barcelona, his email address is [email protected] .


Jan 24 2016 Pau 7:33 AM

Thank you, Howard, by offering me the opportunity to participate in your wonderful web-site, the essential meeting point were passionated people and experts on early automobile races meet and share our knowledge.

It is a pleasure to share and contribute to the cause with the results of my research, carried out from the point of view of graphic design and advertising field.

Greetings from Barcelona City, on the Mediterranean shores.


Jan 24 2016 Mark Schaier 9:50 AM

The first photo is what is now Rt. 106 looking north, probably in what is now Muttontown base on the caption under the photo ‘on road leading from Jericho to East Norwich’.

Jan 24 2016 S. Berliner, III 10:28 PM

Mr. Bibendum has been my buddy for many years now (~65).  He was from an early Bakelite ashtray, long since disintegrated, and lost his feet in the last move - but he’s still smiling (great attitude).  I just went down to my cellar workshop and brought him, all 10cm of him, up and here he is: <http://sbiii.com/autopix/bibendum.jpg>.  Sam, III

Jan 24 2016 S. Berliner, III 10:56 PM

Bibendum Redivivus - This got me curious and I found the ashtray <http://www.cjbalm.com/auto-aero/mitem158.htm> on line.  Sam, III

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