Through The Esses - Guy Frost's History Of The Bridge - From Streets To Straights To Fairways (PT 2)
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John Surtees Lola - 1968 Can-Am
Guy Frost's History Of The Bridge - From Streets To Straights To Fairways (Part 2)
05/20/08 © Andrew S. Hartwell

For tracks like Elkhart Lake and Watkins Glen, the difference was they had money to run those operations. Bridgehampton never did. And when the race organizers would come to Bridgehampton they would point out all the deficiencies but the owners just didn't have the money to make the improvements. They could beg, borrow and steal to try and make the bare minimum improvements but they couldn't compete with the tracks that had the modern amenities, the nice press buildings, and so on.

The reality is that the people who run the various racing series are in the sport to run it as a business. Bridgehampton was started and run by a bunch of playboys who simply wanted a place to race and didn't care to invest too heavily in what they had.

In 1970 I joined the SCCA and subsequently found out that the SCCA was not responsible for the demise of Bridgehampton. It was the owners of the property, the Bridgehampton Road Races Corporation. And when you look at who they were you see they had over 900 shareholders with about half of them local people - farmers and businessmen from up and down the Hampton's. The other half was city-slickers, and Europeans and west coast people and racing buffs who would buy shares simply because they loved racing.

The bottom line is, the city slickers ultimately got control of the corporation in the late 1970's and they put the track on the market because of the increasing real estate value of the land. This was when the first burst of insanity hit the real estate market. Today we would think those prices were cheap!

I think they paid something like $35,000 or so for over 520 acres. By the 1970's the land was worth several million dollars. And you have to remember that, by this time the original shareholders are now 15 - 20 years older, retired, living in Florida and so on. The rest of them simply died away or lost interest. That was why I started a group called The Friends of Bridgehampton'.

My pitch to the younger racers in the group was that we have had a free ride here for 20 years and so we should buy the shares from the old-timers and keep the place going. But that effort was not successful. We did hold off the developers for quite some time and we did manage to buy some shares, but it wasn't until Bob Rubin came along that we were able to lengthen our stay. I told him we were going to lose the proxy count if we didn't get more votes somewhere. He was in his driving suit and getting ready to try out his latest Ferrari when he told me, I want to help.'
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