CHAMPCAR/CART: Vanderbilt Cup to be champion's trophy

CHICAGO (July 29, 2000) - The current stars of the FedEx Championship Series will have the opportunity to pursue one of racing's most heritage-rich and prestigious trophies as Championship Racing Teams announced today that a re-creation of The ...

CHICAGO (July 29, 2000) - The current stars of the FedEx Championship Series will have the opportunity to pursue one of racing's most heritage-rich and prestigious trophies as Championship Racing Teams announced today that a re-creation of The Vanderbilt Cup will serve as the trophy for future series champions.

The Vanderbilt Cup, established in 1904 by William K. Vanderbilt Jr. as America's first major trophy in motorsports, will replace the PPG Cup, which was given to the series champion from 1980-99, as the series' ultimate prize. The re-creation of The Vanderbilt Cup was produced by Tiffany & Co., America's premier jeweler and silversmith, and is literally priceless since any re-creation of The Cup must meet the approval of the Vanderbilt family. The Vanderbilt Cup that will be utilized by CART was initially re-created in 1996 to serve as the race trophy for the U.S. 500 and now has been elevated in stature.

The championship team will gain possession of The Vanderbilt Cup and be able to share it among owner, driver and team members for a specific period following the championship. Smaller versions of The Vanderbilt Cup, known as keeper cups, will be produced by Tiffany & Co. and presented to the championship owner and driver.

"This is an excellent opportunity for CART to continue to share in the heritage of America's first major motorsports trophy and elevate it from a single-race trophy [U.S. 500] to the ultimate level in the FedEx Championship Series," CART interim President and Chief Executive Officer Bobby Rahal, a three-time series champion, said. "There have been some all-time legends already tied to The Vanderbilt Cup legacy such as Ralph DePalma and Dario Resta, and I am confident that our future champions will enhance the heritage of this prestigious trophy."

The Vanderbilt Cup, inspired by artifacts found among the treasures at Boscoreale dating as far back as 79 A.D., is cast from approximately 135 troy ounces of sterling silver and 30 inches in height. The Cup features a hand-chased portrait in low relief of Mr. William K. Vanderbilt Jr. driving his 90-horsepower Mercedes at Ormond Beach, Florida in 1904. The rim is decorated with a casted and applied laurel wreath, which traditionally signifies success.

Vanderbilt was a pioneer in auto racing as well as an accomplished driver in the early 1900s. He captured the National Automobile Racing Association's American championship in 1900, set a record for a flying mile at 39 seconds in the scene that is portrayed on The Cup and was a frequent participant in international city-to-city races.

The Vanderbilt Cup, the original of which is housed in the Smithsonian Institute, became the prize for the 11 Vanderbilt Cup races that were run from 1904 to 1916 (with the exception of 1907 and '13), some of the earliest motorsports events run in the United States. The first six races took place in Nassau County, Long Island, New York (1904-06, '08-10) and the others that followed were held, respectively, in Savannah, Ga. (1911); Milwaukee (1912); Santa Monica, Calif., (1914); San Francisco (1915); and the final one once more in Santa Monica (1916).

George Heath won the inaugural Vanderbilt Cup race on Oct. 8, 1904 and some of the other winners of The Cup included such greats in open-wheel racing as two-time Vanderbilt Cup winners Ralph DePalma (1912, '14) and Dario Resta (1915, '16) and 1911 winner Ralph Mulford. The Vanderbilt races were revived in 1936 and '37 by George Robertson, the 1908 winner of The Cup, and they were held at a track near Roosevelt Field in New York.

CART became part of The Vanderbilt Cup's history when the current replica was produced with permission from the Vanderbilt family and utilized as the winner's trophy for the U.S. 500 at Michigan Speedway, which ran from 1996-99. The names of the previous U.S. 500 winners - Jimmy Vasser (1996), Alex Zanardi (1997), Greg Moore (1998) and Tony Kanaan (1999) - are etched on the current Cup and will remain on it as part of the storied heritage. The series champions of the new millennium will have their names etched on the base of The Cup.

Mrs. Edwin Burke, granddaughter of William K. Vanderbilt Jr., is pleased that The Cup has been elevated in stature for the FedEx Championship Series.

"I am delighted that Championship Auto Racing Teams has elevated The Vanderbilt Cup to a trophy awarded annually to the season's winning team and driver," Mrs. Burke said. "I am also pleased that Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center will become CART Charities first permanent beneficiary."

As part of CART's partnership with the Vanderbilt family, it will make an annual donation to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center on behalf of Mrs. Burke. The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, established in 1884 and located in New York City, is the world's oldest and largest private institution devoted to prevention, patient care, research and education in cancer.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Bobby Rahal , Alex Zanardi , Tony Kanaan , George Heath , Ralph DePalma , Greg Moore