Ralph Mulford & Ralph DePalma

Ralph Mulford in a 1914 Stutz at the 1936 Vanderbilt Cup race
Ralph DePalma in a 1914 Mercer at the 1936 Vanderbilt Cup race
The 1914 Mercer when in the collection of James Melton
The photos seen here show Ralph Mulford in a 1914 Stutz and Ralph DePalma in a 1914 Mercer (click on the photos to enlarge). Both shots were taken at the 1936 Vanderbilt Cup Race. The Vanderbilt Cup was founded by William K Vanderbilt in 1904 (America's first international motor racing event). Running sporadically through 1917, the race was revived by George W Vanderbilt III (along with George Marshall and Eddie Rickenbacker) in 1936. George Robertson, driver of the 1908 Cup winner (The #16 Locomobile, the first American car to win an international motor race, now in the Henry Ford Museum) was made Vice President of the race. The group built the Roosevelt Raceway, in Westbury, NY to stage the event. Run on October 12th, 1936, Tazio Nuvolari won the race driving a Scuderia Ferrari entered Alfa Romero. However preceding the race, on October 10th, was an "old-times" race featuring driving legends such as DePalma and Mulford.

Ralph K Mulford won the Vanderbilt Cup in 1911 driving for Lozier. Historians continue to debate whether Mulford was the winner of the inaugural Indianapolis 500 (he would be credited with a second place finish in 1911). DePalma, inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, is arguably one of the best known drivers in early motor racing (along with Barry Oilfield).  DePalma is estimated to have won 2000 races over his career; two of which were the 1912 and 1914 Vanderbilt Cups while driving for Mercedes.

At the 1936 event, DePalma would drive a 1914 Mercer supplied by Socony-Vacuum Oil Company (later Standard Oil). This same Mercer would later be given to James Melton by the Company. The 1914 Stutz driven by Mulford may also have been owned by the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company, as they seemed to have provided the field of vintage cars for the old-timers event. I wonder if the Stutz ended up with Melton as well? The Mercer has survived and I believe the Stutz has as well. David Greenlees at theoldmotor.com has featured another photo from this event:  http://theoldmotor.com/?tag=vanderbilt-cup&paged=2

David Greenlees has noted that the Mercer owned by Socony -Vacuum Oil Company is now owned by Jerry Foley III. Apparently, Mr. Foley traded a 1912 Pierce-Arrow for this car back in 1972.

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