Harry Harkness, who has been referred to as the Howard Hughes of his era, purchased the Steinway & Sons Model B grand piano in 1918 for his lovely lovely bride Florance, upon whom he reportedly lavished with expensive gifts. There were hints that she had been his mistress for many years.
Harry Harkness, was one of the pioneers in early aviation as well as an acclaimed automobile racer who raced against Henry Ford and awarded his Harkness Trophy to Louis Chevrolet. Harry was also a yachtsman who actually leased his yacht to the U.S. Navy in World War I and which was credited with sinking three German U-boats.
Henry’s father, Lamon Harkness, was one of the largest stockholders in Standard Oil when the Rockefellers were just starting it up.
Needless to say, things got racing in Harry’s life. Many say that Harry’s wife was in a trophy race but there was yet another trophy in Harry’s life.
Harkness Trophy Race
The Harkness Trophy Race was an American auto racing event, first run in 1915 at the Sheepshead Bay Speedway at Sheepshead Bay, New York. The winner’s trophy was named for Harry Harkness, one of the principal investors who purchased the Sheepshead Bay Race Track horse racing facility, and converted it to a wooden board automobile race track.
Harry Harkness and Henry Ford “Racing” are seen in this famous photo
Sheepshead Bay Speedway Corporation
Harry was the President of the Sheepshead Bay Speedway, a two-mile oval, built on the site of the Coney Island Jockey Club at Sheepshead Bay. Several auto races were held from October 1915, through September 1919, including the Astor Cup Race and the Harkness Trophy Race.
The Sheepshead Bay Speedway Corporation ran into financial difficulties following the death of its majority shareholder Harry Harkness in January 1919. The property was sold in 1923 for residential real estate development.
No trace of the racetrack can be found today.
Astor Cup Race, 350 miles, Oct. 9, 1915, the first event at the Sheepshead Bay Speedway. The winner was Gil Anderson in the No. 5 Stutz. His teammate, Tom Rooney, No. 7, finished second. No. 4, a Peugeot driven by Bob Burman, was seventh. The crowd was estimated at 70,000 people.