Your Turn: A Tale of Two Trophies

By Robert Laravie

We always wonder if it’s a good idea to open an email from a name you don’t recognize. At the beginning of April of this year, one of them came from Caroline Carless. I almost thought this was an email version of the robocalls I get about extended auto service coverage – you know something like “Don’t be left without a car…extend your car warranty.” In a moment of weakness, I decided to open it.

It turned out that Caroline was from the South West of England in Dorset and she must have found my details in the Port Jefferson Rise Promotion 2021. She said her mate Colin Burnett had picked up three handle cups and that she had two trophy cups from the Port Jefferson Hill Climb in 1911. They were acquired over 20 years ago at a Lawrences auction in England. She felt it would be best if they were sent back to Port Jefferson.

A photo of WJ Fallon driving the 1911 hill climb from a 1911 trade journal, The Horseless Age. Photo by Robert Laravie

Working with Chris Ryon, the Port Jefferson Village Historian, we researched the event numbers on the cups. One was #14. It looks like event #14 was won by WJ Fallon. Fallon was in real estate and one of the organizers of the hill climb and participated in a few events. He posted the fastest times in the two amateur classes he entered, one for the $1,200 to $2,000 cars he won in a Corbin, clocking 34.56 seconds. The other for cars $2001 and up, he won in a National in 25.30 seconds. Don Herr, in a National, was the day’s fastest overall in an event called Free-For-All at 21.31 seconds, narrowly beating a Knox driven by FW Belcher at 21.57.

Trophy number 15 for the event bears the words “Presented by Mrs. CB Zabriskie”. A little more research in the Port Jefferson archives and online revealed that Mr. CB Zabriskie was an executive of the Borax Company. He lived, when he was not running Death Valley mining, in New York City and at his summer home in Belle Terre on Woodland Road. Zabriskie Point in Death Valley bears his name as well as a Michelangelo Antonioni film of the same name, but that’s another story.

Thanks to the generosity of Caroline Carless and the passion of Colin Burnett, the Port Jefferson Conservancy will bring the trophies back to Port Jefferson and display them at the Port Jefferson Village Center at 101-A East Broadway during the annual 1910 Hill Climb on Saturday. September 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Port Jefferson resident Robert Laravie has been a member of the Port Jefferson Harbor Education & Arts Conservancy for seven years.