The Bridge 2021: For what is a car, if not the ultimate kinetic sculpture?
It’s two days before the event, and already the air is trembling. Arriving at the former racetrack turned private golf course, we were directed to a remote road, away from the greens and the clubhouse itself. Rob’s copilot, Greg Strassberg, was tasked with administering vital fluids to a race-ready BMW, in preparation for its US debut after a brief display at the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, Germany.
Alexander Rower, or Sandy as he is known, is grandson to the renowned American sculptor Alexander Calder, and that BMW 3.0 CSL is the Artist’s Proof of the very first BMW Art Car. To say it’s a coup would be a vast understatement. But the folks at The Bridge are used to making a splash. In only its fifth iteration this year, The Bridge has cemented its place alongside such established events as Pebble Beach and Amelia Island and staked its claim as the premier event for car enthusiasts in the entire Northeast.
The Calder car roars to life, unleashing a thunderous symphony, with the call echoed, in the distance by the roar of Jas Dhillon’s Carrera GT. Other early arrivals include a handful of mid-century coach-built examples from a museum collection in Nashville. All varnished wood and curves. They certainly don’t make them like they used to.
The parade continues throughout the day, with transporters arriving from around the country. The parking lot, normally populated by shiny new offerings, is peppered with quixotic examples of automotive excellence. Not all are destined to exceed the speed limit, but many are. It’s not a concours in the usual sense, and there will be no judgments passed. No awards or trophies. No best in show. It’s a gathering of, for, and by car enthusiasts. It’s that simple.
On the Friday evening before the show, collectors and exhibitors gather for a welcome soiree. It’s a taste of what’s to follow. A handful of Bugatti’s is joined by a squadron of Jaguar XJ220’s, while a McLaren and the Ferrari 288 GTO jostle with pair of flat sixes for the audience’s favor. The Calder’s arrival on the greens causes a stir, and is testimony to the draw of this event, and to the deep connections of The Bridge founders, Robert Rubin, Shamin Abas, and Jeffrey Einhorn, have within the art and automotive communities. For what is a car, if not the ultimate kinetic sculpture?
Initially conceived in 2016 as a homage to the former track of the Bridgehampton Motor Racing Circuit near Sag Harbor and to the cars that raced it during its post-war golden years, The Bridge has continued to expand while maintaining its core focus. Set on 300 acres, with spectacular views over Little Peconic Bay, the private golf club founded by Robert Rubin is the chic country club for the golf (and car) enthusiast who appreciates a more relaxed approach to their round of golf.
There’s more to the story, but you could say this was all preordained. Thanks to Jeff Einhorn’s roots within the motoring fraternity, and one suspects a very full rolodex, and the marketing genius of Shamin Abas and her team, the day unfolds seamlessly, leaving guests to marvel at what is, in fact, a supremely choreographed spectacle.
On Saturday morning, the remote parking lot at 60 Millstone Road begins to fill up early. The caliber of cars here is impressive, but the bar is set rather high by our hosts. Shuttles begin ferrying an army of volunteers to the clubhouse to begin setting the stage. After a brief introduction from co-founder Jeffrey Einhorn, the troops take their positions, guiding drivers to their predetermined location on the golf course. Nothing is left to chance.
By midday, the layout is set. Over 300 cars, multiple vendors and a handful of sponsors, ranging from marque automotive names to luxury lifestyle brands, such as Richard Mille, Giorgio Armani, Technogym and Compass.
As the tide turns, the invited guests begin to arrive. For those needing a little direction, a guidebook is neatly provided by members of The Bridge Golf Foundation (BGF), based in Harlem, outlining key offerings in what could best be described as a treasure map. Just add comfortable shoes!
Ferrari GTO’s greet each guest as they arrive at the clubhouse and Lamborghini, McLaren and Pagani are also featured prominently. De Tomaso rubs shoulders with Bugatti, and rare one-offs such as the Runge R2 mix it with a classic Packard and handmade examples of Walt Siegal’s beautiful work.
Overlooking the course, it feels like the Serengeti, with vast herds of Ferrari grazing at Arents Turn and along the East Straight.
Hangsen Turn features American muscle alongside the Ferrari Challenge cars, and the nearby bunkers are littered with off-road gems such as the Fiat 500 based Scoiattolo, a Volkswagen Buggy and an LR3 Recovery Vehicle.
Strolling up the fairway to Colasante Corner, we encounter a vast sea of Lamborghinis. These menacing-looking brutes include more than one Countach along with odd Diablo, Aventador, and of course, a gorgeous Miura. Porsche meanwhile dominates the Main Straight, and off the fairway, hidden here and there, are rarities such as the Aime Leon Dore cars, and Daniel Arsham’s RSA.
Homologated rally cars including Colin McRae’s Subaru Impreza WRX look right at home by the driving range and the squadron of XJ 220’s continues to hover, flanked by a collection of rare BMW motorcycles Mercedes Gullwings.
Despite the overwhelming spectacle, there are always a few standouts. Whether a jaunty hat, a car evoking childhood memories, or a stunning summer dress, partakers have always enjoyed The Bridge for its outstanding food, fashion, and fast cars.
The aim of the game is to strategically wander, letting your eyes feast where and when they wish. And with tantalizing offerings from the food and beverage providers along the way, the stage is set for an amazing day and many tough choices.
As the golden hour approaches and the sun sets over Peconic Bay, the reverse commute commences, forming a parade-style victory lap over the greens and down the road under the Chevron Bridge. Preserved from the days of the race circuit, it provides for a most fitting exit.
See you next year?