Archive for January, 2009

Magic of Motoring Gear

shell racing jacketShell has picked up the flag planted by Grand Prix Originals in offering a wide series of garments and accessories that evoke the history of Shell’s racing effort (in particular, their sponsorship of Jochen Rindt) under the name Magic of Motoring. Perhaps the standout of the collection is this LM Jacket, named for the Ferrari 275 LM that Jochen Rindt brilliantly piloted to victory in the 1965 24 Hours of LeMans.

It’s damn-near perfectly executed and if your friends don’t know any better, they’d believe it was dead-stock vintage sewn in ’66. The details are what really make it, from the small X-100 racing fuel patch on the breast, to the vintage Shell logo, to the “5 cans” graphic on the lining; it’s truly a splendid jacket. Unfortunately it’s not on my immediate purchase list for 2 reasons. 1: £160 is a touch steep for a cotton jacket. More importantly in my case is reason 2; it’s white, which means it would be stained about 20 minutes after I put it on for the first time. That being said, it’s a spectacularly realized version of the type of garments I’d like to see more of: Garments that not only commemorate vintage racing, but look period-appropriate. No airbrushed or heavily Photoshop filtered racecar shirts for me, thank you.

shell t-shirtWhile the price on that jacket is a touch high, it’s not so high that I wouldn’t still consider it. An easier sell, though, is a very nice series of T-shirts. Certainly more affordable, they’re well designed and, like the jacket, look fairly period-appropriate. Although T-shirts as anything but undershirt weren’t popular at the time, the graphic and print method employed on these shirts look like it could have come from the ’60s. Naturally, my affinity for 500cc Formula 3 cars is coming through as I pick this shirt honoring the 1950 500cc International Race as my favorite. Each is inspired by the photography and illustrations that made up the series of “Shell Successes” booklets published in the ’60s to commemorate victories by competitors in all series of motorsport using Shell fuel. Good Stuff.

I would be remiss if I also didn’t point out the one thing that makes this series particularly appealing to vintage racers. They also offer a fully FIA compliant race suit in an equally appealing vintage style. Similar to the LM Jacket, it features a small X-100 breast patch, shell logo, and red stripes down the arms. It is also available with custom embroidered name panel on the opposite breast. It looks every bit as authentic as Dunlop Blues for your race weekends.
Shell Race Suit

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Frames & Bodies: $245

* sigh *
victress-500

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1969 Nurburgring 1000km in 8mm Glory

More home movies of classic races keep bubbling up on YouTube and I couldn’t be happier.

This time, we’ll see some 8mm film of the 1969 Nurburgring 1000km. 1969 was the 2nd of 4 straight years of Porsche 908 victories at the Ring. Brian Redman and Jo Siffert led a contingent of 908s to a 1-2-3-4-5 Porsche victory. Crazy! Ford GT40 #1081 piloted by Helmut Kelleners and Reinhold Jöst was the top non-Porsche at 3 laps behind the leader.

We so often associate the 908 with the Targa Florio that it’s easy to forget the dominant victories it had on other tracks. There’s a new book coming out on the 908, Porsche 908: The Long Distance Runner, that Amazon is taking pre-orders on, but I can’t seem to find a release date for the book. Scratch that, it looks like the book is due out on March 15, 2009.

Know anything more about it? Let’s hear it in the comments.

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Two Views of Monaco ’55

Here’s two fantastic visions of the 1955 Monaco Grand Prix. One is a news blurb style recap in color(!), with a focus on Moss and Fangio’s Mercedes team. I quite like the shot of the pack on the far side of the track, weaving through the Monte Carlo streets. It’s a view we don’t often see of the races today with cameras on every corner of the track. Somehow, seeing the cars in the distance like this makes it feel more like you’re there than seeing every straight and turn.

The other, a home movie shot on grainy 8mm. I can tell you which one I like better. Can you believe how close to the track you were able to stand, filming away happily while these shiny rockets screamed past, narrowly avoiding lamp-posts and curbs? The closeness and immediacy of the home movie displayed below really puts you on the sidewalks of Monte Carlo, as if you briefly glanced over at the passing racing cars on your way into Hermés. It is footage like this that keeps Monaco on the calendar today. Even if huge portions of the romance are gone, Monaco is still magic.

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From the Life Vaults: ’53 Carrera Panamericana

Behra at Carrera PanamericanaDiving back into the wonderful bounty of Life Magazine images hosted by Google, we find this puzzling shot. The Life caption says this is the winner of the Carrera crossing the finish line—which isn’t true. That’s Jean Behra, crossing the finish line, but he didn’t win. His #7 Gordini T24 was ultimately disqualified from the official standings because he exceeded the maximum allowable time. Even after finishing so far behind the overall winner that his time is irrelevant, I’m impressed that there’s still quite a crowd gathered at the finish line to welcome him home.

I don’t point out this captioning error to diminish Behra’s achievement. Simply finishing the Carrera was an incredible accomplishment. We often hear of the difficulty in learning the 45 mile Targa Florio circuit. We’ve long been regaled with tales of the twisting motorways of the Mille Miglia. The Carrera Panamericana, however, looks like it was something else entirely. It dwarfed all of these epic races with a run distance of 2,176 miles. Two Thousand Miles. So you can see, despite the disqualificiation, Jean Behra should be immensely proud of crossing that finish line at all. Google has more of the Life photos from the Carrera that year, oddly they largely focus on portraits of a competitor’s wife – maybe the photographer had a crush.

1953, of course, was Lancia’s year at the Carrera. Fangio and Bronzoni piloted the winning D24 Pinin Farina to a winning time of 18 hours: 11 minutes. That’s an absolutely astounding 120 mph average for 18 hours!

Here’s a quick video recap of the short life of the Carrera Panamericana (before it’s contemporary resurgence as a rally, that is).

also, Replicarz offers a 1:18 scale reproduction of Behra’s Gordini for your desk.

See more of our selections from the Life Vaults here.

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Your Small Piece of Old Number 2, or a GTO

bentley-radiator-cufflinksMost of us will never own a Bugatti Type 35, or a Ferrari GTO, and certainly not the “Old Number 2″ Bentley. Each of these models has something in common, examples of each have undergone restoration and had parts replaced. These original parts provide the raw materials for a series of accessories from TMB Art Metal. Thanks to them, we can at least own a small part of these magnificent automobiles.

From Bentley’s famous 1930 Speed Six “Old Number Two”—one of the famous racing cars of all time and part of Bentley’s 1-2 finish in the ’30 LeMans—come these cufflinks. Beautifully sculpted renditions of Old Number 2′s radiator grille and her wheel spinners, these marvelous little cufflinks are actually made of aluminum and bronze melted-down from parts removed from the car during Richard Moss’ 2-year restoration.

Similarly, TMB offers cufflinks made from the melted body panels and other components of a Ferrari GTO, an Aston Martin DB4GT, and a Bugatti 35.

ferrari-gto-wallet
Additionally, this wallet made of leather sourced from the upholstery of a GTO is fantastic. Each one a unique piece of art exhibiting the patina of 40 years of use. Some examples show the diamond pattern found in the under-hood batten, or the smooth pebble texture of the seats; but all have a small representation of the GTO formed from a melted body panel.

I may never be able to sit in a Ferrari GTO, but with this wallet, I can sit on one.

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Vintage Racing Calendar is Go!

Something I’ve been toying with since I started The Chicane is assembling a central calendar of vintage racing events in one place, regardless of sanctioning body. After a few fits and starts over the past few days, I finally have a start to the calendar live on the Vintage Racing Calendar page. This is, of course, just the beginning and I know that I’ve missed a bunch of events in the States, omitted some organizing bodies entirely, and have nothing listed overseas. This will all be remedied in the future.

What is there, however, is pretty detailed; with track information, start dates, sanctioning body, and maps to the tracks. I hope to add additional features such as featured marque and other details soon.

Look for the calendar to grow and hopefully help you plan your season; be it as a driver or spectator.

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Porsche Powered Lotus 23

Lotus 23-Porsche

A Lotus Chassis. A Porsche 4-cam. Is it the best of both worlds?

George Follmer probably thought so.

George spent a good bit of the early 60′s lapping Southern California tracks in a variety of Porsches before he got the itch to move into sports prototypes. Naturally, a Lotus 23 fits the bill nicely. He set about modding the chassis to accept a Porsche 550 motor, before ultimately swapping it for the newer 904 powerplant. With the help of former Shelby American team-member, Bruce Burness, George knocked together one hell of a combination.

The 1,966 cc motor just eeks under 2-liters, and soon proved to be highly competitive in the class; taking 3rd in her debut race. The real beauty of the car though, was it’s consistency. Several weeks later, after a string of podiums and after their first class-win, the team realized that their point totals put them not only at the top of the class, but in the outright points lead for the the USRRC series. After an additional string of class wins at Bridgehampton, the Glen, and others; one maneater of a race was all that remained to determine if this little scrapper of a 2-liter car would steal the outright championship away from the big-bore boys. The Road America 500 Miles race.

Road America remains a giant of a track by American standards. For a low-powered (comparatively) car, 500 miles of it would be quite a task. But George finished 3rd behind Jim Hall’s mighty Chaparrals, clinching both the class and overall championships. George Follmer, of course, went on to a very successful career through the 70′s; racing everything from Formula 1 and Can-Am, to Nascar and Trans-Am. I’m guessing this little Lotus-Porsche remained a favorite of his despite the impressive array of machinery he would later compete in.

Today, Gooding & Co. offers the ex-George Follmer Lotus 23 through their private sales department. Wearing it’s original Trans Ocean Motors team livery, she’s a remarkably beautiful car. I particularly like the hand painted team logo and engine-turned gold leaf number 16. Gorgeous!

You can read the complete results of the Road America 500 Miles 1965 at the encyclopedic Racing Sports Cars results database.

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Your Own Private Florio


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dreamt of having my own private racetrack. A few dozen acres in the countryside that my friends and I could spend years circling around. Sadly, it is but a pleasant fantasy. I can see now that there’s nothing standing in the way of my dream, I just have to reduce scale.

Slot Car Forum member JMSWMS has assembled a truly remarkable 1:32 scale digital slot car track that evokes the spirit of the Sicilian country roads that make up the Targa Florio. His attention to detail is absolutely incredible, everything from the texture of the cliffs that made the Targa so fantastic/dangerous, to the types of vegetation that dot the Sicilian countryside, to the stone abutments that mark the way; this is an impressive work of art.


Take for example, this representation of the Church at Campofelice. This section through town has long been a popular spot for photographers to show the immediacy of racing cars rocketing through the villages of Sicily. JMSWMS captures the spirit of the landmark perfectly. Of course, liberties have to be taken when recreating the Targa—even at the 1:32 scale that slot cars use, the 45 mile Circuit di Palermo would be nearly 1.5 miles! But this ring around the fountain square and away from the church makes the track feel like the Targa, which is even more important.

Take a moment to dig into this thread at the Slot Forum, in which JMSWMS records his inspiration, research, and build process for a bit of insight into this amazing piece of work. This really has me inspired to create my own scenic slot car track.

As a bonus, JMSWMS shot a fun, if anachronistic, short movie of a police car chasing a Porsche 906 through the track.

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