Thankfully, more and more old home racing movies are being pushed onto YouTube. This time, it’s a double whammy of some early Road America laps and a hillclimb in Rockford, IL. We also get a little time under the hood with a favorite of mine, the Austin-Healey 100.
If this jacket didn’t have the modern Aston-Martin logo on it, I’d already be wearing it. It’s dead solid perfect. Even more than Shell’s Magic of Motoring collection, this year’s clothing collection that classic British menswear label Hackett has created for Aston Martin’s LeMans effort embodies the kind of vintage-racing inspired clothing I’d like to see more of. The Aston Martin Racing Motoplan Jacket is available from Hackett’s online store for £300 alongside the rest of their Aston-Martin line.
The 59 on the chest, of course, commemorates Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvatori’s surprise victory for Aston-Martin in 1959 behind the wheel of a DBR1. This year, Aston is hoping to take outright victory again, and with Audi heavily scaling back it’s racing effort this year, it’ll be their best chance yet.
Often when you say that a car is ex-racing driver it means that a driver of some note once piloted the machine. By that definition, this is certainly an Ex-Graham Hill. Very rarely however, can that same term be used to describe both the driver and the builder of a racing car. But that, amazingly, is the case with this very special Lotus 11. Graham Hill built this car with his own hands from a Colin Chapman supplied kit in April and May of 1956.
Hill was an employee of Chapman’s at the time, toiling by day at Lotus Engineering as a mechanic in order to stay close to the racing scene he loved so dearly. Hill had been racing for some time by ’56, but lacked the funds to keep a car together on his own. Taking a day job at Lotus was a great way to be in earshot of an opportunity at some seat time. And I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Old Colin Chapman kept Hill on for the very same reason.
Hill campaigned this Lotus 11 in the Autosport Production series as a works car. Chapman provided the kit, but maintained sufficient ownership of the car for her to run as a works machine: making this a very busy 11 indeed. Hill put her on the podium 9 times in ’56, winning 4 races (Hill must’ve loved Brands Hatch, it was the location of all of his wins in this car that year). The car’s work, however, wasn’t done there. Chassis #208 was also the factory’s show car and press mule. And, it is speculated, served as Hill’s road car for the drives to and from the races.
Ian Walker purchased #208 in 1957 and competed with a swapped engine. Eventually the car fell out of competition. Now, however, the car is reunited with her original 1,172cc side-valve and is fresh off a masterful Mike Brotherwood restoration and fantastic, patinad coachwork and paint by Sovereign Coachworks. Together they’ve done a tremendous job of making a complete restoration look lived in and not over-restored. Jan Lühn now offers the car. An amazing vehicle with fantastic history that will surely give the buyer entry in to the races of his choice.
Californians! Get up to Riverside this weekend (March 27-29) for the Legends of Riverside Film Festival. I’m quite envious and saddened that I won’t be able to attend what looks like a fantastic schedule of racing films; many of which I’ve never seen or even heard of.
It’s not all esoterics, of course, also on the schedule are the Canon of car nerd films, including LeMans, Winning, Death Race 2000, Thunder Road, and the Big Wheel. There will also be a special tribute to Paul Newman and his incredible history as a racer and actor.
Can-Am and F5000 cars will be featured on display and special guests include Pete Lyons, Bruce Kessler, and Dan Gurney. Holy smokes!
I may not be able to attend, but I’ll have to support by screening a few of my favorite flicks this weekend.
I’m planning my first trip to London in May for one of the Specials reunion shows (YES!). Anyone have suggestions for spots in London that a vintage racing fan shouldn’t miss. So far I’ve only made plans to visit MotorBooks, but there has to be more shops, musuems, showrooms and the like that I should be taking in. If you have any suggestions, please share them in the comments.
Jimmy’s Garage to the rescue.
I’m really trying, but I can’t think of a good reason why there aren’t any airstrip races anymore. Think about it. They have fire departments on site, have long and flat paved surfaces designed for high speed, plenty of runoff room, have neighbors that are used to loud noise, and are insured up to their eyeballs. I know, I prefer a track with a bit of elevation changes myself, but beggars can’t be choosers.
The Santa Barbara airport hosted many sportscar races from 1953 to 1967. It’s proximity to Los Angeles meant that all of our favorite actor/racers drove there—many quite successfully. McQueen ran here, James Dean too..
Here’s some wonderful footage of the 1962 race. Check out Don Hulette’s Townsend Special Mk. II bearing race number 404.