Archive for October, 2009

Art Appreciation: Maserati Birdcage

Birdcage
(via LoudPopVoyager)
BirdcageBirdcageBirdcage

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Listen Along with the 1964 24 Hours of LeMans

Sound Stories 24 Heures du MansThrow on your headphones and close your eyes. You’re about to be transported to 1964 to follow along with the highlights of the 24 Heures du Mans.

I can imagine the fun it would have been in the era before modern sports television coverage to lie down on the living room floor, throw this on the turntable and listen to Pedro Rodriguez, Graham Hill, and Dan Gurney turning the keys and pushing the start buttons of their Ferrari 330Ps, 275Ps, Porsche 904s, and Shelby Cobra Daytonas. This race was also the 24 Hours’ debut of the GT40.

I won’t spoil the fun of the audio here by telling you the race results. Enjoy.

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A Reminder

Always good to keep on top of these things.
Know your flags

(From the 1959 Pomona Road Races program)

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Bandini-Maserati 1500: 1 of 1

1953 Bandini Maserati 1500I woke up late on Sunday and turned on Spike TV’s “Powerblock” of automotive shows for a few minutes while I got up and around. During the episode of Muscle Cars, there was a brief spotlight on the early 60’s Pontiac GTO variant, the Catalina. The Catalina was a 2+2 (a designation borrowed from Ferraris of the period), and was available with beefier horsepower than even the coveted GTO. During the segment, they cut to a Catalina owner who commented that, “you never see these at car shows, and never on the street, they’re very rare”. Compared to the GTO perhaps they’re rare, but in the 61-67 era the show focused on, Pontiac kicked over 25,000 Catalinas out the factory doors. Rare, eh?

Now this; this is rare. This Maserati powered 1953 Bandini 1500 is on offer from Digit Motorsport in Arizona. It wasn’t uncommon for Bandini importer, Tony Pampeo, to bring rolling Bandini chassis into the United States and then add a engine, typically a Siata, Alfa, Fiat, MG or Offy. This time, however, Tony dropped a Mille Miglia stalwart Maserati A6 in the Bandini. Bellissimo!

Maserati A6The Mille Miglia eligible car looks immaculate following her €90,000 bare chassis restoration. The sale includes the documentation of the restoration, and certification from Dino Bandini as to this gorgeous barchetta’s authenticity. Remarkable. Now this, my friend, is something you never see at car shows. This is rare.

More photos and information is available at the dealer’s info page.

As always, if its Bandini, then Cliff has photos and information on it at Etceterini’s Bandini page.

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Michel Vaillant’s LeMans Competition

I recently came across this wonderful Racing Driver meets Scooby Doo edition of the Michel Vaillant series of comic books, “17 Het Spook Van De 24 Uur”. Originally published in French in Belgium – first printed as an unrelated side-story in the Tintin comics, this story follows dashing racing driver and industrialist Michel Vaillant as he competes in the 24 Hours of LeMans. The Scooby bit is the haunting of the track by a mysterious specter. I’d love to tell you more about the story, but inability to read the Dutch language version I located leaves me wanting.

Like our last look into the world of racing comics, there are some beautifully rendered racing machines, this time rooted in the real world. Take a peek.

Looks like a Porsche 910 to me.
The rest of the field

Ferrari P3Part of the allure of the Michel Vaillant series is exactly this realism. Vaillant has competed in, and won natch, in the 24 Hours and Indianapolis 500, and competed on the track at Monza, Spa, and others. This notion of a comic hero that lives in a reality rooted in the real world isn’t necessarily new. The Marvel (New York) vs. DC (Metropolis/Gotham) approaches have been an interesting study in the immediacy of comic books and their real world environments.

In the world of racing, though, Michel Vaillant is unique in this. Many a real-world racing driver has claimed that an early interest in the Vaillant stories was the root of their passion for the sport. It’s easy to see why. The stories, and again I’m just going by the imagery here, are more realistic than the cloak & dagger and romance of the stateside Grand Prix series of comics. The realism must have been the allure for many a young racing fan and would-be driver. It isn’t always pure fantasy and melodrama that pulls people in. Now if I could only find an english language version of these, I’d really be in business.

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Speaking of Amazing Engine Sounds: The Auto Union Silver Arrow

Whew. That’s a lot of supercharged horses getting ready for the 2009 Goodwood Festival of Speed. Imagine the feeling of the vibration in the air standing this close to it.

Just fantastic.

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Available in Connecticut: Type 547 Engine

Porsche 547 EngineI know, you can’t do much with just an engine. And at $127,000, this engine is some serious bread. This is no ordinary engine, my friend. This is the Porsche 4-cam. This magical little marvel of engineering powered the Porsche 550, the 356 Carrera GT, and the early Porsche 904s to many a victory. You may not be able to do much with just an engine, but this would be perfect just as a display piece. Better yet, drop it in your 356. It may be sacrilege to some, but bolting this into a 550 kit would be pure driving joy.

Give it a listen in this video. Couldn’t you just hear that all day? More info at the classified listing on the Pelican Forums and at the owner’s page.

What a wonderful sound.

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Life Archives: GP Drivers at the Indy 500

Invasion at Full Throttle!Google Books’ archive of Life Magazine has turned up another wonderful bit of racing history in this ominously titled article about the arrival of Grand Prix cars and drivers at the Brickyard.

Invasion at Full Throttle” may have been a year or two early, but the prediction about the impending dominance of the rear-engined menace from across the pond was fairly accurate. It wouldn’t be long before Jim Clark would indeed be enjoying a bottle of milk at the end of the Indianapolis 500. Of course the author of this particular article would have been in a good position to know a thing or two about the funny little cars heading to the 500; Stirling Moss penned this piece. I’m sure Mr. Moss wasn’t to worried about ruffling a feather or two when he wrote, “I have a hunch that the U.S. will be shocked by what happens. In effect, the race will be an international showdown between our all-purpose, all-weather cars and drivers and your closed-circuit specialists who steer only to the left in beautifully built, overdeveloped, unsophisticated cars that belong to the past.” Overdeveloped AND unsophisticated? Ok, Stirling.

I can just imagine a midwestern race fan not finishing the article once he reached that passage and throwing the crumpled magazine across the living room. But Moss does backtrack a bit, describing his own experience behind an Indy Roadster at the Monza-napolis 500 several years earlier. It’s a wonderful read, especially with the knowledge of hindsight of the Indy at the front/rear engine transition and the impact of the European GP drivers on this most American of races.

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Es el Momento de la Carrera Panamericana

'63 Nova - Carrera ReadyLa Carrera Panamericana 2009 is set to start in a few short days. While most of us won’t be making the trip, Coop will be photoblogging from the road. He’s already begun with photos of the trip down to Huatulco for the start. Head on over to his blog for updates over the next several days. Have a great race, Coop.

Coop’s a veteran of a few Carreras. Check out his photos from his previous races.

Update: Coop made it safely back and has hundreds of photos on his Flickr stream.

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Track Maps of the Past: Riverside

Riverside Track MapI’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. People just don’t put the care into track maps that they used to. This isometric illustration of the track at Riverside is impressive. Before we had Google Maps’ satellite view, we had illustrators. When it comes to track maps, I’m not so sure we’re better off.

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