More Unseen Racing Film: Torrey Pines 1954

Here’s another Chicane-exclusive film from sportscar fan, San Diego Jr. Chamber of Commerce member (who helped create the Torrey Pines track), and a pretty darn good shot with a film camera, John McClure. This time it’s the track he was most intimately involved in for the November 1954 race. It was our Torrey Pines post in the Lost Tracks series that prompted Mr. McClure to contact me and offer up this brilliant footage.

The film starts with the LeMans syle running start of the 6 Hours endurance race. The race was ultimately won by Lou Brero in a C-Type, with the von Neumann Ferrari 500 Mondial finishing 2nd. The Ferrari is the #39 car that we see quite a lot of in this footage that looks pink in this film – I’m assuming due to the film processing and not the color sensibilities of the car owner.

Jags, MGs, Gullwing Mercedes, and OSCAs feature prominently in the film, along with Porsche 356s, and a few Ferraris. I don’t know what the story was with this tree, but it seems to be magnetic — lots of narrow misses overrunning the turn at what I’m assuming was a high-speed straight. I also like some of the footage of the spectators here. It wasn’t just the drivers that could get away with more than you can today—let’s see what happens when you try and start a small bonfire to keep warm at the corner of any track these days.

14 responses to “More Unseen Racing Film: Torrey Pines 1954”

  1. Frank S says:

    It looks to me as if that tree is outside Turn !, at the end of the S/F straight. Locus of at least one fatal overturn in the days before rollover bars. Here’s another view, maybe a year or two later:

    Great days. Thank you for letting us see these.

  2. Greg says:

    Wow! Great period film. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Peter Kampf says:

    Great film! Love those home-built cars and the way the Gullwing MB is being driven. Imagine seeing that today.

  4. Max Heim says:

    Great footage, but it seems to me that whoever digitized it stretched the aspect ratio — all the wheels are elongated into ovals, and even the Beetle looks low and sleek. 8mm wasn’t a 4:3 aspect ratio.

  5. Jon says:

    Fantastic – thanks for posting. Amazing how well the drivers recovered from spins in those XKs and the Speedster.

  6. johnny martin says:

    wow. i remember almost everything in the film. I ran TP a couple of times in my Singer. loved that course.
    so happy to see this

  7. Mike Jacobsen says:

    Terrific–my Dad ran that event #99 in the program–on Sunday but not the enduro; the first half of this is from the enduro, the later part from Sunday’s races. The Morgenson Spl–later Ol Yaller–is featured (the number differs from that in the program which I have. Turn one is indeed the venue for much of it, and it collected alot of cars. Good shots of Beavis’ yellow offy spl, who battled with Yedor in R1 for theFmod race. Al Copell’s OSCA (#20) I once had a ride in, when it belonged to Randy MacDougall. The other red OSCA is Bumpy Bell. Both are shown stopping for gas in the six hour.

  8. These old cine films are a most valuable record of those wonderful post war racing years. Many thanks for making them available to such a large audience world wide.

    Woody (Richard Neale) President Cooper Car Club

  9. Al Moss says:

    Great nostalgic footage! I was there for this, and all, Torrey Pines races, but had trouble identifying and remembering many of the cars in the footage.

    Frank F. (above) wondered who was driving the 100-S Healey. Moss was there, but due to International regulations, could not compete, so the car was raced by Roy Jackson-Moore.

    Great pity that many of the drivers from that era are no longer around. At least some of the cars have been preserved and can still be seen at the Monterey Histerics.

  10. Mike Jacobsen says:

    Note further comments under the “Lost Track” heading. Art Evans’ Paramount Ranch Remembered is still available. The Fabulous Fifties non-club had their first “concours de provenance” at PR a few years ago. The remains of the Binney car showed, as did my Magnette Spl (the only two cars there that actually raced at PR). The chief Ranger there is a buff and has been trying to get funds to restore the track. Mike Jacobsen

  11. John McClure says:

    Well, ‘sure glad I kept these old 8mm films and then found this spot to share them with others. ‘Sure wish I had kept my Austin Healey, the first in the U.S.

  12. Mike Jacobsen says:

    John: Thanks so much–and, If your Austin Healey was the first in the US, then it must have been Best of Show at the ’53 Pebble Beach Concours–I have pix of it there. Mike Jacobsen

  13. Jim Widner says:

    I was there….and we had Motorcycles also….Marti Dickerson on a Vincent, Sam Pariot on an Arial Square Four and others….

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