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Mouth watering. I can’t believe I didn’t somehow get it together to make it down there. A dizzying array of Bandinis and Stanguellinis and Siatas and OSCAs, and that doesn’t even mention the gaggle of Porsche 917s. Good gravy! Head over to Etceterini for the complete set.
This Jeff Decker sculpture of a hillclimber in the throes of attempting control (and losing) graces the plaza of the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee. It is a mammoth bronze piece. At 150% scale, it is gigantic, weighing over 5,000 pounds and standing at 16 feet. It is heroic; showing a rider that is dextrous, brave, and almost impossibly flexible. He struggles to control the machine that it uncontrollable; on a racing surface that is rough and unstable and constantly shifting. It’s a brilliant capture of an amazing, if inelegant, moment.
It’s the inelegance of it that I love about it. This is no proud victory posing with his laurels and receiving a kiss from the girl awarding a trophy; it isn’t a stoic lone biker rocketing across a desert highway; it is a competitor struggling to take his machine up the hill—and he is falling. Struggling to regain control, but almost certainly beyond the tipping point, the sculpture captures the instant before failure. It is a unconventional moment to showcase, but one that I think exemplifies the spirit of competition, and the determination of the competitor.
Shortly after the unveiling, there was criticism that this was a fanciful interpretation of the hillclimb. Many suggested that the events didn’t achieve this level of acrobatics or drama, and this was simply another artist’s flight of fancy in turning the mundane into the heroic. Several years have passed, and Jeff Decker recently showed some images on his blog that showcase that, if anything, his sculpture didn’t go far enough to capture the bravery of the early hillclimbers. Looking at these images, I’m inclined to believe him. Head over to his blog to see the complete gallery.
As a non-traditional sports fan, I’ve always thought Sports Illustrated had a difficult relationship with sports that aren’t Football, Baseball, Basketball. But these covers from the 50s and 60s show that auto racing was once a cherished pillar in the temple of sportsmen. In recent years, there has been occasional NASCAR covers, and a Danica Patrick cover, but I think it’s fair to say that the “auto racing isn’t a sport” crowd are winning out on the editorial staff of SI.
Part of that isn’t the magazine’s fault, it’s the path that auto racing has taken. In early American sportscar racing, the driver was the key component. This was particularly true in the early days, when most drivers were competing in cars that were essentially off-the-shelf product. Pick it up at the dealership on Friday, race it on Saturday.
Today, the real muscle behind a successful racing enterprise isn’t so singular. It’s true that drivers get the bulk of the attention, but if the changing teams of Formula 1 have taught us anything, it’s that the best driver isn’t always the winning driver. What has happened is that, in broad strokes, racing has shifted from being an individual sport to a team sport. Sports Illustrated, as much as anyone else, knows that you aren’t going to sell a lot of magazines to the mass market with photos of aerodynamicists on the cover. And so it has struggled to figure out how to showcase racing on her cover pages.
This wasn’t always the case of course, so let’s check out some great covers from the magazine’s past coverage of our sport. Enough has been said about the decaying state of magazine design, so I won’t comment other than to to say, isn’t it nice to see powerful illustration and photography not have to compete with 25 article callouts. We’ve turned magazine covers from covers to photographic table of contents pages.
This lovely little etceterini is very much more than she seems. This ex-Anna Maria Peduzzi Stanguellini has as good a pedigree as anyone could ask for. This car, chassis CS04075, was delivered to Ms. Peduzzi, perhaps Italy’s best-known female racing driver, who piloted the barchetta through just about every Italian race of any significance: the ’52 12 Hours Pescara, the ’53 Mille Miglia, the ’53 Targa Florio, plus a victory in the 1952 Eifelrennen Nürburgring just to break her in on delivery. The car’s subsequent owner, Paulo Martoglio, took the car on the quick trip from Brescia to Rome and back again for the ’56 Mille. This car’s history would virtually guarantee entry into even the most selective vintage events.
Today, Marcel Roks Consultants offers the car in Belgium. The car has received a ground up restoration and boasts its original 750cc Twin Cam. Sadly, I’ve never had the experience of hearing the little Stanguellini’s take on a hotted-up Fiat engine, but if it’s anything like my imaginings, it’s certainly an experience worth having. The car looks marvelous, and doesn’t look over-restored or like too much of a garage queen. I would, however, like to take this opportunity to wonder aloud about the photographer for these shots. At what point do you decide this marvelous little car doesn’t deserve to have the plastic furniture moved out of shot? “Nah, just leave that towel draped over that $5 lawn chair. That’ll be fine”. Bah.
I’m sure by now you’ve all read about Stirling Moss’ accident in his home elevator. The one-off carbon fiber elevator made by Williams opened it’s doors improperly, allowing Stirling Moss to enter the empty elevator shaft, tumbling 30 feet and breaking both ankles.
I’d been wondering when we might hear from the man himself, and he’s dispatched an email to various motoring news outlets. I’ve pasted the entirety of the message below:
DEAR ALL OF YOU,
THE LAST FEW DAYS HAVE BEEN QUITE FANTASTIC AND I’D LIKE TO THANK EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU FOR YOUR KIND THOUGHTS, MESSAGES AND OTHER PARAPHERNALIA.
ON SATURDAY EVENING, I WAS AT HOME WITH SUSIE, ELLIOT AND HELEN AND ABOUT TO LEAVE FOR A CURRY, FOR WHICH WE WERE RUNNING LATE. I ASKED HELEN TO JOIN ME IN THE LIFT TO GO DOWNSTAIRS, BECAUSE SUSIE AND ELLIOT WERE SMART ENOUGH NOT TO RIDE IN MY LIFT. I OPENED THE DOOR AND STEPPED INTO THE LIFT, WITH HELEN READY TO FOLLOW ME, WHICH SHE NEVER DID. THAT IS BECAUSE THE LIFT HAD STOPPED ON THE FLOOR ABOVE AND INCORRECTLY ALLOWED THE DOOR BENEATH IT TO OPEN.
STILL CHATTING TO HELEN, I STEPPED INTO THE OPEN DOORWAY–AND FELL TO THE BOTTOM OF THE LIFT SHAFT.
THE AMBULANCE WAS CALLED AND ARRIVED AT RACING SPEED, WHEREUPON THEY PUT ME ONTO A SERIES OF ABOUT 10 STRETCHERS! HAVING FINALLY SETTLED ON WHAT MUST HAVE SEEMED A GOOD ONE, I WAS TAKEN, ALONG WITH MY FAMILY TO THE ROYAL LONDON HOSPITAL IN WHITECHAPEL, WHERE THEY USED ANOTHER BATCH OF SIMILAR STRETCHERS!
THEY DID A GOOD JOB OF HELPING ME, BUT WERE UNABLE TO DO THE REQUISITE SURGERY. SO, ON THE SUNDAY, I WAS MOVED TO THE PRINCESS GRACE, WHERE A FANTASTICALLY EFFICIENT, KIND AND AMUSING STAFF DID ALL THE JOBS.
I AM NOW IN A LOVELY ROOM, NUMBER 222, AND WITH THE HELP OF ELLIOT AND THE PORTER, AM FINALLY ON THE EMAIL. THAT DOES NOT MEAN THAT I WILL BE ABLE TO ACTUALLY SEND THIS TO YOU, BUT I WILL TRY!
NOW FOR THE FUTURE… WHICH I CAN SEE WITH SUSIE, HELEN AND ELLIOT AROUND ME, IS GOING TO BE A BLOODY STRUGGLE!
AS SOME OF YOU MAY KNOW, SUSIE AND I ARE BOOKED ON A SEABOURN CRUISE FOR OUR 30TH ANNIVERSARY, NEXT MONTH. I HAVE TO CROSS THE HURDLE OF GETTING THE DOCORS, AND FAMLY HANGERS-ON, TO ALLOW ME TO THIN MY BLOOD, IN ORDER TO AVOID ANY ISSUES INVOLVING DEEP VEIN THROMBOSIS.
IT WILL BE SIX TO EIGHT WEEKS FROM SUNDAY BEFORE I WILL ABLE TO PUT ANY LOAD ON MY FEET. THEREFORE I’M FACING MY SIXTH OR SEVENTH REDUCTION TO A WHEELCHAIR (SUSIE SAYS SHE’S STOPPED COUNTING) WHICH I MUST ADMIT, IS RATHER BORING. THE GOOD NEWS IS; THAT I DIDN’T SELL THE WHEELCHAIR AFTER THE LAST SHUNT!
THE WHOLE THING IS A REAL PAIN IN THE ARSE, IF I HAD LOOKED WHERE I WAS GOING, I WOULDN’T BE HERE AT ALL, SO IT’S MY OWN DAMN FAULT.
I HAVE BEEN ABSOLUTELY OVERWHELMED BY YOUR COLLECTIVE CONCERN AND KINDNESS.
I CAN TELL YOU THAT CURRENTLY I’M LYING IN HOSPITAL, TAKING DEEP BREATHS, LIFTING ONE ARM WITH THE OTHER, RAISING MY LEGS (WITH PLASTERS ON THE END) AND DOING ALL I CAN DO TO KEEP MYSELF AS MOBILE AS POSSIBLE, BUT, HAVING SAID THAT, I’M NOT YET WINNING THE BATTLE.
I’M NOT SURE WHEN I’LL BE ABLE TO GO HOME BUT THE LIFT HAS TO WORK, OTHERWISE I’LL NEVER BE ABLE TO GET UPSTAIRS IN MY WHEELCHAIR, MAYBE I’LL GO AND STAY WITH HELEN AND ELLIOT FOR A WHILE…
THIS REALLY HAS OPENED MY EYES TO HOW KIND ALL MY FRIENDS ARE, OVER AN OLD EX-RACING DRIVER, FLOGGING A FADING IMAGE!
I LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU SOON,
MANY THANKS FOR ALL OF YOUR THOUGHTS,
Did I have any interest? Just one look at the photos of the car competing at the very scenic Pittsburgh Grand Prix had me responding “YES” as fast as my fingers could fly. She’s an absolute beauty, and when you see the condition she started in, I’m sure you’ll join me in thanking Mr. McCue for saving this gorgeous and funky little racecar.
We’d love to feature more readers’ restorations, race cars, and onboard videos. Have something to share? Drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is the press release and photos of this new car which I think is way cool!
The Geneva Auto Show is on this week, giving forth a bounty of automotive treats and even a few glances into the future. One of the most exciting cars we’ve seen from the show has been Porsche’s 918 Spyder concept. Because it’s a Porsche (yet neither a sedan nor SUV), it’s beautiful on the outside.
What’s inside is even more interesting. The 918 Spyder is really a “super hybrid” — pushed by both a 500-horsepower V8 and a pair of electric motors. The electric motors are attached at each axle, giving the car an additional 218 hp. Porsche says that means the concept can hit 60 mph in just over 3 seconds. That is incredibly fast, Porsche or not. The fact that it’s a “hybrid”? Well, that’s even better considering all the weight it’s pulling around.
The part about this that is so compelling isn’t just the pure speed — it’s that Porsche claims the car is wildly efficient from a miles-per-gallon perspective, too. Porsche says the 918 Spyder hits 78 miles per gallon, burping out just 70 grams of CO2 per kilometer. It can go 16 miles on pure electric power alone.
The 918 Concept can operate in either electric mode or gasoline mode, or a blended mode of both, making it a parallel hybrid. This is the more efficient way to create a hybrid car (“series” hybrids aren’t as efficient in terms of pure MPG savings). Porsche says there are four modes that the 918 Spyder can drive in, either dialing in more performance or more efficiency per the driver’s request.
Concepts being concepts, this 918 isn’t available for sale. The company is carefully watching how the consumers will react to performance cars with a green edge (Tesla already sells its 6-figure roadster, while Ferrari’s hybrid sports car from this week’s Geneva show will prove instructive for the German company, too). If you’re really burning for a Porsche hybrid, you’ll be able to buy one shortly: the Cayenne SUV will offer a hybrid model at the end of this year.
In this installment of the John McClure archives, the November 7, 1954 running of the Orange Empire National Sportscar Races at March Air Force Base. It is a real treat seeing the racing action ahead of scores of aluminum planes in the background.
Unfortunately, the Briggs Cunningham team that swept the previous year’s race was a no-show. This race, however, was significant for Porschefiles as the first US race run by a 550 Spyder. Sadly, the car crashed and burned in practice with the driver escaping reasonably unscathed. Instead, Ferraris ruled the day, with 7 of the top 10 spots in the featured over-1500cc race. Also in the film is a parade lap of Historic cars (teens and 20s).
Cliff has race results over on Etceterini.