I should have known that yesterday’s peek into the racing history of Angola was only the tip of the iceberg. Here are a couple of short films from various runnings of the 6 Hours of Nova Lisboa endurance race. An amazing field in this footage, everything from an Alfa Tipo 33 to a GT40, to Minis and BMW 2002s and Lancia Fulvias. All careening through the city streets of Nova Lisboa (now known as Huambo following Angola’s independence in 1975).
I only wish there were more shots of the crowd and pits to get a more complete picture of the event. These videos were found on what has to be the definitive source for Angolan racing history – Motorsport in Angola. What an absolutely priceless resource, full of amazing photos and video from the era. My Portuguese is very lacking, but I can read enough Spanish to get the general idea, and the general idea is that it’s fantastic.
I came across this fantastic set of photos a few years ago, but was recently reminded of just how precious an artifact it is. I’m surprised by the size and variety of the grids for these events. Minis, Lotus, a Beetle or 2, Fiat Cincuentas—magnificent. It’s easy to focus on the famous tracks and drivers of Europe, or the grass roots glory of the American road racing scene; but these shots from Angola at the height of sports car racing is every bit as vibrant and exciting.
The track preparation shots are particularly fantastic. We don’t often get to see photos from the era building the tracks that have become sacred ground. We’ve sat in more than enough traffic jams to get they general idea of how roadways are built today, but for me these shots of a few construction vehicles creating a tarmac racing surface from nothing is just another extension of the DIY spirit of home racing car builders and garagistas that has always been at the center of what we hold so dear about classic motorsport.
The States has less of a tradition of the town-to-town races that were a major part of the early European races and gave us such glorious examples as the Mille Miglia, Targa Florio, and the countless other events that laid the foundations for the Grand Prix events to follow. One shining example of this breed of motorsport, however, did stake it’s claim to the format statesite: The Vanderbilt Cup.
The race was run in its original form between 1904 and 1911 through a series of towns in Nassau County, Long Island; largely on roads that still exist today—although I think that the Massapequa Road leg has since been removed (can any Long Island locals confirm that?). Thankfully, this map will make recreating the paths of a hundred years ago quite easy. What I love about the public road courses is that each morning, hundreds of commuters toil along not knowing the magnificent men and machines that blazed the same trail in very different circumstances. This map may look very workmanlike and unembellished compared to others we’ve looked at in the Track Maps of the Past series, but I adore it just the same.
The piece of whimsy that is the Little Big Mans is almost reason enough on its own to attend the LeMans Classic. It’s absolutely marvelous, and it looks like there’s still room on the grid for a few more entries. Is it wrong to envy a 10-year-old?
The phenomenon of miniature sportscars for children is absolutely fascinating. There are a handful of workshops crafting high-quality reproductions of some of the world’s most desirable autos in 1:2.3 scale—marvelous!
Blanc Chateau seems to be heavily involved in the running of the Little Big Mans race and offers their junior versions of the BMW 328, the Ferrari P-2, and Porsche Speedster. Porsches abound from Pennewitz Design, who offers their own version of the Speedster, plus a 550 Spyder and Porsche 904 for good measure. They are all absolutely incredible, if you look quickly you’d be convinced it’s the genuine article and not an extravagant plaything. Although if I were to spring for one, I’d be too tempted to keep it for myself rather than hand the keys over to Junior. Maybe it’s best, hard to tell if this would make him the coolest kid ever or the wicked preppie in a John Hughes movie.
RM Auctions will be hosting their first ever event in Monaco in a few weeks, “Sporting Classics of Monaco“, and they’ve certainly pulled out all the stops. The catalog is absolutely mesmerizing, with offerings including the 1937 BMW 328 Mille Miglia “Bügelfalte”, The stunning Birdcage Maserati we looked at a few weeks ago, and some high-demand Ferraris (275 GTB, Tour de France, Daytona Spider).
This car though, hasn’t been featured much in the sportscar press and I didn’t know it was included in the sale until I happened upon the full catalog today. You are looking at one of the three M14A Formula 1 cars that McLaren built to compete in the World Championship for 1970. The McLaren team entered the new decade in absolute dominance of the motoring world. Their Can-Am effort the previous year was in complete control of the series, with Bruce McLaren or Denny Hulme standing atop the podium at all 11 races of the season. They’d also claimed a handful of wins in ’69 in Formula 1 as well. It was time now to continue that amazing success into the 1970s. This car looked well poised to do it too, with a 2nd place finish in her debut race at Kyalami for Hulme—in this very car. The team was on the podium twice more in the next three races. Not a bad start.
That’s when everything went South. Denny suffered a bad methanol burn following practice at Indianapolis. Bruce of course died in a crash at Goodwood testing the new Can-Am car. Amazingly, Denny missed only two races and returned to the car for the French GP. In the next 8 races, Hulme would finish on the podium 3 times more and finished the season in 4th. Incredibly, he won that year’s Can-Am drivers’ championship—oh for the era of driver versatility.
The car itself, chassis M14A2, looks absolutely perfect. Although it had a short stint in her post-F1 years as a Formula 5000 car, the car was fairly quickly returned to the original specification (is this the original engine?) Ford-Cosworth DFV and Hewland gearbox. The car is presented in the livery she wore during the 1970 season and that orange shade is just so brilliant. The photography for the catalog is absolutely stunning and looks like you could just reach into the photo and take her for a spin. I’m surprised that RM’s estimate is as low as it is at $340,000 – $400,000. I can’t believe I just referred to $400K as a low price on something. But really, who needs a house (or two), when you could take a few laps in this.
More information in the auction catalog – I hope more auction houses follow this practice of releasing their full catalog online.
Here’s a short but important film from the John McClure Archives. This was the 2nd annual Agoura Hill Climb presented by the Singer Owners’ Club on February 6, 1955, and I think it can be safely described as a smashing success. West Coast Sports Car Journal reported in their March ’55 issue that the event drew 160 competitors and over 2,000 spectators. Even if those numbers are an exaggeration, that is still incredibly impressive. Can you imagine 2,000 spectators coming out to the secluded mountains for a hillclimb? Unless it’s the Goodwood Festival of Speed, or maybe Pikes Peak, the public simply doesn’t care about hillclimbing—not in those kinds of numbers anyway.
I also think this film is incredibly important because it captures something we’re unlikely to ever see again; high performance sportscars driving as fast as they can up a dirt road. Have you ever driven behind a sportscar on a dirt road? Chances are they are driving VERY slowly, just crawling in 1st gear, repeating a silent prayer that no stone is kicked up to mar their paintwork. Even Pikes Peak is almost completely tarmac today. Boo!
Not so in ’55. These drivers are putting everything they have into taking their factory fresh XK120s from the bottom of the hill to the top; bodywork be damned. I think this is what I most enjoy about these vintage club racing films, sportscars just weren’t the luxury status symbol that they are today. They weren’t precious jewels to be polished and parked in front of the dance club. They were simply tools—tools that were built for a purpose—and in 1955 that purpose was to get the Hell to the top of Agoura.
1. Frank Livingston in the Eliminator Model-T Hot Rod (anyone know this car?) at 27.83 seconds
2. Ennals Ives Jr. in a Cad-Allard J2X at 27.86 seconds.
3. Paul Parker, also in the Eliminator, at 28.03
4. Paul Poole in a Jaguar XK120M at 28.63
A young Richie Ginther took the Austin-Healey class victory at 29.66 seconds.
Update:Chris sheds some light on the Eliminator Model-T in the comments, which quickly lead to this article from Street Rodder. Another example of the greatness of the era; when a T-Bucket shares the track with Siatas and Ferraris. Thanks, Chris!
Drama on the closing lap of the ’67 Italian GP at Monza. Clark set pole and fastest lap, and had a tremendous drive after coming back from a puncture—but he’d end up on the orangeade end of the equation.
The crew over at Veloce Today scored some fantastic shots of the floor of Europe’s largest classic racing and sportscar sale.
There’s a tremendous example of the Alfa Romeo Stradale not too unlike the one we featured in an Art Appreciation segment a month or so back. Also among their shots is a lovely Ferrari 212 Export and curious little 1948 Giannini Fiat 1100 (I’m all about the late-40s Italians lately). And why not throw in an ex-Chris Amon Matra for good measure?