Porsche pits are beehives - with sportswriters from all over posing as self-styled experts during these thrill-packed seconds.
Charlie White has shared this amazing artifact of Mid-50s Porsche ephemera in the form of the Factory Sales Binder for the complete model run. These manuals, which acted partly as brochure and partly as educational tool for dealers ride an interesting line halfway between internal and external document. As we expect of a car brochure that would go to the public, there are plenty of photos of the machines in action. For dealers, though, there are plenty of straight-up tables of data of the type that contemporary brochures almost universally lack. On top of that it’s just a tremendous document of the era and the cars.
Another interesting departure from the brochures and sales literature we’re used to seeing in the modern era; there’s no universal look and feel to these documents. This is truly a “sales binder” and feels like a loose collection of scrap book items and ephemera of every type. Click on over to DerWhite’s 356 Literature for the complete set.
It’s been far too long since we’ve dug into the McClure archives for a look at California’s vibrant racing scene of the mid-50’s. This piece of film is bittersweet, as it captures the January 14, 1956 race weekend: the final race weekend at Torrey Pines before its conversion to golf courses.
John took advantage of this last opportunity to record some marvelous film of some of SoCal’s heroes of the day, Phil Hill prepping his Ferrari 500 Mondial, Jack McAfee strapping on his pudding bowl helmet and climbing into his Porsche 550 Spyder. We see the drivers sprint across the track in a LeMans-style start to begin the 6 hours endurance race. Is that a temporary flame-job on the winning Jaguar D-Type of Jerry Austin? I think he should have sprayed it on, who would have guessed how bad-ass a Jag D-Type looks with flames? The timing is also interesting for hot rod fans, January ’56 puts it right around the same time of the famous Von Dutch flame job on a Gullwing Mercedes.
Some of the most interesting shots, though, aren’t on the track nor in the pits at all. Stirling Moss was scheduled to take part in the endurance race piloting an Austin-Healey 100S. The opportunity was perfectly timed, since Stirling had some time to kill on his way back to England from New Zealand after winning the GP Ardmore in a New Zealand Porsche distributor team 550. Unfortunately, the FIA forbade him from participating for reasons that aren’t quite clear to me—anyone know more about that? Since he was in town, Stirling turned up at the track to take in the race, presumably to cheer on Bill Pringle and Ray Jackson-Moore in the Austin-Healey that Moss was to race (they ultimately finished 4th). That’s not so unusual; after all, why wouldn’t the race-mad Moss take in a race, even if only as a spectator? What makes this footage so valuable though, is that it captures Moss the tourist, donning a set of Mickey Mouse ears fresh from a trip to Disneyland with fellow British driver Roy Jackson-Moore and a pair of American drivers. They took to the Disneyland racetrack ride with vigor—with Moss falling second to Roy’s victorious wife Denise Jackson-Moore. Fantastic!
It was a busy weekend indeed for Moss, as Elaine Bond writes in the January 27 issue of MotoRacing, Moss was inducted into the Women’s Sportscar Club as a lifetime honorary member. She goes on, “he is reported to have said, ‘there is no other club I would rather belong to!’ After all, his affinity for dolls is as well known as his affinity for fast machinery and this is reciprocated on the gals’ part.” Sounds to me like Moss had a great time in California.
Huge thanks again to John McClure for sharing this footage with us, see more film from his collection here. In many ways, this is a remarkably sad piece of film. Bidding farewell to the Torrey Pines track must not have been easy for the racers, I’m glad that John captured the weekend for us to appreciate all this time later.
This Friday, January 28, at 7pm The Trylon Microcinema in Minneapolis will be screening Grand Prix as part of their ‘Color Me Gone’ celebration of racing films. Naturally, I’ll be there. If any readers want to meet up beforehand, some of the Chicane crew will be holding down the fort starting at 5:30 at The Chatterbox for happy hour. The Chatterbox has a bunch of vintage video gaming systems and you can check out classic Atari, Sega, and Nintendo NES titles from the bar, so some Pole Position seems in order to get us ready for the movie. I’ll have posters from the film series to give away as well. Drop a line in the comments if you’re planning on coming.
Earlier this month we saw some video from the event. Now we can see Bill Witcher’s photos from the crowd. It looks like Bill picked out a good spot to capture the action (turn 1?), there’s a lot of passing on this corner and more than a handful of offs.
Rodger Ward keeps it together after a brush with Frank Gardner's Brabham as Richie Ginther passes in his Porsche RS61
Post Card editor must have been one of the easiest jobs to have in the middle of the last century. I can only imagine the scenario that produced the following bounty (uploaded to French auto forum Autodiva by Tarwann). It must have gone something like this:
Post Card Editor: We need photos of Spa! Intern: Here are some photos of Spa. Post Card Editor: Good! Print ’em! Intern: These photos don’t really show any of the racing action. Maybe if we crop in some of these we’ll be able to… Post Card Editor: No Time! Print ’em! Intern: But… Shouldn’t we at least color correct them to have normal colors? Post Car Editor: You’re fired!
I adore the use of leaf springs in the Cooper Mk IV. When the FIA settled on a 500cc specification for the new International Formula 3 series they made a lot of motorcycle engine manufacturers and British garagistas very happy.
This iteration of the Cooper 500 has long been my favorite. It looks like a WWII fighter plane fuselage on wheels. It is small. it is nimble. It is utilitarian. It is—dare I say—cute. My friend Eric is always mocking me for my love of ‘cute’ cars, but I make no apologies. I’d rather race this humble little insect of a machine than most meaner, more muscular, more intimidating racers.