En La Playa: Tijuana, 1970

Snap ‘Em Together

Truly Great High-Performance Cars Cannot Be Built in the Laboratory.

A generous collector has uploaded high resolution scans of his BMW brochures to Picasa. This example of the 1978 BMW Motorsport brochure naturally drew me in.

From the brochure’s text:

Why men race.
Racing is high adventure. And this alone is enough to account for racing’s incredible popularity.

The sport is burgeoning as never before. There are now more spectators, more participants, and more events than the sport has ever seen. In Germany alone, for example, there are over 1,000 approved racing events held every year. Road races, mountain climbing, circular-track races, rallyes, rally crosses, gymkhanas – the list is endless and varied.

We at the Bavarian Motor Works believe it is a sport worthy of our attention and involvement. For the simple reason that as more people become involved, more people will be capable of mastery of their cars in the extreme driving situations every driver occasionally faces.

That’s a phenomenal point. The natural instinct among the general populous is that racing drivers never turn off their competitive driving and make roads more dangerous. I think this brochure makes the opposite point marvelously well, a trained racing driver understands the road, understands their car, and understands how they interact. They are safer to those around them on public streets than other motorists.

Click on over for the complete brochure.

The 1934 GP Season of Paul Chenard’s “Silver Clouds”

It’s almost not fair to refer to Paul Chenard’s “Silver Clouds: The 1934 Grand Prix Season” as a book. A book is generally thought of as a consumer product. Yes, a book can be artfully considered, beautifully designed, lovingly written and illustrated, but when it comes down to it, you think of a book as a mass-produced item: bought, thumbed through, and forgotten on a shelf.

Like a book, Paul’s project, is lovingly researched and written. The design has been carefully measured, the illustrations (oh the illustrations!) are magnificent. But here is where the similarities to a mere book end. This is an art piece. There’s really no other way to think of it. It has all the hallmarks of a hand-crafted, meticulously assembled gallery item. The fact that you can turn from page to page and admire the beautifully reproduced illustrations and pore over the charming summaries of the races and events of the 1934 Grand Prix season is just added benefit. My photos here don’t do it justice at all.

This gives me a dilemma. Ordinarily, I would read through a text like this a handful of times, perhaps study a favorite illustration and then shut it away between automotive volumes. Silver Clouds, though, begs to be displayed.

Paul’s illustration style matches the era so very well. His flowing, lightly-held hand style feels very much in the spirit of the 1934 season. If they were in black and white, they could easily pass for the woodcut illustrations that accompanied newspaper accounts of the early grand prix seasons. They live in a very sweet spot between realism and the ligne claire, almost cartoony, style that so typifies European illustration of the mid-century. The woodcut comparison is even more apt in the biography section, where each entry is accompanied by a small illustration of the subject in something close to the illustration style the Wall Street Journal is famous for.

Brilliantly, those same illustrations accompany the book as a deck of trading cards that evoke the era’s cigarette cards. You can almost imagine them as coveted souvenir purchased trackside at AVUS or the Circuito di Modena. Absolutely marvelous!

In short, I love it. It’s a remarkably beautiful art piece, a passionately written and magnificently crafted primer to the Grand Prix season of 1934. I don’t know how many copies of Silver Clouds Paul has created, but everything about it screams “limited edition”, find out more on his Automobiliart.

1960 Buenos Aires GP in Pictures

A transitional year to be sure. The mid-engine revolution had officially begun, but the Coopers still looked awfully odd out there amongst all those front-engined machines. Can anyone tell me what’s going on in the image of Harry Schell in his Cooper T51? It almost looks like someone is trying to toss him a drink!

Dan Gurney in a BRM really gave Maurice Trintignant a run for his money, but ultimately Maurice’s Cooper won the day; beating Gurney by nearly a minute.

60 Years of Ferrari: Read It and Weep

This is my new barometer when I meet people. Have someone pick their favorite year of the Ferrari F1 car from this graphic. If it’s after 1967 1973 1982, you might just want to walk away right then.

Is it just me? Maybe it’s just me.

It’s probably just me. Man, I’m a jerk.

The Rodriguez Brothers at the ’61 LeMans

The film is wonderful, but it was the uploader’s comments that prompted me to share it.

Pedro917 says: “Pedro & Ricardo Rodriguez, driving a Ferrari 250TR entered by the North American Racing Team, fought the works Ferraris of Hill-Gendebien and Parkes-Mairesse for 22 hours. While leading at 7am (after 15 hours), it took the works mechanics over 20 minutes to replace a defective condenser and the brothers, now 5 laps down but with 9 hours to go, started the chase for the lead with lap times of 10 secs faster than the leading works Ferrari of Hill-Gendebien. With only 2 hours to go and back in second place, Pedro came in with a smoking engine and retired the car. The brothers received a standing ovation from the crowd.”

Road Race

With the 2011 Isle of Man TT in the books, I was reminded as I watched Guy Martin and John McGuinness streak along the (mostly) straight between Guthrie Memorial and East Snaefel Gate that this is how all races used to be. The country lanes that surround the Isle of Man are simple little 2-lane stretches of (very) curvy blacktop. It is hardly an acceptable racing surface as we’re used to today. There are no runoff areas. There are no fences to catch debris. The riders transition their weight over a crest and land with their helmets perilously close to a hedgerow or garden wall. In short, it’s a proper race.

The fact that the TT remains as it is—and should be—is nothing short of miraculous. Now close your eyes and imagine those simple country roads with a charging Alfa Tipo 33, as on the mountains of Sicily, or the engine note of a Stanguellini 750 echoing off the village walls south of Brescia. You can’t help but feel a bit robbed by history.

The juxtaposition between the TT and this weekend’s Canadian GP—the chasm between the spirits of these two events—is even more startling when you see this image of Maurice Trintignant and his Gordini T16 bombing down a country road in Rheims in 1953. Even when we see a “street course” like Monaco today, it’s sometimes hard to remember that humble country roads were good enough for the pinnacle of motorsport.

O, that they could be again!

Ralph Lauren’s Cars on Exhibit Again

The L’Art dl L’Automobile Exhibit is running at the Museum Les Arts Décoratifs in Paris until the 28th of August. Ralph’s cars have gotten a lot of exposure, but I for one appreciate that he isn’t hiding these remarkable machines away from the public. I like this quote from Ralph Lauren from the Speed, Style & Beauty book that accompanied the collection’s first museum exhibit.

“I’ve always seen cars as art. Moving art. While friends of mine were into paintings, I somehow felt that the real beauty of owning a rare and magnivicently designed car was the fact that you can use it. You can look at it, enjoy its visual qualities, as with a painting, but you can also get inside and drive it – which means both enjoying the drive itself and going somewhere with it. How these cars are put together, the purposefulness with which they were created, in every detail – the engine, the mechanics, the outside ornamentation, the design of the wheels, the whole spirit – is very, very exciting. And on top of that you have the men who created these cars, Mr. Porsche, Mr. Bugatti, Mr. Ferrari, and their backgrounds, their heritages, their fascinating histories, their reasons for driving and building these cars – I find it all very stimulating.”

More images, engine sounds (!) and information on the exhibit on the Collection’s Site.

Early Racing Porsches at the 2008 Eifelrennen

Eifelrennen 2008 had a pretty impressive lineup of early Porsche racers. I see a 550, an RSK, an RS60, an Abarth-Carrera. I could just listen to that 4-cam for hours.

Ok, that’s all well and good, but let’s get on the track. Alright, let’s ride shotgun with Gerrit Kobus in a 550.