Unseen Racing Footage: Santa Ana Road Races, El Salvador, April 1959

Like our last look at the racing community of El Salvador, this footage from the Santa Ana races just stopped me in my tracks. We often see photographs of races with little barrier between the on-track action and the off-track spectators but this footage really demonstrates how very precarious the situation really was. It must have been incredibly nerve racking as a driver (particularly during the LeMans style starts shown here). It must have been spectacularly thrilling as a spectator, with those “lucky” few in the front rows equally stepping closer to the action and pushing back against the crowds behind that threatened to nudge you onto the track. The adrenaline must really have been coursing through the veins of these race fans.

Again, many thanks to George Kehler for providing this footage, shot by Dr. Carlos Alvarez when he was just a young teenager. Keep a sharp eye peeled for Pedro Rodriguez in the red green #24 Austin-Healey 100M (he DNFed with ignition problems). Ricardo was also in the race in an OSCA. The day was won by Mauricio Miranda in the #42 Jaguar D-type with 2nd going to Manfredo Schmid in the Mercedes-Benz.

Keep on digging those film cans out of the attics, people. We’d love to share them with readers.

DISCUSS (10 Comments)

  1. Kurt

    WOW this is super! The 300 SL roadster running with the top up, the wide whitewalls on the Bugeye Sprites, and a lurid tank slapper by a Bugeye about half way through. Great scenes of TR 3s, 356s and Big Healeys battling door to door, and the D-Type leading the way. Thanks for sharing and keep it coming!

  2. Cindy

    Like the early psycho days of La Carrera Panamericana where spectators were randomly taken out as cars came around corners with no barricades…just unreal.

  3. Carlos Emilio Alvarez

    Pedro Rodriguez is driving the green Austin Healey 100M. Crowd control?? NONE!!!!!! In these 2 particular races nobody got hurt!

  4. Ktrum

    Crowd control? We don’ need no stinkin crowd control! Wonderful video!

  5. Mike Jacobsen

    Wow! If Ricardo was entered in an OSCA he didn’t make this race–I can’t find an OSCA anywhere. I wouldn’t have thought the entry list would be as late as ’59 but for the 300SL roadster. I wonder why the Rodriquez Bros. didn’t bring their usual rides.

  6. dan

    amazing! well done on the soundtrack.

  7. Edmund

    Brilliant!

  8. Carlos Emilio Alvarez

    Ricardo Crashed the Osca in practice, never made it to the race. In those days Ricardo – El Chamaco – was the real star and Pedro was just “His older brother”. The 2 visits of the Rodriguez brothers to El Salvador, 1958 and 1959, were negociated by the local club AAS (Asociacion Automobilistica Santaneca) and I imagine there was money to bring just 1 car, and Ricardo was a more spectacular driver – he was only 15 years old!!

  9. Fernando Gutiérrez-Benjumea

    Amazing footage, I wonder who was driving the blue 550 RS Spyder and the red Frogeye (actually without the eyes!) as they took high risk and showed great skills.

  10. Franco Tico Isassi

    Carrera classic 1959 en Santa Santa , El Salvador !!

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