This is what a lot of 1963 must have looked like for Jim Clark. His confident expression at the Spa drivers’ meeting before the 1963 Belgian Grand Prix says it all: He was about to own the rest of the year.
Archive for December, 2011
It’s starting to become more and more difficult to keep track of all the fantastic historic race meetings happening around the world, and I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I didn’t know the Ventilspiel 1000km race at Austria’s Red Bull Ring. If these astoundingly atmospheric photographs from Peter Olschinsky capture even a tenth of the excitement of the event then it’s definitely worth adding to your list of events to attend in ’12.
In my own photos, this low contrast and saturation is a mistake, and it looks it. In Peter’s photography, the low saturation lends a mood to his shots that suits the subject marvelously. When a piece of art’s methods or palette or construction accentuates the subject it always feels more whole to me. Peter Olschinsky’s studies from the Ventilspiel 1000km definitely fit that description. Click on over to Atelier Olschinsky for the complete collection.
It’s a rare Cobra owner who can’t instantly recognize the characteristic red lights and apologetic grin that seem to appear occasionally, without reason, in his rear view mirror. No ticket involved, just admiration and interest!
Perhaps it’s the way a Cobra glides effortlessly through traffic, its four wheel independent suspension just rippling over the road. Or maybe it’s the sound…the matchless cadence of power with an American accent—Ford 289 High Performance V8! Whatever it is, there’s just something about a Cobra that demands more than a casual glance, and our white helmeted friends in blue are no exception!
Closer inspection reveals a heritage bred of competition and luxury. The four huge disc brakes glinting behind wire wheels are probably the best visual definition of safety a state trooper will ever see. It doesn’t take a trooper’s expert eye though to sense the comfort and quality of the deep english leather bucket seats, woodrim racing wheel, and complete instrumentation in the sumptuous cockpit.
Assuming you don’t have a badge, motorcycle and apologetic grin, we suggest you drop in at your local “Total Performance” Ford Dealer and spend a few concentrated moments carefully inspecting the world’s most versatile sports car! $5995.00 P.O.E.
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More reminders of the decline of magazine cover design.
Sunbeam at the ’64 Geneva Rally with bonus LeMans clips.
Some photos and video from my racing experience with my 1968 ASP Formula Vee MK. III. This orange livery that you see was the result of my earlier 2004 restoration that I wrote about here. The ASP is currently undergoing restoration a second time, taking her back to the glory she deserves.
The late 60′s were a fascinating time for racing. I think I’m most drawn to the era because—for better or for worse—it was such a transformative period. Perhaps nowhere was this more true than in Porsche’s Le Mans pits. We were, after all, on the verge of a ridiculous procession of Porsche Le Mans wins throughout the 70′s and 80′s.
But look at this photo from the Porsche garages in 1969. The boys from Stuttgart had their hands full with the early 917s and the holdout 908s. These were state-of-the-art machines from a racing workshop that was starting to share more with the aviation industry of the time than the auto industry.
But look at these tools! My grandfather’s mower repair shop was better equipped than this. No pneumatics. No carefully sorted trays of perfectly polished stainless. There’s no apparent sorting of the wrenches by size. Hell, the sockets are just laying out! It’s just a pile of mismatched tools on an old plank of wood.
It’s part of why I love this transitional time so much. In many ways, it was old dogs with new tricks. Fresh technology and traditional skills. New engineering by old shop-hands. I’m sure, like always, I’m romanticizing things too much but this image strikes such a chord with me about the era. And it doesn’t even have a car in it.
Also, what I wouldn’t do for one of these jackets.
I’ve seen countless images of the Grand Prix legends of the 1960s with a bit of gaffers tape obscuring part of their goggles. I never really thought about it until I saw this rather extreme example of Graham Hill’s. Does anyone know why they did this? Was covering the top half of the goggles done to block out the sun? Was it to isolate the extreme motion of items in their peripheral vision? Was it simply to strengthen the goggles themselves?
Fibreglass Body Shells £49. Bare shell, untrimmed. For wheelbases of 6ft. 11 in. to 6ft. 9in.
Kits for experimental work or body repairs: 12/6, 17/6, 28/6, and 45/-.
£58. Bare shell untrimmed. Designed for Space-Frame or Twin-Tube-type chassis of 7ft. 3in. to 7 ft. 6 in. wheelbase.
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Eric Dean—who’s magnificent Merlyn Formula Ford restoration remains one of the most popular posts here on The Chicane—is nearly finished with the restoration of his first racing car: A 1968 ASP MKIII Formula Vee. It must have him feeling nostalgic because he’s finally relented in my frequent pleas that he start writing about his racing in Formulas Ford and Vee, and his restorations. This is the first part of a series he’s begun on his relationship with this racing car and her subsequent restoration. I’ll see the car in person at the end of the month and while I’ve spent a great deal of time around this car, both when Eric first picked it up and helping him in the pits over the past several racing seasons, I’m a bit giddy to see how it turns out. Ok that’s enough from me, let me hand it over to Eric.
It was time to do a proper restoration of my old formula vee. It was tired, worn and I was starting to feel like my car was the roach among all the beautifully prepared vees I race with in the VSCDA. The car is a 1968 ASP MK III, originally built by Wayne Purdy, a former Beach FV employee. The ASP was 1 of 6 or so vees Wayne built before moving on to other racing ventures. This car was raced by a gentleman named Robert Samm very successfully in the southwestern United States and Mexico, claiming at least 3 national titles in Mexico in the MKIII.
I acquired the ASP in the winter of 2004 sight unseen. I knew I wanted to go vintage vee racing but admittedly didn’t do as much research as I should have prior to making the purchase. I was taken by the story and esthetics of the little known ASP rather than the proven race worthiness. A more rational man may have sought out a Lynx or a Zink, brands that dominated FV in the late 60s. I discovered the ASP on a racing classifieds website and the price was right… or so I thought. As it turns out it was just further proof that you get what you pay for.
Despite that, I remember feeling just like a kid on Christmas when it arrived by truck that day late in January. With the help of the driver, I rolled it off the truck through the fresh snow into the garage. I was elated. I couldn’t believe I now owned a vintage open-wheeled racecar. I had wanted to race cars like these since I was a kid. At this point I had only been to track days and autocross events in a street car but I had the racing bug and I had it bad.
I contacted the race director at my local track to see if he could put me in touch with any of the vintage vee drivers in the area. As luck would have it, his former neighbor Garret Van Camp was recently back in vintage vee racing, a former SCCA national champion and he lived 20 minutes from me. Garrett won the 1970 FV championship, raced Porsche speedsters and went on to race super vees as the factory driver for Lynx. Eventually he took a long hiatus from racing to raise his family. In 1994 he decided to once again get behind the wheel. He tracked down his original Lynx, restored it back to the configuration he won with in 1970 and he keeps on winning nearly every race he enters… At 74! Truly inspiring.
I called Garrett and that same day after work he met me at my house to have a look at my car. I’ll never forget what he said upon laying his eyes on the ASP. He said “I wish we would’ve met 3 weeks ago… I never would have let you buy this piece of shit”. We joked about the whole car being held together with cabinet fasteners and zip ties. He was right and I knew it but I was still optimistic. He immediately started educating me on the car and made an impossible list of what needed to be done before the driver’s school began in April. And without his help it would have been impossible.
Garrett would stop by once a week to check on my progress. He encouraged me, taught me and provided endless motivation. Besides that he re-engineered and re-fabricated parts to make the car stronger, safer and the car more competitive. All things that at the time were well beyond my knowledge and ability. I had some background in motorcycle restoration but when it came to racecars I was about as green as they come. Garrett would constantly remind me “if it doesn’t make you go faster, don’t waste your time kid”. Come spring, the car was done but it was a tremendous amount of work… especially for a car that was advertised as “race ready”. Garret was my instructor, is still my mentor and a constant source of inspiration. I consider he and his wife Maggie as 2nd parents and lifelong friends. I completed the school that spring and went on to my first race. There are few things in life I’ve experienced that are as satisfying as finishing a race in a car that you’ve built… Except maybe winning—but that came much later.