…When it does it itself.
Archive for June, 2012
Disappointingly short, I know.
With all the (deserved) talk of the dangers of early motor racing, it always surprises me to see images like this (and this) where, despite the terrors captured in the photograph, the driver was uninjured. Geoffrey walked away from this one nonetheless, thumbing his nose at the odds.
I was contacted last week by an antiques dealer in Southern California that acquired these marvelous Southern California road racing posters from the estate of California Sports Car Club racer Noble Bishop. Bishop raced at these events in Crosleys and Triumphs and has kept these mementos in fantastic shape.
A couple of these are posters that I’ve never seen before and they are just heartbreakingly lovely. There’s a stark simplicity in these earlier generations of posters and handbills that is left lacking in most modern racing ephemera. The cheap availability of full color photographic printing is part of the problem. After all, why bother investing the time and creativity in something when we can just print up a photo?
Good design requires constraints: constraints of budget, of technology, of time. The more we strip those constraints away, there more contemporary racing poster design seems to suffer. Even the events that take the time to hire good designers and artists to craft a program or poster usually end up cluttering it with sponsoring logos. Thankfully, these posters lack most of that clutter. They’re fantastic. Unfortunately, they’re a bit out of my price range otherwise I would have bought them already instead of sharing them here with you. Contact the Blue Heron Gallery in Fallbrook, CA for more information.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I love when home movies of races make it out of the attic and onto the web.
Here’s a perfect example: 15 minutes of footage from Willow Springs, Torrey Pines, Santa Barbara, Pebble Beach, Chino, Paramount Ranch, Pomona, and Riverside. Throw in some bonus shots of ’64 Sebring and this is a fantastic taste of 10 of the best years in American sports car racing. Hallelujah!
Ready for more than a taste of these races? Check out the John McClure Archive.
This track map pulled from the Castrol Book of the European Grand Prix has a fascinating feature that I’ve not seen on any other track map: The location of the BBC Cameras recording the event. Five cameras (and a helicopter) seems almost hilariously insufficient when we consider today’s abundant camera angles of most tracks, but in 1964 it was a struggle to get even this level of coverage.
Since this is from a Castrol book, the oil company was playing up its own efforts in filming the race, with a substantial section of the booklet describing the effort to capture the race; apparently with more cameras than the BBC was using for the broadcast.
Castrol wasn’t just locking their efforts away either, this line concludes the description of the filming: “if you belong to a motor club and would like to see the results of their work, ask the Secretary to reserve a print of the film for showing to you and your fellow members.” The notion of reserving a print of the race film to be enjoyed later by motor club members sitting around the film projector—weeks or months after the race—is utterly fantastic.
Gathering friends to watch a months-old motor race seems ridiculous today, but there’s something reverent and respectable about the scenario that I love. Rather than just tuning in to the live broadcast to see who wins, it’s an honoring of the event; like a football coach re-watching reels of previous games again and again. It’s not watching the race, it’s studying the race.
At first glance I thought it was sunny on the Monza banking, and cloudy on the straight—but of course that straight line separating the two shows how ridiculous I was. Then it occurred to me that this dramatic shift in color is the transition from the concrete surface of the banking to the asphalt surface of the start-finish straight. Quite an abrupt transition that must have been felt by the drivers coming out of the extreme suspension distress and jarring bumps between sections of the banking.
Dan Gurney averages a record 89.54 miles an hour, wins the International Nassau Trophy Race, his first major solo victory in six years. Dan’s reward: some $10,000—more than $1.00 per second of driving time. His car: a flame-colored 2½-liter rear-engine Lotus. His spark plugs: Autolite. Lesson for the day? Makes no difference if you own a Lotus or your name is Dan, Autolite Spark Plugs can’t be beat. There’s a set made especially for the car you drive. As Gurney and the Lotus well prove, you’re always right with Autolite.
Spark Plug Division · Toledo 1, Ohio
It’s not often that a Porsche 4-cam pops up in my occasional Ebay Motors searches, but here it is. She looks like a miraculously beautiful sculpture.
Assembled by Porsche restoration specialist, Paul Willison, the engine is claimed to turn 169 HP and 150 ft. lbs. of torque on the dyno after raw assembly with no performance tuning. The engine’s current owner seems have sold off his RS60 before the engine was completed. So here she sits on the stand with zero miles.
$170,000 opening bid is no small change, but would be worth it just for the sound.
More photos on the Ebay listing.
Ok so this isn’t technically a board track, but the high banked curves makes me think the race technique was similar. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be the monkey in this early sidecar racing.
Nigel Cass wrote in with this lovely set of photos of the 1965 Beach Formula Vee that he and his father restored as a hillclimber. With a 1915cc engine, I’m guessing she’s a touch faster up a hill than my old ’73 VW Thing was.
These shots of the car in action make me realize what a good photo opportunity hillclimbs are for vintage racers. If I just showed you these photos without the backstory, you might think that they are of a country road-racing circuit. The low stone walls and banners along the roadside only serve to make it look more like a mini Nürburgring or Spa.
She’s a beautiful car. I can’t wait to see Nigel and his father’s next project: a Lola 342