The Race Bar

Jaguar XKSS at Clyde's of Chevy Chase

The gods of speed smiled on me this past weekend.

Midget racer at Clyde's of Chevy ChaseI was traveling to Washington DC and was invited to meet up with family for dinner at Clyde’s in Chevy Chase, MD.

As I approached the door I spotted a Bugatti 52 in the window acting as a simple table decoration, which is impressive enough on it’s own, and turned to my wife with a quick, “If that’s real they spent quite a bit on the interior of this place.”

Mural at Clyde's of Chevy ChaseThat wasn’t half of it. I walked in the front door to be immediately greeted with a 2-story mural of a 1920’s era road race with a battling Bentley and Bugatti leading the way. Peering down the spiral stairway revealed a Jaguar XKSS on display. Again, I said, “now if THAT is real, they spent QUITE a bit on the interior of this place”.

The entire lower floor of the place is bedecked with vintage posters from both international grand prix and local dirt track races. In addition to the XKSS, there’s a Morgan 3-wheeler and a midget racer perched above the bar. Wrapping around the entire lower floor bar is an enormous second mural featuring pre-war racers and various sportscar marques. Upstairs sharing space with the Bugatti 52 are more period kiddie carts: an MG and a Rolls. Amazing.

In short, it’s the Mid-Atlantic’s answer to the Siebken’s bar. It’s always depressing to find a great new hangout only to realize that you live hundreds of miles away from it.

My web searches since I’ve returned home seem to indicate that the Jaguar is indeed authentic. Can anyone confirm?

Mural at Clyde's of Chevy Chase

6 responses to “The Race Bar”

  1. HealeyRick says:

    One midwestern Austin-Healey enthusiast happened upon a Healey 100 being used as a restaurant salad bar. Turned out to be a genuine 100M: http://www.carsauto.com/1956-austin-healey-100m-lemans-c-372.htm

    • Chris says:

      “What a great looking car, I think it’ll make a fine salad bar” -said no auto enthusiast ever

    • Hugo Reis says:

      How can that be a 100M if hasn’t the oval grille?
      I think it’s a regular 100/4 with the optionl “Le Mans” kit.

      • HealeyRick says:

        The oval grille was found only on the 100S of which 50 production cars were made. The 100M refers to the 640 factory produced 100 models with the LeMans Engine Modification Kit which included carbs, cam and high compression pistons, amongst other options. The LeMans kit could also be installed by a dealer or the owner, but unless done by the factory, these cars are not properly referred to as 100Ms.

  2. Trappeur says:

    The posters on the walls are all real, not copies or reproductions.

    Clyde’s restaurant group also owns a restaurant called the Tombs located at Georgetown University. The Tombs has a large collection of vintage WWI and WWII propaganda posters that were collected by the original owner of the Tombs before Clyde’s bought it.

    They have a number of themed restaurants that all have original art work, no reproductions.

    All of them are worth visiting because of the décor, if not always because of the food. Also, this is the 50th anniversary of the original Clyde’s restaurant in Georgetown.

    By the way, I don’t work for Clyde’s, but had many an evening there when I went to Georgetown.

    One more fun fact, the New Yorker had a cover that was a painting of the original “front bar” at Clyde’s many years ago. It used to hang behind the bar in Georgetown, but the last time I was there they had removed it. Don’t know where it is now.

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