I adore this shot of Bill Spear’s OSCA MT4 thundering past the start-finish line of the Watkins Glen street circuit in 1952. Bill went on to win the Queen Catherine Cup race for small displacement cars.
The composition of the photo though, puts it in a different light that makes me love the photo all the more. The biggest thing in this photo isn’t that gorgeous little barchetta. Just as important in the photo are the three spectators crouched behind a streetlight, ready to leap out of the line of danger.
I don’t think there’s many of us that would want motorsport to return to the closeness and peril of this spectator experience, but there is a sense of loss that we’ll never feel the adrenaline rush those three spectators felt as a passing racing car sent a blast of air over their bodies. It’s a sense of immediacy that connected racing fans to racing drivers. If you found yourself at the Seneca Lodge after the race, you’d have been able to swap stories with drivers and other spectators in the same way that drivers talked amongst themselves. You had your own harrowing experience. You had your own adrenaline coursing through your veins—not in support of your favorite driver, but for your own very real brush with death.
Does part of me want to be able to watch a race this way?
DISCUSS (13 Comments)
Marvelous to hear this interview with Colin Gilmore-Merchant at a Goodwood Breakfast Club event about his experience with his Lamborghini Miura. Such a miraculously beautiful machine. Even with Colin simply standing next to it, it looks as though it could take flight at any moment.
DISCUSS (3 Comments)
One of the great losses of print advertising moving away from long copy and towards simple image and headline is that we may never again see another print ad series like this on from Martini & Rossi. This discussion of the driver’s seating position with Stirling Moss was “advertorial” content decades before the term was invented.
Martini & Rossi presents the Stirling Moss Competition Driving Lesson
The driving position is a very personal matter and one which you must work out for yourself. The main thing is to be comfortable and to have all the essential controls within easy reach.
The current practice on single-seater racing cars is to use a reclining seat with the steering wheel more or less upright and at arm’s length. It should be possible to adjust the position and rake of the seat to suit the majority of drivers.
The seat should give lateral support right up shoulder level, and for this reason it should, if possible, be made—or at least padded—to fit an individual driver. It should also be very rigidly mounted, to prevent any possibility of movement when cornering, accelerating, or braking.
In addition to being comfortable it is also necessary, on a single-seater, to be able to look over the top of the windscreen without being buffeted by the wind at high speeds. To attain the ideal in this respect it may be necessary to build different windscreens for different drivers.
There is much to be said in favor of the straight arm driving position. It allows the steering wheel to be turned the maximum amount without the arms becoming crossed up. It also permits rapid correction. Racing car steering is so light these days that the leverage of bent elbows is no longer necessary. And I find the straight arm position the most relaxing.
Martini & Rossi Suggests…
an enjoyable way to relax after the checkered flag goes down—M&R Vermouth on the rocks, a drink that is winning favor among sportsmen everywhere. Sweet or extra dry, Martini & Rossi Vermouth is great straight. It’s America’s favorite.
P.S.: Vote for your favorite driver… to receive the Martini & Rossi Award for Motorsportsman of the Year. Official ballot on page 14.
Martini & Rossi
Renfield Importers, LTD., N.Y.
DISCUSS (5 Comments)
Keep your rookie cards and let’s dig back into the Topps World on Wheels trading cards sets. This time, Maserati.
From the card’s reverse:
“Maserati is one of the great names in racing cars. Some of the most famous drivers in racing history have used the Maserati to win prizes… Wilbur Hatch having twice driven one to victory in the Indianapolis Races. In Italy, the Maserati Company is known more for production of spark plugs and batteries than for racing cars.”
Fascinating to me that they played up the Indy 500 connection and were so dismissive of Masers in Europe.
More Topps World on Wheels in the archives.
DISCUSS (4 Comments)
I spent last evening at the cinema watching Gravity. I was particularly struck by several scenes shot from the main character’s point of view inside her helmet with her breath fogging the faceshield and the noise of each exhale filling the auditorium. The experience felt so claustrophobic and close. It reminded me of what it must have felt like for Romolo Ferri ducking into the lid of his bright red Lambretta Record and settling in for his record-setting run on a stretch of road between Munich and Ingolsdadt.
Look at this little thing. Like the Munro Special or a bellytank hot rod, the aerodynamic bodywork of surrounding this anything-but-stock Lambretta motorscooter must have felt so tight… and hot. It’s easy to see why the scooter was called “The Red Bullet”.
Sure, Romolo was competing against Vespa, but as any salt flat driver will tell you, the real competition was himself, his previous record, the engineering limits of the 2-stroke engine underneath him.
So how did he do? 201 kph. 124.8 mph. In a 1951 Lambretta. Wow.
More on Romolo Ferri and his record-setting Lammy at Italian Ways. Thanks for sending this one in, Karp.
DISCUSS (3 Comments)
One of the best things about the GoPro is that you can cram the thing anywhere… like the nosecone of a Cooper T-33. Let’s take a spin around the 2013 Silverstone Classic in the JD Classics prepped Cooper.
DISCUSS (2 Comments)
Castro had been sworn in as Prime Minister a year before but the transition to totalitarian regime was slow enough that there was still time for one last Cuban GP. A brief series of races for various classes was held between February 21 and 28, 1960. In a not-too-subtle metaphor for the nation as a whole, the race moved from the bustling and vibrant esplenade Malecón along Havana’s coast, to a closed runway of Columbia Military airport. What a marked transition that must have been for the diehard racing fans that stuck with it through the political transition.
Stirling Moss’ Birdcage Maserati took the win in the featured race. In this image of the Formula Junior event, Stanguellinis ruled the day; taking the first 9 positions. Which sounds incredibly impressive until you realize that they made up 73% of the field.
Via the Nostalgia Forum.
DISCUSS (3 Comments)
Those mountain vistas! I’ve grown so used to seeing wide runoff areas and flat(ish) topography that when I see these images of the Dolomite Mountains captured in the 1950 running of the Coppa d’Oro Dolomiti, I’m just dumbstruck. We always imaging switchback mountain roads and winding valley tarmac as perfect sportscar roads for a Sunday afternoon drive. It’s a shame that so few events still have this kind of scenery to look forward to. Even events like Pike’s Peak or the more mountainous legs of the WRC don’t seem to have peaks quite as sharp and romantic as the Dolomites. Of course, the Coppa d’Oro Dolomiti still runs (sort of) today. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating for bringing back these decidedly less forgiving runoff areas. But even more than small town street racing, I think the loss of this kind of combination of beautiful racing machines and breathtaking mountain roads is a tremendous loss.
Just look at that shot of the 26-year-old Sergio Sighinolfi piloting the #123 Stanguellini 1100. He won his class, finished fourth overall, and beat the previous class course record by over four minutes. Those are just statistics. The fact that he did it in this kind of environment with this level of enchanting beauty and horrific danger around him is heroic. In just the same way, it’s one thing to DNF on the local track, it’s quite another to DNF in the Dolomites. That Supremo Montanari didn’t make to the finish in his outdated #111 Ermini-powered Stanguellini Sport Nazionale doesn’t make his running any less heroic. Twisting along these mountain roads and keeping your foot down is enough to earn my respect.
Am I forgetting about any contemporary events that are run in these kinds of environments? Let me know. I probably need to get more into hillclimbs.
DISCUSS (6 Comments)
This video of a Porsche 917 lapping is great in a way that most videos I’ve seen of 917s—or any other racing machine, really—usually aren’t. It’s because of what isn’t in it. There’s no damned royalty-free terrible music. There’s no barely understandable commentator over the barely audible track loudspeakers. There’s no clapping or “oohing” and “aahing” from a crowd. There is only that miraculous engine note.
It’s why Victory By Design was so great and why most AutoWeek segments aren’t. Cars—particularly racing cars—particularly Porsche 917s—are visceral things. They live in all of our senses. There is a sight, a smell, and my goodness there is a sound. We can feel the air move as they pass. When they pass by quickly, all is a blur. We can rarely capture it in our mind in perfect clarity. The lines of the bodywork are lost in the shake of a car under hard braking or acceleration or turning. We can just make out barely discernible graphic details as they blur by in an instant; often little more than a flash of color.
But that sound… That sound is crystal clear.
DISCUSS (11 Comments)
Stance Works photographers visited the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and the results are magnificent. Somehow I think that photographers Mike Burroughs and Andrew Ritter made the slightly gloomy weather work to their advantage. Beautiful images. Click on over to Stance Works for the complete gallery.
DISCUSS (2 Comments)