A Precariously Perched Silver Arrow

Mercedes W154 being unloaded at Tripoli

I’ve been reading Sandro Martini’s wonderful novel Tracks: Racing the Sun about the golden age of Grand Prix racing and the exploits of Tazio Nuvolari, Achille Varzi and other (mostly Italian) heroes of the 1930s racing scene and the worrisome political climate of the era (full review to come—short version: I love it).

The passages that take place during the contentious and controversial Grands Prix of Tripoli are so evocative and romantic that I couldn’t help trying to dig up some photos of the era. This dockside image of the Mercedes W154 so perfectly captures the clash between the huge technological leaps that racing machines were making with the almost quaint simplicity of the rest of society. These ropes and cables jerkily transferring this rocketship of a car to the docks must have been as much a test of nerves as the race itself. You think about racing teams having to trust their drivers but rarely do you consider the faith being placed in the longshoremen.

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Carroll Shelby Goes Racing

Marvelous 20 minute film of Team Shelby’s racing exploits. Even if this film was just the Willow Springs chalk talk with Peter Brock it would be worth the watch. That it’s interspersed with sequences of Dan Gurney or Ken Miles illustrating his lecture on the track makes it mandatory viewing. You might just learn a touch of racecraft that’s just as true today as it was 50 years ago. Of course that first-generation GT40 and a spinning and drifting 289 Cobra aren’t hard to look at either.

Thanks for sending this one in, Craig!

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A Vintage Racer Vintage Racing

Jimmy Clark in Ford Model T Sprint Car

This photo of Jim Clark in a Model-T Sprint Car almost breaks my brain. It only makes sense for Jimmy in the context of the celebrations surrounding the Indianapolis 500.

This photo was included in a Ford press release for the race and their 495 horsepower V8 that would power the Lotus-Ford in the race. What better way to showcase Ford’s history with the 500 and demonstrate 48 years of automotive engineering maturity than to contrast these two racing machines—each at the pinnacle of technology for their time. Magnificent.

More at Auto Gift Garage.

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A $300,000 Slot Car Table Sounds Like a Good Idea

Neiman Marcus Slot Car Set

Neiman Marcus’ Christmas catalog is famous for their over-the-top gift ideas. My favorite from last year was the custom falconry equipment. This year though, I’m actually tempted to put together a crowdfunding campaign for this custom slot car set by Slot Mods. Even better, David Hobbs will attend your opening party.

I can imagine no better evening than sitting around this remarkable slot car table with David Hobbs calling the action. Only $300K. At that price, we can’t afford not to get it.

Who’s in?

More information (and video!)—but sadly no “add to cart” button—at NeimanMarcus.com

Neiman Marcus Slot Car Set

Thanks for the tip, Paul!

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Collecting a Porsche 356 at Baggage Claim

Porsche in baggage claim

I only leave home with the essentials.

Via I Love Porsche.

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Art Appreciation: The Borg-Warner Trophy

The Borg-Warner Trophy

The winners of the Indy 500 might not get to take home the Borg-Warner after they drink their post-race milk but there’s something even more precious to each winner of the Borg-Warner trophy and how they are commemorated. Going all the way back to the 1911 victory of Ray Harroun and his Marmon Wasp, a relief of each winner of the 500 wraps around the trophy, transforming the trophy into a figurative wall of victors.

Like hockey’s Stanley Cup, the actual trophy isn’t kept by the winners but their legacy lives on for all-time as each successor to the crown is inscribed onto the trophy itself—which becomes its own history book. As a bauble to the winner it is unwieldy and heavy. That heft, however, is part of what makes the trophy important with each victory adding further physical manifestation of the hard work, determination, and luck of each of those successful drives.

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Jackie’s Shirt

Jackie Stewart's Shirt

We’re giving another go at crowdfunding a new t-shirt. This time it’s a recreation of a Tyrrell shirt that Jackie Stewart was photographed in. I’ve never seen another example and for all I know the team might have just made them for Jackie. We need to correct this problem.

By now, you probably know how these crowdfunding campaigns work. Essentially you can reserve your shirt, but you will only be charged for the shirt if we sell 15 of them. Otherwise, the print run never happens and your card is never charged. We only have 10 days for this one, so if you’re interested in supporting Team Tyrrell as they were in the early 70’s, now is your chance.

Head on over to the catalog page and order yours today.

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To Build, or Not to Build…

Unassembled period Porsche 356 model

I’m glad this isn’t mine. I would agonize for months over whether I should build this or not. Intellectually, coldly, logically I know that this should never be assembled. I know that tearing these pieces out of the bag and glueing them up would never result in something as beautiful as it is now. But then I would wake in the night, dreaming of it, and have to fight hard to not reach for the Testors.

via Gmund 356

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Jaguar’s Continuation E-Type Lightweight Prototype is Glorious

New Jaguar E-Type Lightweight

A few months back Jaguar raised all of our spirits with the news that they would fulfill the original build order of 18 E-Type lightweights (only 12 were build in period) to the original specification, from aluminum bodywork to D-type heads. Recently the team has released these photos of the first complete example of the new run and it is absolutely beautiful.

New Jaguar E-Type Lightweight

More photos at Classic and Sports Car.

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1954 Andrews Air Force Base Races Film

Excellent footage here from the Andrews Air Force Base Sports Car Races. The segment from the (almost) all-MG race—including the LeMans start—at the 8 minutes, 30 seconds mark is particularly great. What a thrill to see such an evenly matched grid competing at full clip.

That looks like Fred Wacker’s Allard at 10:24, two years after his crash at Watkins Glen that killed a 7-year-old spectator, virtually putting an end to American road racing overnight. I thought that Fred gave up the sport after the incident, but this clip and the racing program seem to indicate otherwise.

Once the main event gets underway there are some magnificent shots of the pits, and the gorgeous Scuderia Kimberly transporter even makes an appearance. Perhaps even more than the races themselves, it’s wonderful to see some footage of the environment trackside. While the cars and the race action documentation are rare, the imagery of the press box or the judges and timekeepers booth are even less frequently seen. It looks like we can even see the handoff of the purse at the end of the film. Amazing.

Great to see more film from the East Coast popping up on YouTube. The California road racing scene was so well documented that it’s easy to forget that there were vibrant, passionate communities of road racers from coast to coast.

Hat tip to Etceterini for pointing this one our way. Cliff also has the race results.

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