From the British Pathé Archives: Racing Drivers School

This racing school at Snetterton charged £1/week in 1959… Sign me up.

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Sir Jack Brabham 1926—2014

Gnoo-Blas Championships Program

Of all the imagery we’ve seen commemorating the passing of Jack Brabham this week, my favorite might this shot of Jack in the Redex Special on the cover of this 1955 Program for the Gnoo-Blas Road Racing Championships. Looking back at his early midget racing days and knowing where he would go from there is a lovely way to appreciate his racing legacy.

Although I frequently glorify the records and accomplishments of racing drivers in the early years of Formula 1, the truth is that most of those records have been beaten and most of those glories have faded (at least in the minds of the general racing fan public). I feel pretty confident though, that one of Jack Brabham’s records will stand for a very long time indeed. I can’t imagine a future where another figure in Formula 1 emerges to design, build, and drive a Formula 1 car to another championship.

Jack Brabham: the ultimate union of engineer and driver.

Race in Peace.

Photo via Stephen on The Nostalgia Forum.

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Jim Clark’s “Swinging Style”

Let that Cortina’s ass slide.

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Jaguar to Build the Six “Missing” E-Type Lightweights

E-Type Lightweight at Silverstone, 1963

Jaguar’s original plan was to build 18 E-Type lightweights, but ultimately only 12 were built. In the years since, 2 were converted to low-drag bodywork and one is (currently) considered too damaged to rebuild. That makes 9. For fifty years, those 9 cars had to be enough and today they are among the most coveted GT racers in the world. A handful of workshops have made a decent business of reproducing lightweight specification parts—and even turnkey replicas. Now Jaguar has decided to finally follow through on the original build order and make the remaining “missing” 6 lightweights.

When I say original build order, I mean it. Jaguar intends for these to be perfect continuations of the build—down to using the 6 reserved chassis numbers from the original run. That means that right now there are craftsmen at Jaguar assembling full aluminum monocoques, dropping an alloy version of the 3.8 liter straight six fitted with a D-Type wide angle cylinder head, and mating it to a 5-speed ZF gearbox. There are Jaguar employees fitting aluminum bonnets and hardtops and vented bootlids.

So now there will be 6 more. Do they have the same provenance? No. Will they be as hotly desired as their older sisters? Nope. But none of that matters. What matters to me is that sometimes the original manufacturers show the same enthusiasm for their motorsport heritage that the rest of us have.

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Stirling Moss and Merging Passions

Tea For Moss

“Stirling, there’s still 12 minutes in the race!”

“Tea time is tea time.”

via Silodrome

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Peter Windsor Shows Us Around Montjuïc Street Circuit

The great thing about street courses is that anyone can just grab a rental car and drive around it. As Peter Windsor gives us a tour of the Montjuïc street circuit in Barcelona, I wonder if the scores of other commuters on these streets know that Jim Clark and Graham Hill and Jochen Rindt knew these streets well… not to mention the tragedies that occurred on Montjuïc mountain during the 1975 race.

If only I could have Peter Windsor and his encyclopedic experience of racing history riding shotgun with me on all of these spins around former street circuits. Thanks for sharing this, Peter.

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The Less Than Palatial LeMans Garages of 1972

1972 Porsche LeMans Garage

Porsche’s 1972 LeMans garages were a buzzing environment with cars being tuned and prepared, and busy 1970s technicians with 1970s hair. Porsche’s star was bright indeed coming off of two straight years of wins and the factory was shining.

Wait a second. This doesn’t look like the workshop of a winning endurance racing team. These are the garages of the rag-tag up-and-comers in over their heads playing on a stage too big for them. These are the facilities of underdogs. I have been in lone racers’ shops that were better equipped than this.

Just look at this. This could be your garage. There’s no precision instruments here; not even a flashy (albeit utilitarian) immense tool chest larger than a kitchen counter. Just shove that table out of the way, maybe stack the chairs on it to clear up some floor room. Pull that 55 gallon drum over here so I can pop the engine up on it. Let’s start turning some wrenches.

This. This right here is why I love vintage racing. Looking at these guys, you almost get the sense that anyone could do this. That you could hatch a scheme to race in next year’s LeMans and June would roll around and you’d be there. And this is Porsche we’re talking about. Repeat this for Cooper Garages (or Lotus.. or BRM…) heading into Formula 1 and you see that the pinnacle of the sport in every corner was more likely to be filled with dedicated hot-rodders than aerospace engineers.

via Le Container

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From the British Pathé Archives: Car Racing Comes Back at Cambridge

Here it is, the first post-war road race in the UK: the 1947 race at Gransden Lodge Aerodrome, Cambridgeshire.

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A Certain Inertia: Justin Lapriore’s Amelia Island

Justin Lapriore has returned to Amelia Island for their 2014 concours and, just as in previous years, has created an absolutely stunning document of the event.

I can think of worse ways to start the day than rising before dawn with a Ferrari 330 P4. I love that the owner has that license plate. Hell, I love that he even has it plated.

You can really see that Justin’s reputation within the Amelia participants has grown alongside his growing video artistry. What used to be beautifully shot scenes of the cars simply passing by has expanded to give him a greater level of access: clipping a camera on the wing of Jochen Mass’ McLaren or going handheld inches off the bumper of Can-Am cars as they roll out of garages and along fairways. Wonderful, close detail shots with equally enthralling exhaust notes. Riding shotgun with Hurley Haywood ain’t bad either.

An aspect of the film that I enjoy is that the pure glory of these machines shares the stage with shots of the people that make these events happen. You start to get an idea of how much work a concours d’elegance truly is.

It’s one thing to gain this level of access, it’s another thing to do something with the opportunity. Justin Lapriore has delivered again on that front and many others. Great stuff, Justin.

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The Joy of Carelessness

Low Tech Elf

The problem with digital photo archive tools is that there’s often little context, little attribution, and even less backstory. As a result, I don’t know anything about this image that I stumbled upon on Pinterest (or maybe it was Tumblr) and all image searches just lead me back to other pins or tumbles.

What I do know is this: Red Bull isn’t going to just tip over their Formula car and see what’s going on under there. This glimpse of race (low) tech of the past was a common thread that united hot rodders and shadetree mechanics with the pinnacle of motorsport. Now you’ll see greater kinship between Formula 1 technicians and aerospace engineers.

The same was true then, of course; but aerospace engineers and shadetree mechanics shared that kinship as well!

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