Available on eBay: Paramount Ranch’s First Race Program

I love the track at Paramount Ranch. That tunnel is so romantic and deadly, and the location in the Santa Monica Mountains ensured that Hollywood stars and starlets made appearances both mixing it up on course and spectating trackside.

A good example of the program for that first race at Paramount in August 1956 has come available on eBay. The price might drive some away, but what a marvelous reminder of the golden era of the California Sports Car Club. Just take a look at the footage of the race from our earlier post on the Ranch. How could you not want a reminder of this kind of immediate, friendly, competitive-as-hell era in motorsport.

Keep your eye on the auction. Thankfully by pointing you to it, I don’t have to be the one to buy it.

Stay strong… stay strong.

Unseen 50s SCCA Footage: Agoura Hill Climb ’55

Here’s a short but important film from the John McClure Archives. This was the 2nd annual Agoura Hill Climb presented by the Singer Owners’ Club on February 6, 1955, and I think it can be safely described as a smashing success. West Coast Sports Car Journal reported in their March ’55 issue that the event drew 160 competitors and over 2,000 spectators. Even if those numbers are an exaggeration, that is still incredibly impressive. Can you imagine 2,000 spectators coming out to the secluded mountains for a hillclimb? Unless it’s the Goodwood Festival of Speed, or maybe Pikes Peak, the public simply doesn’t care about hillclimbing—not in those kinds of numbers anyway.

I also think this film is incredibly important because it captures something we’re unlikely to ever see again; high performance sportscars driving as fast as they can up a dirt road. Have you ever driven behind a sportscar on a dirt road? Chances are they are driving VERY slowly, just crawling in 1st gear, repeating a silent prayer that no stone is kicked up to mar their paintwork. Even Pikes Peak is almost completely tarmac today. Boo!

Not so in ’55. These drivers are putting everything they have into taking their factory fresh XK120s from the bottom of the hill to the top; bodywork be damned. I think this is what I most enjoy about these vintage club racing films, sportscars just weren’t the luxury status symbol that they are today. They weren’t precious jewels to be polished and parked in front of the dance club. They were simply tools—tools that were built for a purpose—and in 1955 that purpose was to get the Hell to the top of Agoura.

Race Results:
1. Frank Livingston in the Eliminator Model-T Hot Rod (anyone know this car?) at 27.83 seconds
2. Ennals Ives Jr. in a Cad-Allard J2X at 27.86 seconds.
3. Paul Parker, also in the Eliminator, at 28.03
4. Paul Poole in a Jaguar XK120M at 28.63

A young Richie Ginther took the Austin-Healey class victory at 29.66 seconds.

Update: Chris sheds some light on the Eliminator Model-T in the comments, which quickly lead to this article from Street Rodder. Another example of the greatness of the era; when a T-Bucket shares the track with Siatas and Ferraris. Thanks, Chris!

Santa Barbara 1962

santabarbara-trackI’m really trying, but I can’t think of a good reason why there aren’t any airstrip races anymore. Think about it. They have fire departments on site, have long and flat paved surfaces designed for high speed, plenty of runoff room, have neighbors that are used to loud noise, and are insured up to their eyeballs. I know, I prefer a track with a bit of elevation changes myself, but beggars can’t be choosers.

The Santa Barbara airport hosted many sportscar races from 1953 to 1967. It’s proximity to Los Angeles meant that all of our favorite actor/racers drove there—many quite successfully. McQueen ran here, James Dean too..

Here’s some wonderful footage of the 1962 race. Check out Don Hulette’s Townsend Special Mk. II bearing race number 404.