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.

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.

The Same Kind You Can Install

Dana Piston Rings ad16 straight wins for Perfect Circle piston rings at the Indianapolis “500”

No other piston rings made match the win record of Perfect Circle at Indianapolis. In 31 of the last 37 years, Perfect Circle helped give “500” winners the extra margin of full power performance it takes to enter victory lane. And the the PC piston rings used by these champions were not specially made for racing. They were standard sets—the same kind you can install! What’s more, every qualifier in last year’s “500” also used Perfect Circle Valve Seals. So take a tip from the experts. When you re-ring, insist on Perfect Circle.

Perfect Circle
Dana Parts Company • Dana Corporation

1957 Race of Two Worlds on Film

Reader Photos: Gary Mason’s 1957 Race of Two Worlds

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Thankfully, yesterday’s Monzanapolis track map forced my hand in sharing some of these amazing images from Gary Mason. In the mid-1950s, Gary was a teenager traveling through Italy with a pair of cameras on his hip—hitting every race he could (and rooting for Maserati whenever possible). What a tremendous opportunity to take in one of the great spectacles of mid-50s racing in Europe—the Race of Two Worlds.

Can you believe how empty these stands are? What a tragedy.

Can you believe how empty these stands are? What a tragedy.

What a rare chance to see Offenhauser-powered Kurtis and Kuzma sprint cars square off against Jags and Ferraris. Can you imagine seeing Indy cars and ALMS prototypes going head to head on a modern speedway? It’s almost comedic. But incredible. And beautiful.

Race of Two Worlds. Monza. 1957.

More of Gary Mason’s photos in the archives. Thanks again, Gary! There’s more to come.

Track Maps of the Past: Monzanapolis

Monzanapolis Track Map 1958

There’s some fascinating things happening in this track map created for the 1958 “Race of Two Worlds” event at Monza. Unofficially dubbed “Monzanapolis” for the event, the race was a battle between American USAC speedway machines typically seen at Indianapolis versus European road racing machines. Because the race used only the banked oval portion of Monza’s fabulous double loop “combined” configuration (and it ran in the opposite direction), the event required it’s own map. They really outdid themselves with this one.

Not only does it show the track from above, there is also fantastic details like the cross sections of the banking, (this was where I learned that the North and South banking were so different) and an attempt to demonstrate the elevation change in the track (highly unconventional on a speedway).

I usually lean towards the freehand illustrated maps so commonly seen in CalClub and SCCA event programs, but this professionally drafted map is so rich in detail that I absolutely adore it.

45 Years Ago Today

Life Archives: GP Drivers at the Indy 500

Invasion at Full Throttle!Google Books’ archive of Life Magazine has turned up another wonderful bit of racing history in this ominously titled article about the arrival of Grand Prix cars and drivers at the Brickyard.

Invasion at Full Throttle” may have been a year or two early, but the prediction about the impending dominance of the rear-engined menace from across the pond was fairly accurate. It wouldn’t be long before Jim Clark would indeed be enjoying a bottle of milk at the end of the Indianapolis 500. Of course the author of this particular article would have been in a good position to know a thing or two about the funny little cars heading to the 500; Stirling Moss penned this piece. I’m sure Mr. Moss wasn’t to worried about ruffling a feather or two when he wrote, “I have a hunch that the U.S. will be shocked by what happens. In effect, the race will be an international showdown between our all-purpose, all-weather cars and drivers and your closed-circuit specialists who steer only to the left in beautifully built, overdeveloped, unsophisticated cars that belong to the past.” Overdeveloped AND unsophisticated? Ok, Stirling.

I can just imagine a midwestern race fan not finishing the article once he reached that passage and throwing the crumpled magazine across the living room. But Moss does backtrack a bit, describing his own experience behind an Indy Roadster at the Monza-napolis 500 several years earlier. It’s a wonderful read, especially with the knowledge of hindsight of the Indy at the front/rear engine transition and the impact of the European GP drivers on this most American of races.