Marvelous Film of the 1953 Targa Florio

A C-Type in Sicily

1953 Jaguar C-Type at the Targa

When I conjure a Jaguar C-Type in my mind it’s always surrounded by verdant rolling hills of Spa or the green pastures of Goodwood. For some reason it never even occurred to me to imagine her in the brown and dusty roads of the Piccolo Circuito delle Madonie.

The Sicilian mountains seem to suit her though, don’t you think? Tommy Wisdom sure thought so when he took a C-Type to finish 17th at the 1953 running of the Targa Florio. You might think that 17th is nothing to brag about, but even finishing the Targa is a proud accomplishment.

1953 Jaguar C-Type at the Targa1953 Jaguar C-Type at the Targa1953 Jaguar C-Type at the Targa

The Automotive Photography of Mathieu Bonnevie

"CHARVET" - Jaguar Type C, rue de la Paix, Paris.

It’s always inspiring to see such amazing work from a young photographer. Mathieu is only in his early 20s but possesses the sophisticated eye of a much more seasoned photographer. His Flickr stream has a wonderful assortment of shots in both professional studio setups and casual caught-on-the-street snaps. As you can see, I love those that are (or look like they are) chance meetings between the photographer and these amazing machines on Parisian boulevards. Sensational stuff.

"For the win" - BMW 30 CSL."911, E" - Porsche 911 E 2.4L."From another world" - Jaguar Type C, rue de la Paix, Paris.

More on Mathieu Bonnevie’s Flickr.

More Unseen Racing Film: Torrey Pines 1954

Here’s another Chicane-exclusive film from sportscar fan, San Diego Jr. Chamber of Commerce member (who helped create the Torrey Pines track), and a pretty darn good shot with a film camera, John McClure. This time it’s the track he was most intimately involved in for the November 1954 race. It was our Torrey Pines post in the Lost Tracks series that prompted Mr. McClure to contact me and offer up this brilliant footage.

The film starts with the LeMans syle running start of the 6 Hours endurance race. The race was ultimately won by Lou Brero in a C-Type, with the von Neumann Ferrari 500 Mondial finishing 2nd. The Ferrari is the #39 car that we see quite a lot of in this footage that looks pink in this film – I’m assuming due to the film processing and not the color sensibilities of the car owner.

Jags, MGs, Gullwing Mercedes, and OSCAs feature prominently in the film, along with Porsche 356s, and a few Ferraris. I don’t know what the story was with this tree, but it seems to be magnetic — lots of narrow misses overrunning the turn at what I’m assuming was a high-speed straight. I also like some of the footage of the spectators here. It wasn’t just the drivers that could get away with more than you can today—let’s see what happens when you try and start a small bonfire to keep warm at the corner of any track these days.

Art Appreciation: Jim Clark’s D-Type

Factories at Work: Jaguar D-Type

Jaguar D-Types assembly
I always assumed that the D-Type was never a full production model. I know they made a few dozen of them, but assumed they were fairly coachbuilt one-offs. This picture sure seems to indicate otherwise.

Almost ready D-TypeThe panels were supplied by Abbey Panels of Coventry and shipped over to the factory itself to be assembled in the factory alongside XK140s and MK VIII sedans. These shots are from late ’55/early ’56 shortly before the factory was nearly flattened by fire in 1957, so this is indeed a rare view of the Coventry facility.

Just look at them all. This could easily be described as a D-Type assembly line; albeit a non-mechanized one. Fantastic.

Cars and Boats and Planes, Oh My!

Photo from The Orlando Sentinel, who puts Roar 'n Soar in their list of 10 best festivals in Florida.

Photo from The Orlando Sentinel, who puts Roar 'n Soar in their list of 10 best festivals in Florida.

As the vintage racing season starts to wind down in the North half of the US, it’s easy for us to forget that those of you in warmer climates can just keep on going. Scheduling of this interesting event that combines vintage aircraft and boating displays with a historic autocross in November sounds like pure folly to this Mid-Westerner. Which is, of course, the benefit of hosting the 2009 Roar ‘n’ Soar in Polk City Florida.

The Roar ‘n’ Soar weekend looks like a great day out for every variety of gearhead and vintage enthusiast. Vintage aircraft from the Fantasy of Flight Collection will be on display, with aerial demonstrations on their little brothers: hang gliders, paragliders, and RC planes. A display of vintage racing boats will pepper Lake Agnes in conjunction with the Classic Race Boat Association. Photos of a previous year’s event show show a large contingent of hot air balloons as well, but I don’t know if that’s continuing this year.

Of particular interest to Chicane readers though, is the adjoining autocross sponsored by the Jaguar Club of Florida. I’ve been to my share of autocrosses, and I’ve never before considered them particularly good spectator events. A great deal of fun to participate in, to be sure. But with no overtaking, it simply pales in comparison to wheel-to-wheel action. I think the team behind the Roar ‘n’ Soar has found a way to change all that. The simple overload of vintage machines at every angle make the autocross part competition, part high-speed car show. This is one autocross I would definitely attend as a spectator. Better yet, bring your vintage machine.

Any vintage machine, apparently.

Lost Track: Torrey Pines

torrey-mapIt’s been some time since we’ve peered into America’s forgotten palaces of sportscar racing. This time, let’s head to the West Coast and it’s thriving sportscar scene of the 1950’s—arguably the epicenter of American sportscar racing at the time.

Southern California certainly has it’s advantages for the racing driver: the warm weather allows for year-round racing, the sportscar manufacturers adore the SoCal market. I remember years ago reading that 50% of all Porsches are sold in Southern California. Of course, it also helped that the area was famous for it’s young and wealthy film stars that were naturally drawn to racing as a thrilling way to spend time between gigs.

We’re going to head a bit south of Hollywood though to the San Diego shoreline. Torrey Pines is, of course, now famous to golfers for their two PGA courses. But lets look to the past, before the sorry chapter of golf’s destructive influence, back to the 1950s. Back to the frequent haunt of Phil Hill, Carol Shelby, Dan Gurney, and Masten Gregory. Back to the Torrey Pines Road Races.

The track was formed almost by accident. A 1951 race was scheduled to be held at Del Mar, but a last minute disagreement among organizers left racers without a venue. The suggestion was made to run on the blacktop service roads of the disused Army base Torrey Pines. The 2.7 mile track proved to be a huge success, drawing 35,000 spectators to some races, and hosting several California Sports Car Club races as well as three West Coast 6-Hour Endurance Races.

torrey-pines-imagesThe 6-Hour races proved very popular, and the story of the last 6-hour race held at the track in 1956 is worth a share. In the opening laps, and in front of 10,000 spectators, it was a Jaguar D-Type 1,2,3 leading the field with Phil Hill in a 2-liter Ferrari Mondial in 4th. The field was moving fast, racing straight out of the gate and pushing the big-bore cars—with Pete Woods’ D-Type opening up several laps on his next closest competitor. Pushing hard in the early stages of an endurance race, though, is not without it’s price and by the second hour of the race most of the big boys were in the pits and out of the race. They were by no means alone; only 15 of the 59 entrants in the race finished the complete 6 hours. Naturally, the Porsche 550s were there to take up the places of the fallen monsters. By the end of the six hours, Jerry Austin was able to maintain a 3-lap lead in his D-Type to hang onto victory—holding off the Jack McAfee and Jean Pierre Kunstle Spyders that ended up 2nd and 3rd.

Unlike some of the other tracks featured on our Lost Tracks series, it wasn’t dwindling fan enthusiasm or a horrific crash that brought Torrey Pines to and end. The city of San Diego simply thought that a pair of golf courses would be a greater attractor of tourism dollars to the area. This is why more racers need to find themselves seats on city boards.

Read more about the 1956 race in the Official Program and see the complete results at Racing Sports Cars.

More Lost Tracks here.


F Scheff has collected some great memories and photos of Torrey Pines on his site.

Now Where Did I Leave that D-Type?

This is a project I can really get behind. The Coventry Racers project hopes to locate and catalog every Jaguar C-Type, D-Type, E-Type Lightweight and XKSS; both those that are still gathering concours and racing trophies, and those that haven’t survived. The open nature of the Coventry Racers project is its real appeal.

Unlike secret catalogs of cars that dealers and collectors use to track down potential purchases, the Coventry Racers project is managed, Wiki-style, by the public at large. These contributors offer their own photographs, accounts of car locations, and articles about particular examples. All of these are sorted by serial number, and help to build a complete repository of information on each and every example of these cars. What a wonderful resource for sportscar nerds (like myself) who just want to read about these tremendous cars, and for collectors who want any bit of information on their example to increase the provenance of their vehicles—before or after purchase.

I’ve included a photo here that I shot at the July 2008 VSCDA Continental Grand Prix at Autobahn Country Club this past July. This was one of two D-Types at the event. While neither raced, it was fantastic to see these remarkable cars out at the track. One of these cars actually sees a bit of road time, the owner drove the Jag to the track, and shared a story of driving it up to Elkhart Lake as well—perhaps a 2-hour highway drive in a car that I’m sure drew quite a bit of attention on the freeway.