This film would surely have disintegrated in its can if Fred Weinberg had not picked up at a yard sale. I like to imagine the thrill of discovery as Fred held that film reel up to the light and unspooled a few feet of film. That slow realization that those tiny shapes are racing cars; then taking it home and loading it into the old projector and beginning to recognize the streets of Watkins Glen. Then there’s trying to catch glimpses of racing numbers as he poured over archives of race results trying to figure out which running of a race this was. The ultimate realization that there’s footage here from the Queen Catherine Cup, the Seneca Sup, and the main event. Magnificent. Despite all of this archeology the original photographer is still unknown, but at least we can all appreciate his or her contribution to our precious little media of early American road racing.
What a sight it must have been, particularly for Stateside attendees of the 1939 World’s Fair in New York. Grand Prix cars were never a common site on American shores and the images of these racers bounding through the grounds must have been thrilling to see. Imagine the sounds that would have been echoing off of those arches as they blast through them, inches from the support columns. Makes my annual trip to the Minnesota State Fair seem positively sedate.