Spyder Garage

Even in an era before ubiquitous photography where everyone has a camera in their pocket (and no film processing!) there are thousands and thousands of moments captured on track. Perhaps that’s why I’m always so drawn in by these quieter, more banal moments.

This bustling workshop preparing for a race conjures so many stories in my mind: mechanics furiously scrambling to get the machines ready; visiting besuited executives quietly observing or barking encouragement; the professional-looking woman making a—for the time—rare entry to a male-dominated environ. I don’t even know what workshop this is (though it looks like some I’ve seen at LeMans) and as much as I want to know who these people are and what they were actually doing, I might prefer the imagined stories I’ve created for them in my head.

I am curious about the woman in the Dior-esque “new look” style skirt suit though—anyone recognize her?

Gary Mason’s 1960 SCCA Nationals at Marlboro Raceway

Gary Mason sent us a whole pile of his photographs shot as a teenager during his travels through Europe hitting every motor race he could. His passion for racing, however, did not wane once he was back stateside. Here is a collection of his photos from the 1960 SCCA Nationals at Marlboro Motor Raceway in Maryland. Some great images here from the President’s Cup race which featured a wide variety of machines ranging from the heavy iron of Corvettes and big Ferraris down to Porsches and Lotus Elevens.

I love these mixed grids, especially when the finish order isn’t just a descending list of horsepower. Roger Penske took the day in his Porsche 718 after taking over the lead from fellow 718 driver Bob Holbert on the 3rd lap. If we were giving out trophies for aesthetics I’d be tempted to give a special prize to Bill Mitchell’s Corvette. That Stingray still looks exotic.

Gary Mason's 1960 SCCA Nationals - Bill Mitchell Stingray

There are some photos from additional races that weekend, but I’m not immediately finding documentation about this MGA heavy grid or the little blue Devin.

More of Gary Mason’s photos in the archives. Thanks Gary!

Ride Along for the Targa Florio’s Last Hurrah

These onboards from the Targa Florio during the practice period are always harrowing. When you see the occasional shepherd and daily Sicilian traffic it’s not hard to see why this footage from 1973 was the last year of the event. Let’s ride shotgun with the Claude Haldi/Bernard Chenevière Porsche 908. Almost a shame we can’t see the lovely Toblerone livery of this unusually red P-car. The car didn’t make the main event due to blowing an engine in practice. Easy to believe from where I’m sitting.

Porsche908-3 of Bernard Chenevière and Claude Haldi - 1973 Targa Florio

This Tactic (Still) Doesn’t Work

718 Boxter and 718

The new Boxster is lovely. But sit one next to the old Porsche 718 and it looks like garbage. We’ve talked before about marketers doing this “let’s photograph the new one next to the old one and show our lineage and the power of our history” tactic before. It. Does. Not. Work.

Porsche SA buys Kyalami

Malte Dorowski’s Lego Martini Racing Porsches

Malte Dorowski's Lego Martini Porsche 911 Carrera RSR

I’m consistently amazed at what Lego builders can do with nothing more than their ingenuity and a handful of Lego bricks. Somehow those little blocky chunks of plastic can be massaged into the most beautiful contours. Malte Dorowski has put together a fairly complete Lego garage of Martini Racing Porsches (and transporter… and support vehicle), but it is probably no surprise that his take on the Carrera RSR is my favorite.

Malte Dorowski's Lego Martini Porsche 911 Carrera RSR EngineLook at those iconic bulbous arches around this thing. Coming up with this collection of bricks and assorted bits and bobs and deciding that they can come together to create that arch is mind boggling. Malte didn’t just get the general shape nailed down and call it a day though—the details are where this model really sings. The peek through the door at the gauge cluster; the way the windscreen wiper is perched; the steering wheel’s center button: They all come together and get that RSR just right. Absolutely beautiful work.

Malte Dorowski's Lego Martini Porsche team

More at Malte Dorowski’s Flickr gallery. Thanks for the heads up on this one, Ryan!

How Does This Happen?

Rusted Jaguar and Porsche racers

I’m just going assume that this is fake and that photoshop, not neglect, is to blame for this Jaguar XK and Porsche 356 racer rusting away amongst the trees.

Update: Ugh. A few emails from readers and Frederik’s comment on Facebook have confirmed that these are indeed authentic. One of whom pointed me to this article about a German who purchases vintage cars and allows them to rust in his “garden” as a sort of art project. What an asshole.

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

A Porsche Log Ride

Reviewed: SportErfolge

Tony Adriaensens' SportErfolgeThere aren’t a lot of people that own just one Porsche book. Just like there aren’t a lot of people that own only one Ferrari book.

That’s the thing about automotive books in general. People who buy them tend to buy a lot of them. And don’t think for a minute that publishers don’t capitalize on our habit every chance they get. The problem with a lot of books, particularly books that focus on a single make, is that they start to get repetitive in a hurry. Nowhere is this more evident than at the photo editor’s desk. We tend to start seeing the same iconic images again and again.

You are not going to have that problem with SportErfolge.

Tony Adriaensens’ work with his Corsa Research imprint has, in my opinion, brought a sense of discovery back to the world of sports and racing book publishing. His commitment to sourcing amateur and largely previously unpublished photography is remarkable. It gives a fresh new perspective on not just eras of motorsport, but individual races that we’ve read about for years and thought we knew.

This moment from early in the book captures that sentiment well and also gives some insight into both the process of producing SportErfolge and the philosophical approach of the author:

Carrera Panamericana in Tony Adriaensens' SportErfolge“My decision to make this book came about when I found the Kodachrome slide opposite, out of the late Bob Lytle’s collection from Phoenix, AZ. Bob drove his Jaguar XK120 from California all the way up to the Tuxtla Gutierrez on the Mexican border with Guatemala to see the start of the Carrera in 1953 and 1954. In ’53 however, when returning to his hotel room after dinner, he found all his equipment stolen; cameras, films .. all gone. He only had one single roll of exposed Kodachrome film left in his pocket. This was the last film he had shot and he had captured José Herrarte’s class winning Porsche after the finish of the Carrera.”

That quote does a few things that I think are central to why SportErfolge is so successful as a work of early Porsche racing storytelling. It gives us some perspective on why this topic begged to be covered—after all, let’s be honest; there’s no shortage of Porsche books out there. More importantly though, it highlights in a very real way how precious these photographs and the stories that they tell truly are. In this case, Bob’s photograph is a rare survivor when he lost the bulk of his captures of the event. How many other photos from this era are metaphorically stolen as they languish away forgotten in closets or attics—slowly deteriorating in their albums? Are they not just as lost? This is why I so admire Tony’s efforts to source amateur photography for his work. It is the same motivation that has prompted me to find these kinds of forgotten amateur archives for this site. It is so much more arduous a task than phoning up the major photo houses and having them send over the usuals. It’s a task that pays off again and again in SportErfolge.

Liege-Rome-Liege in Tony Adriaensens' SportErfolgeCorsa Research calls SportErfolge a “photo essay” and I think the description is apt. The captions that accompany each photograph (the vast bulk of which are presented in full-page glory) are as vital as the book’s main narrative in telling the story of Porsche’s racing efforts starting with the 1951 Coupe du Salon at Montlhéry through the effort at the 1963 Le Mans 24 Hours Race.

SportErfolge also excells at highlighting some of the races you haven’t read much about. It would be easy to just rely on major international events and championships to tell the story of Porsche’s racing heritage. It’s the lesser known events like Switzerland’s National Slalom of May, 1956 or the Flying Kilometer of Antwerp in July, 1959 that are just as pivotal to Porsche’s early racing heritage as the Mille Miglia. These amateur events, presented alongside the biggies in chronological order, do a great deal to show how Porsche entered, astonished onlookers, and established itself as central to global sports car racing. I also appreciate that this puts the privateer and gentleman entries right up there with the factory efforts in the story of Porsche’s rise to the international stage. That’s not to say that iconic Porsche-centric events like the Carrera Panamerica and Targa Florio are neglected—they are decidedly not. It is refreshing, though, to see these much-storied and gloried races (and drivers) have to give up a little spotlight to regional events like the Santa Barbara Road Races and Grand Prix of Léopoldville, Congo.

Graphic details in Tony Adriaensens' SportErfolgeIn addition to the photography, the inclusion of small graphic details like the specific race logos that adorn the slipcover or the inset Liège-Rome-Liège rally stamps are a welcome glimpse into the visual ephemera of the era. This does not give the book a scrapbook aesthetic, but are presented as a tasteful graphic that enhances the typography and overall design. That level of detail makes me believe that Tony’s choice of photos to bookend the piece is deliberate. Within the foreward for the book and among the first photos in the volume is a 3/4 rear shot of Carrera Abarth #1010 in the pits at LeMans in 1962. The very last photo of the book is a shot of Carrera Abarth #1009 at the 1000 km of Paris. Taken under different circumstances at virtually the same angle. Whether the author intended to let this juxtaposition reflect Porsche’s stability and permanence in sports car racing, or whether he just likes the Abarth’s rear (who doesn’t?); I don’t know. But it’s little touches like this that make SportErfolge such a joy to repeatedly dig into and find new details to absorb.

A lineup of Spyders in Tony Adriaensens' SportErfolge

Tony’s books ain’t cheap, but I think they’re worth much more than their cover price. More information at Corsa Research. SportErfolge is an absolutely beautiful, well researched, masterfully photo-edited book.