Wading Through the 1965 Sebring

Daytona Cobra in the pits at the 1965 Sebring

In the hours leading up to the start of the 1965 running of the Sebring 12 hours race, it seemed like a perfect day for racing. A bit hot maybe at 94° but that wasn’t unusual for a Florida afternoon—even in March. There were rumors of hard weather on the way, but radio jamming between the US and Cuba meant that there was no solid local weather report available trackside.

After 6 hours of racing the sky began to threaten rain. An hour later, at 5:25 pm the sky opened up. By the time the race was over, prototype drivers were saying that their cars were filling up to their elbows with rainwater. It sounds like hyperbole until you see the photos. Rain delay? What’s a rain delay?

Cobra and 904 throwing rooster tails at the 1965 Sebring

There’s endurance racing, and then there’s endurance racing.

MGB throws a bow wake at the 1965 Sebring

More on the race and the spectacular conditions it was run in at Sportscars.tv. Some photos from BARC Boys, Via Retro and The Inside Line.

Reader Photos: Peter’s Mitty Paddock

Peter Hoag took some time out from his duties with Regogo Racing to walk the paddock at the Mitty a few weeks ago and sent in these wonderful images of some of the competitors in various stages of preparation for their run. We tend to focus on the action on the track, but often the most fun at a vintage event can be had just wandering around the paddock spotting the cars, chatting with drivers, or listening in as two competitors hop out of their machines and rush to congratulate one another and recount their on-track battles.

The cars are what lured me in to vintage racing but the community is what keeps me going back every summer. Thanks for sending these in Peter!

ZANTAFIO56’s 1970 LeMans

Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood's Winning Porsche 917

I don’t know that the 1970 running of the LeMans 24 Hours race is particularly pivotal for the public at large, but that particular running is just so cemented in my mind. I’m sure the documentation of it in the form of McQueen’s LeMans is the key reason. Also significant for Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood’s victory that gave Porsche their first outright win at the race: A feat they’d repeat 15 more times and started Porsche down their road to winningest team in the event’s history.

These images from Flickr user ZANTAFIO56 only serve to further add to the importance and beauty of the race in my mind. He seems to have been all over the track, with some marvelous shots from several corners of La Sarthe and the pits as well. More of Zantafio56’s shots at his flickr set. Fantastic!

I just realized that this is my third 917-centric post in a week. I’ll take a break from her now. I promise.

The Solar Productions 908 with Jonathan Williams and Herbert Linge at the wheelsThe winning drivers' celebratory lapTurn 1

Notice the crashed LeMans cars behind the Chevron

2 N.A.R.T. FerrarisWicky Racing Team 911Martini 908

Cleaning Up Around the 917

Porsche 917 by Bob Tilton

It’s always a treat to scroll through Bob Tilton’s posts on Werk Crew. He has a wonderful eye for design and photography and he uses his blog to showcase some of his process both as an artist and as a glimpse behind the scenes of his Porschephile nirvana books and calendars. This post on his photographic retouching process was particularly insightful recently.

Porsche 917 by Bob Tilton (Unretouched)I know that there are some that decry the use of any retouching; that the photograph should only exist as it was when it left the camera. If you’ve ever shot at a race weekend though, you know that the environment doesn’t always play nicely with your composition. This isn’t a magazine shoot we’re preparing for here, it’s messy. There are parts and tools and trash in the way. There are other racefans and onlookers and gawkers cluttering up the background. Bob’s relatively light touch on the post-processing here is a good example of doing retouching in a tasteful way.

On top of that, the craft of his retouching effort is on full display here. He’s pulling people out of the background and filling in the scene behind, including the proper reflections in the paintwork. He’s cleaning up the garage floor without obvious clone stamping from other sections of the concrete. There is absolute artistry in doing this properly. I’ve seen some bad shops in my day but when done properly this is very arduous, meticulous work and this is an excellent example.

Click on through to the Werk Crew post for the details on the retouching work. Keep at it, Bob. Love your stuff.

Factories at Work: Building the Spyders

Spyder prep at the Teloché Garages near LeMans Circuit.

I make no bones about the fact that the Porsche 550 Spyder is my all-time favorite racing car. I’ve been collecting photos and pouring over reproduction shops’ brochures for this sexy little thing since I was 15 years old. With that in mind, it’s hard to believe that I’ve never showcased the Spyder’s build in our “Factories at Work” series. Partly this is due to the complexity of coachbuilt construction. It’s difficult enough to find photos of just one workshop hammering out the bodies for historic sports and racing cars. With the 550, there were 8 prototypes built in various locations. Truthfully, I don’t know which of these images are Zuffenhausen, which are Wiedenhausen Karosserie and which are Wendler. They all had a hand in early 550 builds.

Porsche 550 Spyder assembly

It’s always a bit jarring to see these machines under construction. Particularly seeing the rear half of the Spyder frame. A bit like the Birdcage, it’s striking how delicate and fragile she looks. Imagining the 4-cam type 547 engine revving high, fighting to break free from the motor mounts that buckle her in place. It’s almost difficult to believe that this little box of toothpicks can hold it in there. Racing bicycle frames have thicker tubes than this. Even so, it’s that delicate nature of her that is part of the allure; the danger that it hints at and the grace that it seems to lend to her movements.

Of course it’s also just a treat to see this many of ’em in a room together.

Wendler Workshop assembling the first Porsche 550 Spyder customer carsPorsche 550 Spyder buildsPorsche 550 Spyder builds

Most images via Type550.com, where Andrew has put together an extensive list of the particular Spyder builds, with information for several specific chassis. Fantastic as always.

View From the Porsche Abarth Pits

Available? in Belgium: Porsche 550A with Opel Blitz Transporter

550 and Transporter

This one couldn’t have stayed on the market for long. Even with the skyrocketing prices that 550s are fetching, this one had a small perk thrown into the bargain: a 1957 Opel Blitz Porsche transporter. Belgian dealer Art2Drive had (has?) this duo available. Surprisingly, I’m not finding much specifics on them, but how could I not at least share these images?

Porsche 550 and transporterPorsche 550 and transporterPorsche Transporter

I can’t imagine a single auto event that wouldn’t be silenced by pulling up in this gorgeous truck with the 550A in tow. From Ville d’Este to the Mille to Monterey, It would have to be a very special event indeed for these two to not steal the show.

Porsche transporter Porsche 550Porsche 550 and transporter

The Anamera listing shows it as sold, but Art2Drive’s own site still features them prominently. This is one of those sales that is probably best kept secret. I know that these two must have a few of you considering donning a black balaclava, calling your least wholesome friends, and taking up a life on the lam. No? Just me?

Road America ’59

A half-hour of 1959 Road America footage? Yes, please.

With all the changes that happened to America’s great racing courses over the years, I am reminded what a treasure Road America remains. Riding onboard this Porsche in the opening minutes of this clip, it’s plain to see how much of the course is virtually unchanged. Turn 5 is still harrowing, complete with a little wiggle as we close the gap on another driver. We need some radical correction as we overcook it into the always tricky Turn 6, half-obscured as it is by the crest of the hill up under the Toyota Pepsi bridge.

Be sure to stick with the video until the main event, watching the Alfas of William Wuesthoff and Chuck Stoddard mix it up with the dominating Porsche Carrera GTs of Blanchard, Rickert, Collins, and Jennings might be one of the best things you do today.

We’ll go back onboard late in this video, and start overcooking it again through 5 and 6… well, at least it’s an accurate depiction of my own lines on Road America.

I still don’t know why this staccato rhythm of voiceover hasn’t make a tremendous comeback—even just for the kitsch factor.

Finishing order and more for the June 1959 Class F/G/H/I/J race at Racing Sports Cars.

Custom-Designed and Tuned

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Illustrated Porsche 911

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Late Night Prep at ’65 Sebring

BARCboys‘ photo archives never fail to turn up a unique angle on the races they travelled to. Dave Nicholas’ shots from the 1965 Sebring Endurance Race are no exception. The race was a wet one and the sparse accommodations for spectators at the race makes me wonder if a greater percentage of competitors or spectators made it to the end of the race. Thankfully, Dave stuck it out to document the race.

What interests me just as much, though, are these images that Dave managed to capture of the Mecom team making some final preparations on Friday night—and look like they could well have been included in our factories at work series. I always enjoy seeing the pit facilities from years past and while Sebring may be an extreme example owing to its reputation as a “primitive racetrack”, the team garages at LeMans or Monaco were little better.

Seeing this Hansgen/Donohue Ferrari 250LM and Cannon/Saunders Lola T70 wedged in here between the tractor and the steel tubing, though, really illustrates the shocking range of difference in amenities between contemporary racing facilities and those of 40 or 50 years ago. This is exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about when I talk about the kinship that vintage racing teams had with Hot Rod garages. They were damn near the same thing.

Walt Hansgen and Mark Donohue’s Ferrari 250 LM finished 11th overall (4th in class). John Cannon and Jack Saunders qualified in 6th, and were fast runners in the opening laps of the race, but dropped out with a failed oil cooler after 55 laps.

More of Dave Nicholas’ photos on BARC Boys’ 1965 Sebring Gallery. Sports Car Digest did a lovely profile of the race that’s well worth a read.