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.
There are few things I love more than an uncovered treasure trove of unseen (preferably amateur) motorsport photography. I wonder about all the thousands of slides and negatives and prints hidden away in attics around the world; worrying if they’ll ever see the light of day; daydreaming about being the one to find them. That this group of photos shot by Watkins Glen resident Jack Holliday over several years of Watkins Glen sportscar races. These amazing shots were discovered when avid photographer John Oliver inherited his grandfather-in-law’s Leica camera that was used to shoot these scenes from the Glen. John has posted about his discovery of his late grandfather-in-law’s hobby on Film Foto Forever.
There are some marvelous images captured here: including Frank Bott’s 1954 Catherine Cup winning OSCA MT4 (#118 above) and several years of preparation in various incarnations of the paddocks. My favorite shot might actually be the rather disinterested-looking ticket and program seller from the 1954 event. It’s scenes like this that are almost never captured. We’re used to seeing images of the cars and the track but ephemeral moments from amongst the fans or support staff are almost never preserved.
John has tantalizingly labeled his post “Part 1”, so I’m hoping that more will be revealed shortly. In the meantime, you can see more of Jack Holliday’s wonderful photos at Film Foto Forever.
Thanks to John Shingleton for bringing this to my attention.
I absolutely adore seeing little Cooper and Effyh 500s mixing it up with big Chrysler-Allards and Jags and Ferrari coupes in this brilliant footage from the 1951 Seneca Cup event at the Watkins Glen road races. Watch how that exhaust smoke just poured out of George Weaver’s Maserati when he got on the gas out of each turn with Fitch’s Ferrari nipping at his heels. Brilliant.
From the old Speedvision’s Victory Circle. Oh Speedvision, how I miss you.
Thanks to Michele Orsi Bandini for pointing me to it.