This video could have stopped at the handheld footage of the corners from an airplane passing slowly overhead and it still would have been worth sharing. But then the tours of the pits with some of the most beautiful cars ever made, including a whole suite of various Ferrari 250s and their shirtless pilots. Then they prepared for the LeMans start… and I’m hooked—all before the action even starts. Somehow even though I have such a deep love for vintage racing, the atmosphere of the pits and spectators in these old films draws me in just as much.
I should have known that yesterday’s peek into the racing history of Angola was only the tip of the iceberg. Here are a couple of short films from various runnings of the 6 Hours of Nova Lisboa endurance race. An amazing field in this footage, everything from an Alfa Tipo 33 to a GT40, to Minis and BMW 2002s and Lancia Fulvias. All careening through the city streets of Nova Lisboa (now known as Huambo following Angola’s independence in 1975).
This first one looks like the field from the 1970 6 hours.
I only wish there were more shots of the crowd and pits to get a more complete picture of the event. These videos were found on what has to be the definitive source for Angolan racing history – Motorsport in Angola. What an absolutely priceless resource, full of amazing photos and video from the era. My Portuguese is very lacking, but I can read enough Spanish to get the general idea, and the general idea is that it’s fantastic.
More footage from the John McClure archives, this time from the August 56 running of the Paramount Ranch road races. The footage here is nice and close, it seems John staked out the perfect spot for the featured Sunday races.
The under-1500cc consolation and feature races in the first half of the video has some great shots of Richie Ginther absolutely walking away with the feature race in his #211 Porsche 550 Spyder; the aftermath of Rex Huddleston’s crash in his #75 Maserati-powered Lotus; William Binney’s beautiful #359 Doretti; an interesting shot in the pits of someone’s front-engined(!) Porsche 4-cam powered racer (is it a Lotus 11?). Nice to see some Cooper Formula IIIs mixing it up with the road cars and specials in the low displacement race.
In the larger displacement race, there’s some nice shots of the lovely little battle between Eric Hauser, Bill Krause, and Harrison Evans. Each of them took 1st in their classes piloting their #70 Morgensen Special, #27 Jaguar D-Type, and #130 Ferrari Monza 750.
I know I’ve said it before, but the recent increase of people digitizing their old 8mm home-movies and uploading them to YouTube continues to be a major source of delight. This time, it’s footage from the 1967 12 Hours race at Sebring. It looks like our cameraman picked a good corner to stakeout, lots of overtaking and a few harrowing spins here.
Mario Andretti and Bruce McLaren brought home the checkers from pole in their Mk IV Ford GT40 by a whopping 12 laps. Their Ford teammates A.J. Foyt and Lloyd Ruby were second; with the Mitter/Patrick Porsche 910 in third.
The program cover artist was pretty insightful when he crafted this cover, it shows 2 GT40s and a 910. Nice call on the podium finish!
Racing Sports Cars has photos and race details.
I’m really trying, but I can’t think of a good reason why there aren’t any airstrip races anymore. Think about it. They have fire departments on site, have long and flat paved surfaces designed for high speed, plenty of runoff room, have neighbors that are used to loud noise, and are insured up to their eyeballs. I know, I prefer a track with a bit of elevation changes myself, but beggars can’t be choosers.
The Santa Barbara airport hosted many sportscar races from 1953 to 1967. It’s proximity to Los Angeles meant that all of our favorite actor/racers drove there—many quite successfully. McQueen ran here, James Dean too..
Here’s some wonderful footage of the 1962 race. Check out Don Hulette’s Townsend Special Mk. II bearing race number 404.
Here’s Lorenzo Bandini looking regal, poised over the #23 Ferrari 330 P3/4 that he and Chris Amon piloted to victory that year. Looks like Ferrari had the magic for Daytona in 1967. They brought home 1st, 2nd, and 3rd with the Porsche 910s & 906s, and Ford GT40s rounding out the rest of the top ten. Bandini and Amon repeated the feat at the following stop in the World Sportscar Championship, Monza. Despite the strong start, the rest of the season belonged to Ford and Porsche with the GT40 and 910 splitting victories for most of the rest of the season.
Take a look at the rest of the set, The shots of Piper & Attwood’s dull green Ferrari P2/3 alone is worth clicking over for. Maybe it’s the color shift of the film, but the years before TV-happy color shades make this era of motorsport color palettes my favorite. You would never see a car with a dull dark green, Semi-gloss navy blue, or less-than-TV-ready shines today. It makes the era feel all the more familial somehow.
It’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.
The 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.
More Lost Tracks here.
F Scheff has collected some great memories and photos of Torrey Pines on his site.
Sadly, I won’t be attending this year’s Goodwood Revival this weekend. But I’m resolved that I absolutely must drag myself across the pond eventually. Part of me is trepidatious about actually going to the event, because I’ve built it up in my head so much. On paper, I love everything about this event; every bit of footage I’ve seen of it shows spectators getting very close to the action, at an intimate venue, in period attire, amidst an almost Disney-esque recreation of postwar buildings. Could anything be more marvelous?
See how much fun these things can be when we all decide to put some effort into it. Not just the cars—which are immaculately prepared. Not just the drivers—which are often pulled from the rosters of the greatest drivers in history. Not just the venue—Lord March is a consummate host. Not even just the spectators—who take cosplay to the best possible conclusion. But the entire package seems absolutely magical. I hope this attention to detail spreads to the States.
To whet your appetite, here’s a lovely video from last year’s event.
Speaking of video, there’s a lovely introduction video on the official Goodwood site. If you make it out to the event, drop firstname.lastname@example.org a line with any photos or links to video you might shoot.