Reader Photos: Back to Havana

A few weeks ago we were fortunate to receive a handful of photos from racing driver Mandy Alvarez of the Cuban road racing scene experienced as a child in Cuba. Our luck has grown, because Mandy has dug back into the archives for another round of marvelous shots of racing on the island.


With Fangio kidnapped by the revolutionaries, it fell to Maurice Trintignant to take the driver’s seat in Juan Manuel’s Maserati. He finished 11th. It’s hard to imagine climbing into the racing seat, now knowing the fate of your teammate, but the show must go on.


At the ’57 Grand Prix Alfonso de Portago (#12) passes Juan Manuel Fangio (#2). Fangio later took the lead—and the race—when de Portago pitted and was unable to continue. Man, do those street lamps look awfully close. It’s photos like this that remind us that drivers were a whole magnitude of bravery higher than we see today. Even Monaco is surrounded by walls for the weekend.

Fangio and Bertochi on the Saturday of the 1958 GP (prior to the kidnapping)

Left to right: Guarino Bertochi, Fangio's mechanic. Juan Manuel Fangio. Porfirio Rubirosa. Wolfgang Von Tripps. Unknown gentleman with mustache. Unknown young man,possibly one of Batista's sons. Presidente Fulgencio Batista.

Testa Rossas lined up and ready

Eugenio Castelotti pushed to the grid

Thanks again, Mandy!

We’d always excited to share more reader photos with Chicane readers. Drop us a line at tips@thechicaneblog.com.

Golden Gate ’53 Photos


After seeing our earlier post on the Golden Gate Road Races, a reader was kind enough to send in these photos that were part of a collection of recently purchased negatives. A marvelous shot of Masten Gregory crossing the finish line in his Jaguar C-Type and another celebrating in the pits with his wife.

Just look at how closely he seems to pass the flag waver. What a thrill it must have been to have a speeding racing car pass within a couple of feet! The flag is being waved enthusistically, but I bet the air being pushed around the Jag would have been enough at that distance to give the checkers a proper dance.

Thanks for sending these in, Skullyspice! If you have a box of old photos in the attic (or on your hard drive), we’d love to share them with our readers. Drop a line to tips@thechicaneblog.com

Racing in Angola Video: 6 Hours of Nova Lisboa

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.

Track Maps of the Past: The Vanderbilt Cup

The States has less of a tradition of the town-to-town races that were a major part of the early European races and gave us such glorious examples as the Mille Miglia, Targa Florio, and the countless other events that laid the foundations for the Grand Prix events to follow. One shining example of this breed of motorsport, however, did stake it’s claim to the format statesite: The Vanderbilt Cup.

The race was run in its original form between 1904 and 1911 through a series of towns in Nassau County, Long Island; largely on roads that still exist today—although I think that the Massapequa Road leg has since been removed (can any Long Island locals confirm that?). Thankfully, this map will make recreating the paths of a hundred years ago quite easy. What I love about the public road courses is that each morning, hundreds of commuters toil along not knowing the magnificent men and machines that blazed the same trail in very different circumstances. This map may look very workmanlike and unembellished compared to others we’ve looked at in the Track Maps of the Past series, but I adore it just the same.

Ex-Denny Hulme McLaren Formula 1 Car at Auction

RM Auctions will be hosting their first ever event in Monaco in a few weeks, “Sporting Classics of Monaco“, and they’ve certainly pulled out all the stops. The catalog is absolutely mesmerizing, with offerings including the 1937 BMW 328 Mille Miglia “Bügelfalte”, The stunning Birdcage Maserati we looked at a few weeks ago, and some high-demand Ferraris (275 GTB, Tour de France, Daytona Spider).

This car though, hasn’t been featured much in the sportscar press and I didn’t know it was included in the sale until I happened upon the full catalog today. You are looking at one of the three M14A Formula 1 cars that McLaren built to compete in the World Championship for 1970. The McLaren team entered the new decade in absolute dominance of the motoring world. Their Can-Am effort the previous year was in complete control of the series, with Bruce McLaren or Denny Hulme standing atop the podium at all 11 races of the season. They’d also claimed a handful of wins in ’69 in Formula 1 as well. It was time now to continue that amazing success into the 1970s. This car looked well poised to do it too, with a 2nd place finish in her debut race at Kyalami for Hulme—in this very car. The team was on the podium twice more in the next three races. Not a bad start.

That’s when everything went South. Denny suffered a bad methanol burn following practice at Indianapolis. Bruce of course died in a crash at Goodwood testing the new Can-Am car. Amazingly, Denny missed only two races and returned to the car for the French GP. In the next 8 races, Hulme would finish on the podium 3 times more and finished the season in 4th. Incredibly, he won that year’s Can-Am drivers’ championship—oh for the era of driver versatility.

The car itself, chassis M14A2, looks absolutely perfect. Although it had a short stint in her post-F1 years as a Formula 5000 car, the car was fairly quickly returned to the original specification (is this the original engine?) Ford-Cosworth DFV and Hewland gearbox. The car is presented in the livery she wore during the 1970 season and that orange shade is just so brilliant. The photography for the catalog is absolutely stunning and looks like you could just reach into the photo and take her for a spin. I’m surprised that RM’s estimate is as low as it is at $340,000 – $400,000. I can’t believe I just referred to $400K as a low price on something. But really, who needs a house (or two), when you could take a few laps in this.

More information in the auction catalog – I hope more auction houses follow this practice of releasing their full catalog online.

More Unseen Racing Footage: March AFB 1954

In this installment of the John McClure archives, the November 7, 1954 running of the Orange Empire National Sportscar Races at March Air Force Base. It is a real treat seeing the racing action ahead of scores of aluminum planes in the background.

Unfortunately, the Briggs Cunningham team that swept the previous year’s race was a no-show. This race, however, was significant for Porschefiles as the first US race run by a 550 Spyder. Sadly, the car crashed and burned in practice with the driver escaping reasonably unscathed. Instead, Ferraris ruled the day, with 7 of the top 10 spots in the featured over-1500cc race. Also in the film is a parade lap of Historic cars (teens and 20s).

Cliff has race results over on Etceterini.

More Unseen Racing Film: Torrey Pines 1954

Here’s another Chicane-exclusive film from sportscar fan, San Diego Jr. Chamber of Commerce member (who helped create the Torrey Pines track), and a pretty darn good shot with a film camera, John McClure. This time it’s the track he was most intimately involved in for the November 1954 race. It was our Torrey Pines post in the Lost Tracks series that prompted Mr. McClure to contact me and offer up this brilliant footage.

The film starts with the LeMans syle running start of the 6 Hours endurance race. The race was ultimately won by Lou Brero in a C-Type, with the von Neumann Ferrari 500 Mondial finishing 2nd. The Ferrari is the #39 car that we see quite a lot of in this footage that looks pink in this film – I’m assuming due to the film processing and not the color sensibilities of the car owner.

Jags, MGs, Gullwing Mercedes, and OSCAs feature prominently in the film, along with Porsche 356s, and a few Ferraris. I don’t know what the story was with this tree, but it seems to be magnetic — lots of narrow misses overrunning the turn at what I’m assuming was a high-speed straight. I also like some of the footage of the spectators here. It wasn’t just the drivers that could get away with more than you can today—let’s see what happens when you try and start a small bonfire to keep warm at the corner of any track these days.

Pit Maps of the Past – 1921 LeMans

We’ve long been fans of the hand-illustrated track maps of years gone by, and that of course extends to this Pit Map of the Tribunes from the 1921 24 Heurs du Mans. (Update: as a commenter pointed out below, there was no 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1921—nor would there be for another 2 years—this material is all from the ACF Grand Prix, which largely used the same facilities as the eventual 24 hour race – Thanks for the clarification, Dan)

It’s graphically beautiful. In a modern world of graphic design software and precision digital printing presses, I’m always impressed by the incredible graphic design expertise of those who did without them. this hand-set type is beautiful, and the lines precise enough to go up against anything the Creative Suite has to offer.

Found at The Nostalgia Forum, which also turned up these printed artifacts from the ’21 LeMans, a track map and program cover. Always great information over there.

More Stirling: San Fran, Nancy Sinatra & Telephones

Here’s another shot of Stirling Moss from a late 60s issue of Playboy, this time in an advertisement for AT&T. Naturally, Moss is a giant in the racing world, but I never realized that he was a well known enough figure in the States that he would be in a non-automotive ad in a mass-market magazine. Good Stuff.

Go Faster: The Graphic Design of Racing Cars

I clicked on over to Amazon and pre-ordered this one seconds after I heard about it.

As a graphic designer (that’s my day job, I’m a web designer) and a racecar geek, there’s no way Sven Voelker’s Go Faster: The Graphic Design of Racing Cars couldn’t be on my shelf. I didn’t even have time to translate the German blurb before I was adding this one to my cart. Look for a review on The Chicane when I receive it.

Ok, here’s that translation now, courtesy of Google which is less than elegant in its conversion but gets the job (mostly) done:

“Strip strike, numbers, colors and logo – the visual appearance of a race car needs so you can distinguish the car at first glance from the other when it raced at top speed. Most do not know, however, that the race cars from Porsche, Ferrari, Maserati and Lotus, its appearance is not the work of brand strategists and graphic designers, but often due to chance. Go Faster collected over 100 examples of car design, these carefree anarchy of the document creation process. In the book, each brightly decorated cars will be presented next to an unpainted, white model. This juxtaposition Go Faster takes his readers not only with a fast ride through images in racing history, but shows exactly how the graphics modulates the appearance of a racing car. “This book by Prof. Sven Voelker published by Gestalten Verlag, linking not only gasoline junkies and graphic designer, but definitely belongs in every bookshelf of these two groups.”

I can’t wait to read it.