Formula Vee. Nassau. 1964.

Usually when I can’t identify much in a photo, it languishes on my hard drive waiting for the day that I can turn up something meaningful to share about it. This one, though, I haven’t been able to bring myself to just let it sit.

I’ve rummaged through race results, searched on the Googles for anything I can dig up… It haunts me for some reason. I think it’s because I just love this notion of waking up in the morning in a seaside hotel, hopping in the Vee and driving her across town to the pits to get ready for the afternoon’s main event.

It’s a simple enough scenario, but this idea of racing cars on the street among everyday traffic is just so foreign and thrilling to my contemporary eyes that it conjures a romantic sentiment that I can’t easily shake.

I’ve had no luck finding Formula Vee results from any of the Bahamas Speed Weeks. This photo from the Henry Ford Museum Flickr stream says it was 1964. Anyone recognize the driver?

Jerry Melton’s 1968 Detroit SCCA Regionals

From yesterday’s shots of the ’67 LeMans—perhaps the biggest sportscar race in the world—to today’s snaps from a regional track in the midwest; there’s virtually no end to the historic images and stories that drive our sickness passion for vintage racing.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for Waterford Hills Road Racing course. This was my home track growing up. It was where I saw my first club racing and my first vintage racing. I vividly remember 911s and even VW Golfs lifting a wheel at the crest of Hilltop Turn; and seeing more than a few cars lift 2 and sometimes 4 wheels if they overcooked it. That was it. I was hooked. So when Cliff pointed me to these Jerry Melton photographs from the June, 1968 SCCA Regionals at my beloved Waterford, I couldn’t just keep them to myself—could I?

I can’t resist sharing one more: Many of us know Garret Van Camp through his dominance in Formula Vee. It’s marvelous to see him in his earlier incarnation racing a Porsche Speedster. Check out that strap to the roll bar holding the door shut!

I’d seen Formula 1 cars thunder down the closed city streets of Detroit, their cacophonous engine notes echoing off the windows of the Pontchartrain Hotel and reverberating through Atwater Tunnel. But it was these smaller club events at local tracks that made me a lifelong racing fan. Even today, it’s these regional events that give me the greater thrill. A thrill that Jerry has managed to capture beautifully in these images from the June ’68 SCCA Regionals. Check out more of Jerry Melton’s archives on Etceterini.

JYHelbe’s 1967 LeMans

With the Ford/Ferrari wars in full swing, it was already bound to be a fantastic June day—and night. Add Jim Hall’s newfangled adjustable wing and air-damn equipped Chaparral 2F and a “throw ’em all in there” 906/907/910 field from Team Porsche and who knows what could happen?

JYHelbe was all over Le Sarthe, and found a handful of choice angles to capture the action. This is but a taste; check out the complete set for more.

Me and My ASP Pt. 4: She’s Finished!

The ASP is done! Last Thursday I rolled the car in the trailer and headed for Gingerman Raceway on the west side of Michigan but not before taking a few photos that Harlo posted here last week. My good friend and famed photographer Fabrizio Costantini also came by to take some beautiful photos as well.

I arrived at the track late in the afternoon to shake the car down at their test and tune night. I got to chase around several other open-wheeled cars of various formula. The ASP felt like an old familiar friend and it handled better than I remembered. It might have something to do with changing the geometry of the tie-rods for better bump steer and definitely has something to do with calling over Garret Van Camp (the set up maestro) to help me dial in the camber and toe. I took it pretty easy as I made about 10 laps around increasing my speed with each lap, seating in the new piston rings.

The car felt good, sounded good and then after about 20 minutes of remembering why I love FV so much something went amiss. I couldn’t seem to find any gear other than 4th, so i pulled into the paddock to find out what was going on. A broken shift rod was what was going on. Upon further inspection, it appeared to be made of paper thin steel tubing that must not have held up to the nickel plating process. Perhaps it’s the one part on the car that was designed by Collin Chapman to be as light as possible. I was done for the day. The next morning I began my quest to find some adequate steel to remake a part that would last. I found a steel supplier conveniently located a few miles from the track and the guys at Trackside Motorsports which is as the name suggests is conveniently trackside. They assisted me in remaking a new and improved shift rod that had me back in action for Saturday’s qualifying session.

It is my hope that the rings are still seating and that is what landed me 11th on the grid out of the 30 cars but in truth it was probably some combination of my time out of the car, the rings and the stiff competition. The car did seem to make more power as the weekend went on though… or at least I imagined it did. For the start of the race on Sunday I got away quickly and managed to get around 3 cars before turn 1. By the 3rd to last lap I had made my way into 5th place but then was passed back by Guy Dennehy. I stayed on his gearbox for the next lap hoping I’d be able to draft around him on the back straight. As we came up to the Turn 5/6 combination he went in a little too hot and back end of his Lynx started stepping out and I sensed he was going to lose it.

The car spun left and I went right, then he tried to correct and it snapped back across the track in front of me and I went waaayyy right off the track (as to not spear my pal Guy). I tried to not give the wheel any sudden input and edge it back toward the track surface but as has happened so many times before when two wheel are on grass and two on pavement, my car too snapped into a spin. Most every car I’d worked to get around, got around me in an instant, and several of them too close for my comfort… I had a front row seat to oncoming racecars. As soon as the last car went by I whipped around in anger (just an expression) and started trying to chase down the pack. With only 2 laps to go I knew it wasn’t likely but my heart was pumping and my tires were sticking. I passed all of the lapped traffic before the last lap and had Guy and the rest of the pack in my sights but they had just made up too much ground. If I’d had one more lap who knows. I finished lucky 7th, feeling lucky that I could roll the car back on the trailer unscathed to fight another day.

See the complete restoration story here.

Stay tuned for details on the next project which is nearing completion… a 1969 Merlyn MK11A Formula Ford.

Monterey Auction Preview: 1949 Talbot Lago T26 Monoposto

Can we already be closing in on Monterey Week? I’ve barely had time to brace myself for the enormous influx of vintage racing giddiness that it brings each year. As a result, I’ll ease into the season by showcasing this repeat visitor to the Monterey auctions—this gorgeous 1949 Talbot-Lago T26 Racing Monoposto.

Gooding & Co counts this magnificent 1950 Paris Grand Prix winner among it’s featured cars for their Pebble Beach Auctions to be held on August 14 and 15. What a true beauty. This transitional immediate post-war period between the pre-war racers and the Grand Prix greats of the mid 50s is such an interesting time period for racing cars. They had much of the same visual aesthetic as the pre-war cars with their elegant boat tails and proportions that hide the enormous scale of the cars. The technology leaps of WWII were just starting to make the transition to civilian use. These immediate post-war cars present a fascinating period of technological transition. The beauty of the pre-war, mixed with the utility of the post-war.

This example, chassis #110006, wears her French blue paint with pride, having carried Frenchman Georges Grignard around 50 laps of the Autodrome de Linas-Montlhéry in 2 hours 05 minutes 38.8seconds to capture victory; 4 laps ahead of Louis Gérard’s Delage. The race must have been grueling indeed, only Grignard, Gérard, and fellow Delage driver Marc Versini finished the race at all. The other 8 racers all dropped out with mechanical problems (including Stirling Moss at the wheel of the #17 HWM-Alta which dropped out with a connecting rod failure). It’s no surprise that #110006 wears the livery today, with Grignard’s racing number 8 and driver identification hand-painted ahead of the cockpit. Grignard even played a part in the restoration of the car many years later when he provided the spare parts he’d kept from his campaigns with the car. I love the notion of Grignard caring for the car so many years after they’d parted.

Even without the marvelous history, this Talbot-Lago would be no less attractive. The aggressive stance that would surely strike a chord with any American hot-rodder; the bodywork and brightwork that any warbird pilot would feel comfortable in; that exaggerated steering wheel that would feel small in a bus driver’s hands – they unite in a singular display of shear racing beauty and menace. I find myself looking again and again at the simple hand-painted graphics on the car (if you can even call them graphics), just their simplicity and touch of personality communicate such romance and history. It’s simply perfect. If you were to meet Gooding’s estimated bid of $650,000-$850,000 and take this Talbot-Lago home, I’m sure you’d provide a warm and inviting home for her for many years.

Unless, of course, you were the buyer of #110006 at Bonham’s Exceptional Motorcars and Automobilia at the Quail Lodge last year. The car was just as stunning as she is today, and was expected to bring an even more handsome sum, with an estimate of $1-1.3Million. Selling without reserve, though, has its risks and I’m sure there was a very disappointed owner with more than a few shed tears when the car sold for a mere $557,000.

So it’s a year later and that very lucky buyer is looking to see if their good fortune has lasted another 12 months, with an estimated $100,000-$300,000 turn on last year’s investment—not a bad return just for keeping a car in good kit for a year. I hope that this Talbot’s next caretaker doesn’t think of her as a mere investment, and that #110006 finds herself back on the track, not locked in a vault waiting for the next sale.

de Cadenet on Eleven

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

1971 4 Hours of Monza

Great footage here from the pits and on track of the 4 Hours of Monza, 1971. What a wonderful grid for 1971’s first event on the European Touring Car Championship, with a pack of Alfa GTAMs, BMW 2002s and 2800s, Fiat 500s, Escorts, and a Camaro for good measure. All the more exciting, this video has real audio with some great engine screaming!

How much would I like one of the Dunlop Racing Division jackets seen in this 1st video at 55 seconds? Very much. Very, very much.

45 Years Ago Today

Austin Healey Sprite, Now with Girlings

“The disc brakes fitted to the Sprite were masters of the situation under all conditions and their high speed behaviour was beyond criticism”

Call me crazy, but I actually find the hyperbole of this ad copy charming. Not to mention the tremendous graphic fantasticness of the Girling “G” logo.