Archive for the ‘Grand Prix’ Category

A Precariously Perched Silver Arrow

Mercedes W154 being unloaded at Tripoli

I’ve been reading Sandro Martini’s wonderful novel Tracks: Racing the Sun about the golden age of Grand Prix racing and the exploits of Tazio Nuvolari, Achille Varzi and other (mostly Italian) heroes of the 1930s racing scene and the worrisome political climate of the era (full review to come—short version: I love it).

The passages that take place during the contentious and controversial Grands Prix of Tripoli are so evocative and romantic that I couldn’t help trying to dig up some photos of the era. This dockside image of the Mercedes W154 so perfectly captures the clash between the huge technological leaps that racing machines were making with the almost quaint simplicity of the rest of society. These ropes and cables jerkily transferring this rocketship of a car to the docks must have been as much a test of nerves as the race itself. You think about racing teams having to trust their drivers but rarely do you consider the faith being placed in the longshoremen.

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Highlights of the 1969 British Grand Prix

Great battle between Jackie Stewart and Jochen Rindt here!

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1971’s Tracks

1971-Tracks

Shame how few of these remain active on the F1 calendar..

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The Repco-Brabham Story: A Documentary

Check out this magnificent look behind the scenes at Repco-Brabham, and “Black Jack” Brabham’s stewardship of both the team and relationship with Repco, the Australian engineering company that somehow became a world class engine supplier. You can always count on midcentury film narration for quality platitudes like this gem: …”the new owner is assured that his Repco-Brabham is right—not only according to the jigs and the gauges—but also in its personality and temperament. Subtle qualities checked by the sensitive hands of the maestro himself.”

No Repco-Brabham film is complete without an introduction to the Tasman Series, and it thankfully comprises the bulk this film. For the impatient: jump to 10 minutes in for some shots of bonus New Zealand tikis as introduction to Formula 1’s best known off-season diversion. But really, the whole doc is worth a watch. Dust off your Dunlop blues, and make yourself comfortable.

Thanks for pointing this one out, Brian!

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Sir Jack Brabham 1926—2014

Gnoo-Blas Championships Program

Of all the imagery we’ve seen commemorating the passing of Jack Brabham this week, my favorite might this shot of Jack in the Redex Special on the cover of this 1955 Program for the Gnoo-Blas Road Racing Championships. Looking back at his early midget racing days and knowing where he would go from there is a lovely way to appreciate his racing legacy.

Although I frequently glorify the records and accomplishments of racing drivers in the early years of Formula 1, the truth is that most of those records have been beaten and most of those glories have faded (at least in the minds of the general racing fan public). I feel pretty confident though, that one of Jack Brabham’s records will stand for a very long time indeed. I can’t imagine a future where another figure in Formula 1 emerges to design, build, and drive a Formula 1 car to another championship.

Jack Brabham: the ultimate union of engineer and driver.

Race in Peace.

Photo via Stephen on The Nostalgia Forum.

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Stirling Moss and Merging Passions

Tea For Moss

“Stirling, there’s still 12 minutes in the race!”

“Tea time is tea time.”

via Silodrome

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Peter Windsor Shows Us Around Montjuïc Street Circuit

The great thing about street courses is that anyone can just grab a rental car and drive around it. As Peter Windsor gives us a tour of the Montjuïc street circuit in Barcelona, I wonder if the scores of other commuters on these streets know that Jim Clark and Graham Hill and Jochen Rindt knew these streets well… not to mention the tragedies that occurred on Montjuïc mountain during the 1975 race.

If only I could have Peter Windsor and his encyclopedic experience of racing history riding shotgun with me on all of these spins around former street circuits. Thanks for sharing this, Peter.

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The Joy of Carelessness

Low Tech Elf

The problem with digital photo archive tools is that there’s often little context, little attribution, and even less backstory. As a result, I don’t know anything about this image that I stumbled upon on Pinterest (or maybe it was Tumblr) and all image searches just lead me back to other pins or tumbles.

What I do know is this: Red Bull isn’t going to just tip over their Formula car and see what’s going on under there. This glimpse of race (low) tech of the past was a common thread that united hot rodders and shadetree mechanics with the pinnacle of motorsport. Now you’ll see greater kinship between Formula 1 technicians and aerospace engineers.

The same was true then, of course; but aerospace engineers and shadetree mechanics shared that kinship as well!

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From the British Pathé Archives: Who’ll be the Next Moss?

British Pathé has uploaded their full newsreel archive to YouTube; which means they’re finally embeddable. I’ll be digging through the reels and posting some favorites here in the coming weeks.

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Formula 1 Cars are Fast

That sounds more than a bit obvious of course. But this clip is a rare opportunity to give you some basis of comparison. Of course, we usually only see Formula 1 cars being driven around other Formula 1 cars. One is a few tenths faster than another, but what are these machines like when running next to something we know, like a typical econobox, or even a high performance road car? McLaren answers in this unusual scenario they hosted at Estoril in February of 1991.

Here’s the setup: Gareth Rees leaves the starting grid in a 1.6 liter Honda Concert. 20 seconds later, Alan McNish leaves the grid in a Porsche 911 Turbo. For the next 55 seconds, we watch McNish catch up to Rees. What seems like an eternity (1 minute 15 seconds) after the Honda started the 2 1/2 mile lap, Ayrton Senna departs in his McLaren. A minute later, and still on the first lap, Senna passes them both.

It seems like a foregone conclusion that he would, but watching that McLaren’s closing speed on the road cars really highlights how an F1 machine is just an entirely different animal from a road car.

Final Lap Times:
1) Ayrton Senna – McLaren – 1:14:00
2) Alan McNish – Porsche – 2:08:00
3) Gareth Rees – Honda – 2:28:00

via McLaren Soul

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