Archive for the ‘Historic Racing Photos’ 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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A Vintage Racer Vintage Racing

Jimmy Clark in Ford Model T Sprint Car

This photo of Jim Clark in a Model-T Sprint Car almost breaks my brain. It only makes sense for Jimmy in the context of the celebrations surrounding the Indianapolis 500.

This photo was included in a Ford press release for the race and their 495 horsepower V8 that would power the Lotus-Ford in the race. What better way to showcase Ford’s history with the 500 and demonstrate 48 years of automotive engineering maturity than to contrast these two racing machines—each at the pinnacle of technology for their time. Magnificent.

More at Auto Gift Garage.

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Jack Holliday’s Watkins Glen

1954 Watkins Glen Paddock by Jack Holliday

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.

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The BARC Boys Visit the ’57 Sebring

Corvette at Sebring - 1957

I’ve been re-listening to the “Sounds of Sebring 1957” album I posted about last week and all this talk up and down the pit lane about the Corvette entry made me want to see them again. And the Maseratis. And the Lotuses.. And so on.

If you’re familiar with the BARC Boys (Binghamton Automobile Racing Club, that is) at all, you’ll know that if there was a race in the mid-century anywhere on the East coast, there’d be more than a few members there. The group of enthusiasts always had cameras in tow and became chroniclers of the East Coast SCCA scene. Naturally, they were at Sebring in 1957 and had these wonderful photographs to mark the occasion.

Now that I see these photos, I can understand why the racers were abuzz about the new ‘Vette. Sure, the interviewers were asking some questions that were… slightly leading, but you have to remember the context of the arrival of the new Corvettes. After a jittery start, the Corvette program looked like it might actually be ready to take on European road racing stalwarts.

The power and performance of the home-grown sportscar—from the largest carmaker in the world, no less—must have been a thrilling prospect for American racing fans. Perhaps it was even moreso for the American drivers that were scraping together a career on European racing circuits, they must have hoped for a real American racing program that might bring them on. This was always my favorite styling era for the Corvette and it’s marvelous to see her in action at Sebring… and a few more from the more traditional pits for good measure.

More at BARC Boys’ 1957 Sebring page.

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Proto Go-Pro

Jackie Stewart for Nikon

I wonder how Jackie Stewart controlled the shutter on this early attempt at onboard driver-controlled photography at Monaco in 1966. Do you think that cable stretched down to the steering wheel? More importantly, where do you think his photos from the “35mm Helmet” are?

Monaco in 1966 would have lined up nicely with the production of John Frankenheimer’s Grand Prix. I’m speculating here, but perhaps this is how some of the stills for the posters, premier program, and other ephemera were captured.

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Reader Photos: Gary Mason’s 1959 Coppa Città di Asiago Hillclimb

Coppa Città di Asiago by Gary Mason

Let’s dig back in to the scores of photos that Gary Mason sent in from his teenage years spent in Italy in the 1950s. Among them are these magnificent snapshots from a decidedly less documented location than Monza or along the Brescia-Rome route. The Asiago Hillclimb in the mountains of Northern Italy is exactly the kind of event I love seeing imagery from. This looks very much like a locally organized race for local racers—no glitz required.

Coppa Città di Asiago by Gary Mason

Of course in classic hillclimb fashion, it’s the variety that makes these amazing shots come together so beautifully. Everything from open-wheeled formula junior cars and little sub-1000cc barchettas to big Ferraris and proto-econobox Fiats (albeit tuned by Abarth) are all well represented here. What an incredible afternoon it must have been for Gary, nestled in among the other fans atop this little wall above a switchback.

Click on through to more of Gary’s photos in our Gary Mason Archives. Another huge “thank you” to Gary Mason for sending these in. More to come.

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The Less Than Palatial LeMans Garages of 1972

1972 Porsche LeMans Garage

Porsche’s 1972 LeMans garages were a buzzing environment with cars being tuned and prepared, and busy 1970s technicians with 1970s hair. Porsche’s star was bright indeed coming off of two straight years of wins and the factory was shining.

Wait a second. This doesn’t look like the workshop of a winning endurance racing team. These are the garages of the rag-tag up-and-comers in over their heads playing on a stage too big for them. These are the facilities of underdogs. I have been in lone racers’ shops that were better equipped than this.

Just look at this. This could be your garage. There’s no precision instruments here; not even a flashy (albeit utilitarian) immense tool chest larger than a kitchen counter. Just shove that table out of the way, maybe stack the chairs on it to clear up some floor room. Pull that 55 gallon drum over here so I can pop the engine up on it. Let’s start turning some wrenches.

This. This right here is why I love vintage racing. Looking at these guys, you almost get the sense that anyone could do this. That you could hatch a scheme to race in next year’s LeMans and June would roll around and you’d be there. And this is Porsche we’re talking about. Repeat this for Cooper Garages (or Lotus.. or BRM…) heading into Formula 1 and you see that the pinnacle of the sport in every corner was more likely to be filled with dedicated hot-rodders than aerospace engineers.

via Le Container

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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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Reader Photos: Joe Sheppard’s Camoradi 356. Sebring. 1960.

Joe Sheppard. Camoradi Porsche 356. Sebring. 1960

John Shea sent in this marvelous photo of his friend Joe Sheppard pushing hard in his Team Camoradi Porsche 356 at the 1960 Sebring 12 Hours. Joe went on to finish first in the 1.6 liter class and 9th overall. Not bad considering he also participated in the 4 hours race the day before. I hope Joe got plenty of sleep over the next few days—this must have been quite a long weekend for him.

Thanks for sending this in, John!

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Cobra Ginetta Sandwich

Cobra and Ginetta at Brands Hatch - 1967

Yipe. This photo by Trevor Legate that he captured at Brands Hatch in October 1967 shows that roll bars aren’t just for rolling. As I understand it, no injuries—not for lack of trying.

via Nigel Smuckatelli’s Flickr.

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