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.
Frank Bott’s OSCA in the 1954 Watkins Glen Queen Catherine Cup by Jack Holliday
1954 Watkins Glen Ticket Booth by Jack Holliday
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.
1955 Watkins Glen Paddock by Jack Holliday
Watkins Glen Paddock by Jack Holliday
Seneca Cup Entrants at Watkins Glen by Jack Holliday
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.
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.
“If you’ve known The Bridge at speed, you’re now in for an emotional jolt.”
True words. In addition to the truck motor under the bonnet, Daniel Stanfill’s hopped-up Austin Healey was also equipped with a miniature camera lens mounted under his rearview. It’s hard to remember how precious and rare this kind of footage was before the GoPro came on the scene and made this kind of footage a matter of course. Footage like this—particularly amateur footage—from 1957 is almost unheard of.
It’s amazing to me how very much these kinks and bends look like rural roads and how little they look like a world class racing facility. We’ve grown so accustomed to wide runoffs and debris catching fences that we’ve forgotten that the greatest racing courses were inspired by twisting country lanes and not inspired by maximum camera angles.
The insightful commentary by John Connolly speaking from his experience with Bridgehampton as his home track is a welcome peek into the track and her history. Hard to believe that he’s describing Bridgehampton of thirty years later as being just as sandy as we see here, where sections of the track are almost completely obscured by windswept sand drifts.
This was one of the good ones. Remember the Bridge.
The Fiesta del Pacifico road races held in July of 1956 mark an interesting moment in California—particular San Diego—racing. Torrey Pines held their last race a mere 6 months before, but San Diego (and far beyond) racers were undeterred and assembled a track on the runways and service roads of Montgomery Field.
This largely unseen footage sent in from John McClure is a treasure. Sure, John’s thumb may have drifted into a few of these shots, but they’re absolutely priceless. From setting up in the pits, to onboard touring laps, to the race action itself, John used the access afforded him as a member of the San Diego Junior Chamber of Commerce (a co-organizer of the event) to hit every corner of Montgomery field that weekend.
The two main events of the weekend are well represented here, with the 1.5liter plus race and small displacement races getting some quality footage. Bill Murphy had luck on his side in the large bore race in his Kurtis-Buick, winning after Harrison Evans’ Ferrari Monza had a shift fork failure after leading for 21 laps. Murphy didn’t just inherit the win after poor performance, however. He had a great start that gave him the lead until a spin on turn 7 of the first lap. He then fought back from fourth to take the lead from Evans a second time, but spectacularly spun again on the 11th lap. His win was as much a victory in making it to the finish as it was to come in first. Bill Krause wasn’t far behind in a D-Type, while Ken Miles in a Porsche 550 (giant-killer indeed in this much larger displacement company) and Fred Woodward in his Jaguar Special had a fantastic duel for 3rd place—ultimately finishing within a second of each other.
The small bore race was equally thrilling with an heroic roster of CalClub racers: Ken Miles in his 550 again (He had a very busy weekend, didn’t he?); Bill Pollack in the #4 Alfa Giulietta; Lance Reventlow in a Cooper T39—there’s a marvelous shot of him in the silver #16 car about 7:10 into this clip.
Other drivers of note to keep an eye out for in this clip: Bob Bondurant in the #19 Morgan Plus 4; Jim Peterson in the blue #83 Corvette; Bruce Kessler in the white #23 Aston Martin (beautiful); and Dan Gurney’s #113 Porsche 356.
Here’s a glimpse of the race report, from the August 3, 1956 issue of MotoRacing.
Keep those old film cans, coming in—I’d love to share more these kinds of videos with Chicane readers. More from the McClure Archives here.
More marvelous scenes from El Salvador’s racing scene. Shot by Dr. Carlos Alvarez and provided to the Chicane by George Kehler, the little-seen footage of the 1960 running of the Santa Ana races on the streets of El Salvador has some fantastic vintage Formula Libre racing action.
Keep an eye peeled for two Porsche RSK Spyders driven by Americans David Lane (in the white RSK) and Chuck Cassel (in silver). Whether word of San Salvador’s racing scene had finally made it up to the States, or if Chuck and David were just hitting everything they could in the hemisphere, I don’t know. But I can’t help that think that he saw the writing on the wall for street courses and wanted in while he could.
By 1960, street racing was all but done in the USA, but it’s likely from Chuck Cassell’s participation at this race in San Salvador, and in Nassau two months earlier, that he must have wanted a taste of the thrill of true road racing before it disappeared entirely. These scenes both demonstrate why street courses are so amazing, and why they’re so very dangerous. Getting around these simple roads is, for me (and I think many of you agree), the purest form of racing. But those curbs and surface changes and light poles and, oh yes, surging throngs of spectators wandering much to far onto the racing line, make it clear that the format was meant for extinction.
I wonder if any of the homeowners that live in the neighborhood built on the bones of the Lynndale Farms Raceway know of the history of the streets in front of their suburban homes. I wonder if any of them turn into their subdivision on their commute home and blip the throttle downshifting for the corners, imagining themselves sitting in a Austin-Healey or Cooper 500 as they apex the turn in front of the Peterson’s house.
I sure would. Hell, I do all of that now and I don’t live on a former race track.
It was only the big events that were raced on the combined glory of the North and South loops of the Nürburgring into it’s complete 17 mile configuration. Of course, the Nordschleife got all the fame and left it’s little brother Südschleife to languish away alone: oft-forgotten and little loved (even in its prime) compared to the more challenging technical turns of the Nordschleife.
Today, while much of the public roads remain, the connecting pathways to the Nordschleife were destroyed during the construction of the GP circuit. This Formula Vee race from 1968 though, shows the Südschleife in all its glory. It must be hard to be considered great when the basis for comparison is the Nordschleife but on it’s own this looks like a hell of a track. Also, helicopter footage of the F-V race? Who would have thought….
Let’s hope at the Nordschleife lives on in more than just videos of this kind 50 years from now.