Archive for the ‘Track Maps of the Past’ Category
I typically take this opportunity to
ramble on tearily reminisce over the hand illustrated aesthetic of vintage track maps that seems to be lost in the modern era. After all, it’s easier to output a quick render or line art from the track designer’s plans and call it done. Rarely would we think today of commissioning an artist to illustrate a custom map for an event program.
Today, though, I want to focus on something else happening in this image scanned from a Paramount Ranch program. A recent design movement has made me think that all may not be lost; and it’s the wonderful handwritten lettering on this map that helped me notice it. In the past couple of years there has been an enormous resurgence in hand lettering throughout all levels of design.
Why in the age of digital typesetting, when even the most amateur computer user has dozens of fonts at their fingertips, would the professional hand letterer be back in demand? Because it has soul. There’s something behind that ever-so-slightly-wiggly hand lettered headline that hints at a humanity and a playfulness that you just don’t get from perfectly set Helvetica Neue Light. Why couldn’t it also be so for hand drafters or illustrators? This map has soul.
We’ve seen maps from Paramount Ranch before and my sentiment remains exactly the same… Just look at that tunnel.
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Courtesy of our friend Mandy Alvarez is this track map of Cuba’s answer to the Mille Miglia or Carrera Panamericana, the Carrera Pinar del Rio: A race to Havana from Pinar del Rio 115 miles away.
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With the future of the Nürburgring in some doubt these days, let’s hope that this map is still good for another 86 years.
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Then again, if our earlier Meadowdale post has you particularly inspired. You could just cut to the chase and buy this available copy of the original blueprints for the track. Grab a few friends, a few shovels, a bulldozer or two, and a whole lot of asphalt. Call me when you’re done.
If contemporary blueprints had more of these charming illustrations in the corners, we might be able to get more interesting work through planning boards.
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Forgive the less than stellar scan of this circuit map for 1933′s inaugural running of the Gran Prix de Pau. Despite the poor resolution, you can see one of the elements I love in old track maps: the small illustrations of nearby buildings and landmarks. The elegantly hand lettered labels and arrows only help accentuate the glory of that little town illustration on the left side of the map.
Playing with points of view is something that seems to have gone away in contemporary track map design, but it’s common in the earlier maps we’ve featured. Having a top-down view of the track alongside isometric scenery illustration seems so illogical when I imagine it, but when I see the results on paper it works perfectly well. Compare to this map of the contemporary Pau map and join me in mourning (Even though it’s pretty good by contemporary track map design standards).
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This track map pulled from the Castrol Book of the European Grand Prix has a fascinating feature that I’ve not seen on any other track map: The location of the BBC Cameras recording the event. Five cameras (and a helicopter) seems almost hilariously insufficient when we consider today’s abundant camera angles of most tracks, but in 1964 it was a struggle to get even this level of coverage.
Since this is from a Castrol book, the oil company was playing up its own efforts in filming the race, with a substantial section of the booklet describing the effort to capture the race; apparently with more cameras than the BBC was using for the broadcast.
Castrol wasn’t just locking their efforts away either, this line concludes the description of the filming: “if you belong to a motor club and would like to see the results of their work, ask the Secretary to reserve a print of the film for showing to you and your fellow members.” The notion of reserving a print of the race film to be enjoyed later by motor club members sitting around the film projector—weeks or months after the race—is utterly fantastic.
Gathering friends to watch a months-old motor race seems ridiculous today, but there’s something reverent and respectable about the scenario that I love. Rather than just tuning in to the live broadcast to see who wins, it’s an honoring of the event; like a football coach re-watching reels of previous games again and again. It’s not watching the race, it’s studying the race.
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Even though this scan isn’t particularly well done, you can still see the charm in this circuit map from Watkin Glen’s 1948 layout.
Every purpose-built racing course has a few named features: Eau Rouge or Corkscrew or Karussel. None of these, though, will ever be as charming as “School House Corner” or “Archy Smith Corner” or “White House S”. There’s something.. I don’t know.. adorable about these street course featured named after the farmer who’s house marks a turn.
Beyond that, I just love this illustration style. As I browse old maps of all varieties, I’m always impressed with how these maps draw the viewer in to the experience and provoke daydreams of strolling down these illustrated streets.
They may not be as accurate or informative as today’s more utilitarian map aesthetic, but they sure are a more notable artistic achievement.
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The Fifth Rand Grand Prix at Kyalami foreshadowed the international stage that Kyalami, only a year after its construction, was quickly becoming. This Non-Championship race in the ’62 Formula 1 season drew top talent from the British Formula 1 teams in particular with Jim Clark, Graham Hill, and John Surtees along with American Richie Ginther competing on the grid on a December afternoon. Clark won from pole, with Lotus team mate Trevor Taylor three-tenths of a second behind him.
Thanks again to Andrew Duncan who has been sharing with us scans of his program collection from his boyhood visits to Kyalami. See more of the Duncan Collection here.
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I often romanticize the city-street road races of the 1950s and have occasionally wondered why it was only small towns that played host to these magnificent race weekends. After all, many of the racers made their way to Watkins Glen or Bridgehampton or Elkhart Lake did so from New York or Boston or Chicago. Why didn’t larger cities host any of these events?
Then it occurred to me; naturally it’s easier to shut down a little town’s roads for a few days than it would be to gridlock Manhattan for a race weekend. Alas, the oft linked Shell/Ferrari ad has shown us what a magnificent cocktail vintage racing cars and city streets can make. Automobiliac’s recent post entitled Vintage Racing in Central Park, Why Not? has rekindled my desire for this mix of urban vistas and vintage iron. It’s a perfectly good question, “What about Central Park?” Can you think of a more perfect set of roads winding around the beautiful and iconic landscapes that were so marvelously architected by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux.
Can’t you just imagine it? Sitting on a bench by the Reservoir or at the rooftop sculpture garden at the MoMA while a Cooper-Climax T53 or Bandini Siluro or Ferrari Monza accelerates through one of the sweeping bends of the Central Park Loop.
Bradley does a great job of pointing out the potential difficulties (“closing down Central Park Loop—are you crazy?!”), and addresses them in kind (well, they do it for bike races or for filming movies). It works for the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix. Doesn’t New York deserve a world-class vintage racing event? Just look at the map above from race promoter Alec Ulmann’s 1965 proposal of a Monaco-style race in NY and realize that this event needs to happen—simply must happen.
The Chicane emphatically endorses this brilliant idea. Dear Reader, how can we make this happen?
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At first blush the South African track at East London doesn’t look too impressive. A few straights, a few hard corners, not much in the way of esses or chicanes. Just a simple drive along the beach. The move of the South African GP to Kyalami in 1967 must have been received well—a more demanding and interesting circuit. It didn’t have the history though. Prince George Circuit hosted South Africa’s first Grand Prix races in the 1930s. And I’m sure the ocean-front view didn’t hurt. Indeed, it looks like a beautiful location.
What interested me most about this map, though was the section along Butts Bend marked “Prohibited Area – Rifle Range”. You know, because motor racing wasn’t dangerous enough, let’s have them drive through the middle of a shooting range while they’re racing. Of course I realize that there wasn’t live fire during the race, but I’m going to continue imagining it that way. It makes the win that clinched Graham Hill’s 1962 World Championship all the more entertaining to me.
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