More Unseen Racing Footage: March AFB 1954

In this installment of the John McClure archives, the November 7, 1954 running of the Orange Empire National Sportscar Races at March Air Force Base. It is a real treat seeing the racing action ahead of scores of aluminum planes in the background.

Unfortunately, the Briggs Cunningham team that swept the previous year’s race was a no-show. This race, however, was significant for Porschefiles as the first US race run by a 550 Spyder. Sadly, the car crashed and burned in practice with the driver escaping reasonably unscathed. Instead, Ferraris ruled the day, with 7 of the top 10 spots in the featured over-1500cc race. Also in the film is a parade lap of Historic cars (teens and 20s).

Cliff has race results over on Etceterini.

Unseen Film of Riverside ’57 – A Chicane Exclusive!

Although it’s been quite some time since our profile of Torrey Pines for our Lost Tracks series, that post has had some interesting action in the past few weeks when I was contacted by a reader with Torrey Pines stories to share. John McClure was a member of the San Diego Jr. Chamber of Commerce and sports car fan and driver. His association with the Chamber put him in a position to combine his passions as part of the team that developed the Torrey Pines Race Course. Thankfully, John also carried a camera around with him for races up and down the West Coast. John has very kindly sent a DVD of his 1950s West Coast racing films to be featured on the Chicane. This is the first installment of this footage from many of the West Coast racetracks.

This film is from the inaugural race at Riverside International Motor Raceway on September 21-22, 1957. There’s a lot of great clips here. Some amazing racing machines, including well known West Coast specials. It’s a 1950s race, of course, which means that there are a few dramatic crashes. The spectators just pile on to the track and right the car. Just another reminder of how very close and immediate the action, and danger, was at those events. Which allows for some wonderfully close camera work. Thanks again, John, for letting us share this footage with vintage racing fans. It is outstanding.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that The Chicane Shop is currently offering a t-shirt commemorating this very race. Check it out here.

Update: Commenters at Ferrari Chat and The Nostalgia Forum have been spotting some details in the footage. Among them, that some of these shots are actually from the November ’57 Palm Springs race (oops!). There’s particular interest in the D-Type/Troutman-Barnes duel of Pete Woods & Chuck Daigh, both of whom retired allowing Richie Ginther to claim his first victory in John Edgar’s Ferrari (Woods’ D-Type was the marvelous example featured at last month’s Scottsdale Auction).

If this footage is stirring up any additional observations, insights, a story, if you spot a favorite driver… please share in the comments.

Martin Vincent’s Retromobile Photos

Looks like I’ll have to add Salon Retromobile to my list of future automotive events to attend. I usually prefer my vintage racecar events to include some racing, but these photos from Martin Vincent’s Flickr Stream have me convinced that the fact that this event is held indoors is no barrier to seeing some very high quality machines. This unveiling of an ex-Regazzoni, Andretti, Galli and Merzario Ferrari 312B really puts me over the edge. Beautiful!

See more of Martin’s remarkable shots at his Retromobile Gallery.
More on the Ferrari 312B at Hall & Hall.

Pit Maps of the Past – 1921 LeMans

We’ve long been fans of the hand-illustrated track maps of years gone by, and that of course extends to this Pit Map of the Tribunes from the 1921 24 Heurs du Mans. (Update: as a commenter pointed out below, there was no 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1921—nor would there be for another 2 years—this material is all from the ACF Grand Prix, which largely used the same facilities as the eventual 24 hour race – Thanks for the clarification, Dan)

It’s graphically beautiful. In a modern world of graphic design software and precision digital printing presses, I’m always impressed by the incredible graphic design expertise of those who did without them. this hand-set type is beautiful, and the lines precise enough to go up against anything the Creative Suite has to offer.

Found at The Nostalgia Forum, which also turned up these printed artifacts from the ’21 LeMans, a track map and program cover. Always great information over there.

Aston Onboard at LeMans Classic 2008

Back with more LeMans Classic footage, JH was good enough to write in about this marvelous Aston-Martin DB2/4 mixing it up with Masers, Allards and Jags at the Classic in ’08. Thankfully the driver had the video recording early for the running “LeMans Start”. Bring it back!

Even better, they let the video run into the night.. Admittedly not as much to see here, but that’s the point isn’t it: Racing when you can barely even see—when everything disappears and all that exists is the racing line and the upcoming curve.

More from the Tijuana Internaccional

Tijuana Road Races
Along with the map and video from earlier today, here are some photos from the 1966 or 67 road races held on the temporary street circuit along the beach in Tijuana. There’s some street action with the Formula Vees entering turn one at the end of the long beachside straight, the drivers in the production class lining up for their LeMans start, and some track shots of some MGAs and Sprites. Excellent stuff here.
Formula Vees in Tijuana
On Your Marks...
Tijuana Drivers Meeting
Now that looks like a happy bunch of drivers.

Waiting for the Thaw

2985517611_acd04989a8Here in the midwest, we’ve just been hit with another battering of snow. At least I can comfort myself with the knowledge that British Colombia has been getting it worse. In a way though, they’re the lucky ones. At least they have the Spring Thaw Classic Car Adventure to look forward to. May 1-3 should provide a snow-free (probably) path enough for a distance run through the beauty of British Colombia. If the photos of the byways in the pre-run planning trip are anything to judge by, the scenery will be tremendous. So get your pre-’79 ride ready and tuned up, head over to their Facebook event page and hit ‘confirm’. It looks like it’ll be a hell of a good time. Send me some photos, won’t you?

By the way, where’s the link to buy the poster? It looks fantastic.

On Modifying Vintage Racecars for Safety

I’m of two minds on racecar modification.

There’s the “ownership” school of thought. It belongs to you. You can add a rollbar, five point harness, strengthen crossmembers for impact safety. Hell, you can burn it to the ground if you want. It’s an understandable point of view, you bought this thing.

Then, there’s the “caretaker” point of view. These are objects, yes, but they have intrinsic historical value that supersedes the owner’s impulse to modify. You don’t “own” a Targa Florio winning Porsche 908-3 any more than Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze “owns” David, or the National Gallery “owns” Belshazzar’s Feast. There is a tendency to consider that while, legally, these objects have clearly defined owners; culturally and historically, they belong to everyone. Traditionally, I tend to favor this perspective of stewardship.

Now, it does seem reasonable that to compete with your car, you must meet some minimum safety standards, and that is why we see rollbars increased in height, puncture resistant fuel cells, improved safety harnesses, and arm restraints. For some reason, these mandatory modifications for competition haven’t been applied to pre-war cars. Until today, I’ve appreciated that. I wouldn’t want to add a rollbar to a Bugatti 35. But this video shot during a VSCC event at Oulton Park makes me reconsider.

I should point out that, despite appearances, this driver escaped with nothing more serious than a broken collar bone.

Now I’m wondering if rollbars, or at least seat belts, aren’t a good idea for pre-war cars—if not as a mandatory, then at least something that more individual drivers might consider adding. I’m curious to hear what Chicane readers think about this, so let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.

Exciting Racing Sounds Finale: Brands Hatch

It’s finally time for the final cut from the Exciting Racing Sounds of Grand Prix album. In this final track, Phil Hill visits Brands Hatch, and while I’d like to say that this final cut is the climax of the lp, it’s a bit more like ‘in with a bang, out with a whimper’. The visit to Brands is precious short on racing action, starting with audio from the Red Arrows fighter jet squadron flyover and finishing with the military band. It is nice to hear the podium celebration for Jack Brabham as the band plays “Waltzing Mathilda”. There you have it friends, your Exciting Racing Sounds of Grand Prix album is complete… now just flip back side A and enjoy.


Happy Birthday, Lola.

I’m a bit late in telling you about the 10,000-strong group of spectators that lined the streets of Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire, UK on October 12th for a parade celebrating 50 years of Lola Racing Cars. Lola found her roots in a 1957 Special built and raced by cousins Eric and Graham Broadley. The 1172cc Ford powered open wheeler raced in England’s “Ford Ten Special” class, where it was a quick success. They immediately started on a second sports car to compete with a Climax engine. Before long, the Lola Cars organization was started in earnest in a small workshop down the road from Cooper and Brabham.

Lola followed a few steady years of MK1 sports car production with their first foray in to single-seaters, starting with a front engined formula junior and quickly transitioning into rear-engined formula 3s. All these years later, Lola participates in nearly every branch of motorsport: From sports racing cars to the US’s CART championship, to endurance racing. Through all of these developments, Lola has a remarkable tradition of maintaining their lineage, with strong support for vintage Lola cars. You can order a brand new continuation of the iconic T70 prototype racer.

Congratulations of 50 years, Lola.

Thanks to Flickr users Jason and Ian (Madie) for letting us experience this event alongside them. I think that’s a T61 Formula 2 car up top from Jason’s photo stream.