Archive for February, 2008

More Exciting Racing Sounds of Grand Prix

The Exciting Racing Sounds of Grand PrixWe started our series celebrating this wonderful LP made during Frankenheimer’s filming of the epic Grand Prix by taking a tour of Monza. Let’s take a step back and get the basics with our host, Phil Hill. John Frankenheimer gives a wonderful description of the basics of F1 of the 60’s. Then Phil talks to Graham Hill about the differences between Grand Prix racing and sportscars. Hearing these voices speak with passion about their sport makes me wish for these attitudes to come back to the international motor racing community.

I particularly like the segment with Frankenheimer where he describes some of the motivations for making the movie. Later, Graham Hill describes the differences between Grand Prix driving and competing in the Indianapolis 500. Outstanding.

Have a listen.


Read the complete series.

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How Great Are These?

Puma Rennbahn 50 race bootsIf you’re considering some new racing boots for the upcoming season you could do far worse than these vintage styled Puma Rennbahn 50s. Don’t let the vintage looks fool you, they’re completely FIA compliant, Nomex lined, and will match your Lotus 11 better than any modern looking boot. I’ve known drivers to shell out top dollar for vintage look racing suits and couple them with modern boots and gloves — these Pumas have the looks to match.

Check them out at Subesports.

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Early Honda S-Series

Honda S600 at speedA few weeks ago Bring A Trailer featured a beautiful little Honda S800 racer. Today, the mighty Jalopnik pitted the very same Honda S800 against the the Lotus Europa in their regular “Project Car Hell” feature.

When I first saw the S800 a few weeks back, I dove a bit headfirst into researching the early S-series Hondas. I’d never really given early Japanese sportscars much thought, but reading about the high-revving chain-drive engine had me very curious. The first place I went was to check out a video the restoration of of Jay Leno’s SM600.

I also tracked down a youtube post that someone made of their engine being fired up for the first time in a long time as part of their restoration process. These engines are good for revs in excess of 11,000RPM. An astounding number! Seems more like a test-bed for their future motorcycle development than a standard road car engine. More than likely it was derived from their F1 engine of the time, as they’re the only automotive engines that I can think of that could maintain those kinds of revs at the time.

The engine sounds a bit cleaner on Jay’s – but then, what do you expect?

These are lovely little cars, with absolutely fascinating engines. And this Motor Trend article (from which I lifted the above photo) shows that they did indeed make a left-hand drive version..


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More on the New Allards

The crew up at Dream Car Garage did a segment on the recent Allard recreations – here’s a youtube video of it.

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New Allard?

The New Allard J2XDid you know that you can buy a brand new Allard J2X? A company in Quebec is producing very authentic looking Allards. I’ve always been fond of the styling of the Allard. The rounded, almost hemispherical, grille is a beauty. I’ve always thought it to be the missing link between Hot Rods and Sports Cars.

This modern version, the Allard J2X MKII, is no beetlesque update; but a beautifully faithful tribute. The body has all the lovely lines you’d expect from the Allard nameplate. The chassis looks more modern – though I must admit I’ve never seen under the bodywork of a classic Allard. She’s powered by your choice of the General’s RamJet V8, the Hemi, or the Cadillac Northstar engine. A fitting selection, as Allard pioneered the lightweight English car with high horsepower American Iron when Shelby was still a kid. Carrol Shelby drove an Allard in the ’50s.

It sure looks like a lovely update. I am a bit disappointed that the wire wheels are 5-lugs and not the actual spinner-mount that they appear to be. But it’s a small concession to make for a brand spanking new Allard.

Allard at Road AmericaI haven’t seen many Allards in person, but I have a vague memory of seeing one at the Meadowbrook Concourse d’ Elegance in the early 90’s. She was elegant, bright red, and had a big blue ribbon on her windscreen. I haven’t seen another in the flesh until September 2007 at the VSCDA Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival (I’ll be there this year too). I grabbed a shot of this magnificent example on the 3rd day.

What do you think of the idea of modern licensed production of classic sportscars? I’m all for the re-creation and reproduction market myself. After all, it’s unlikely I’ll ever be able to afford an authentic Porsche 550, but I sure have a reproduction on my shopping list. For the curious, there’s a brief Allard history to be found here.

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The Exciting Racing Sounds of Grand Prix

The Exciting Racing Sounds of Grand PrixIn preparation for his masterpiece 1966 film Grand Prix, John Frankenheimer undertook a series of audio recordings to help capture the spirit, mood, and excitement of the Formula 1 season. This LP is the glorious result of that research. Hosted by Phil Hill and featuring interviews with Graham Hill and Frankenheimer, this record takes us through the sounds of the Grand Prix season of 1966.

Grand Prix is the best racing movie ever made. Frankenheimer puts us in the cockpit, the pits, and in the stands. He developed camera mounting techniques that are still in use today. Some people will tell you that McQueen’s film LeMans is the better racing movie — Those people are wrong.

But enough about the movie (I’m sure I’ll be writing much more on that in the future). This LP was something that I didn’t know about until recently. And over the next couple of weeks I’ll post up tracks from the album. This first bit cuts straight to the chase and puts us right on the start finish line of Monza. This, of course differs from the banked track of the movie — which stopped being used after the ’61 season (here’s a 2003 photo of the banking). We’ll hear the engine note of Jack Brabham’s Repco V8, Jim Clark’s Coventry-Climax, Ginther’s Honda V12, and Surtee’s Cooper Maserati. Then we’ll take a tour of the circuit aboard Michael Parkes’ Ferrari (Parkes sat on pole and ended up 2nd in the race that year).


Monza map
Listen carefully and you can follow along on the track map.

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