Archive for March, 2011

Bits of Crashed Messerschmitts.

Ok, maybe vintage racecar design wasn’t all better than today’s.


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Los Hermanos Rodríguez


Looking at these photos of the young Rodríguez brothers reminds me that I should stop bitching about how sterile and safe racing has become. Ricardo died at 20, Pedro at 31.

Just ridiculously young.

It’s strange to me that when I look at these photos, I don’t feel the same way I did about a similar juxtaposition of photos from de Portago’s career. Looking at the de Portago photos, I felt a certain, well not joy exactly, but they felt right. Young de Portago playing racing driver in a kiddie car somehow proved that he died doing what he loved.

These photos, however, give me a different feeling, even though the comparison is almost exactly the same. The photo of the young Rodríguez brothers in racing helmets might give me the same feeling, but I can’t help but think of what Pedro must have felt like getting back into a racing car after Ricardo’s death. How difficult it must have been to climb back into the racing car, but not being able not to. The idea of racing as a passion appeals to me, but in this light it’s more racing as obsession—as addiction—and while I can understand that, it makes these photos feel more heartbreaking.

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In Praise of the Illustrated Magazine Cover

Contemporary racing magazine creative directors take note: these Sports Car Graphic covers from 1963 and 1964 are absolutely astounding. With such a wealth of fantastic automotive artists out there, It’s a pity that the notion of the illustrated magazine cover is about as dead as it can be. Don’t get me wrong, I’m an enormous fan of a brilliant cover photograph. I do think, however, that if one of the racing rags were to try an illustrated cover it couldn’t help but stand out amidst the sea of sameness that is automotive magazine cover design.

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A Fourth Dimension in Driving

“What happened to gravity?

The casual way a Corvette flattens out the steepest hill you’ve ever seen makes you believe for a minute that Newton’s law has been repealed. Not so; gravity is still operating. It’s just that you’ve never piloted anything with the fantastic push this jewel generates.

But a Corvette makes everything so easy. Not just because its precision-balanced V8 can punch out more power-per-pound than any other engine in America. But because it answers a driver’s faintest hint so instantly and accurately. Because it stops flat, true and right NOW! Because its authentic sports car steering puts the car exactly where you want it, to the inch.

If you never have sampled a genuine sports car it may be hard for you to imagine what all this can mean. But the remedy for that is as close as your phone. Call your Chevrolet dealer now for an appointment—and let him show you there really is a fourth dimension to driving!

Corvette by Chevrolet.
Chevrolet Division by General Motors, Detroit 2, Michigan”

Jim & Chester’s Garage via *Fragments

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Wandering the Pits. '64 USGP.

The Nostalgia Forum never fails to amaze me with the endless fountain of motorsport minutae. Forum member cstlhn uploaded these photos from his trip to The Glen for the ’64 USGP. This notion of wandering through the pits, capturing these moments of drivers and techs going over the car; getting close enough to the rear end of that Honda to reach out and grab the car; and going over last minute strategies is just so marvelously compelling—and sorely missed.

Set aside a few dozen hours and click over to the Personal Photos from the Track thread for 105 pages of amazing.

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Grid Schematic of the Past

Do any publications still use this format for describing the starting grid of Formula 1 races?

I see this format or variations of it frequently in old magazine clippings and books and I find it to be immediately browsable. It gives a great deal of information for as simple as it is—the indication of the direction of turn 1 just makes it all the better.

The ’64 South African GP had a Hell of a grid, eh?

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Making Promises

The BBC gets it. They know why people still love Formula 1. They know the importance of the heritage of the sport. They’ve demonstrated it perfectly in this clip that served as the introduction to the 2011 season.

I wonder why Formula 1 doesn’t know it themselves.

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The Automotive Photography of Jonny Shears

Jonny Shears’ video edit of his grandfather’s film in the previous post was excellent, but I think it’s only right to point out that he’s pretty handy with a lens as well. There’s some marvelously moody shots in the automotive series on his portfolio. They evoke a drama that tells a story far beyond what we usually see in shots from the pits of historic races. It’s easy to take a photo that says nothing more than “hey, cool car”, it’s something else entirely to portray a mood; to show the form, yes, but to capture the tension of the calm before the action elevates mere snapshots to a greater level.

Click on over for the rest of the set.

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Granddad's Sebring

Many times you’ve heard me say, virtually each time I show a photo that features a photographer perched perilously close to the track, that I long to see the photos taken by that photographer. It’s usually the result of me imagining what it might be like to see the race through that person’s eyes. It’s easy to forget that on the other side of every great motorsport photo was a photographer standing, waiting for the perfect moment to freeze in time. When I see images of those photographers standing trackside, I’m reminded of that.

Jonny's Gramps

Yesterday I got an email that captures something of that desire. Automotive photographer Jonny Shears emailed me to let me know that I’d recently posted a photo of his grandfather hunched over the bonnet of an OSCA competing at the 1960 Sebring. That’s him there in the black shirt peeking into the #63 OSCA of John Gordon & John Bentley. Amazing to think of Jonny sitting down to his computer and unexpectedly coming across a photo of his grandfather. Even better, Jonny had recently edited together some footage that his granddad had shot at that very race and at LeMans of the same year—the year he was managing the OSCA racing team—and wondered if I’d like to see it.

Would I like to see it? Of course!

Thanks for sending this along, Jonny. It’s stories like this that make the vintage sportscar community so endlessly fascinating.

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A Highly Developed Sense of Timing

If you were racing here tomorrow you’d wear a Rolex.

Sliding through a corner at 170 m.p.h. a Formula One Grand Prix car is travelling roughly 17 yards in a fifth of a second.

So to say Grand Prix racing drivers have a highly developed sense of timing is something of an understatement. Their lives depend on it.

Many of them wear a chronometer they call the best in the world. Its Oyster case is carved out of a solid block of 18 ct. gold or Swedish stainless steel. So much of the work is done by hand, each Rolex Oyster takes more than a year to make.

Jackie Stewart thinks it is time well spent.

The Rolex he wears is the Datejust.

Rolex of Geneva.
Write to Rolex, Geneva, Switzerland for free colour catalogue.

RolexBlog via BZR.

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