Archive for July, 2012

Family Photos from the Track: Italian GP, Monza 1960.

This marvelous trove of images from the 1960 Italian Grand Prix not only capture the atmosphere of Monza’s pits, but are a fantastic family heirloom from the photographer. (Update: Tony Adriaensens points out in the comments that the photographer’s name, which was somehow missing from the Ten Tenths thread is Archie Smith and that CorsaResearch will be publishing a book of his photographs—Thanks Tony!)

On the Ten Tenths forums, Cub says: “My father is the photographer. He was and remains an enthusiast for all motor sports. My mother worked in a photography shop and had access to early colour film and bought him a Voigtlander 120 format camera. They embarked on many, many adventures to various locations across Europe at a time when few people choose to drive around the continent for holidays. All of his slides are glass mounted but with rapidly deteriorating and very sticky taped edges.”

And with that, he leads us through the fantastic images his father captured 50 years ago. That he’s scanning these images to preserve them is wonderful, but sharing them with us and the readers on the Ten Tenths forum is truly a public service to vintage racing fans—particularly when so many photographers are increasingly reluctant to share their photos online. Head on over to the thread for more.

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Making Do Without Photography

In our look at the 1959 Examiner Grand Prix at Pomona, I mentioned that Ken Miles was handed the win when Bill Krause had a puncture and spun on the 73rd lap. Since there was no photo available of the moment, illustrator Stan Mott made sure that the readers of MotoRacing news wouldn’t be left wanting. Consider how unlikely that there would be need of a cartoonist whipping something up as coverage for a contemporary race and you’ll understand why I love this kind of thing so much.

Even better, it’s not even the first time we’ve shown an illustration to convey a moment that would surely been photographed and filmed in HD had the race occurred today.

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Reader's Mystery Photo

Cindy sent in this photo belonging to a friend of hers looking for more information. The caption gives the vital details—“Wagner in 100 HP Darracq making a last turn at Krug’s Corner in the Vanderbilt Cup Race”. Well, that should make it easy enough. Minneola, New York’s Krug Hotel marked the 11th turn of the Vanderbilt Circuit in a few of the races. But which Vanderbilt was it? (I know that the circuit changed frequently so someone more knowledgeable on the Vanderbilt races might be able to pinpoint the year just based on the corner naming)

Louis Wagner competed in the 1905 and 1906 races for the Darracq team. He also had a handful of races in Europe with Darracq: He had class wins in 1903 and 1905 at the Circuit des Ardennes Race and Belgium; placed third among voiturettes at the deadly Paris-Madrid Race; and competed in the 1907 Targa Florio. It was the Targa that finally brought Wagner’s long relationship with Darracq to an end. After working as a mechanic for the maker in his teens and racing them in his twenties, Darracq claimed that the differential failure during the 1907 Targa was Wagner’s fault and he abruptly left the team.

Getting back to the photo though, even though we don’t clearly see the large #10s that adorned the grill of the 1906 car, this looks very like the Darracq that he won the 1906 Vanderbilt with alongside riding mechanician Louis Vivet.

What do you think… Did I get it right?

As always, is your source for endless bits on the series, including this much more complete bio of Louis Wagner.

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1959 Examiner Grand Prix, Pomona.

I’m sure that, like me, you’ve found your time disappearing in the Dave Friedman collection at The Henry Ford Museum’s Flickr archive time hole. I’ll be highlighting some favorite sets from the archive over the next few weeks, and what better place to start than the feather in Pomona’s cap: The 1959 Los Angeles Examiner International Grand Prix.

The 150 mile March ’59 event was the largest race ever held at the LA County Fairgrounds circuit and was the first stop on the USAC championship that year. 40,000 spectators saw Ken Miles win the main event in his #50 Porsche 550 with Sam Weiss not far behind in an RSK, both finishing ahead of larger Ferraris, Maseratis, and Chuck Daigh in the Kurtis 500 Buick special.

Miles may have won the day with a 35 second margin but it wasn’t exactly a walk away win. Bill Krause blew a tire and spun his Maserati 450S on turn 4 of the 73rd lap of the 75 lap race, letting Ken Miles’ 550 make off with the $15,000 purse. Krause would ultimately limp home in 4th place—an impressive enough feat on its own. The race also might have been very different if Dan Gurney’s Ferrari 375 that he put on pole and led with for the first third of the race hadn’t had a camshaft failure.

More photos from the collection on The Henry Ford’s Flickr.

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PVGP Historic Races – Wampum, PA – 07/13/12

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Moroccan GP, 1958

What do you think it would take to get Formula 1 back to Casablanca?

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Just a Healey Pulling in for a Fill-Up

Rick sent in a link to this photo on the Anaheim Historical Society blog and I’m glad he did.

Even though the Austin-Healey 100 in the foreground is hardly identifiable to the casual observer, it is a vital part of the image. I know that because this was no casual snapshot by a pedestrian on the curb. This is a Julius Shulman photograph, who knows a thing or two about capturing an image of a piece of architecture. The gloved driver (captured here in her own car) is the wife of one of the Mobil station’s architects Whitney Smith or Wayne Williams.

Why did Schulman compose the image in this way? The Healey does help frame the photograph and give it some context while showing it in use. For me though, I immediately notice the design cues of the Austin-Healey; particularly one of my all-time favorite elements of automotive design—a feature that I’m surprised never became more popular in mid-century sportscar design: the folding windscreen. Something magical happens when you fold the Healey’s windscreen from the more upright touring mode to the raked, nearly flat racing angle. It is a sort of “call to arms” that must have been a thrilling ritual for many a Healey driver.

But perhaps that’s part of what Schulman intended with this photo. Pairing a modern piece of automotive design with an equally modern architectural nod to the automobile’s service. It makes me wonder if part of why recent automotive design has started to falter. Maybe there’s an unconsciously necessary balance of design and as the design of gas stations suffer, everything around it must fall to an equal level. After all, when a gas station can look this beautiful doesn’t your car need to follow suit?

Check out Rick’s restoration journal of his Healey BJ7 (future Reader Restoration, Rick?) and read more about this wonderful photograph at the Anaheim Historical Society.

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Vanwall Modeller's Guide

Model makers have a bit of a reputation for being fastidious about the details. Ostensibly, this illustration by R. Pawlowicz for Modelarz magazine is meant to simply guide a model-maker in their own reproduction of a ’56—’59 Vanwall GP car like the one Tony Brooks piloted in the 1958 Monaco. But just look at the inset detail illustrations of the De Dion axle, the mirrors, or the scoops and vents. Any one of these could be hung on their own as a piece of art worthy of any garage. The more typical modellers guide of a simple front, top, and rear view is pitifully bare by comparison.

It’s hard to imagine that any model built from this guide could be a greater work of art than this series of illustrations.

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Portland Historic Races – Portland, OR – 07/07/12

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