Archive for February, 2013

More Examples of This Not Working

'60s and '10s Porsche 911

Advertisers! Abandon this concept. It makes exactly zero people want the new one.

1970 and 2008 Dodge Challengers'50s and '80s Mercedes

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1957 Cuban GP in Color

Fangio's Maserati at the 1957 Cuban GP

Fangio's Maserati at the 1957 Cuban GPEugenio Castelloti's Ferrari 121LM at the 1957 Cuban GP1957 Cuban GP Grid

Masten Gregory's Ferrari 500 TR

Cuban Grand Prix in Havana, 1957John Killborn's Ferrari 121LMAlfonso de Portago's Ferrari 857S

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906 Illustration Brings the Blur

Porsche 906 sketch by Mike Kim

I adore this “sketch” by automotive designer Mike Kim. Bringing the movement and shake and blur that has always been a favorite element of great racing photography to illustration… Now that’s something. Shows you how great it can be when automotive designers take a break from sketching cars of the future and take up their Prismacolors to doodle the machines of the past.

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Factories at Work: Building the Spyders

Spyder prep at the Teloché Garages near LeMans Circuit.

I make no bones about the fact that the Porsche 550 Spyder is my all-time favorite racing car. I’ve been collecting photos and pouring over reproduction shops’ brochures for this sexy little thing since I was 15 years old. With that in mind, it’s hard to believe that I’ve never showcased the Spyder’s build in our “Factories at Work” series. Partly this is due to the complexity of coachbuilt construction. It’s difficult enough to find photos of just one workshop hammering out the bodies for historic sports and racing cars. With the 550, there were 8 prototypes built in various locations. Truthfully, I don’t know which of these images are Zuffenhausen, which are Wiedenhausen Karosserie and which are Wendler. They all had a hand in early 550 builds.

Porsche 550 Spyder assembly

It’s always a bit jarring to see these machines under construction. Particularly seeing the rear half of the Spyder frame. A bit like the Birdcage, it’s striking how delicate and fragile she looks. Imagining the 4-cam type 547 engine revving high, fighting to break free from the motor mounts that buckle her in place. It’s almost difficult to believe that this little box of toothpicks can hold it in there. Racing bicycle frames have thicker tubes than this. Even so, it’s that delicate nature of her that is part of the allure; the danger that it hints at and the grace that it seems to lend to her movements.

Of course it’s also just a treat to see this many of ’em in a room together.

Wendler Workshop assembling the first Porsche 550 Spyder customer carsPorsche 550 Spyder buildsPorsche 550 Spyder builds

Most images via Type550.com, where Andrew has put together an extensive list of the particular Spyder builds, with information for several specific chassis. Fantastic as always.

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Dick Stockton: A Life In Racing

Editor’s note: Rich Stickley wrote in recently about his acquaintance and unsung American racing legend Dick Stockton. He’s a frequent mention in the history of American road racing, but there’s not been much of a proper writeup on the man. Rich had recently recorded a short interview with Dick and wrote in asking if The Chicane would be interested in putting up an article about him. I’m guessing you know the answer to that question… I’ll let Rich tell you the rest of the story.

Dick Stockton WrenchingFor many of us, motor sports in the 1960’s were something we either watched from behind the tire walls as children, or look back on in some sort of nostalgic awe. We think of men with cold dead eyes piercing through the grime of their goggles, racing on the brink of death amidst an orchestra of side draft carburetor trumpets, snarling side pipes, and screeching tires, and we cannot help but be drawn in. Of course, there are others who look back on motor sports in the 1960’s and say, “It’s just stuff to me.” They were there, right in the thick of it. One of these men is Dick Stockton.

Originally from Pennsylvania, Dick didn’t take the plunge into motor sports until the Air Force shipped him off to California. Here he began attending races as a spectator, and picked up an old Ford Roadster to tinker around with. This wasn’t enough though, and a short while later Dick purchased an Austin Healey 100-4, which he raced at Stockton air port and a few other places in the Northern California area.

Aluminum Bodied Elva MK4

After his time in the service, Dick worked at a Chrome plating shop in California for a few months, but eventually decided to head home where he ended up working as a mechanic outside of Philadelphia for an Englishman who he recalls being “a real wheeler-dealer type of guy.” It was here that he ended up working on the Austin Healey 100-4 of Steve McQueen, who was in the area filming his first major film, The Blob.

Dick Stockton in a CobraDick continued to bounce around a bit as a mechanic, and eventually grew tiresome of working for “wheeler-dealers.” He decided to open his own speed shop with a friend of his in the early 60’s in Abington, Pennsylvania. Shortly after opening though, the friend left, and Dick found himself running the whole show himself. Dick’s shop went on to develop quite a reputation for building and maintaining top notch race cars. In engine tuning, Dick stood with the best of them. The Toyota Celica he built and maintained for Buzz Marcus captured the first professional Toyota victory in the United States, and it is said in some circles that if Dick merely touches your car, it will gain 10 horsepower. The shop had an elevator to get cars onto the second floor, but the belt for the elevator’s motor was long gone so, as Dick put it, “who ever volunteered, or whoever I told to do it, had to go up on the third floor, grab a hold of the wheel and pull the elevator up.” The second floor became home to a myriad of race cars over the years, from a Ferrari 500 TRC to a 265 Chevy, but perhaps one of the most historically important cars kept up there was a Turner who belonged to a local guy. His name was Skip Barber, and at the time he was looking for somewhere to work on his car, as he was just starting out in racing. Dick remembers jokingly, “I dunno if he’d recognize me… He basically built [that car] on the second floor of the shop. He had it balled up, I think, most of the time.”

Duct taped Cobra on the grid. "If you can't fix it, Duck it."Along side maintaining and building race cars for others, Stockton also quite successfully raced a number of iconic cars throughout his life in racing including a Datsun 510, an early Corolla, a Vulcan Formula 5000 car, and even a rare aluminum bodied Elva. In the late 60’s Dick acquired a 289 AC Shelby Cobra for the modest price of 5,000 dollars from Gene Fisher. Stockton remembers this car very fondly, claiming “in a cobra back then you didn’t drive around a corner, you drove around a corner sliding,” and on famous tires at that. Dick remembers, “one of my customers at the time happened to run the tire store for Roger Penske… tires for the cobra [were] the same size [Mark] Donohue was running on the Camaro in the late ’60s early ’70s. I would buy the scrubs from Donohue’s Camaro for 25 dollars a piece. At one time I had current tire of the week club.”

In 1965 at the SCCA runoffs in Daytona, Dick , his Triumph TR4, and Dick’s crew ended up sharing a garage in the pits with Bob Tullius and his Group 44 team for the race. This led Dick to come to the conclusion, “a group is an organized bunch of people, right? A crowd is a bunch of disorganized people. That was us.” It was from these thoughts that The 71 Crowd was born, and a rivalry between the two teams began. Dick even remembers moving things around in his bay to trick the Group 44 guys into thinking that he was changing the set up on his car, with the hopes of psyching out his competition. Eventually things escalated and became a big enough deal at the runoffs that year that Dick remembers, “a local TV station picked up on it and they interviewed me and all that.”

Group 44 Triumph. Donut shaped tire marks courtesy of Dick's carDick's TR4 pretty much as it stands today (aside from the rear end being a mess at the moment).Dick Stockton Vulcan F5000

Towards the end of the 70s and into the 80s, Dick didn’t do much racing, and in 1996, he closed his shop due to being “fed up with people and customers.” However, in the last decade or so, Dick decided to track down his old TR4, buy it back, and have another go at things. Within no time at all Dick has found him self right back at the top, and his Triumph is easily one of the fastest SCCA Vintage TR4’s in the country. His car set up is nothing short of innovative, and Dick says of his current impact on vintage racing, “I kind of think I opened up the door a little for some of the people racing TR4s on the east coast. My car is constantly being developed.” At 79 years old, Dick still does most of his own mechanical work, and is extremely competitive on the track to this day. Currently working on repairs after hitting the wall at a VRG event held at New Jersey Motorsports Park last September, Dick plans on being fully ready for the upcoming vintage racing season, and more competitive than ever.

Here’s some on-board footage with Dick from the 2011 SVRA Feature race at New Jersey Motorsports Park.

—Rich Stickley.

Special thanks to Bob Adams for tracking down and taking pictures and videos, and for introducing me to Dick.

More photos and information about Dick and his racing team on The 71 Crowd’s Facebook page.

[Great, right? Have an idea for a post? Some old photos in the closet? Let me know about it—Harlo.]

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Dean Walton's "Iconic Racing" Poster Series

Dean Walton's GT40 PosterDean Walton's Ferrari 250 GTO PosterDean Walton's Lancia Stratos Poster Paring iconic racing cars back to a simple illustration of their roofline silhouette and best known liveries makes for a wonderful poster execution by designer Dean Walton. Click on through to his store to browse the complete series.

Might be time to clear some wall space.

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Chapman Talks Lotus. 1968.

I could watch this for the opening title cards alone. The cold open on the first lap of a GP panning to Chapman with the word “millionaire” reversed out without explanation. The production quality is almost kitschy and the commentator and interviewer seem much more in the financial outcomes than the successes on track. Despite a bit of cheese, it’s a marvelous artifact of one of the high points of team Lotus and a rare opportunity to see extensive interviews with Chapman and Graham Hill in one of the most intense and exciting eras in the team’s history. It’s also a great to see Chapman trackside diagnosing a mechanical failure in Jackie Oliver’s car. It’s a great insight into the inner workings of the legendary engineer’s mind.

I particularly enjoy seeing a bit of the Lotus offices. It could have been a prototype of Stirling-Cooper’s offices, but with a Lotus formula car plunked in the middle of the typing pool.

Fantastic.

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1961 Monaco Grid on the Living Room Wall

Paul Chenard's 1961 Monaco grid mural

Paul Chenard's 1961 Monaco grid muralFriend of the blog and accomplished automotive artist Paul Chenard sent along a photo of his latest personal project: A mural of the 1961 Monaco Grand Prix grid. It’s a marvelous way to unite his well-known motoring collection and I hope that by sharing it here it will inspire graffiti writers and street artists to drop their sharpies and take inspiration from this particular piece. Every day on my walk to work I pass poorly executed throw ups.

I think we’d all rather see more walls adorned with Moss’ #20 Lotus, Richie Ginther’s #36 Ferrari, and Jim Clark’s #28 Lotus on our walks through downtown.

Looks fantastic, Paul. Thanks for sending it in.

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Reader Photo: John Shingleton's Monza Pits 1981

Ligier pits. Monza. 1981.

John Shingleton emailed me what he calls his favorite photo. Considering John’s photographic experience, that’s quite a statement indeed. I’ll let John explain:

“Of the thousands of motor racing photos I have taken over 50 years this is my absolute all time favourite. It was taken on Kodachrome 25 slide film during the Saturday afternoon practice session at the 1981 Italian Grand Prix at Monza. It has it all -Monza- a fantastic, circuit with a unique atmosphere-that diffuse yellow light you get on a hot late summer afternoon in Northern Italy-wonderful cars being worked on in the pit lane in full view of everyone-not closeted away behind closed doors as happens now-a pit lane dolly in shorts-enthusiastic onlookers everywhere. And those great big slick donut tyres-no silly one-make control tyres in those days. And it is Italy. Wonderful. And perhaps above all else it has that wonderful film “look” is so appropriate for the time.”

You owe it to yourself to see more of John’s photos on his Rolling Road blog. Thanks, John!

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Return of the Sharknose

I’m not one to quibble about replica vs. re-creation vs. continuation but I know that these kinds of builds get some people’s dander up. With no surviving example, I can’t imagine that there are many who would argue the merits of this project. After all, it’s about as legit a Ferrari 156 as we’re ever likely to see.

The car itself has been making quite a splash on the european vintage circuit but even if it is a few years old, the video is well worth a watch. I’d like to see more of these kinds of builds and hope that the skills to do so don’t become so scarce that it gets even more difficult to make them happen.

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