|Rear View Mirror|
Backward glances at racing history
Nostalgia Is Still What It Used To Be
|by Don Capps, U.S.A.|
I have always found that books and magazines are probably the best time machines that will ever be invented. I will often find myself picking up one of my magazines - an Autosport, On Track, Motor Sport, Road & Track, Car and Driver, Sports Car Graphic, or whatever - and find myself transported to somewhere else as I read through the magazine. The same, of course, applied to books.
I recently purchased up the new Pete Lyons book, Can Am Photo History, and managed to while away several hours without any effort. Although I have read the Greg Fielden series on the history of NASCAR Grand National racing from cover to cover many, many times, whenever I pick up a volume it is still difficult to put it down. No different for many of the other books I own. I pick up an old Autocourse and there goes an hour or so easily if I am not careful. I pick up a Dick Wallen book or one of Doug Nye's many books or any volume of Paul Sheldon's series on Grand Prix and Voiturette racing and that is it for me. I often marvel that I get as much done as I do.
I have a small stack of a great old magazine called Grand Prix International sitting on my desk. These particular issues date back to the 1981 season. I pulled them out for a possible article and they seemed to have never gotten back to their appointed place in the stacks. I really used to like this magazine because it had just great pictures and was just an absolute ball to read. It generally pulled no punches and let things fall where they might. It also had a great section in each issue ("published 10 days after each Grand Prix") that covered chassis numbers and notes concerning the cars.
As I look over the table of contents for the GPI for 20 February 1981, which covered the 1981 South African Grand Prix, it has "Wattie Speaks Out," "Face to Face" with Elio de Angelis, a race report and associated information, Colin Chapman discussing the FISA and FOCA compromise from an engineering viewpoint, "A Night at the Albert Hall" starring David Thieme the boss Essex - the then sponsor of Lotus, "A Change for Fittipaldi" in which Mike Doodson looks at the Fittipaldi team sans recently retired team boss Emerson, and "Tyrrell Takes Stock" in which Ken Tyrrell discusses his upcoming season without any sponsorship currently on the cars. Wow!
Ah, but Issue 33 for 10 June 1981, really captures my attention: on the cover is Gilles Villeneuve in his Ferrari 126C at Monte Carlo. Inside are enough pictures of the race to make even me happy. Also inside is an interview with Hector Rebaque and a look at the recently retired Jody Scheckter with sons Toby and Thomas. In the section on the cars themselves at Monte Carlo, not only superb data, but some really great shots of the cars as well. I really like the one of Arrows of Riccardo Patrese sitting on the curb with fluids pouring out the back!
Also sitting on my desk is another stack of magazines, these dating back to the 1964 season. There are several issues each of Sports Car Graphic, Road & Track, Motor, Car and Driver, and Autocar. On top is a copy of the December 1964 issue of Sports Car Graphic. It has a cover picture of red Sunbeam Tiger with a tiger in the cockpit. It cost a whole 50 cents at the newsstand back then. In the contents under "Competition," it lists reports for the Riverside GP, the Italian GP, the US GP, the Road America 500, the Bridgehampton Double 500, the Tour de France, and the Canadian GP. Plus there is an interview with Ronnie Bucknum, an article on Cobras doing the hillclimbs in Europe, and Peter Ustinov discussing the fascination of Le Mans.
There is a technical article on something called an Attila-Ford, which is Englishman's Roy Pierpoint's solution of how to get more from your Climax-powered club racer: yank out the Climax FPF and drop in a 289 (4.7 litres) Ford that has been obtained from Holman-Moody. Oh, in the report on the Canadian GP held at Mosport, there is a picture of the Jim Hall Chaparral that was seemingly badly damaged after his accident during the race. Oh, did I mention that the GP was for big banger sports cars back then? And there is also a wonderful picture of George Alderman at the helm of a Genie-Alfa Romeo leading the 500K event of GT and Prototype cars under 1.6-litres. That is, he led until the engine block saw a rod exit through a big hole in the side of the aforementioned block.
The December 1964 Road & Track is bit more upscale, only the Italian and US Grands Prix are listed in the contents under "Competition." The report on the Italian race is by the one-and-(sadly)-only Henry N. Manney. And it is pure Manney. The US GP report by Tony Hogg is well written and informative in the best sense of the word, but after the HNM report on the Italian race it is merely brilliant while Henry's is the stuff of genius.
R&T generally crams all the news that fits into a section called "About the Sport." This issue reports Jim Hall winning the USRRC crown, Walt Hansgen winning the Bridgehampton Double 500, Cobra not winning the Tour de France, and Pedro Rodriguez winning the Canadian GP. Speaking of the USRRC (US Road Racing Championship to those new to the sport...), a driver from Gladwyne, PA was fourth in the standings for 1964. His name? Roger Penske. And tied for 13th in the standings with the nine points from his win in the Under 2-litre category at Riverside was Bobby Unser. Whatever R&T lacked on the racing side it made up for with articles on the Bertone Alfa Giulietta Sprint (fabulous car!), the Alfa GTZ, the NSU Wankel Spider, and the new Corvette.
Maybe one of the best parts of old magazines are their advertisements. In the R&T, the inside cover has a VW Beetle with different colored parts from 1958, 1959, 1964, and 1962 models as proof that VW parts are interchangeable from one year to the next. It looks very similar to one I later owned in fact. We are also reminded that there are 5,174 reasons to buy a Peugeot, that being the number of "separate inspection procedures" each car under goes. We are also reminded that sunroof, reclining seats, and Michelin X tires are standard. On the other hand, perhaps the '65 Dodge Coronet with a 426 Hemi is more your speed. And you could pick up the new BMW 1800 TI Sport from "sole importer" Max Hoffman for a mere $3,530.
We are also reminded that A.J. Foyt uses DuPont Zerex in his Mecom team car. For you rally (or rallye) types, you could plunk down $89.50 for your Halda Speedpilot plus either the Twinmaster ($89.50) or the Tripmaster ($59.50) and go forth armed to the teeth with the cutting edge of rallying technology. Was the Rover 2000 ugly or what? A mere $5,525 (P.O.E.) and you could drive off a new Jaguar XK-E Roadster. Or, you could pick up a Griffith Series 200 ("Powered by Ford") for a mere $3,995 if you were so inclined: "Goes like all get out for those who like to get out and go!" However, one advertisement does strike home: the Oldsmobile 442. I actually owned a 1965 442: "400-cubic-inch V-8, 4-barrel carb and twin pipes..." Ah, youth!
The 10 October 1964 issue of Motor is pushing a feature on accessories. Only earlier in the year did Motor drop having advertising on the cover. There is a test on the Sunbeam Alpine IV equipped with an automatic transmission, a true novelty in that day and age. I still think the Alpine was a nice looking car. However, the Tiger was a superb car, especially the 289 version, but I digress. The report of the US GP at Watkins Glen is the major sporting news in the issue. There is also an announcement of the death of Charles Cooper, the founder of Cooper Cars.
In the "Cyril Posthumus on the Sporting Side" column, the lead story is that Jackie Stewart will drive for BRM in 1965. There is also an update on Peter Arundell who is still at St. Georges, Hyde Park Corner after his accident at Rheims in July. He is now up and about on canes, but still hoping to be ready for the South African GP. Mike Parkes is also on the mend after bending a Ferrari GT prototype at Modena. After being in a plaster corset, he is now sporting a special leather waistcoat make specially for him by the father of retired driver Mike McKee, an orthopedic specialist.
The 9 October 1964 issue of Autocar still carries advertising on it, this issue hawking the "New Singer Chamois." There is a report on the International Drag Festival Final where "TV" Tommy Ivo managed to beat "Big Daddy" Don Garlits off the line and win the fuel category. Tony Nancy in "The Wedge" captured the gas category despite blowing the engine just short of the trap. "The Wedge" was the first successful rear-engined dragster by the way.
The report on the US GP is quite a bit more complete than that of the one in Motor. Peter Garnier in "The Sport" states that the above mentioned Peter Arundell has finally departed the St. George's Hospital for his home in Essex. The Ferodo advertisement features the smiling face of Graham Hill, the first three places in the US GP being fitted with Ferodo brake pads. And, there is a look at a Taurus tweaked Wolseley Hornet Mk. II. It sure looked like a Mini to me, but perhaps that was the point.
One issue of Road & Track did gather a bit more attention than intended: the August 1964 issue has the picture of an Italian V-12 on the cover, but it isn't a Ferrari. It is a Lamborghini. In 1964, the Lamborghini was brand new and most figured it wouldn't last. The 350 GT was engineered by the 24-year old Giampaolo Dallara, fresh out of the university at Milan. There is also a road test of the Ford Mustang with the 289 engine. This was when the Mustang was brand-new and all the rage. The upgrade to the "big" V-8 and the other goodies cost you an additional $408 back then. The two race reports - the Monaco and Dutch races - are by that Henry N. Manney fellow and worth the 50 cents that were paid to wrench this fine example of literature from the news vendor.
Considering that I fully intended to actually start a discussion on some issue of Great Importance before I got diverted by reading the magazines on my desk, I will have to return next time and try to recall whatever it was that I meant to write about.
|Don Capps||© 2000 Kaizar.Com, Incorporated.|
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