As promised….a story a day for 2 weeks….then Rick and I are going on another cross-country road trip to save a number of fiberglass relics. I think Robert Frost once wrote about vintage fiberglass cars and the act of saving them…..”miles to go before we sleep”. Some of you know how much territory Rick and I cover when partnered together on the road. More about that later…
I met Peter McKercher a few months back when I contacted the Singer club in requesting help on locating the Jules Heumann Singer Special. Peter is Vice President of the North American Singer Owners Club, founder of the Canadian Singer Registry and a longstanding member of the UK Singer Owners Club. Most recently, he published a book entitled Racing Roadsters – Singer’s Post War Racing History in North America, detailing Singer’s little known or forgotten role in the Sports Car Racing scene of the Fabulous Fifties. Peter and I share a passion for bringing forth those things forgotten…
You’d be suprised how many fiberglass sports cars and race cars were built on Singer platforms back in the 1950’s. With his help and that of Phillip Avis who is an avid historian of Singer automobiles also, I’ve learned quite a bit more about these cars – that I’m looking forward to sharing with each of you in future stories.
Now….on to the quest. Elusive to the research of fiberglass sports cars are beautiful high resolution color pictures – and color/black and white film of events from back in the day. Peter forwarded me some video from http://thechicaneblog.com/ which has some fantastic color racing film from events in the 1950’s. The first film to treat you to is that of the Torrey Pines Road Race, November 1954. Of course there are the usual and normal Ferraris, Porsches, and Phil Hill type of cars shown racing. We’ve seen those all before. But what about the rare and elusive fiberglass sports cars from the 1950’s??? Those are far more interesting to each of you – I know each of you very well.
Well…when you view the video below and go about 3 minutes in, you’ll find a Kaiser Darrin being pursued by a Skorpion (probably a Super Skorpion with V8 60 Ford Flathead – built by Doug Carruthers or Don Edmonds – we’ll cover those cars in another story later). Checkout the video and find these cars at between the 3:15 and 3:20 minute location on the film. The total film is about 8 minutes – no sound so you’ll have to provide your own. Vroommm Vrooom…..here’s the video:
In his original e-mail to me, Peter points out some other interesting cars in the film. Here are his comments:
Here’s an interesting clip…that shows both my elusive black glass racing singer and a Darrin Special in action. The KD is driven by Ray Sinatra (Frank’s cousin) and/or Dutch Darrin.
The Singer (#133) can be seen at 3:09, 4:56 and 5:10 in the clip
The Kaiser Darrin is #50 is at 3:15
The original video is posted on the following webpage for those of you who would like to see more of the context of the film and the website:
Here’s what the page above says about the history of the film you are watching:
Here’s another Chicane-exclusive film from sportscar fan, San Diego Jr. Chamber of Commerce member (who helped create the Torrey Pines track), and a pretty darn good shot with a film camera, John McClure. This time it’s the track he was most intimately involved in for the November 1954 race. It was our Torrey Pines post in the Lost Tracks series that prompted Mr. McClure to contact me and offer up this brilliant footage.
The film starts with the LeMans syle running start of the 6 Hours endurance race. The race was ultimately won by Lou Brero in a C-Type, with the von Neumann Ferrari 500 Mondial finishing 2nd. The Ferrari is the #39 car that we see quite a lot of in this footage that looks pink in this film – I’m assuming due to the film processing and not the color sensibilities of the car owner.
Jags, MGs, Gullwing Mercedes, and OSCAs feature prominently in the film, along with Porsche 356s, and a few Ferraris. I don’t know what the story was with this tree, but it seems to be magnetic — lots of narrow misses overrunning the turn at what I’m assuming was a high-speed straight. I also like some of the footage of the spectators here. It wasn’t just the drivers that could get away with more than you can today—let’s see what happens when you try and start a small bonfire to keep warm at the corner of any track these days.
Thanks again to Peter McKercher for sharing such cool stuff he found on the internet. We work together as a team, gang, and everyone has fun and benefits from this research.
Keep on sending stuff our way Peter, and hope all of you enjoy the video…
Click on the Images Below to View Larger Pictures