The photos below were taken by Tom Cardin and lent to me by William Hoskins, who used to race a Skoda-based Devin in the '50s and now races a Riley at historic races, such as the 1996 Monterey Historic.
For the past few years new pages on this subject have been set up. I'd like to highlight two:
The first is about the Virginia International Raceway created by Nick England.
The second which is similar in scope to mine was created by Tam McPartland and it is simply called the Tam's Old Race Car Site
Although a few races were held before the 2nd World War, the movement
really got under way in 1946, with the formation of the Sports Car Club
of America in New England.
From the six founders the membership grew to 300 within two years.
In late 1948 the first amateur International GP was run at Watking Glen, NY.
Soon the west got the bug. The first remarkable event was held on April, 1948 when 35 members of the California Sports Car Club held a race at Sandberg.
And soon the craze went higher. Bizarre and obscure creations emerged along with MGs, Mercedes SLs and others. Would You care add more to this story?
Here's an example:
Torrey Pines was the first road crace of the California Sports Car Club. The pictures were taken in 1954. The accompanying story is by Bill Hoskins about his racing days.
Some more pictures from the Torrey Pines 1954 race:
The Parkinson Jaguar
My first road-race was an aberation, according to my father; it must be known that he raced motorcycles and midget race cars..."them funny little furrin' cars" were beneath his notice, and weren't real cars - after all, they only held two people, the steering wheels (in most cases) were on the "wrong" side, they were old-fashioned, they weren't "practical", etc., etc.
In spite of all this, his only-begotten 11-year-old son insisted on being allowed to go 250 miles (in the company of Easterners, no less!) in order to spectate at a race. This was in 1951 in West Texas, and the race was to be held in Ft. Sumner, New Mexico. Finally, the parents relented, and I found myself in the boot of an MG-TC (along with a toolbox), on my way to Ft. Sumner. What my parents didn't know was that it was planned to race the TC! Upon arrival, we removed the muffler, folded the windscreen flat, changed the spark plugs, painted numbers on the doors (with shoe polish!) and declared the car ready for competition!
Morris Minor special
In retrospect, it seems that we (the owners of the car and I), were exceptionally lucky - no damage was sustained during the course of the weekend, the engine and gearbox survived in good repair, and come Sunday night, we were on our way back to El Paso. We didn't win, but we had a great time, and that eleven-year-old boy was changed forever; he is STILL going to races, 45 years later!
Racing during this era was far more, shall I say, "casual" than today. Courses were surrounded (at a minimum distance of perhaps 10 feet!) by snow fencing (wooden slats wired together, approximately 4 feet high), and corners were marked by haybales. Driver's "gear" usually consisted of jeans and a T-shirt (the really professional guys wore blue Dunlop coveralls with elastic cuffs - very snazzy!), tennis shoes, string-back gloves, military-surplus goggles, and either cloth helmets or polo helmets.
Ken Miles MG Special "R1"
Phil Hill Ferrari Mexico
There were no roll bars, seat-belts, fire extinguishers, or anything else. You showed up with your car, paid your entry fee, put your car through scrutineering (tech inspection), and if it passed, you were assigned a class and you ran. Period. Paddock areas were open; there were no special passes required to get "up close and personal" with the owner/drivers and their cars; they were eager to talk to all and sundry about their cars; everybody knew each other and (pretty much) got along and helped each other - if one of your competitors needed a part that you happened to have, you lent it to him, even though he just might beat you in the race.
The closest approach to this today is in Vintage Racing...once again, we all "drive Jags and MGs and every- body likes each other"...and we have a hell of a lot of fun doing it!
Even the cost of admission to the events was reasonable - it seems to me that (since I was under 12) it cost my hosts all of $2.50 for my entire weekend ticket! The important thing was to be able to compete, and to enjoy yourself while doing so. We all considered ourselves a "band of brothers" - drivers of sportscars waved to each other on the road, much as do motorcyclists today. There were no politics, no jealousy (except of those wealthy or lucky enough to own a car that we lusted for!), no dislikes of each other...just a close-knit unit, a self-contained community of individuals with a common bond in cars that would do things that most people could never imagine, and you could actually have FUN doing these things!
Accident involving a Stanguellini, a Bandini, a Manning-Mercury and a Talbot- Lago
Ken Miles battling with a Porsche 356 MG TC after a collision with a tree An old Simplex MG TC
And other pictures just to show what I got:
Paramount Ranch 1956
It was about a mile from the Chesborough Rd somewhere in LA. Bert Brown added the following in January, 1999:
The facility was owned by Paramount Studios and is located out of Los Angeles near the town of Agoura. The last sanctioned sports car event run there was December 8, 1957. The track still existed as of the early 90's. The track was an unusual configuration because it looped over itself in a rough figure 8 configuration. This forced the use of a bridge. The track was considered dangerous at the time and a couple of deaths and injuries really forced its closure.
Bruce Kessler Ferrari 750 Monza
Ritchie Ginther with an Aston DB3S
The Swiss Rudy Kleye with his Mercedes 300SL
Ken Miles with his Porsche 500 and Bob Drake with a Climax-powered Cooper owned by Joe Lubin.
The Cooper in action
Phil Hill? in a C-type Jag
Lotus 5 or 6 driven by Jay Chamberlain. In the background Bill Hoskins' Cooper 500
Willow Springs around 155
XK-120 off-course :-)
MG "Zoloton special"
Commentary by Bill Hoskins: they were the most outrageous cheaters.
Cooper 500 cc
XK120, MG - typical racing pic
The Parkinson-Jaguar and a Kurtis
Allard J2 Special
Fageol special. 1500 cc Porsche engine in each end. This is pictured
Disclaimer: These information are destined to enjoy the history of the cars not to grab pictures from here and feature elsewhere. The same goes for the details. Copyright isn't a meaningful word any more, but be good and don't let me discover Your page featuring info or pix taken from the KTUD Archive.