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Chassis numbers on entrants' documents


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#1 paulie

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 17:48

I have always assumed that entrants at large international race events would have had to state the chassis number of each car entered in that event along with motor, gearbox, fuel tank specs., etc. So, if I have assumed correctly, clearly 'what' car (chassis no.) raced at 'what' event should be easily available info. from the archives of the event organizers. Right?

Enlighten me, please!

Paulie

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#2 f1steveuk

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 17:55

If you use the words

worms, open, can, new, whole

I used the "official" FIA data sheets (the ones I could extract from the huge block of paper mache they have become), to build the FOM results data base, and some of that is nearly right!

#3 paulie

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 18:16

f1steveuk,

Sorry, but I don't know what "FOM" is....also, what exactly are FIA data sheets?

Paulie

#4 f1steveuk

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 18:25

Sorry, FOM, is Formula One Managment, e.g Bernie Ecclestone's company that runs the sport.

The FIA data sheets are the "official" records kept by the FIA of entries, qaulifying times and results.

As I am sure will be pointed out by those far better qaulified, chassis numbers, particularly in F1 etc, are a fairly "adjustable" piece of data, being swithed around between cars for customs purposes amongst others. My guess is this would also translate into other major International racing series.

#5 David McKinney

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 20:47

The requirement for chassis numbers on entry-forms is relatively recent - 1970s, perhaps?

#6 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 00:44

Originally posted by David McKinney
The requirement for chassis numbers on entry-forms is relatively recent - 1970s, perhaps?


That is what I was thinking as well, David.

Paulie, good luck and I hope you have the patience of Job coupled with a good sense of humor and the ability to accept the fact that there are times when Truth is certainly a very relative concept. Just as "readily available" is simply a term and organizers having an archive of entry forms is a nice thought, you will find that such low-hanging fruit has probably already been harvested, much as Steve indicates.....

#7 Red Socks

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 10:04

In some cases much more recent , until about ten years ago cars taking part in the WRC did not even have to carry chassis numbers-the swopping of cars during events finally got to the point where enough was enough and the rule odf chassis identites was introduced.
However in the context of the sport the chassis number has no meaning at all. The cars are always referrred to by the sporting authorities by their start number, as they are by the commentary/programme teams. To get locked into chassis numbers is meaningless bureaucracy for most organisers-with the honorable exception of Le Mans- the ability to change plates between cars for carnet purposes was a vital tool for crossing borders only, not to maintain an identity for racing. Indeed to oblige the identity of cars at point of entry positively hindered the entry process and the last thing a CoC wanted was the chief technical official arriving to tell him that a car was ineligible because it was not the same chassis number as on the entry form.
As called before good luck in your searching.

#8 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 19:15

Originally posted by Red Socks
However in the context of the sport the chassis number has no meaning at all. The cars are always referrred to by the sporting authorities by their start number, as they are by the commentary/programme teams. To get locked into chassis numbers is meaningless bureaucracy for most organisers-with the honorable exception of Le Mans- the ability to change plates between cars for carnet purposes was a vital tool for crossing borders only, not to maintain an identity for racing. Indeed to oblige the identity of cars at point of entry positively hindered the entry process and the last thing a CoC wanted was the chief technical official arriving to tell him that a car was ineligible because it was not the same chassis number as on the entry form.


As someone who stumbled into this whole jumbled mess of car identity -- chassis numbers -- about five decades ago, at a time when our near complete lack of knowledge was exceeded only by our almost total ignorance, the organizing club or promoters could have cared less for such stuff. That was very much the case for about everyone involved in the sport. Only a very few, such as Denis Jenkinson and later Doug Nye, even tried to sort such things out. Someone who pointed a few of us along that azimuth was Norman Smith, whose "Case History" articles in Autosport were collected into a book of the same name at about this some five decades ago.

When some of us began to track individual racing machines, it must be kept in mind that few of us were even aware that Coopers had actual type numbers which should put things into some perspective. It was often a challenge to just find the Mark number for a car much less its chassis number. Lotus was one of those nice enough to make that information easy for us. While DSJ would on occasion provide a chassis number in an article, that was a rare and extraordinary thing in the 50's & early 60's. Keep in mind that even full results for events were a rarity in those days.

I think that he credit -- or blame, your choice -- for popularizing the Cult of Chassis Numbers must be laid at the feet of DCN since I think that he was the first to do so both consistently and with malice aforethought. Then the floodgates opened.....

My interest was sparked by the Smith book and by trying to sort out how the teams kept up with the cars since the numbers changed each race. I do not claim to be one of God's Brighter Creations at that point in my life. For an answer, I simply sidled up to DSJ at a race (I think it was at Zandvoort in '59) and asked him. His answer was along the lines of did I know anything about aircraft? I did, having knowledge of aircraft serial numbers issued by the respective air force as well as the manufacturer's "constructor number," to say nothing of designations to include block numbers and manufacturer's codes. Which, of course, allowed the Great One to connect power to the light bulb that finally went on. He even showed me where to look.

I was hooked.

I do take some of the information on chassis with a grain of salt, others with several (often large) grains thereof.

It is, I suppose, fun for the simple-minded and hopelessly curious.

#9 Red Socks

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Posted 05 December 2008 - 16:11

Originally posted by HDonaldCapps




I do take some of the information on chassis with a grain of salt, others with several (often large) grains thereof.

It is, I suppose, fun for the simple-minded and hopelessly curious.


I am surprised that this assertion has been left unchallenged but surely it is the antithesis of fun-it is deadly serious, every scammer, faker and cheat is now out there setting out to prove the their latest fake is a certain chassis number. Add then the matching numbers absurdity where cars powered by Ford or Chevrolet engines that never had numbered engines are sold to the gullible as having matching numbers and now some thing that was irrelevant is big business.
Finally add the FIA's latest Historic Technical Passport which comes into effecct on January 1st and the fakers are all back in business again.

#10 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 05 December 2008 - 18:41

Originally posted by Red Socks
I am surprised that this assertion has been left unchallenged but surely it is the antithesis of fun-it is deadly serious, every scammer, faker and cheat is now out there setting out to prove the their latest fake is a certain chassis number. Add then the matching numbers absurdity where cars powered by Ford or Chevrolet engines that never had numbered engines are sold to the gullible as having matching numbers and now some thing that was irrelevant is big business.
Finally add the FIA's latest Historic Technical Passport which comes into effecct on January 1st and the fakers are all back in business again.


I am both simple-minded and hopelessly curious, therefore, the history of individual cars captured my fascination very early on. The sort of anthropomorphic nonsense under whose spell that even those of us not necessarily entralled with all the wonders of automotive technology can be smitten.

That what was once upon a time an interesting activity which was bsically an outgrowth of that anthropomorphic nonsense mentioned earlier, along with the attention to detail that historians are often blessed/cursed with (take your choice), has become simply another tool in the bag for The Thieves Amongst Us, The Gordon Gekko Gang, and Other Rogues is a reason for great dismay, on my part. My reasons for being interested in the "Adventures of Lotus Mark 18 Chassis '371'," for instance, is solely that of a historian, one completely distinterested in today's evaluation of that specific chassis to Collectors and Others. I simply like to know that it was used here and there Back In The Day and record that for The Record.

That "....every scammer, faker and cheat is now out there setting out to prove the their latest fake is a certain chassis number," seems to be -- Alas and Alack!, the almost inevitable outcome when there is a shekel to be made. However, I no longer lose much, if any, sleep over this since there is damn little I can do about it for the most part. I don't care much for it and it has been the cause for my no longer having any communications, dealings or discussions with Some People.

This is not unique to motor sports, being the sort of problem historians often have to grapple with in various shapes and forms, George Washington's Axe being but one good example in another part of Clio's Realm.

So, challenge away.

#11 fines

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Posted 05 December 2008 - 21:39

I happen to be in full agreement with Don here, chassis numbers are innocent fun, or else you've fallen for the "history-is-worth-a-fortune" trap. If it's the latter, your soul is irretrievably lost to the God of Mammon, my condolences!

#12 GrzegorzChyla

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Posted 05 December 2008 - 21:59

Originally posted by paulie
'what' car (chassis no.) raced at 'what' event should be easily available info. from the archives of the event organizers. Right?


I am affraid it is not so easy... I don't know how it is with other orgainzers in other countries but here in Poland I assume organizers archives are close to none...

Example: I used to work full time in Automobilklub Dolnoslaski - which organized Rally of Poland - European Rally Championship top grade (coefficient 4 and 20 after rule change) event.
I started my job in 1991 and just before that a professional outside archivist cleared all archives. He thrown out all sporting papers and kept financial papers...
I managed to save just some papers literaly from trash...
I quit my job in 1996 and just a couple years later Automobilklub Dolnoslaski was closed. Now there is nothing left from it...

sad but true...

I heard it is very symilar in other countries (namely I heard it is very hard to find all results of older Acropolis Rally...)

Grzegorz Chyła
www.rajdpolski.prv.pl

#13 Loren Lundberg

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Posted 06 December 2008 - 02:40

In 1960, Le Mans Technical Inspection papers carried a "VIN" section to be complete; to the best of my knowledge, Sebring did not.

#14 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 06 December 2008 - 14:47

Originally posted by GrzegorzChyla
I am affraid it is not so easy... I don't know how it is with other orgainzers in other countries but here in Poland I assume organizers archives are close to none...

Example: I used to work full time in Automobilklub Dolnoslaski - which organized Rally of Poland - European Rally Championship top grade (coefficient 4 and 20 after rule change) event.
I started my job in 1991 and just before that a professional outside archivist cleared all archives. He thrown out all sporting papers and kept financial papers...
I managed to save just some papers literaly from trash...
I quit my job in 1996 and just a couple years later Automobilklub Dolnoslaski was closed. Now there is nothing left from it...

sad but true...

I heard it is very symilar in other countries (namely I heard it is very hard to find all results of older Acropolis Rally...)

Grzegorz Chyła
www.rajdpolski.prv.pl


Grzegorz,

This is the sort of tale that makes some of us get very depressed when we read them. Sadly, it is far from unique...

HDC

#15 f1steveuk

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Posted 06 December 2008 - 15:09

As regards the "fakers and scammer" curiously I worked for a guy who had a car with a proven history, and a very very good history at that. Linked directly with two extraordinarily famous names in motor racing, and yet he still went over the car with his set of "vintage" stamps, adding the required number wherever there was a space big enough, as if to make sure, it was the car he said, but most knew, it was. Mind you, he also had a car that wasn't what he said it was, and the "vintage" stamps never got near it. Go figure.....

#16 Allan Lupton

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Posted 06 December 2008 - 15:41

Originally posted by f1steveuk
Mind you, he also had a car that wasn't what he said it was, and the "vintage" stamps never got near it. Go figure.....

Assuming I know who you mean, I can't begin to figure.
I'd have expected the number punches to have been worked to destruction . . . mind you there was once a dumb iron with a number on it that got conviscated

#17 David McKinney

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Posted 06 December 2008 - 16:04

Originally posted by f1steveuk
... he still went over the car with his set of "vintage" stamps, adding the required number wherever there was a space big enough.....

...and all the 'real' experts immediately presumed it was a fake, as the numbers were in the wrong places :)

#18 f1steveuk

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Posted 06 December 2008 - 16:10

Allan your talking about the red car?? I should have pointed out that the number that was added was a team number, not a chassis number, the car that wasn't real was blue.....................

#19 Allen Brown

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Posted 06 December 2008 - 16:23

Originally posted by paulie
I have always assumed that entrants at large international race events would have had to state the chassis number of each car entered in that event along with motor, gearbox, fuel tank specs., etc. So, if I have assumed correctly, clearly 'what' car (chassis no.) raced at 'what' event should be easily available info. from the archives of the event organizers. Right?

Enlighten me, please!

Paulie

I am not aware of this being regular practice in the period I have researched - i.e. up to the mid-1980s. It is also worth noting that the car brought to an event may not be the one that the team had intended when they made their entry some time (weeks) earlier. Larger teams would bring two or three cars and they could be swapped around during practice.

Chassis numbers were not really relevant to race organisers and I don't recall even Le Mans entry forms having a field for chassis numbers, let along less well organised events. The Indy 500 organisers were keen to identify individual cars but did not pay a lot of attention to chassis numbers until the 1980s and many US constructors did not numbers their cars anyway.

The bad news is that there is no simple way to know which car raced at which event. It is a combination of race reports, photographs, constructor records, owners' recollections, chassis number collectors and their notebooks, ownership trails, SCCA log books, sometimes chassis markings and so on. It's hard work.

Allen

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#20 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 06 December 2008 - 20:48

Originally posted by Allen Brown
The bad news is that there is no simple way to know which car raced at which event. It is a combination of race reports, photographs, constructor records, owners' recollections, chassis number collectors and their notebooks, ownership trails, SCCA log books, sometimes chassis markings and so on. It's hard work.


Allen has summed it up in a nutshell....

Hard damn work, in fact, at times, but it has its moments. Allen has done yeoman's work in this area as have David and Michael, among others, for which there are those who should be very thankful for these gents not only laboring in the vineyards but sharing the fruits of their labors. I, for one, wish I could thank them enough.

#21 Lotus11Register

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Posted 07 December 2008 - 12:06

A lot of truth and wisdom is on display in this thread, much of it beautifully expressed. Thank you, gentlemen.

In regards to the original question there are a few Intenet sites, such as Racing Sports Cars that occasionally list chassis numbers but these have been added recently, and one should be forewarned. If you ever lay your hands on actual original race records you'll often find a hodge-podge of incorrect names, car types and descriptions as substitutions and some last minute surprises are accounted for. A chassis number requirement would have seemed over-the-top and certainly most race organizers of decades past had no interest in it.

The after-the-fact chassis # info recorded on the web might be from a bona-fide authority but could just as easily be from a seller or owner trying to impress or embarass someone else. Don't hang your hat on it.

#22 David McKinney

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Posted 07 December 2008 - 12:16

To that, I would add that oldracingcars.com tries harder than any other site I know of to cut through the dross
Not many sportscar listings there, though :)

#23 Allen Brown

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Posted 07 December 2008 - 14:05

Originally posted by Lotus11Register
The after-the-fact chassis # info recorded on the web might be from a bona-fide authority but could just as easily be from a seller or owner trying to impress or embarass someone else. Don't hang your hat on it.

Very true but why is the web any different to a book in that respect. Can't book authors be wrong too?

#24 David McKinney

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Posted 07 December 2008 - 14:23

If I might chip in here...
Yes books can be wrong
But it's an awful lot easier for an uninformed person - or worse, someone with an ulterior motive - to put something on the www than in a book, and there are lot more cyberfans trying than authors :)