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1963-6 Panama Grand Prix


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#1 Jake Alderson

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 10:22

My Morgan research has taken me to the annual Panama Grand Prix sports car races of 1963-6 where a solitary imported Morgan did rather well. I have the UK Autosport reports, but the races are undated. Has anyone the actual dates (in May I think), and any other information of Panama sports car races and hill climbs of the period?
In Anticipation.
Jake Alderson

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#2 GEOJAG

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Posted 06 December 2013 - 14:40

Jake, I think I can help you with a bit of info.

 

I lived in the Canal Zone from '62 to '65 and was a member of the Isthmian Autosport Association, a club whose members were military and civilian (US, Panamanians, Brits, etc).

 

For a relatively small group we were well organized and ran events on a regular basis:

- Hill climbs on the "K" roads overlooking the canal and also in El Valle.

- Gymkanas on any parking lot we could get.

- Autocrosses at La Chorera.

- Rallies

- and an annual 100 mile Grand Prix. These were held at Albrook Air Force Base near Balboa and at France Field, an abandoned strip in the Zone.

 

During my time there we had two club presidents...Dudley Smolen, an IBM'er who drove an XKE and Patrick Kennett, a Scot who owned a sports car garage in Panama City and drove a beautiful BRG Morgan Plus4 Super Sport. I drove a TR3 in all events except the Grand Prix. I was too young to participate (min.age 21).

 

Not sure what dates the races were run, but if I come across and info I'll be in touch.

 

Regards,

 

George Bernick



#3 Sharman

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Posted 07 December 2013 - 11:06

Is there still a racing scene in Panama? Reason I ask is that I, accompanied by my minder, will be visiting some of the colonies (the Spanish ones) California, Panama and Florida during January and February as the aforesaid minder has expressed a desire to see the Canal. I don't know why, there is a perfectly adequate cut in Macclesfield, as a Mancunian I am fully aware of the Ship Canal and as schoolchildren both of us travelled the length of it, added to which we live within spitting distance of the Canal du Midi. Still, it gets us out and about doesn't it?



#4 mariner

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Posted 07 December 2013 - 17:00

No idea about the racing but its amazing how often racing gets organised. However I think the US canal zone staff have long since departed . Plenty of rich locals though.

 

As you may  know Panama is covered in ex WW2 US airflields inculding at the canal zone so might be something.

 

I went once on business. The canal is really impressive from the land side , espeically the tight fit of the latest " Panamx"  huge ships into the locks. You can actually reach out and touch the side of ship thy fit so close. Also the entire thing runs mostly  on just a few electric motors opening the water dams high up on the Chagres river.



#5 BRG

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Posted 07 December 2013 - 19:51

...added to which we live within spitting distance of the Canal du Midi. 

 

Was it the spitting that has killed all the trees along the canal?  I heard they were having to replant them all, all 42,000 of them.

 

I used to watch ships in the Panam in quiet moments at work on this webcam.



#6 Sharman

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Posted 07 December 2013 - 20:19

Was it the spitting that has killed all the trees along the canal?  I heard they were having to replant them all, all 42,000 of them.

 

I used to watch ships in the Panam in quiet moments at work on this webcam.

I think the French just like cutting trees down, the excuse being that exuberant youths keep running into them and getting dead, The canal's trees are afflicted by some lurgi which attacks plane trees and those afflicted are usually marked with red paint prior to felling, not all of them are so marked. And I imagine that there are a damn site more than 42000 of them in total.



#7 Jake Alderson

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Posted 31 December 2013 - 11:05

Thanks for the replies.

I'd love to learn more from GEOJAG on the hill climb scene in 1960s Panama and particularly Pat Kennett.

Happy New Year

Jake Alderson



#8 GEOJAG

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 15:49

Jake,

 

Racing back in those days was hairy to say the least. The hill climbs were my favorite. The Canal Zone "K" roads were loose gravel which kind of gave the races a Pikes Peak feel (including some interesting sheer drop offs). Our annual climb in El Valle was on a paved, but narrow road. As I recall we did everything we could to lighten the cars including removal of hoods (bonnets) & trunk lids (boots).

 

We all had a great time...at least as much as I can remember...much cervesa consumed.

 

Can't give you any info on Pat Kennett. I left Panama in '65 and lost touch with the club members.

 

Regards,

 

GEOJAG