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Robert O'Brien - mystery man...


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#51 HangtownHealey

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 00:13

From the Jan. 1966 Sports Car which lists all SCCA members, I found a Robert C. O'Brien European Parts Exchange Inc. located in 226 Mt. Pleasant Ave. Newark, New Jersey
Coincidence?
I also have a Robert C. O'Brien racing an Austin Healey in northern California from 1957 to 1960. Only about 5 races.

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#52 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 11:51

Originally posted by Mike Argetsinger
The Ferrari he co-drove to 4th place at Sebring in 1952 was leased for the occasion from Bill Spear. During that period he is variously listed as residing in Nassau, New York


Now that is very interesting indeed, for the Robert O'Brien I found that died in 1997 was a long-time resident of & indeed died in..... Nassau, New York.

I may be jumping the gun a little, but I suddenly feel a lot more confident with those birth & death dates all of a sudden.

Thanks Mike :up:

#53 Allen Brown

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 20:10

I'll be in New Jersey late next week if that will help at all. Flying in to Newark actually.

Richard - what was the middle initial of your Robert O'Brien? And do you think his date of birth (1922) fits with the apparant age of the man in the photo? Doesn't that hairline suggest he's older than 30?

Allen

#54 David McKinney

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 21:19

Some of us had less hair than that at 30 ):

#55 Allen Brown

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 21:29

David - you're over 30?!

OK, OK, I went by my wife's estimate of the man pushing the car. She said 45. He could be a bit travel-worn but a 30-year-old CIA agent would surely look in better shape than that.

Allen

#56 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 02 April 2004 - 13:21

I understood that O'Brien was the man on the left pushing the car, not the man on the right as he was in overalls... The man on the right I would say looked 40-ish but remember that spotting & working out age is so difficult - Van Johnson looked much older than his 30 something years when he died. However, he looks older than Frere who was born before 1922, so.... :confused:

My Robert O'Brien, as it were, middle initial is P. However, the oldest R C. O'B listed is also from 1922 & there are no other O'Briens from NJ or NY at that time....

#57 David McKinney

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Posted 02 April 2004 - 14:19

The bloke on the left isn't pushing the car - the one on the right is

#58 Allen Brown

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Posted 02 April 2004 - 19:00

Hieronymus, we need your help. Which one is O'Brien and, while we're at it, how do you know that the man in the photo is O'Brien?

Allen

PS Richie - the other 1922-born Robert O'Brien has an obituary on the 'net and certainly wasn't our man.

#59 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 03 April 2004 - 00:23

Allen, I've had another look - there are a couple more possibilities with either NJ (places beginning with T) or NY (Nassau) but it really is a bit of a shot in the dark... Of course, it may be neither or none of the above. I need some kind of lead, ie rough age or birth state to really get anywhere..

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#60 humphries

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Posted 03 October 2004 - 17:48

Any chance of a photograph ( portrait ) of Miles Collier in his racing days?

Stu. How's about editing this into three parts Frank Dochnal, Bob O'Brien and Miles Collier, and Greek mythology.

#61 ensign14

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Posted 03 October 2004 - 17:54

Originally posted by humphries
Stu. How's about editing this into three parts Frank Dochnal, Bob O'Brien and Miles Collier, and Greek mythology.

Oi, it's Greek history. Thermopylae was real, inasmuch as anything is...

#62 humphries

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Posted 10 November 2004 - 16:54

Seeing Paul Frere at his celebration reminded me of this thread.

Some time ago I made a request for a photo of Miles Collier in his Fifties racing days - a portrait minus helmet. None have been provided which considering his family's wealth and status is disappointing as you would have thought there would be a great many.

As you can guess I'm still to be convinced that there is not some link between O'Brien and Collier. It has been said that Collier continued to race after the family ban using pseudonyms, and not just in the States but Europe as well. No pseudonyms have presented themselves as possibilities except the "John Marshall" that he used at Sebring 1953 and 1954 which makes me think that possibly the names of friends of Miles appeared in the entry list but he did the driving.

In the photo of Paul Frere in a Gordini, at Zandvoort 1952, being pushed by O'Brien it was never established who it was in the overalls that was helping. Perhaps Paul will remember. The racing photo of O'Brien is not very useful as many of the drivers wore billowing weatherproofs so it is difficult to establish physique.

Also maybe we can find a photo of the Gordini being raced at the Grenzlandring 1952. Maybe there is a photo of O'Brien at a drivers meeting prior to the start. That would be nice!

George Rice, who raced Midgets in the late 1940s, despite being a friend of Phil Walters was a very odd choice of driver for the Cunningham team for the 1952 Le Mans. Collier on the other hand had driven at Le Mans for Briggs in 1950 and, again with his brother Sam, back in 1939. Maybe Rice was "fronting" for Miles. John Fitch, Rice's co-driver, could answer this.

All conjecture I know, but I will be happy with the outcome whatever the truth.

John

( Stuart maybe this thread could be split from the Dochnal heading. )

#63 Hieronymus

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Posted 11 November 2004 - 14:20

Originally posted by Allen Brown
Hieronymus, we need your help. Which one is O'Brien and, while we're at it, how do you know that the man in the photo is O'Brien?

Allen


Sorry, I have not seen Allen's question with regards to the O'Brien photo before. Forgot about this photo...

All I know is what Paul Frère wrote to me (see what is written under the photo earlier in this thread). I can take it on me to perhaps get further info from Paul, but not sure how soon I'll have an answer from him.

Twinny

Perhaps we must seperate the O'Brien items from this thread, like humphries suggested. Perhaps we'll get further response if that is the case...

#64 Doug Nye

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Posted 11 November 2004 - 22:10

Originally posted by humphries
Some time ago I made a request for a photo of Miles Collier in his Fifties racing days - a portrait minus helmet. None have been provided which considering his family's wealth and status is disappointing as you would have thought there would be a great many.

As you can guess I'm still to be convinced that there is not some link between O'Brien and Collier. It has been said that Collier continued to race after the family ban using pseudonyms, and not just in the States but Europe as well. No pseudonyms have presented themselves as possibilities except the "John Marshall" that he used at Sebring 1953 and 1954 which makes me think that possibly the names of friends of Miles appeared in the entry list but he did the driving....etc etc etc...


John - Miles Collier comments on his father :

"To the Best of my knowledge my father did not race after his brother Sam’s death except for a Sebring foray in '54. For '55 however, he had laid on a season of F1 in Europe…."

Tragically, Miles Sr passed away (poliomyelitis I believe) in April '54..

DCN

#65 humphries

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Posted 12 November 2004 - 13:30

Doug

Any chance of John providing out-of-car photos of his dad? Was his father over in Europe in 1952? Nice to hear he had a taste for Grand Prix racing.

Still not convinced that there isn't more to all this than meets the eye. John Marshall or "John Marshall" raced at Sebring in 1953. Miles Collier, as Miles Collier, was entered with Cameron Argetsinger to drive an XK120 but were conspicuous non-starters thus appeasing the Collier family. However there is a photo of John Marshall in his DB-Panhard in Automobile Review 1953-1954, page 135. Why they should publish that photo when there were far more significant combinations I don't know, unless the editors were aware of the ploy and making a knowing comment.

Also the 1952 Sebring event has a few anomalies. The British press stated the Ferrari 166MM that finished 4th was driven by R.O'Brien/ Kennedy. Kennedy? Who knows anything about this Kennedy? In the Breslauer Sebring book the drivers are now stated as R.O'Brien/ Richard Cicurel. Sheer co-incidence, no doubt, that a revision of the driver combinations is one involving O'Brien.

After much searching I have found a photo of Bob O'Brien standing my his XK120 at Palm Beach Shores in the Nov/Dec 1951 issue of SportsCar. Unfortunately my photocopy is so abysmal that it is impossible to tell what he looks like. If someone can acquire a better image then perhaps we can make a connection between the Zandvoort, 1952 photo and this one. (This is research, Bira! Honest.)

Pity Watkins Glen is not just round the corner.

John

#66 Hieronymus

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Posted 12 November 2004 - 14:23

I asked Stirling Moss a couple of years ago about Bob O'Brien. This is what Stirling had to say in a letter I received from him:

" No, I am afraid I don't remember Robert (Bob) O'Brien or anybody with a name like that. I did take part in the Belgian GP in 1952, so if he had been driving, I would have thought I would have met him..."

#67 Frank S

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Posted 13 November 2004 - 02:27

Originally posted by Hieronymus
I asked Stirling Moss a couple of years ago about Bob O'Brien. This is what Stirling had to say in a letter I received from him:

" No, I am afraid I don't remember Robert (Bob) O'Brien or anybody with a name like that. I did take part in the Belgian GP in 1952, so if he had been driving, I would have thought I would have met him..."


11 November 2004--

Former Formula 1 Racer No. 1: Back then, we all knew each other very well ... Today, 50% of the Formula 1 drivers don't know the others at all.

Former Formula 1 Racer No. A: Small loss, my view.


--
Frank S

#68 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 03 March 2005 - 23:29

I third the motion that O'Brien be a separate thread - but we're getting there.

After a bit of digging by myself & others we can sort a few things out:

1) Robert O'Brien WAS Robert O'Brien. Not a CIA agent, not Miles Collier

2) Robert O'Brien resided, for a long time in New Jersey.

3) Robert O'Brien is dead.

4) Robert O'Brien also had a spell in New York & his middle initial is C.


After trawling through everything available to me, the list of possible ROB's is 11, if we presume (a dangerous game indeed) he died in New Jersey, which seems to be a possible - from the mid 70's he disappears, as it were. (last in Newark, NJ)
If we also use the fact he was living in New York in 1951 ish, then there are five possibles:

b. 4/11/1908 d. 2/10/1987, Hackensack, NJ

b. 12/6/1904 d. Oct 1985, Middletown, NJ

b. 31/8/1907 d. Nov 1978, Dover, NJ

which looking at the photo, presuming he is the one on the right, would be pretty likely. However consider he raced on until 1960, it is more likely to be the 1907 or 1908 one. There is also:

b. 12/3/1923 d. Feb 1973, Montclair, NJ

also if he died in New York, but was registered in NJ, then there is 4/7/1909 d. Jun 1972

Then there are 7 other possibles but these are not as good a link - 4 are probably too young - 3 fit the age perfectly, but don't have the New York lead - or is that a red herring??

So, possibly, possibly, a dirty dozen to choose from. Unless we're way off the track - but the New Jersey thing has cropped up about three times now. I am convinced he is one of the above for the simple reason that no other RCOB appears anywhere else - no deaths in California, say, without the NJ link.

Make what you will. I don't know if we know anything more but I guess we're getting closer... :cat:

#69 Hieronymus

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Posted 04 March 2005 - 06:58

Thanks Richie

Our friend O'Brien still remains one of the biggest challenges. Unfortunately, I can't add anything new.

We still await separation of the O'Brien issues on this thread...

#70 Allen Brown

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Posted 04 March 2005 - 09:59

Mind if I speculate?

If he was wealthy - and he must have been to afford motor racing - then I'd be surprised if he decided to retire in the Newark area. It's a very built-up area and not exactly elegant. Also the influx of immigrants in the 1970s to that area may not have made it attractive to an elderly white with enough money to live somewhere else. Maybe he'd have headed down to the shore, probably somewhere south of Point Pleasant, but he's just as likely to find somewhere nice upstate New York or maybe head for Florida or the Carolinas. If you saw him last in Newark, then he seems to be edging towards the airport!

I think you have to consider all 11 as distinct possibilities but I'd start with the deaths in 'retirement states' - i.e. warm eastern ones.

Allen

#71 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 04 March 2005 - 10:23

Originally posted by Allen Brown
Mind if I speculate?

If he was wealthy - and he must have been to afford motor racing - then I'd be surprised if he decided to retire in the Newark area. It's a very built-up area and not exactly elegant. Also the influx of immigrants in the 1970s to that area may not have made it attractive to an elderly white with enough money to live somewhere else. Maybe he'd have headed down to the shore, probably somewhere south of Point Pleasant, but he's just as likely to find somewhere nice upstate New York or maybe head for Florida or the Carolinas. If you saw him last in Newark, then he seems to be edging towards the airport!

I think you have to consider all 11 as distinct possibilities but I'd start with the deaths in 'retirement states' - i.e. warm eastern ones.

Allen


Indeed. But there is another possibility he died "early", which might change things. I'll have a look at the others when I'm back next week. What any ROB has to have if he died in Florida etc. is a link to NY or NJ because that was where he was c.1951, so I'll try the NY links next week.

#72 Mischa Bijenhof

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Posted 04 March 2005 - 21:11

Richie, your research skills never cease to amaze me! I wish I could add something, as I'm getting more and more curious about this man.

#73 Paul Taylor

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Posted 04 March 2005 - 21:31

Sounds obvious, but is there no way of tracking down and contacting the families of ALL these people and asking them? :confused:

#74 humphries

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Posted 05 March 2005 - 12:34

Richie

Pleased to see you airing this thread again. That O'Brien existed is certain but I still suspect that in 1952 he was possibly involved with Miles Collier and acting as a front for Collier's racing activities. The people who would probably know a bit about O'Brien are the same peole who would know a lot about the Colliers. I am really surprised that no photograph of Miles Collier has appeared from the direction of Watkins Glen and the research centre. What about some newspaper obituaries?

I have seen a photo of a young Miles Collier sitting in his Le Mans MG in 1939 (p47 "Americans at Le Mans"). Taking into consideration 13 years of aging, the man in identical overalls to Paul Frere who is pushing the Gordini at Zandvoort with the little guy, said to be Bob 0'Brien, looks similar to Miles Collier.

Also a decent copy of the photograph of O'Brien (Sportscar Nov/Dec 1951) standing next to his Jaguar at Palm Beach Shores would help. He looks to be short and a little tubby. It is a posed picture. Miles Collier had his Riley 9-Ford entered at the meeting for Phil Stiles to drive. " Aw shucks, Mom, I promise I was only there to watch Phil drive my car and help Bob prepare his Jag".

At Le Mans 1952 Rice was driving a Cunningham and it is impossible to make out the drivers in the cockpit, so whether this was the dirt-tracker or Miles Collier is still not settled. I cannot find any photo of George Rice.

In the Cunningham book by Dean Batchelor & Al Bochroch it says that Miles Collier "Using assumed names, he raced at several Florida circuits, and was said to have entered sports car races overseas" and Doug related that Miles Collier Jnr knew that his father was considering a year in European Grand Prix racing. I wonder where and when he got the taste for that?

In need of a breakthrough!

John

#75 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 14:41

Originally posted by Paul Taylor
Sounds obvious, but is there no way of tracking down and contacting the families of ALL these people and asking them? :confused:



Sort of - you can order death certificates etc. & see if they give any clues (like a middle name, for example or line of business) but this costs money I do not have. Often there are no family details & I have tried scrawling the net on a initial search to try & rule out some of the above. No joy as of yet.

#76 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 09 March 2005 - 20:36

Right, following another check - the total is now a MAXIMUM of 30. I have wracked my brains to think if there is any other way he could appear elsewhere but these avenues proved fruitless.
Considering the age of both men pushing the car in the photo, plus other clues the birth dates range from 1902 to 1925 (I am allowing for premature hair loss for the man on the left :) )

Of the 30, a first thorough search only reveals two link-ups. One was a sergeant in the US Army during the War. He died in Nassau, NY, which has got a link, but appears to have had no middle name. 1917-1981.

Another born 1904, has a e-mail family address, which I have tried for more information, but sadly it comes back user unknown. :(

I have gone onto the O'Brien Genealogy Forum for any further information & may google to see if we can rule out any others, so at least there is some kind of shortlist now.

For what it's worth, if I were a betting man, I'd go for the 1909-1972, NJ & NY link but I would be 5% confident at the moment that that would be correct.

If I have some money aside, I may buy a few of the more "likely" ROB certificates & see what they reveal, but this is not the case at the moment. :

So that's where we are, unless anyone has anymore information.

#77 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 06 April 2005 - 09:38

No more updates for now, I'm afraid, except to say that now I am returning back to Spain tomorrow, further progess will be probably be slow for now.
Needless to say, people are still looking into this, including myself. None of the links have turned up anything... yet, but there are other options available, including going to the US & sorting this out or buying the certificates. I'm, afraid, at present, neither are feasible. :(

I've actually been surprised by how many people are genuinally interested in this, for I thought I was in a very small lunatic minority, so lets hope we can get an answer before long. :up:
I think the fact that there is a short-list helps.


Once again, I appeal to Twin Window to please separate this thread to possibly aid the research process, but I guess you all know where to look, if not. :)

#78 Mischa Bijenhof

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 20:46

Some of you may already have seen this:

http://www.racecarsg...opic.php?t=1983

#79 Allen Brown

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 21:54

Originally posted by Mischa Bijenhof
Some of you may already have seen this:

http://www.racecarsg...opic.php?t=1983

To save you all having to register and then right-click on a lot of images, here it is:

Posted Image

It was posted by 'PTRACER' without comment. The image name is '52BelgianGPRobertOBrien.jpg'.

Allen

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#80 Mischa Bijenhof

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 22:15

Sorry, that's the one I meant indeed. Thanks Allen.

#81 Allen Brown

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Posted 06 March 2006 - 10:49

Sorry to raise the old Robert O'Brien thread again but I spotted in John de Boer's staggeringly impressive Stanguellini research that a Robert C. O'Brien ran a FJ Stanguellini in some Californian events in late 1960 and early 1961.

He was mention in "SCP" as follows: 'Bob (Stirling Moose) O’Brien has taken delivery of a new Stang Formula Junior. Was last seen squeezing into it at the 3-hour enduro. After coming in from the race was last seen floating over start-finish with a smile on his face.”

John gives his home town as "San Francisco, later: Tiburon, CA"

Allen

#82 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 06 March 2006 - 11:12

Don't apologise Allen for bringing up the mystery with valuable information. :up:

Well, it reinforces that the middle initial is C, but these two new places are interesting.
Unfortunately, a quick search doesn't help with Tiburon (there is a Robert O'Brien living there but he is 52!) so the mystery continues but every bit of info has got to help.

#83 ensign14

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Posted 06 March 2006 - 11:27

Originally posted by humphries
Also a decent copy of the photograph of O'Brien (Sportscar Nov/Dec 1951) standing next to his Jaguar at Palm Beach Shores would help. He looks to be short and a little tubby .


Originally posted by Allen Brown
'Bob (Stirling Moose) O’Brien has taken delivery of a new Stang Formula Junior. Was last seen squeezing into it at the 3-hour enduro.'


Hm. A sort of New World Hamilton?

#84 Allen Brown

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Posted 06 March 2006 - 12:10

Good spot. Another indication that we have the same man.

Allen

#85 Hieronymus

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Posted 06 March 2006 - 12:30

So old Bob is still lurking around in the Frank Dochnal thread. Perhaps if we put all the info in a "Bob O'Brien" thread we'll have more success in solving the issue.

Nothing new from my side on Bob, though...

#86 David McKinney

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Posted 06 March 2006 - 22:10

Robert C O'Brien was SCCA Pacific Region Libre champion in 1964 at the wheel of a Cooper (engine unknown)
This qualified him for the inaugural ARRC at Riverside, but he DNF
Don't know if he raced in 1965, but he didn't make it to the run-offs

#87 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 18 March 2006 - 21:21

Drum roll please.....


The Robert O'Brien mystery is solved!!!!!!! (or is it?)


I received an e-mail today from Pete Hylton, the SCCA archivist, after a tip-off from Adam Ferrington.
I produce it for you below;

Robert Chester O'Brien
member California Sports Car Club Region
joined SCCA 11/2/1956
dropped out in 1968
known addresses (in order)
79 Oceangrove Ave, Daly city, CA
580 21st Ave, San Francisco, CA
7 Palm Ave, San Francisco, CA
1301 Folsom St, San Francisco. CA
16996 Edgewater Lane, Huntington Beach, CA

Any other information would require a driver history search. The fee is $25 per driver.




Armed with that information, and knowing the New York link already, a thorough search led to a lead - the Californian Death Index reveals:

Robert Chester O'Brien
d. 23 Apr 1992, Sherman Oaks, California
b. 23 Jan 1931, New York State


So, that's that, one would think. But... some of the evidence about RO'B has suggested that he was older than that.

Now, this RCO'B is definitely the same as the SCCA racer. Question is (and it does look like it in many ways) is this ROB the same man who was in the Belgian GP?


Opinions please...

#88 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 18 March 2006 - 21:34

Re-reading this thread, Mike says that Bill at Watkins Glen found that the Belgian GP R O'B joined the SCCA in 1951.
Pete Hylton says this one joined 1956.

You know - I think they're two different people. If so, how bloody annoying. :mad:



By the way, if I ask (and pay) Pete about the 1951 SCCA R O'B, what am I getting for my $25? Date of birth etc. or just racing results? I'm prepared to pay $25 to help solve this mystery, but I want to make sure I'm getting my moneys worth.
Does anybody know what a driver history search actually entails??

#89 Allen Brown

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Posted 18 March 2006 - 21:44

Originally posted by Richie Jenkins
Does anybody know what a driver history search actually entails??

I have no idea but I'll go halves with you just to find out.

Allen

#90 David McKinney

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Posted 18 March 2006 - 21:55

I'm inclined to agree they're different people
But the "GP" O'Brien could have raced with a club or clubs other than the SCCA before 1956, and therefore be the same one
It shouldn't be too difficult to track down people who knew SCCA O'Brien after 1956: they would surely recall if he'd mentioned his International career

#91 Adam F

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Posted 19 March 2006 - 20:31

Richie,

I tend to agree that the Robert C. O'Brien which Pete Hylton has found is not likely to be the Robert O'Brien. If he was born in 1931, then he would be only 21 when the 1952 Belgian GP took place. From the photos published here the Robert O'Brien doesn't look like a 21 year-old.

It looks as if the O'Brien appeared at least 5 times in the U.S. during 1951/52, the last being at Bridgehampton on 24th May 1952, less than a month before the race at Spa.

12.9.51 Watkins Glen Jaguar XK120
9.12.51 Palm Beach Jaguar XK120
8.3.52 Vero Beach Jaguar XK120
15.3.52 Sebring Ferrari 166MM
24.5.52 Bridgehampton Connaught

I can see no trace of him reappearing in America later in 1952, or in 1953 or 1954.

From Mike Argetsinger's posts, it should be possible for Pete Hylton to summarise what the SCCA has on O'Brien.
Also, if anyone has access to programmes for any of the above U.S. events, they would likely show his hometown, and/or a middle initial.

Can Twinny PLEASE split this thread, or, at least, retitle it!

#92 Twin Window

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Posted 20 March 2006 - 07:57

Originally posted by Adam F

Can Twinny PLEASE split this thread, or, at least, retitle it!

I can try; but why didn't you PM or email me?!

What are your thoughts on titles, and from where do you see the split starting?

#93 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 20 March 2006 - 10:02

A good title would be something simple like:

Robert O'Brien - Mystery Man..
or something to that effect.



As far as the split, well, I think you can start with Paul Taylor's first post mentioning him & have most of what follows apart from a few mentions to Dochnal & as for the Greek history, you can do with that what you will... :D

Thanks, Twinny.






Back to the subject, I have e-mailed Hylton again. I have said I will pay for a search on the 1951 ROB, if he has one & have asked him to check if there were two. If he has only one ROB in SCCA history, we might have to start presuming that this one could be the one (as we only have a photo to possibly disprove it, otherwise).
If he does find & provide details on the 1951 ROB, then we will 100% know we have the right man for the Belgian GP and maybe... just maybe.. we might solve this before I get old... :lol:

#94 Twin Window

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Posted 21 March 2006 - 07:24

Please let me know - via PM or email - if any need to be moved back!

#95 humphries

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Posted 21 March 2006 - 08:57

Thanks Twinny.

Back in 1990 I had access to a complete run of SportsCar, the SCCA journal, and what I cannot remember seeing was any mention of O'Brien taking part in the Belgian GP. You would have thought that the first time a SCCA member participated in a World Championship Grand Prix, racing against the likes of Farina, Ascari, Taruffi, Bira and Moss, would have been celebrated by the club. Perhaps an American TNFer can recheck. Maybe someone can check out any other contemporary American magazine for a detailed mention.

In 1953 Fred Wacker, another SCCA member but admittedly a far better driver than O'Brien, had a
dedicated article covering his European experiences. No mention of following in O'Brien's footsteps.

Looking at photographs of drivers in Gordinis in 1952 most of them have their shoulders lower than the rear bodywork of the car. Trintignant and Manzon were fairly short I think and Behra was no taller although his torso was longer and his legs shorter so his shoulders are almost level. O'Brien in the Belgian GP appears to have his shoulders above the rear bodywork which would indicate he was quite tall. Photographs of O'Brien out of car suggests this was not the case.

Everything about O'Brien is indeed surrounded by conjecture. Who he was and what he actually did is a fascinating enigma. Well, the nerd in me thinks it is!

The later O'Brien I have never considered to be the same man.

John

#96 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 23 March 2006 - 10:23

Well, the mystery either deepens or is solved:

Pete Hylton replied again today:


The Robert O'Brien I was given is the only Robert O'Brien listed in the ancient files, and the years were roughly what you had me looking for.





So, what do people think?

Could this be a case where a fellow has lost or is losing his hair early (it happens, I know :cry: ) & looks older than his years?

Could "Robert O'Brien" be an alias after all?

Is someone barking up the wrong tree?


:confused:

#97 Adam F

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Posted 23 March 2006 - 11:02

But.......

Mike Argetsinger says that

O'Brien first joined the SCCA in 1951.



I assume that this comes from the new members lists published in the SCCA journal SportsCar, which I believe they have at the Watkins Glen IMMRC.

Must assume that Hylton is looking in other SCCA membership records.... :confused:

#98 Vitesse2

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 22:45

Okay, here we go again ....

This site

http://www.historicr...g.com/index.cfm

gives the following dates for O'Brien:

B March 30th 1922
D May 30th 1997

I don't recall seeing 1922 mentioned before?

#99 Paul Taylor

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 23:48

It's nice to see this thread brought up again.

As I said a long time ago when this thread was started, if the man in Vitesse's photo really is Robert O'Brien for sure, then he's definitely much older than 21 years old. I'd put him closer to 40...Possibly 45.

Another thing to add is that the man driving the Gordini in the picture 'PTRACER' posted (PTRACER happens to be me, actually... :lol: ) is, shall we say, portly. Much more so than the man in the picture Vitesse posted. So, it's deciding which set of information is wrong.

The man pushing Frere's car in the Zandvoort photo could be called Bob O'Brien, but we can't rule out the possibility that it's a different Bob O'Brien and the fact they have the same name is a coincidence.

Secondly, the photo I posted on my forum may actually not be Robert O'Brien in the 1952 Belgian Grand Prix either. I scanned it from a book released a few years ago called The Complete Book Of Formula One: All Cars and Drivers Since 1950 by Simon Arron and Mark Hughes. This book could be incorrect, I don't know.

Thirdly, Richie Jenkins' Bob O'Brien may be a different Bob O'Brien has already been said.

By the way, I found something strange on Google...might be related. I typed in "Robert Chester O'Brien" and I came up with this:

http://www.google.co...en&lr=&filter=0

A guy called "Dave Longhurst" searching for a missing person who goes by the name "Robert Chester O'Brien" and the word "California" is there too. Unfortunately, the page is offline :(

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#100 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 31 March 2006 - 08:52

Originally posted by Vitesse2
Okay, here we go again ....

This site http://www.historicr...g.com/index.cfm gives the following dates for O'Brien:

B March 30th 1922
D May 30th 1997

I don't recall seeing 1922 mentioned before?



Vitesse, those are my original dates for Robert O'Brien, which have proved to be wrong. Those dates are for another non-racing Robert O'Brien - I deleted those about a good year-and-a-half, two years ago, so it just goes to show it doesn't pay to blithely copy from the site, which they did, until I told them "oi" & then they were very nice. :)

So disregard them, disregard the Robert Chester O'Brien dates & info (unless you are like Reinhard & want a driver's birthdate, and RCOB is still a driver, just not the one we want).

As far as I am concerned, we are back to a blank page but myself & some others are following up all the leads we can.