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1950s and '60s SCCA club racing in Florida


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#1 Sunbeam74

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 11:13

As a continuation of the Roy Schechter thread started by Jerry Entin with a focus on 50's/60's club racing in Florida...

Not too long ago I had a call from a woman named Luanne Lacy and she explained that she had her father's old Sunbeam Alpine race car and he had raced it extensively in the early 60's. In fact, he had ordered the Alpine specifically for racing. As it turns out Luannes father was George Lacy, an Eastern Airlines pilot based in Miami, and he was very active in the SCCA. First driving MGTD's, then MGA's, and finally, the Alpine.


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As it turned out George was good friends with Howard Fowler {raced Porsches} and lived not too far from Coventry Motors {one of the larger sports car dealers in the area}

Luanne was very kind and dug out her family photo collection and hopefully I can start posting some of the images in the collection. As mentioned in the Roy Schechter thread there were many races held in Southern Florida during the 50's and 60's. It really was an active SCCA community.


Steve Silverstein
www.racingalpines.org

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#2 Sunbeam74

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 11:19

As mentioned George was an Eastern Airlines pilot and according to Luanne many were ex-military and many involved with sports cars. One of George's very good friends was Howard Fowler. Howard, drove Porsches for the most part but also created one of the early Formula Vees. A picture of Howard's FV can be found in Marrow's "Formula Junior Guide" from 1960.

Here are some early shots of George in his TD, TF, MGA, and Sunbeam. George acquired his competition licensed with the SCCA in 1958, however, I am pretty sure he was already involved with the SCCA prior to that.

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#3 Sunbeam74

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 11:25

Here are some images of the Alpine in the day.

A bit of information about this Alpine. When Luanne called I was almost positive she had one of the 1961 Factory Lightweight Alpines that ran at the 12 hours of Sebring. The way she described the car and the chassis number 9100214, a VERY early Series II, I had a feeling that it might just be.

As it turned out it wasn't the factory lightweight but George, upon hearing of the increase in displacement in the Series II for the upcoming model, must have pre-ordered an Alpine. Luanne thought that it was "the first Alpine in the States". Well, it might have been the first Series II in the States. You can imagine that George was really excited about having this car since Vince Tamburo had just won the G-Production National Championship in a 1492cc Alpine the year before.

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#4 Sunbeam74

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 11:33

As mentioned, I believe George was active in the club prior to his competition lics. Included in Luanne's collection were home movies from events like New Symrna Beach, Little Sebring 57', and many other airport races.

Here's some images from an event - unlisted - but I have to believe that the images are from 1957/58.

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Nice looking Elva Mk1b. It looks so fragile on those wheels but it is a small car.

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Not sure who was driving the Lotus

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I believe this may be Howard's Alfa - but I am not positive. Luanne seemed to think it was.

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This is an unusual special and appears to have a Panhard engine

#5 Jerry Entin

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 13:50

Steve: Your thread is looking very good. Here is something from Willem Oosthoek in regard to your photos.
"Very interesting photos and I wonder where they were taken. The hilly countryside in the background does not look as though it was Florida. Definitely not New Smyrna. The race numbers don't match the 1957 and 1958 events there anyway. Based on George's hometown, it could have been somewhere in Georgia, Gainesville perhaps?"
The #2 Lotus looks like the one owned by Jesse Wyllie.
Willem Oosthoek

#6 Sunbeam74

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 17:10

The photos with the Elva, Lotus, and special seem to be from the northern part of the state or possible southern Georgia/Alabama. From the records found with the car it doesn't seem like George travelled too far from Miami. In fact, the furthest north I have records of George competing are from Fernadiana Beach just outside of Jacksonville, FL.

Here's one more photo of another car in that series of images - maybe this will help with identifying the location. Maybe an entrant's list will turn up with these cars listed. It appears to be an OSCA (correct me if I am wrong)


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I have a collected programs from over the years and I had tried to focus on events in the Southeast. I thought it was an interesting comment which was made in another thread that most of these programs from the Southeast did not have the entrants list publish in the program. Sometimes there is a typed sheet with the list of drivers but it is VERY rare that I find the sheet saved with the program.

Steve

#7 Sunbeam74

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 17:21

Here's a cover from Courtland, Alabama.

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The Alpine on the cover looks to be RHD like the factory lightweight... if you look closely you'll see the photo was printed reversed. It is actually a LHD car.

A few months ago I sent Cliff Rueter a couple of result sheets from Daytona in 1960.

http://www.maseratie.....ff reuter.htm

If you look at the entrants you quickly realize that the Daytona National in Novemeber really drew in drivers from all over the eastern part of the U.S.
I was also surprised to see two other events (regionals) held at Daytona in June and September.

#8 Alan Cox

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 20:23

Thanks for those photos, Steve. Fascinating scenes of the period.

#9 Jerry Entin

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 21:57

Steve: That is the Jim Kimberly Osca MT4 with 1.5 engine, with his typical race number 5. Now all we have to do is go through the Zagari Orisini Osca book to nail down the location and year, which incidentally is likely to be closer to 1956 because Kimberly sold his Osca in 1957.
According to Orsini-Zagari [who are not complete on U.S. races], Kimberly ran the car at Road America [Wisc], Beverly [Mass] and Palm Springs [Cal], all in 1956.
Road America would come closest in terms of hills. In September 1956 Kimberly's #5 Osca battled Wyllie's #2 Lotus for a number of laps.
all research Willem Oosthoek.

#10 Jerry Entin

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 22:03

Steve: You might be even more surprised to hear that in addition to the June, September and November 1960 SCCA events at the Speedway, they also hosted January and March Regionals, all courtesy of the Central Florida Region.
And the 1961 Courtland program has a picture of Sierra "Smokey" Drolet on the cover [top left], standing next to Frank Harrison's Cooper FJ.
all research Willem Oosthoek.

#11 Lotus23

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 22:38

Great stuff, Steve! I didn't start running in the Southeast until 1963, so these photos predate me by a bit, but they certainly bring back the feeling of those halcyon times when production class drivers often drove their steeds to/from the track. (The "big buck guys" used trailers.)

That 1964 bill for $241.16 sounds like pocket change today, but would've been the better part of a month's Army pay for me then. (My apartment that year cost me a princely $45/month.)

Yes, those entry lists were generally not mimeographed until a day or so before the race weekend: I often had no idea of who my weekend competition would be until I rolled into the track on Saturday morning.

Among those venues you mention, I ran Fernandina and Courtland; like many tracks of that era, they were flat-as-a-pancake airport courses with haybales delineating the racing boundaries. (I'd been spoiled by having my competitive teeth cut on the Nordschleife in an earlier life.)

Loved the shot of the "victory dinner" -- the group socializing of those weekends was often the stuff of legend!

#12 vintageautomobilia

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 23:32

Finally, something on SCCA races in Florida and the SE United States, in the 1950s and early 1960s! I had tried a previous post asking about any info about a 1955 Abarth 207A 1100 spyder racing in the "Little Sebring" races or any other venue in Florida or the SE states -- possibly as far north as South Carolina. This car originally raced with a 1100 Fiat based Abarth motor, then an unusual 1100cc AFM motor with 3 valves per cylinder, and finally in the early 1960s, with Sebring Sprite running gear -- at that time possibly out of Bradenton, Florida.

Please, does anyone have any programs or anything showing anything about this car?

#13 Jerry Entin

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Posted 16 March 2008 - 21:04

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Ed Rahal's Arnolt/Chevy
Florida was/is not always the land of sunshine. Here is the Le Mans start of the third annual Boca Raton Races, organized by the SCCA's South Florida Region on March 8, 1959. It rained for the second year in a row.
Ed Rahal of Savannah leads the line-up with an Arnolt customized with Triumph discs and a Corvette engine. Lucky Casner's 250TR is next, followed by George Arents' 250TdF#96, while Bill Kimberly can be seen entering his 500TR #5 [thus numbered in honor of Uncle Jimmy]
Ed Rahal remembers his Arnolt/Chevy as "a bad ass car with tremendous acceleration and top end speed, until it came time to stop". The rain did not help. Late getting away because his rain gear interfered with his safety belt, Rahal finished 4th overall behind Casner, Kimberly and Arents.
The SSCC logo on the side of the Arnolt stands for Savannah Sports Car Club.
all research Willem Oosthoek - photo Ed Rahal collection.

#14 Jerry Entin

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Posted 16 March 2008 - 21:39

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Ed Rahal's competition license.
Just like Roy Schechter, Joe Sheppard, Lonnie Rix, Ed Rahal was a regular in SCCA racing in the Southeast. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, he lived most of his life in Savannah, Georgia. The Rahal who started the dynasty [he was a second cousin of Mike Rahal, Bobby's dad], Ed raced between 1952 and 1966.
all research Willem Oosthoek.

#15 Jerry Entin

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Posted 16 March 2008 - 22:50

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Ed Rahal and his 3.4-liter D-type Jaguar.
On their way to victory in the 4th annual Confederate Grand Prix at Courtland. The race was organized on August 31, 1958 by the SCCA's Alabama Region.
Edmund beat a similar D-type, entered by the 1957 winner C.K. Thompson, to win the Governor's Trophy. The winning Jaguar was chassis XKD 553, first raced [and retired after 50 laps] by Jack Ensley and Pat O'Connor at Sebring in 1957. Second owner Harry Rolling sold it to Rahal in the Spring of 1958.
all research Willem Oosthoek-photo Ed Rahal collection.

#16 URY914

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 13:17

McDill AFB is Tampa also hosted SCCA events.

#17 vintageautomobilia

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 23:54

What dates were the SCCA races at McDill?

#18 Jerry Entin

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 01:42

Peter: It is MacDill Air Force Base and it was held in 1954, before your Abarth was built.
all research Willem Oosthoek.

#19 vintageautomobilia

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Posted 21 March 2008 - 22:45

Originally posted by Jerry Entin
Peter: It is MacDill Air Force Base and it was held in 1954, before your Abarth was built.
all research Willem Oosthoek.


DRAT! Thanks Jerry. Somebody MUST have the entry lists for the "Little Sebring" races?

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#20 Hugewally

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Posted 22 March 2008 - 01:38

Originally posted by vintageautomobilia
What dates were the SCCA races at McDill?

Feb 21, 1953 & Jan 31, 1954.

#21 Frank S

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Posted 22 March 2008 - 03:00

Won't shine light into the current quest, barely fits in the title's time frame of 1950s and '60s, but it is definitely racing in Florida: an entry packet for a January 2/3, 1950 through-the-streets event in the Palm Beaches.

http://www.fototime....8E9C84A231133D3

Could be useful to someone trying to winnow by thread name.

Frank S

#22 Sunbeam74

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Posted 26 March 2008 - 10:49

Here's a program from a Fernadina Beach Event. (PS, let me know if the image size is too large and I can reduce the pixel size)

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I have some more images from George Lacy's album that I hope to post.


Steve

#23 vintageautomobilia

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Posted 26 March 2008 - 18:56

Thanks Steve, this is the sort of info I want :D

#24 Lotus23

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Posted 26 March 2008 - 19:11

Terrific stuff, Steve! I knew about half those guys -- brings back a lot of fun memories.

I loved the "clip art" (literally) on the cover of the program -- a bit of artistic license between those images and the entry list! Note also that the entry list is current as of Wed, 4 March, just 3 days before Saturday's racing.

Looks like an excellent turnout for a Divisional; in the SCCA hierarchy of that time, Regionals were the lowest level, then Divisionals, with Nationals atop the heap.

I wonder if #67 is any kin to our current Republican presidential candidate? (I somehow doubt it...)

#25 NEDRA WARE

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Posted 26 March 2008 - 20:50

What a wonderful site thanks for taking time to do this - no one mentions us girls! Smokey and I drove in practically all these races with the boys; at Dunellon I had to start last due to no practice and worked my way up to 5th or 6th overall and 1st in production class behind the likes of Joe 'Hotshoe' Sheppard - how about "a little respect". Went to Courtland so many times. Let everyone know J Frank Harrison has bitten the dust; he was a great car friend. Went to Nassau in the DC3 plane with Lloyd Ruby, Jerry Eisert, Smokey, two motorcycles, mechanics' tool boxes, race car etc. We were so heavy and bounced so hard on landing I didn't fly back with them!

So much fun in those days. No one posts pics of SCCA at Daytona's 1st opening.

Nedra Ware

#26 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 26 March 2008 - 21:03

Goodness, it was surprise to realize how many of those names I recognized and how many of them I knew, just about all those from South Carolina, in particular. Don Russell was the son of the SC governor and along with Tombstone Shaw was one of the few in SC to race a Cobra in AP -- or anything else for that matter.

#27 Lotus23

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Posted 26 March 2008 - 23:53

Nedra Ware, please continue with your input!

It's wonderful to hear from Those Who Were Really There Then!

#28 Jerry Entin

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Posted 27 March 2008 - 00:30

Nedra: Welcome to the Forum.
J. Frank Harrison may show up in the entry list for the March 1964 Fernandina Beach races, but his own log book tells us: "Did Not Go." Smokey may have been there by herself.
all research Willem Oosthoek

#29 etceterini.com

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Posted 27 March 2008 - 03:05

Here is the 1953 MacDill Program and entry list:

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#30 Sunbeam74

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 04:04

That's a great photo of Nedra.

I have a question regarding a Healey-Chevy from the Florida area. Can anyone confirm this is Ernie Robinson's Healey-Chevy special?
It is a 100/4 with a 283 Corvette motor. (I think I eliminated the potential for it Forrest Dana's "Cordley" since the one photo I have seen is a 100/6.

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I can't imagine there were that many Healey-Chevy's in the area. The body is pretty unique and is constructed from steel.


Steve

#31 Lotus23

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 13:45

Nedra, can you provide any more info re: where/when on post #30? I see the tech sticker on the TR's rollbar, so assume it was ready for battle.

I'm certain that -- like myself -- you have not changed a bit since then! (Well, maybe just a little: my 70th b/d is right around the corner!)

#32 Jerry Entin

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 12:48

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Nedra Ware and her Porsche with Jesse Coleman and those are his daughters on the car
Nedra would like the forum members to be able to see some very nice pictures of the women that raced in Florida in the 50's and 60's. Connie Ware has scanned these for me and I am now posting them for the forum members to enjoy.
Jesse Coleman was the starter for many races in the day including Sebring, he was a great friend of Nedra Ware's and called her Tennesse's #1 Chauffeur. Nedra was living in Chattanooga, Tennessee at the time.
Nedra's crew consisted of her husband James and when he could help Heinz Bade also pitched in. Ray Atherly also helped Nedra with her preparation of the Carrera.
photo Nedra Ware collection-scanned for site Connie Ware

#33 Jerry Entin

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 13:02

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Nedra Ware by her Fiat Abarth this is from 1962 at Nassau
This car was entered by Paul Layman for the "Powder Puff Race".
Nassau was a wild place according to Nedra. Guys would ride their pit bikes into restaurants. Nedra remembers riding on the back of a Harley with Lloyd Ruby and him scaring her half to death. The people in Nassau really loved the racing crowd.
photo Nedra Ware collection-scanned for site Connie Ware

#34 Jerry Entin

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 13:24

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Nedra Ware in front of her silver Porsche Carrera.
Nedra wore different hats bacause she said when you took off your crash helmet your hair would be all messed up and the hat covered all that.
photo Nedra Ware collection - scanned for site Connie Ware

#35 Jerry Entin

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 13:36

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Newspaper clipping of Nedra Ware note her lightweight driving shoes
This clipping stated her HM car to be a Siata Spyder.
newspaper clipping Nedra Ware collection-scanned for site Connie Ware

#36 Jerry Entin

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 14:40

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Nedra watching races her daughter Laura is above her.
photo Nedra Ware collection - scanned for site Connie Ware

#37 Lotus23

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 14:45

Any particulars on where/when these photos were made?

Is that Jesse Coleman in post #32?

#38 Lotus23

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 19:36

Jerry, thanks for the updates.

I'd never before met Jesse Coleman, but tracked him down at his job in Atlanta around '64 and had a great chat with him. Somewhere I still have his business card from that visit.

Hard to believe that his little girls in the photo are old enough to be grandmothers!

#39 Jerry Entin

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 21:38

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J. Frank Harrison of Chatanooga, Tennesse with part of his collection
Here is a story related by Willem Oosthoek who did and interview with J.Frank Harrison:
He told me he regretted selling all his Maseratis when he went Indy racing. However, when I interviewed him, he was in the process of putting a collection of 50s cars together again. He also had two Hummers in his collection, probably the first ones in private hands at the time.
above photo Willem Oosthoek

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#40 Jerry Entin

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 21:43

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What he did keep was his wonderful collection of models, made of his three Tipo 54 Maseratis, his two Tipo 61 Birdcages and his Lotus 19.
photo Willem Oosthoek

#41 Jerry Entin

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 21:57

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Walt Cline in J. Frank Harrison's Maserati 450S
Walt Cline owned a photo and film processing chain in Chattanooga. He raced a Corvette, then upgraded to Frank Harrison's Maserati 450S, chassis 4510. Here he is seen at Napier Field in Dothan, Alabama in October 1958. The track lay-out did not favor the ultra-fast cars and he finished 2nd overall in the sprint behind E.D. Martin's 250TR. Then he retired in the feature with a broken oil line.
Walt Cline drove only a couple of events with the big Maser as his wife did not like him being involved in racing. One day she found out Cline and the Harrison team were about to depart for a race and she threw a fit, attacking the Maserati and damaging its Webers. It was Walt's last race.
all research Willem Oosthoek-photo Willem Oosthoek collection

#42 Lotus23

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 16:33

Jerry, I've always been amazed at how a driver's girlfriend looks at his involvement in motorsport ("fun, exciting, thrilling!") and how, later, the very same lady looks at the subject once marriage vows have been exchanged ("a damn big dangerous hole in the ground into which you pour obscene quantities of time, sweat, and money!")

#43 Lotus23

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Posted 02 April 2008 - 01:39

Somewhat OT, but Walt Cline's marital misadventure reminds me of a similar story involving my buddy "Chuck" (names changed, as parties involved are still breathing...)

Chuck and I had made plans to spectate at Sebring '64 (not so OT after all!). I was single, so had only to get a few days off work. Chuck, however, had himself a wife ("Alicia") plus a newborn baby.

Alicia had a bit of a temper, so several weeks before our departure, I started querying Chuck as to when he was gonna get clearance for takeoff from her. "Any day now," he reassured me. As D-Day drew closer, I kept asking, and he kept giving me the same nonchalant reply, saying that when "the time was right" he'd get Alicia's okay for him to go with me.

D-Day came, and I pulled into his driveway at the appointed hour. I watched aghast as Chuck darted out the front door; just before slamming it shut, he yelled inside, "Honey, Joel and I are going to Sebring. See you in a few days!" He then sprinted to my car, jumped in, and said, "Get outta here -- quick!"

I was not terribly surprised when their marriage ended up on the rocks a year or so later.

#44 NEDRA WARE

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Posted 02 April 2008 - 18:54

Well I've got one wilder!

We were in Ft Lauderdale Frank Harrison, Smokey and me. Frank asked me to take Smokey to dinner as he had to go somewhere. After dinner, Smokey and I walked past Frank's room on the second floor of the motel and we heard voices. The doors were glass lattices, so Smokey broke a pane with her fist so she could open the door from the inside. Well, Frank was with this chick - naked, of course - so Smokey took her by the hair and out to the balcony to throw her over it and into the swimming pool! Thank goodness we all stopped her...

Frank read the Bible all the time, but sometimes it didn't work.

NW

#45 Lotus23

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Posted 03 April 2008 - 01:47

Loved it, Nedra! Especially having met two of the parties involved (Smokey and Frank).

I often think that back then there was as much action off-track as there was on it. But at least it didn't end up on incriminating videotape!

imho, those qualities which made for a good racer were not necessarily the same qualities which made for a stable marital partner. (Either I wasn't a good racer, or I just beat the odds: my lovely wife and I just celebrated our 41st anniversary.)

#46 Jerry Entin

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Posted 03 April 2008 - 20:21

During the daytime J. Frank and Smokey did actually a lot of racing together. According to his log book, they ran the following open wheelers:
- Lotus Formula Junior [Nov 1960, Jim Hall in Nassau, drivers: J. Frank - Smokey]
- Cooper Formula Junior [Feb 1961, Cunningham, driver: J. Frank]
- Cooper Formula Junior [Apr 1961, Cooper Cars, drivers: J. Frank - Smokey - Bill Kimberly]
- Lola Formula Junior [Aug 1961, New from Factory, driver: Smokey]
- two Exterminator Go-Karts [Aug 1961]
- Konig Go-Kart [Oct 1961]
- two Lola Formula Juniors [Jan 1962]
all research Willem Oosthoek.

#47 Jerry Entin

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 14:35

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Start of 1957 New Smyrna Beach race, this is 1957.
A photo of the start of the February 9, 1957 feature at New Smyrna Beach, not organized by the SCCA but by Bill France. Lance Reventlow in the #16 Maserati 200S went on to finish 3rd overall. Winner was Carroll Shelby in John Edgar's Ferrari 410S.
photo lent site Willem Oosthoek collection-all research Willem Oosthoek.

#48 Lotus23

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 00:45

Wow, Jerry, that photo gives new meaning to the term "mixed bag"!

About the only other time I can recall a similar bunch of mismatched machinery was in the mid-sixties at a sparsely-attended SCCA Divisional (?) when the organizers decided to let all the open-wheelers and closed-wheelers out for practice simultaneously. Driving one of the latter, it was the first, and only, time that ever happened to me.

"Hairy" didn't begin to describe it.

#49 Sunbeam74

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Posted 28 April 2008 - 05:10

As I research the Healey-Chevy I have I recently contacted Forrest "Bud" Dana. Bud raced many different types of cars including Healey-Chevys. According to Bud he built 4 different Healey-Chevys. There is a possibility that the Healey-Chevy I have is one of his cars. He built one 100/4 for the 1920's Boat racer, Sammy Crooks.

Bud was kind enough to send some images from the 1960 Nassau event where he won his class.

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#50 Sunbeam74

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Posted 30 April 2008 - 02:46

Here are additional images that Bud had sent.

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