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#1 antonvrs

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 02:01

I'm curious about the '50s Ferrari racer Tom Cole. In my memory he's referred to as "The American driver, Tom Cole" and I believe his Ferrari was painted white with blue stripes. I suppose I could Google him but I thought I'd get more interesting results from this Forum.
Thanks in advance,
Anton

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#2 David McKinney

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 07:22

English-born, I believe, but started racing in the US with an SS Jaguar in 1949, before three very successful years in an Allards, including twice winning the important Bridgehampton race. Raced Allards in Europe 1950 and 1951 (including third at Le Mans the first year) but switched to Ferraris for his 1952 campaign. Stuck with them 1953, finishing fourth in the Mille Miglia but crashing fatally at Le Mans.

Had also raced an F2 Cooper-Bristol 1953 and with Peter Whitehead won the Hyères 12hrs in a C-type Jaguar



#3 Bauble

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 09:12

English-born, I believe, but started racing in the US with an SS Jaguar in 1949, before three very successful years in an Allards, including twice winning the important Bridgehampton race. Raced Allards in Europe 1950 and 1951 (including third at Le Mans the first year) but switched to Ferraris for his 1952 campaign. Stuck with them 1953, finishing fourth in the Mille Miglia but crashing fatally at Le Mans.

Had also raced an F2 Cooper-Bristol 1953 and with Peter Whitehead won the Hyères 12hrs in a C-type Jaguar


Tom also finished second in the first Goodwood 9 Hours race co-driving with my own particular hero, Graham Whitehead in 2.7 Litre Ferrari.

#4 Arjan de Roos

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 09:21

Thomas Cole Jr came from Los Angeles. However he was born (as Thomas Lionel Howard Cole) in Landaff on June 11th 1922. He applied later for US citizenship.

Just after the war he started to race a Jaguar SS100, later a HRG.
In 1950 and 1951 he raced Allard J2 Cadillac's. In 1950 he had remained in the US (beside Le Mans), but went to Buenos Aires, Le Mans, the UK and Italy as well in 1951. He entered races in and outside of the US under his own name as well as for John Perona. Partnered Sydney Allard at Le Mans in another J2 with which they finished a memorable 3rd in 1950. A partnership that was repeated in 1951 but less succesful.

Raced in 1952 in a J2X but moved to Ferrari. He raced a factory 225 S at Le Mans (with Pagnibon). Then did the Targa, Coppa d'Oro del Dolomiti, the Boreham International, the Goodwood 9 houres with Whitehead and the Bari GP in a 225S (0194ET) he had bought.
In 1953 as said he tried he hands at GP racing at the Siracusa GP with a Cooper Bristol T23. He had qualified on the third row, not bad behind all top Ferraris and Masratis but crashed out. In May he got to drive a Ferrari 500 F2 at the BRCD International Trophy only to finish 15th in heat 1. At the end of May he raced the Cooper Bristol again, now at Albi and was 7th in the finale.

Finished fourth in the 1953 Mille Miglia with Mario Vandelli in another Ferrari (340 MM Vignale Spyder) he had bought. The 225 S had been sold to Ecurie Franchorchamps. He entered also in the International Trophy at Silverstone and finished 2nd behind Hawthorn. Entered that fateful Le Mans with Luigi Chinetti. Cole crashed near White House at around 6:30 in the morning and was thrown of his car after hitting a farm house.



#5 simonlewisbooks

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 09:51

Here's the Tom Cole Ferrari 340MM Vignale at Silverstone's 1953 Daily Express Trophy event where it was 2nd in the sports car event to Hawthorn's factory 340MM Touring.
This is the same car he used in the Mille Miglia and in which he died at Le Mans, I believe(?).
Posted Image

My info is that the wrecked car remained at the Ferrari factory until 1969. It was then re-bodied by Fantuzzi and still exists today.
How did it ever evade the famous Ferrari scrap-yard for so long ?






#6 Arjan de Roos

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 10:41

My info is that the wrecked car remained at the Ferrari factory until 1969. It was then re-bodied by Fantuzzi and still exists today.
How did it ever evade the famous Ferrari scrap-yard for so long ?

It wasn't wrecked by Ferrari as it was a car sold to Tom Cole. It did not remain at the factory but in a garage of a car dealer in Modena.
Ferrari always tried to sell any racecar. The scrap yard was for damaged (test)cars or cars that could not be sold. Ferrari however also did store away many cars or parts, selling them 5-15 years later.

#7 speedman13

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 15:02

Tom Cole was born in Landaff New Hampshire USA not in England.

#8 simonlewisbooks

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 16:11

Tom Cole was born in Landaff New Hampshire USA not in England.


Landaff, if on this side of the pond, would have been Wales not England I'd imagine.



#9 Robin Fairservice

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 16:29

Thomas L.H. Cole's birth was registered in the Cardiff District in the September quarter of 1922 (which would include a June birth). The Cardiff registration district included LLandaff from 1922.

#10 Doug Nye

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 21:24

I remember discussing Tom Cole once with his sister who explained to me that their family fortune came from the Vidor battery business. If I recall correctly there were two sisters and Tom's family nickname was 'Boy'. He contracted polio as a child or young teen and was rendered largely immobile for some years before recovery. He was a very enthusiastic and competitive young sportsman frustrated by this misfortune. Motor racing was an activity he found he could enjoy to the full, and for which he had both the talent and the wealth to help him excel. Everyone who knew him had nothing but praise to pass on. He seems to have been a most friendly and engaging man. His father was present, I believe, at that fatal Le Mans race. Everyone who had got to know him was devastated by his death, and the memories remained raw even thirty years after the event...

DCN

#11 antonvrs

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Posted 04 December 2010 - 01:21

TNF comes through again!
Thanks for all the responses, my question is answered.
Anton

#12 Frank S

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Posted 04 December 2010 - 01:41

Tom Cole is mentioned in the last page of this article:
Healeys at leMans 1953

Car purportedly looked like the one on this page:
Auto Speed and Sport article


#13 TDC

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Posted 04 December 2010 - 02:54

This thread fascinates me. The question that most interests me, though, is whether (and when) Tom Cole ever became a U.S. citizen as well as a Brit. For the record, I have had two knowledgeable people who knew him well weigh in, John Fitch and Phil Hill. Fitch said unequivocally that he was a Brit only. Phil told me with matching certitude that he always thought Cole had U.S. citizenship as well. If so, I'd certainly like to know.

My information is that his father had a business here in "the colonies." And though contemporary Brit magazines most often referred to him a Brit, I've always wondered if that was true, why on earth would he race a car in the UK and Europe with U.S. colors, blue and white?

'Tis a mystery I hope can be further informed here. TC

#14 cabianca

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Posted 04 December 2010 - 03:15

This thread fascinates me. The question that most interests me, though, is whether (and when) Tom Cole ever became a U.S. citizen as well as a Brit. For the record, I have had two knowledgeable people who knew him well weigh in, John Fitch and Phil Hill. Fitch said unequivocally that he was a Brit only. Phil told me with matching certitude that he always thought Cole had U.S. citizenship as well. If so, I'd certainly like to know.

My information is that his father had a business here in "the colonies." And though contemporary Brit magazines most often referred to him a Brit, I've always wondered if that was true, why on earth would he race a car in the UK and Europe with U.S. colors, blue and white?

'Tis a mystery I hope can be further informed here. TC


Can't answer definitively, but I don't think he ever held U.S. Citizenship. Besides the Vidor battery business, I believe the family was also involved in ocean liners. Some sources say Cunard, but I think Cunard bought whatever ships the Cole family had after Tom was killed. I also seem to remember something about importing British woolens - something in fashion. He attended college in the U.S. (Harvard) and was evidently impressed enough with his time there that he wanted to return to the States after the war. His father was present for at least one of Tom's Bridgehampton victories. Those races were the highest form of U.S. road racing at the time.

Edited by cabianca, 04 December 2010 - 03:18.


#15 Barry Boor

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Posted 04 December 2010 - 08:51

I can offer nothing relevant to this interesting thread other than to say I am very happy that I have a model of the Ferrari shown in the earlier image:

Posted Image

#16 Graham Gauld

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Posted 04 December 2010 - 09:17

Here's the Tom Cole Ferrari 340MM Vignale at Silverstone's 1953 Daily Express Trophy event where it was 2nd in the sports car event to Hawthorn's factory 340MM Touring.
This is the same car he used in the Mille Miglia and in which he died at Le Mans, I believe(?).
Posted Image

My info is that the wrecked car remained at the Ferrari factory until 1969. It was then re-bodied by Fantuzzi and still exists today.
How did it ever evade the famous Ferrari scrap-yard for so long ?



Simon

Usually wrecked customer cars were not kept at the factory at that time. They were kept at the old Ferrari headquarters in Modena itself. I saw the wrecked Ferrari Monza of Bob Said covered in dirt lying in the back of the Modena place a long long time after his accident. The factory cars at Maranello were dumped in the scrapyard there.

#17 Jerry Entin

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Posted 04 December 2010 - 19:07

Posted Image
Tom Cole at Le Mans in 1950. On the left is Jaguar engineer Walter Hassan.

Anton my good friend:

In his book Americans at Le Mans Al Bochroch calls Tom Cole "an Anglo-American, who called both countries home." The term Anglo-American seems to indicate a slightly stronger [legal] bond with Cole's adopted country than the one that New York-based John Gordon Benett had.

Al Bochroch called the latter "an Englishman who makes the United States his home."


Photo credit: Al Bochroch
all research Willem Oosthoek

Edited by Jerry Entin, 04 December 2010 - 19:14.


#18 simonlewisbooks

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Posted 04 December 2010 - 22:37

Simon

Usually wrecked customer cars were not kept at the factory at that time. They were kept at the old Ferrari headquarters in Modena itself. I saw the wrecked Ferrari Monza of Bob Said covered in dirt lying in the back of the Modena place a long long time after his accident. The factory cars at Maranello were dumped in the scrapyard there.


Thanks Graham. It must have been a veritable Aladdin's Cave !




#19 raceannouncer2003

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Posted 05 December 2010 - 06:54

The AP report on the race in the New York Times said the following:

"Tom Cole, a 31-year-old London-born driver from Sayville, L. I., was killed today as a British team won the twenty-four-hour Le Mans endurance auto race with a record-smashing performance..."

Vince H.

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#20 sbrinley

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 14:44

I remember discussing Tom Cole once with his sister who explained to me that their family fortune came from the Vidor battery business. If I recall correctly there were two sisters and Tom's family nickname was 'Boy'. He contracted polio as a child or young teen and was rendered largely immobile for some years before recovery. He was a very enthusiastic and competitive young sportsman frustrated by this misfortune. Motor racing was an activity he found he could enjoy to the full, and for which he had both the talent and the wealth to help him excel. Everyone who knew him had nothing but praise to pass on. He seems to have been a most friendly and engaging man. His father was present, I believe, at that fatal Le Mans race. Everyone who had got to know him was devastated by his death, and the memories remained raw even thirty years after the event...

DCN


I knew Tom Cole's crew chief and mechanic, Jim McGee, back in the late '50s and early '60s when I was with Team Roosevelt. Jim had been Cole's crew for two(?) Carrera Panamericana races. Jim related a number of stories about the races; particularly one about John Fitch, who drove for Mrecedes in one of the races, and one about Giovanni Bracco, the eccentric Ferrari driver. Jim had Cole's Cad-Allard in a barn near Water Mill, NY, where his shop was located. I remember the big Cadillac V-8 with the largest SU carburetor I had ever seen. I assume a collector got it, as it was gone the last time I visited Jim in 1969.
Sheridan Brinley

#21 klemcoll

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 08:53

I owned the ex-Cole 225 Sport for a number of years back in the late 1970s and early 80s. It had been painted dark blue with white bonnet and boot lids when Cole raced it in 52. Earlier, I believe, it had been an SF car in the 52 Mille Miglia. In 53 it again appeared in the MM, driven by the great Belgian friends Charles de Tornaco and Jacques Swaters, still in Cole's colors. This was the MM when Cole drove his new 340MM with great success. After Cole was killed at LM that year, the 225 Sport was taken on by a brother (?) Nigel Cole who registered it in the UK under RGN 92. The UK plate and logbook are still in my files somewhere and the car is now in the collection of Anthony Wang on Long Island.

#22 raceannouncer2003

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 07:25

I owned the ex-Cole 225 Sport for a number of years back in the late 1970s and early 80s. It had been painted dark blue with white bonnet and boot lids when Cole raced it in 52. Earlier, I believe, it had been an SF car in the 52 Mille Miglia. In 53 it again appeared in the MM, driven by the great Belgian friends Charles de Tornaco and Jacques Swaters, still in Cole's colors. This was the MM when Cole drove his new 340MM with great success. After Cole was killed at LM that year, the 225 Sport was taken on by a brother (?) Nigel Cole who registered it in the UK under RGN 92. The UK plate and logbook are still in my files somewhere and the car is now in the collection of Anthony Wang on Long Island.


I have this car...but it's a little smaller!

http://www.clubdifio...i...del&id=5103

Thanks for explaining the color. I wondered about that.

Vince H.


#23 Barry Boor

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 08:13

Is this the same car as in post #15?

#24 Jean L

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 12:29

Post #21 it is Ferrari 225S 0194ET
Post #15 it is Ferrari 340MM 0284AM

#25 erkelly2

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 15:12

I am trying to get to the truth about Tom Cole's life.

His family nickname "The Boy" matches the name of one of the ships operated by the Clifton Steamship Corporation, which was reported to be owned by Tom's father, also named Thomas.

Another one of their ships was called "The Denise". Might this be the name of a sister of Tom (Jr.), the daughter (or wife?) of Tom (Sr.)?

I have also found where Thomas L. H. Cole was a crew member of two "oilers", the "Esso Aruba" and the "Esso Bayonne". To muddy the waters, he claimed American citizenship on the Esso Aruba, and English citizenship on both ships.

His British passport was # 7565139. On some of the lists of other crew members, all were Americans except Thomas L.H. Cole. No accident - apparently he was a British citizen.

I don't know if people are allowed to claim "dual citizenship", where Britain and the U.S. are concerned. With so many Americans serving in the RAF before the U.S. formally entered WW-I and WW-II, this might be a possibility. If captured by the Germans in either war, the U.S. may have permitted volunteers to the RAF to carry British citizenship so that the U.S. could not be considered a hostile entity until the formal declaration of war(s).

The New York Times report of his fatality (published 15 June 1953) claims he was "London born", but a resident of Sayville, NY. He was reported to be the son of the owner of the Clifton Steamship Corporation, went to Harvard for a year, then enlisted in the American merchant marine during WW-II (probably the ships above), and then "drove an ambulance for the American Field Service."

The 1930 United States Federal Census does not show Thomas Cole to be in New Hampshire.

The 1940 Census will be available in ~nine months from now.

Two different ages are shown for Tom (Jr.) - the NYT reports he is 31; other sources state he was 24.

The manifests from the two ships show him to be 21 in 1943. Thus it is likely that he was 31, not 24, in 1953.

I have known more than a dozen survivors of polio in my past. Without exception, they have all been "focused", mature and well above average in performance on the job. Some showed minor physical handicaps, but they had no problem working around their minor physical liabilities.

The above is most of which I could find from sources in the "colonies". Perhaps some of you can find some clarification from British sources.

Rick Kelly
researcher
Oklahoma City




#26 Frank S

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 22:25

You reckon this is the 225S in Phil Binks' photo from Elkhart Lake 1952?

Posted Image

#27 erkelly2

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Posted 10 September 2011 - 01:48

I have completed my research on Tom Cole.

It can be found at

http://www.motorspor...php?db=ct&n=834

I welcome any corrections, suggestions and/or additional information.

Are any of the photos of Tom Cole available to be used in my article in MM, especially the photo posted by Jerry Entin?

One thing I might add to the page is that Tom had one of the fastest times during practice for his last race.

Rick Kelly
researcher
Oklahoma City

#28 David McKinney

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Posted 10 September 2011 - 06:02

The site linked to of course omits his handful of single-seater drives. Also the 1950 Leinster Trophy

Edited by David McKinney, 10 September 2011 - 06:02.


#29 marlondylan

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Posted 10 September 2011 - 22:23

You reckon this is the 225S in Phil Binks' photo from Elkhart Lake 1952?

Posted Image


This photo shows the Ferrari 340 America Touring Barchetta #0118A driven at Elkhart Lake on September 7 1952 by Bill Spear.

Best
Boudewijn

#30 terry mcgrath

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Posted 11 September 2011 - 00:33

I have done a little chasing on Tom Cole as a result of his ownership of an SS100 chassis number 39086 for a book I am doing detailing the histories of all of the SS100 to follow on from other similiar books we have done and are doing.
I found a piece on the accident in "Stars and Stripes Newspaper, Europe, Mediterranean, and North Africa Editions, 1942-1964 1953 June 15"
Cole I believe imported the SS100 in 1949 and raced it at the Bridgehampton event that year. It had been hllclimbed postwar in the UK.
Whilst I have some pics of the car racing at Bridgehampton these are copies out of old magazines I would be very interested to get some nice pics of the car at Bridgehampton.
The car does survive in the USA
terry

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