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George Rand (1909-1986) of ARCA & SCCA fame

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#1 ReWind

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 15:15

George C. Rand (1909 – 1986) was a major figure in American motorsport. The following is from the obituary by St. Paul's School (Concord, New Hampshire):

George Curtis Rand of Hobe Sound, Florida, died on October 5, 1986, at his summer home in Woodside, California. He was born in Short Hills, New Jersey, on October 14, 1909, the son of Alice Kobbe Rand and Curtis Gordon Rand. He entered St. Paul's in 1922 as a I Former. In his VI Form year he was a member of the Concordian Literary Society and vice president of the Scientific Association and the Radio Club.
A member of the Harvard Class of 1922, he was engaged before and after World War II with furthering the sport of automobile racing in this country and abroad. He organized the Automobile Racing Club of America in 1932, was head of the contest board of the Sports Car Club of America 1953-1956, and was a U.S. delegate to the Federation Internationale de l' Automobile, the world governing body of the sport. A trophy named for him was presented at the annual East Coast interclub sports car championship in Bridgehampton, New York, in 1959. He was director and secretary of the automobile competition committee for the United States, F.I.A., from 1956 to 1974.
At Harvard he had joined the Flying Club and gained his pilot's license. He joined the U. S. Navy in March 1941 and served as a flight instructor in the United States and then in the Pacific with the Naval Air Transport Service. He left the service as a lieutenant commander in November 1945.
He was also a consultant to the Owl's Head (Maine) Transportation Museum.
Survivors include his wife, Mary Burnham Rand; his sister, Alice R. Durant; and his cousin, Laurance B. Rand.

One should add that George Rand was also Bugatti’s New York agent and a competent racing driver who took part in the 1951 Le Mans 24 h race for Briggs Cunningham.

Obivously George Rand married at least three times, Lilla Freulinghauser * Bingham being the name of another wife of his. Most interesting is his first wife whom he married on 26 May 1934 in Roslyn, Nassau County, New York, and divorced on 24 February 1938 in Reno, Nevada. TIME magazine at the occasion of this marriage called Rand a „Manhattan socialite“. His wife Eleanor Post Close Hutton (1909 – 2006), heiress to General Foods, was – like him – just 24 years old but had already been married two times, first to famous script writer (& later film director) Preston Sturges (the marriage was annulled after two years in 1932) and then in 1933 to French polo player Robert Gautier (the marriage lasted just one year, it seems she was divorced from Gautier after she married Rand!).
Eleanor would marry three more times, in 1942 Austrian writer Hans Habe, then – possibly in 1954 – a certain Owen D. Johnson (who surprisingly seems to have not been famous in any way), and finally in 1956 Belgian-born orchestral conductor Léon Barzin.
Her mother was Marjorie Merriweather Post (1887 – 1973) who in 1919 divorced Eleanor’s father Edward Close and in 1920 married E.F. Hutton who thus became Eleanor’s stepfather. From that marriage Eleanor in 1925 got a half-sister who became an actress by the name of Dina Merrill.

I’m afraid anymore about Eleanor would be considered fluff ;) . But I’d be glad to learn more about George Rand’s life and achievements in this thread.

* As you can see in post # 14 the right spelling is Frelinghuysen.

Edited by ReWind, 26 December 2011 - 20:15.


#2 JB Miltonian

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 18:38

Automobile Quarterly Vol 17, #1 (1979) has a 12-page article "George Rand, Gentleman Driver" by Al Bochroch.

#3 ReWind

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Posted 11 December 2011 - 13:56

It's nice to know that a lenghty article about George Rand exists.
It would be even nicer if I could see the content. ;)

#4 ReWind

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Posted 19 December 2011 - 20:38

Thanks to JB Miltonian I can post excerpts from Al Bochroch’s article about “George Rand, Gentleman Driver”:

[…] George Rand chose to spend a good deal of his life pursuing what he so characteristically calls the "finesse" of speed and speed sport, and the machines which provide it. […] George can’t remember when he wasn’t interested in automobiles. He startet cutting exotic car pictures out of magazines – particularly the salon issues of L’Illustration – as a small boy, and he still has the carefully preserved scrapbooks in which the ads were pasted. Long before he enrolled at St. Paul’s, where the magazine clippings began to take more tangible form, young Rand was writing away for speed shop literature and collecting brochures from such firms as Morton & Brett, Frontenac, Rajo and Green Engineering. When Alec Ulmann recently acquired a bundle of old speed shop literature, one of George Rand’s childhood collections was among them.
His family, whose interests were in the business world, seems to have had little to do with young George’s fascination for things mechanical. One of his earliest airplane-related memories was, in fact, a tragic one. His mother’s uncle, the distinguished Gustave Kobbé, who wrote a respected history of opera, was killed on Long Island Sound when a low flying naval training plane buzzed his boat and shattered the mast.
For an automotive-minded boy, post-World War I America was a heady time in which to grow up. It was the beginning of what would come to be known as the classic era, and the showrooms on New York’s 57th Street overflowed with Europe’s elegant best. Born in Short Hills, New Jersey, on October 14th, 1909, George C. – the “C” for Curtis, a family name – Rand was raised in New York City and at his grandmother’s home on Long Island, near Islip. His days at St. Paul’s began when he was twelve and gave him a chance to visit the Rockingham Speedway, even though the big wooden bowl was a bit beyond the school’s firmly enforced ten-mile limit. This was the heyday of the board track era and George vividly recalls the Millers and Duesenbergs being driven by such heroes as Pete De Paolo, Ira Vail and Peter Kreis.
All three Collier boys also attended St. Paul’s. However, as the school was divided into six forms, none of the brothers had classes with George. Barron was a form ahead, while Sam and Miles were lower classmates. They were acquainted, but a decade was to pass before the beginnings of their close friendship and their spirited efforts to bring road racing back to America.
Summer holidays saw George and his friends at the Mineola Fairgrounds, an old dirt oval which ran Triple A events. George’s first car, a Model T Ford, was bought from a New Hampshire farmer for fifty dollars in 1927. As St. Paul’s students were forbidden to have automobiles, the car was stored, and worked on, just outside the school limits. […]
During the summer of 1927 George bought a Mercedes chassis with a 90 hp Simplex engine. […] It was about this time that George and his companions discovered an abandoned horse track in the woods behind nearby Babylon. Much of that summer was spent exercising the Model T and Simplex-Mercedes there “at speed.”
G.C. Rand’s third car was a Mercer roadster – he never knew the model year – that he found lying by the side of a road near Hicksville. Again, fifty dollars bought it and George enlisted the unofficial support of his mother’s chauffeur who used the family Packard to spirit George’s new acquisition out of sight in a friend’s garage. […]
Another Model T, a dilapidated touring car purchased for fifteen dollars, to which George, his cousin Gerald Hollins and a friend had contributed five dollars apiece, next joined the scuderia. Originally intended to be cannibalized as a source of spares for the first T, the touring car was raced at the boys’ private track before being dismantled. […]
July of 1927 saw George attending the Curtiss-Wright Flying School near Garden City, Long Island, at what would become Roosevelt Field. […] After two hours of instruction, Mrs. Rand learned of her son’s flying lessons. They were quickly terminated.
The following summer Mrs. Rand exercised another mother’s prerogative. On returning home for his spring holiday, George was told that he would never be seeing the Model T or Mercer again. She had had them buried – and had otherwise disposed of the Mercedes-Simplex. (“It was always a mystery to me what she did with that one.”) However, his mother said, if George would promise to give up racing, there was something for him in the garage. It was a spanking new, gleaming black Model A roadster with red wire wheels. “I would have promised anything,” George remembers.
Having the A gave him reliable transportation and the opportunity to see many more races, particularly those at the then outlaw – non-AAA-sanctioned – Deer Park half-mile dirt oval where George was later to run his first race with the professionals. […].

Edited by ReWind, 23 December 2011 - 18:07.

#5 Michael Ferner

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Posted 20 December 2011 - 16:38

Ah, that's interesting! So, the "George Rand of New York" that I have competing in a AAA race at Deer Park on September 7, 1930, was "the" George Rand. FYI, he finished 4th in a ten-lap (5-mile) consolation race that day. The main event, btw, was won by Herman Schurch, from Hal Larzelere, Henry Turgeon and Bob Sall - all of them "name drivers" in the area. Rand followed Dave Harris, Joe de Antoni and Herman Venth in the consy.

#6 Paul Medici

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Posted 20 December 2011 - 17:06

George was the first to race a Ferrari in the U.S. - Bridgehampton, June 11th, 1949.
Nice article by Mike Lynch from CAVALLINO magazine.


Alfred Momo is leaning on the 166SC in that great photo.

#7 ReWind

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Posted 20 December 2011 - 18:26

I'll post the Bochroch excerpts bit by bit.

George entered Harward that fall,

I think 1929 is meant here

a member of the class of 1932. […] Spending most of his weekends at one of the airport hangars, George became friendly with Swede Parker, another Harward undergraduate flying enthusiast who also liked auto racing. It was Parker who knew where they could buy a short track Chrysler 60 in a modified Studebaker chassis, and it was this machine that George was first to race professionally. As joint owners of the $ 600 hybrid, Rand and Parker routinely used the race car for transportation between Cambridge and the airport. In his second year George bought Parker’s share and that summer he took the car back to Long Island.
“It was not a very satisfactory car, and I didn’t know enough about it, but it gave me my experience in dirt track racing.” George first ran the Chrysler at Deer Park in the spring of 1930 and a little later on the dirt at Riverhead. In all, he recollects racing the two outlaw tracks around five or six times. While he didn’t win, he did do well enough to attract a sponsor and was soon able to move up to a more competitive machine.
It was the irrepressible Ray Gilhooley, exotic foreign car dealer, bon vivant and sometime race driver, whom George met at Deer Park and who in turn introduced George to Sammy Manganello. Sam, an oval track buff who ran a large garbage disposal firm in Queens, also happened to own a Hudson dirt track special. Arrangements for George to race the Hudson moved quickly, the only condition being that he and Gilhooley were to maintain it.
The Hudson gave George a much better finishing record than the Chrysler. However, Deer Park had become an AAA track, and the Hudson was no match for the Millers and other hot machines now ruling the Long Island oval. Nevertheless, George did well enough to soon acquire the six temporary permits needed to become a licensed 3A driver. Several of his “permit” races were run in a Type 35A Bugatti Ray Gilhooley happened to have on consignment for resale.
“It was this particular car that really saw my feelings blossom about Bugatti,” George recalls. Known as the “Grand Prix Imitation”, the 35A was soon dubbed the “Tecla” by French wags, the name referring to the then popular line of fake pearls. Actually, it was a bride’s disfavor, a not unfamiliar reaction to esoteric automobiles, that triggers our tale.
Hunt Bancroft Smith, a friend of George’s from Tuxedo Park, bought the Bugatti from Captain Malcolm Campbell, a Bugatti agent at the time, while Smith was on his honeymoon in London. Unfortunately, young Mrs. Smith hated it and threatened an immediate divorce unless the car was sold. George, concerned with his friend’s marital plight, arranged for Ray Gilhooley to take the Bug on consignment until he (George) could raise enough money to buy it.
Acknowledging that the Type 35A did have several weaknesses, George remarks that “the oil pressure almost disappeared when you made left turns, and after all, where I was racing that was about all there was.” Racing another Type 35A that Gilhooley also had on consignment, George remembers, also required cutting down the original wheel size so it would take a much smaller tire. This necessitated restringing the wire wheels, a tough chore. But the smaller wheels enabled George to run the Bugatti in third gear which was the only way he could get enough torque to get around the small ovals.

More to follow...

Edited by ReWind, 23 December 2011 - 18:07.

#8 ReWind

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 18:30

Betimes another idea – long dormant in America – was brewing. Road racing. The Overlook Automobile Racing Club, casual established by the Collier brothers on the driveway of their family estate around 1930, had evolved by July of 1934 into the Automobile Racing Club of America. George Rand was a founder member and that summer used a friend’s Type 35 Bugatti in the one-car-skirts of Bridgeport. His first appearance in an actual ARCA race was at the newly opened Marston’s Mills circuit on Cape Cod on May 2nd, 1935. Held by the club’s recently formed New England region, the “Cape Cod Challenge” was won by Sidney Shurcliff in a Ford special. “Other positions not available,” states John Rueter’s history of the ARCA, but additional entrants included: H. Bancroft, Jr., M.G.; R. Love, Willys; J. Baldwin, Indianapolis Studebaker; G. Rand, Ford-Amilcar. “It had been a Model M which had been involved in a minor shunt, but the chassis was good, and this particular model was equipped with a differential which I thought would be good for racing. I had the Weymann body taken off and Jacques Schaerley of Zumbach’s outfitted it with M.G.-like coachwork and installed the Ford engine.”
In 1936 Briggs Cunningham, as he would for several of his ARCA friends, loaned Sam Collier and George his supercharged six-cylinder K3 Magnette M.G. to run in voiturette races overseas. Following their first event, the County Down Trophy in Ireland (in which Sam drove the first heat), the young Americans went to Albi in the south of France where it was George’s turn to run initially, and Sam’s misfortune to have the engine seize in the closing heat.
After the County Down race, George recalls that he and Sam drove to Baden-Baden where the Collier family had a summer home in the Black Forest near the German spa. “We needed a tow car to get the Magnette down to Albi, and Sam managed to borrow Mr. Collier’s town car. It was a big and heavy Mercedes-Benz with chauffeur’s partition and all that, but it really was rather underpowered for its weight. Of course, it suited us just fine, and we hooked up a rigid tow bar that required the Magnette to be steered. Returning to Paris after Albi, a big lorry crowded the Mercedes off the road, and the K3 went into a ditch. Sam, who was in the M.G., was only shaken up, but the M.G. was badly bent. We had been loaned Harry Rumsen from the M.G. works competition department so he took the car back to Abingdon and had it repaired before it was shipped back to the States.”
It was while racing the Magnette at Albi that George met Freddy McEvoy, an Australian driver then living in Paris. They were to become good friends. George drove the ex-McEvoy 1500 cc Maserati six at Picardie, and it was through the Australian that George met Raymond Sommer, whom he so greatly respects. “I suppose you could call Freddy an international playboy, although I don’t believe that he either smoked or drank, but Freddy really did carry on. McEvoy was a great liver-upper and, I recall, he was a champion bobsledder… he was a pretty fair race driver, too. He and Count Trossi finished sixth in the 1936 Vanderbilt at Roosevelt Raceway.”

Edited by ReWind, 23 December 2011 - 18:07.

#9 ReWind

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 18:51

By this time, Ray Gilhooley had taken over the top floor of the Liberty Storage and Warehouse Company at 47 West 64th Street in New York, and it was now that George Rand went into the car business. Allying himself with Bill Weaver and Sam Collier, and calling the result W.C.R. Motors, George rented a corner of Gilhooley’s as his showroom and initially made arrangements to have their customer’s cars serviced at Zumbach’s. Soon Weaver left the firm, then Sam and Miles Collier became agents for Morris Garages, forming Motor Sports Inc., although they remained in George’s space. “You have to remember that a lot of these changes were just on paper. … I began specializing in Bugattis, Alfas and Maseratis and called my shop George C. Rand Inc. … Then I moved to 134 West 56th Street, behind Carnegie Hall, and the Colliers shared my space there too. … Later when I rented part of a floor in the Brewster Building, in Long Island City, just over the Queensborough Bridge, Sam and Miles were part of that as well.”
Bob Heller, a friend from the ARCA, had joined George at Gilhooley’s; John Oliveau, who had been with Voisin in New York, arrived when he moved to the Brewster Building. As an entrepeneur, George’s approach to his customers was quite solicitous, as his correspondence from the period, detailing, for example, the reasons why it was necessary to raise labor rates for repairs from a dollar-fifty to two dollars an hour, indicates.
George’s garage became an official Bugatti agency. “It was through Colonel Sorel, the Bugatti concessionaire for Great Britain, that I became a Bugatti dealer. This was 1933. It was his idea, naturally, that I would procure the chassis from him, and that English coachwork would be fitted to it. I wanted a Type 55 two-seater, but he said, ‘no, Mr. Rand, they’re not going to make those anymore. Bugatti’s got a different concept of cars now and you’ll have to take a chassis that’s more docile, comfortable coachwork, four seats’ and all that. So I ordered a Type 57 chassis with coachwork by H.R. Owen – who represented Gurney Nutting, their bodies were actually made there. It had a smart-looking sedanca body, two doors, four seats, with a tiny little useless trunk. That was to be my demonstrator. It took a year to arrive, though I started advertising my Bugatti wares before it ever landed. About a year after that the Bugatti factory introduced its line of four factory-built bodies designed by Jean Bugatti, and I had to explain to Colonel Sorel the advantages of eliminating the middle man and dealing with the factory direct. Fortunately he understood, and I had no trouble whatever dealing with Molsheim. The Coupe Atalante was my best seller.”
Many more of George’s cars arrived by a more circuitous route. “Actually most of the cars I sold were used,” he remembers. “My friend Raymond Sommer would tell me about 2.3 Alfas, cars that he or another teammate might have raced the previous year. He was always on the lookout for cars for me. I’d see him over there, or he’d write me, sending me pictures of the car and a story, and I’d say ‘fine, send it over.’ Then somewhere along the line Freddy McEvoy had contracted for a half-dozen Talbot Lagos with Figoni et Falaschi coachwork. He’d come over with a few of them, sell one himself to a friend, lose another in a backgammon game or whatever, and leave the remaining one with me on consignment. My Maseratis came through friends of Sommer’s. They’d ask him, ‘now this friend of yours George Rand, we just happen to have three Grand Prix cars and the formula’s being changed next year, do you think he’d be interested?’ Of course, I was. The real object of this whole venture was that it gave me a chance to drive these exotic cars, in some cases to race one or two of them, which I couldn’t possibly have afforded to do otherwise. I would have been spreading myself too thin. I really had a grand time being a car dealer.”
Meantime, the ARCA, whose paperwork was now in the hands of Tom Dewart’s secretary in the New York Sun, was becoming more active. George found himself using his stock to help fill out competition fields by lending cars to ARCA members. By this time, Barron Collier, Jr., had ceased being active in the ARCA, but George believes that he played an important, and usually overlooked, role during the club’s early years. “Getting the New York Willys distributor to build and campaign two white boattailed Type 77’s gave the club a great lift.”

Edited by ReWind, 23 December 2011 - 18:08.

#10 ReWind

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 18:12

A few months before the 1937 Vanderbilt trophy at Roosevelt Raceway, George was in Europe where, with the help of Raymond Sommer and Freddy McEvoy, he picked up a V-8 Grand Prix Maserati and had it shipped back to the States. Enter the boxer, Enzo Fiermonte, who had forsaken the prize ring for marriage to the former Madeline Astor Dick (making him the not-quite-thirty-year-old stepfather to John Jacob Astor, Jr.) and who now entertained notions of motor sport or, as one New York newspaper, the Journal, translated it into doggerel: “The tall, handsome, dark pug / Has switched to the spark plug.”
Becoming acquainted with George’s shop and hearing much racing talk, Fiermonte bought the big Maser with the idea of entering the Vanderbilt Trophy and co-driving with George. The newspapers had a field day: Fiermonte – who had always had a fondness for glittering lights and publicity, and knew how to get both – and George Rand who, in addition to his social credentials, had already gathered unto himself a considerable reputation as a gentleman driver, teaming up for the greater glory of America and against the might of Germany. “This is my sport from now on,” Fiermonte told the press. “The prize ring has no thrill like that of 150 miles an hour in a racing car. This game takes an eye and judgment of speed, and a nerve that the ring never demanded. It makes boxing seem slow.”
[…] George Rand still gets the shakes when he thinks of what could have happened had Fiermonte run. “In no way could I see him driving that car. He had no experience, no feel for the car at all. And the thought of him on the same circuit with Nuvolari, Caracciola and Rosemeyer was horrifying. I just could not do it, either as his co-driver or to let him run it himself. … Of course, it cost me my chance to drive too, but I simply had to withdraw my entry. I convinced him finally that the best thing to do was get an outside driver, and I contacted Wilbur Shaw. He finished eighth.”
Later that year, when the ARCA held a meet over a 1.85-mile section of the Roosevelt Raceway course, Fiermonte did get his chance with the Maser. “I had to let him drive sometime,” George remembers. “He was a disaster. After a few laps, he was black-flagged as a menace.” George took over and finished first in the over 2000 cc category.
May of 1939 saw the same Maserati surface at Indianapolis when Tom Dewart and Dick Wharton hauled it to the Midwest in a Coca-Cola delivery truck. Wharton entered the Maser in the 500 and then convinced Indy regular Deacon Litz to try it after Litz’s own entry, a Miller Special, had been bumped. Litz qualified thirty-first, swallowed a valve on the seventh lap and became the first retirement. One other Maserati raced at Indy that year. Wilbur Shaw was its driver, and it won. “I believe I may have been one of those who got him interested in driving a Maserati in the 500,” George comments. “I had gotten to know Wilbur at the air races. … His experience at the Vanderbilt was perhaps his first with a Maserati.”

BTW, you may re-read my earlier posts because I inserted some links into them.

#11 ReWind

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 10:22

In 1939 George Rand became president of the Automobile Racing Club of America. These were exciting times for the club, as GP Alfas, Talbots, SS Jags, Bugattis and George’s Minerva tourer – which he later chopped to use as a tow car – joined the M.G.’s, Ford and Willys specials. In addition to such ARCA fixtures as the “Race Around the Houses” at Alexandria Bay, the New England Region’s tour and trials and the annual Mount Washington Hill Climb, the Montauk Grand Prix was held in 1939 and again in 1940, when George’s Maserati won over a couple of Grand Prix Alfas.
The audacious idea of racing through the exhibition grounds of a world’s fair was not new. Both the 1916 Vanderbilt Cup and American Grand Prize had run on a 3.84-mile course which wound its way through San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific Exposition. In 1939 Tom Dewart and George – “be sure to put Tom’s name first,” George says typically – thought of it again. The target was the New York World’s Fair in Flushing. After failing to convince the Fair management with a straightforward approach, well-connected ARCA members – especially Dewart, whose family owned the New York Sun – tried appropriate channels. It worked. Said Grover Whalen, the Fair chairman, he would be pleased, etc. etc.
On the appointed day – October 6th, 1940 – a strange sight greeted early morning risers in Queens, as a coterie of drivers and a gaggle of Grand Prix Maseratis and Alfas drove through the city streets from George’s garage to Flushing. Starting at the Court of Peace, the circuit for the World’s Fair GP coursed the Netherlands, Polish, Swiss, Peruvian and Finnish pavilions before returning to the starting line. At 10:30 a.m. Ralph De Palma driving a Stutz took eighteen starters on a pace lap around the twisty 0.7-mile circuit. And then the race was on. George held the early lead, only to retire with a broken valve. Frank Griswold’s GP Alfa took over, as Dick Wharton’s Alfa tucked into second place. Miles Collier provided mid-race excitement by bringing Briggs Cunningham’s new Bu-Merc – a Buick-8-powered SSK Mercedes that Briggs and Buick chief engineer Charles Chayne had lovingly worked on – into second place. But Miles nicked a light pole on the fifty-first lap, and Philadelphia’s Frank Griswold went on to win, giving notice of what was to happen eight years later at the foot of Lake Seneca, when sports car racing resumed, at Watkins Glen.
It was this ARCA race which prompted the secretary of the AAA Contest Board, Ted Allen, to write George Rand a stern reprimand for allowing ARCA members to race without AAA licenses. Some months earlier the ARCA had been asked to join the AAA. The club declined. “The Triple A wanted to control the ARCA,” George remarks. “We wanted to be independent. The whole idea was abhorrent to us. Already the AAA Contest Board was deteriorating… and, besides that, the AAA was concerned with track cars and stock cars, with Indy, half-mile dirt tracks, board tracks and such. We were interested in road racing. We wanted to emulate the British style of sports car competition. We were something else altogether different.” One can’t help but speculate, if the ARCA had allowed itself to be controlled by the AAA, how different American racing might be today.
By now, however, other pressures were weighing heavy. Many ARCA members were in military reserve units. On December 9th, 1941, George Rand deactivated the club with a letter which began, “The purpose for which the Automobile Racing Club of America has existed has suddenly ceased to have any significance as of five minutes past one o’clock on last Sunday afternoon.”

#12 ReWind

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Posted 25 December 2011 - 08:00

During his five years as a Navy flier, George rose from Lt. (JG) to full Commander. He saw a variety of service, including flight instruction, ferrying fighters – and he was assigned to the Naval Air Transport Service. Occasionally George met up with other ARCA members and sometimes he was able to get Sam Collier as his navigator.
As with many wartime pilots, George wanted to remain in flying. (Ultimately his dossier would show that he had flown seventy civilian and twenty-nine Navy types of aircraft.) The Collier brothers, their father’s advertising empire having collapsed after his death, were concentrating on their Florida holdings and decided southern Florida needed an airline. Several five-passenger, single-engined Cessnas were acquired, and George Rand became chief pilot of the Lantana-based Plantation Airlines. Unfortunately, Florida wasn’t ready for its own fledgling airline, and George moved back to New York in October of 1949.
He was to reopen his shop, but he had begun to race again in 1947. And in 1950 George Rand became involved in another road racing idea. It was called the Sports Car Club of America. From 1954 to 1956 he served – Charles Moran had asked him – as general manager and secretary of the SCCA Contest Board.
Boca Raton, for which Ned McLean had loaned him a Cisitalia, was George’s first postwar race. He missed the first two years at Watkins Glen but raced at Palm Beach Shores and, in June 1949, he drove a two-liter Ferrari 166 for Briggs Cunningham at Bridgehampton. After the Ferrari broke an oil line when in the lead, George Huntoon took over to win in the 8C 2600 Alfa he had borrowed from his father-in-law, Sam Bird. With John Marshall, an old friend from ARCA days, George ran the first Sebring in December 1950, and their Aston Martin earned a first in class.
At Watkins Glen the previous October, George had been the first to come upon the scene of Sam Collier’s accident. As a last-minute starter in a friend’s Alfa-engined BMW, Rand’s name does not appear in the 1950 entry. Following Sam’s Ferrari into the sweeping Big Bend, George did not see the car leave the road, but he could see that the driver was in trouble way off in the field. As the first to reach Sam’s side, George rode in the ambulance with him; he was still alive. George remembers persuading the ambulance driver to go against the oncoming race traffic as it would shorten the trip to the hospital in Montour Falls by several miles. It was in vain. Sam died later that day, shortly after Miles reached the hospital.
Shocked and filled with grief, Briggs Cunningham told George he never wanted to see “that car” again. He asked that it be repaired and then sold out of the country. As it had rolled several times, the Ferrari needed a lot of work. Predictably, it ended up with Alfred Momo at Inskip’s on 64th Street.
New York’s favorite watering hole during this period was John Perona’s El Morocco. As Perona himself was a car enthusiast, racing talk was commonplace in the zebra-striped cafe. When Perona assumed the responsibility of sponsoring an eight-man team to the sports car Olympics to be held in Buenos Aires as a part of the 1951 Pan American games, the bench racing at El Morocco really heated up. Eight “amateur sportsmen” were selected, with George Rand as the team captain. Wryly recalling this episode, George says, “Some rather strange decisions came out of our meetings. … Briggs Cunningham supplied two Ferraris, the rebuilt 166 and a new 2.3-liter coupé that I believe he hoped would take the stigma from the other car. … I could have driven either car, but I selected the 166. … John Fitch, Bill Spear, Tom Cole, Freddy Wacker, Jim Kimberly, Hal Ullrich and, don’t ask me why, Tony Pompeo were the drivers, and Alec Ulmann, who was armed with a letter from the AAA which made it all very official, acted as the official representative of the AAA Contest Board.”
Buenos Aires was utter chaos. Stevedores hat deliberately unloaded the cars so they would be hidden behind bags of wheat. It took two days to find them. Fangio, George recalls, was a great help, but the dock workers were looking for a little graft. “We had to pay them off, but if it had not been for Alfred Momo, our chef d’équipe, and his knowledge of Italian, which the dock workers understood, we never would have raced. We had trouble getting the proper grade of fuel. … There were three races scheduled for us, but we were lucky to have one. … John Fitch won it in Tom Cole’s old Allard. … Though I tried to sell it, no one bought the Ferrari, and I brought it back.” Eventually, Briggs overcame his antipathy for the ill-starred 166. Fully restored, it now occupies a place of honor in his wonderful Costa Mesa museum.

#13 ReWind

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Posted 25 December 2011 - 13:25

Driving a Cunningham C-2 with Fred Wacker, George was one of eleven Yanks in the 1951 Le Mans. It was a wet 24 Hours, but the rain did little to slow the curly-haired youngster who repeatedly set sensational record laps in the new disc-braked C-Type Jaguar or the pair of English farmers who drove the winning Jag. Unhappily, although the wet didn’t seem to bother Messrs. Walker, Whitehead or Moss, it helped to spoil the Cunningham challenge when late Saturday night, George Huntoon, who was driving with Briggs, slid off at Indianapolis in a big way. George Rand was to lose his car during the night, and the Phil Walters / John Fitch car, after running a solid second, lost a bearing and ended up eighteenth. Cunningham had to settle for a single, albeit crippled, finisher. Only one other American, Charlie Moran, who was sharing his Ferrari with Milanese Ferrari dealer Franco Cornacchia, completed the 1951 24 Hours. One of Moran’s earliest races was the 1929 Le Mans when he became the first American to run the 24 Hours. His last race was the 1959 Sebring in which he shared a Lotus 1500 with George Rand.
Sebring was George’s favorite of American races. “Especially the 12 Hours. I was more of an endurance racer than a sprinter, and preferred that sort of competition. And Le Mans was my favorite of all.” He had seen a couple of races there during the Thirties – in fact, had almost participated in one when, on a visit to the Continent with Sam Collier, he had been advised by the Auburn-Duesenberg dealer in Paris to get himself to the circuit because “if we stood by, there was a good chance we could be co-drivers of Prince Nicholas of Romania’s Duesenberg which was entered in the event. We got to the course right away. Unfortunately, the Duesenberg never showed up.”
Needless to say, George had jumped at the chance to join the Cunningham team for the ’51 race at Le Mans. Even the outcome didn’t dispirit him. “I was sorry when I lost the car, but later after I had come into the pits, my co-driver, Freddy Wacker, said to me, ‘boy, am I glad I didn’t have to get in that car again.’ The Cunningham was not a good car, way overweight, poor handling. But the important thing was the effort. Briggs was so enthusiastic that I don`t think he was really disappointed at the outcome either. It was a very, very serious sporting attempt. And the fact that we as Americans were there with a full-team entry was important. And the ambience, the whole dramatic thing of it, the circus atmosphere, the people camping out on the Mulsanne straight. The legends that had grown up around Le Mans, drivers hiding spare parts along that straightaway and going into the bushes at night to pick out what they might need, the Hippodrome and the little café tables where Brian Lewis had stopped for champagne once during the race. It all was so grand. And it was marvelous watching Briggs and Alfred Momo working together. They were so much alike – shy, reticent, always composed, but bursting with energy. Alfred and Briggs really hit it off from the very beginning. Each one knew the other was thoroughly honest, it was their makeup from the soles of their feet to the top of their heads. They were just the perfect combination, absolutely perfect.”
Though continuing to take his place behind the wheel in competition, George also began acting as chief steward at many races. Now with Hoffman Motors, his new employer looked askance sometimes at his entering contests with competitive marques. Though it was George who looked askance whenever Max Hoffman took a turn behind the wheel in competition. “He drove with utter abandon, scared me to death.” George was given the opportunity, however, to give the XK-120 its first American competition outing, taking the Jaguar roadster up Mount Equinox. Recalling the XK’s baptism, he muses, “We all had two trips up the hill, and I broke a water hose on each attempt.” He also ran Vero Beach in the XK; frequently campaigned a Jowett Jupiter, another of Hoffman’s imports, in SCCA races; ran Porsches with Briggs Cunningham and has fond memories of driving Donald Healey’s own Austin Healey 100 at Sebring.

#14 ReWind

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Posted 26 December 2011 - 18:31

The final part of Bochroch's article:

Another fond memory is of a D.B. George’s friend Bill Cook had been assisting the Messrs. Deutsch and Bonnet by sponsoring their cars in events at Sebring. Most of the cars were 750 cc, but Cook obtained as well an 850 cc coupé for Sebring in ’56, for George to co-drive with John Marshall. The extra 100 cc bumped it up to the bottom of the next displacement class, and the car was essentially a touring, not a racing machine. But it was doing well enough for a while until it lost its brakes. “I was, as they say, sailing around the course,” George remembers. “Did that for two or three hours. I knew we couldn’t drive once night came, but this was fun. When I came into the pits for John to take over, I said nothing. Well, John took it out and crashed through an entrance gate. Little damage was done, but he came back mad as hell. Why didn’t you tell me about the brakes? he said. I just wanted you to have a good time, I said.”
Being a race steward had it rewards, too. George recalls such incidents as the chill morning in 1953 when he met Captain George Eyston at 5:30 and they walked the new Dix circuit at Watkins Glen. Later, at the stewards ceremony in the high school auditorium, George Rand, as chief steward, introduced the honorary chief steward, Captain Eyston. The distinguished Englishman said that while he greatly admired the spunk shown by the organizers in finding themselves a new course, he did not think it was a very safe one and that they should make plans to have it altered or find themselves a new site. Which they did.
Regarding George and Charlie Moran’s contesting the Sebring 12 Hours in 1959, George smiles today. “I suppose we really ran it to show the younger generation of drivers that those of us on the organizational side of racing were still in touch. Charlie and I agreed beforehand that it would be the last race for both of us. It was a wet one. Charlie didn’t like driving in the rain so I did most of it. The Lotus and I were hydroplaning most of the way. I think we finished second or third in class. Either way it didn’t matter. We proved our point, I think.”
Two decades have passed since then. But not George Rand’s enthusiasm. Recently he has become involved with Owls Head Transportation Museum, in Owls Head, Maine, where he has a home and where now he will establish his permanent residence. (Sadly, his wife Lilla died in 1978, and he has chosen to leave his New York address.) Owls Head is getting a good man. “Jim Rockefeller got the idea for the museum in 1974,” George says. “He’s always been a romantic. We acquired about a hundred acres along an abandoned runway at Rockland airport and put up our first building in ’75. We’re interested in all forms of transportation, as well as stationary engines. We acquired a 70-ton 600 hp Corliss steam engine that a printing shop in Cranston, Rhode Island was about to sell for scrap; we had to build a special building for it. We’ve also just completed our library which will hold about 4500 volumes, and I’m kind of in charge now of finding books for it. We have carriages and cars, antique aircraft, but what is really nice is that it’s a working not a static museum. On summer weekends we have fly-ins and acrobatic contests, motor car clubs bring in their cars for rallies, Tom Watson has a balloon and we give ballooning rides. It’s all low key, and we have more darned fun. A month or so back I ran into Tom Hibbard there, I hadn’t seen him since the Thirties when he was with Dutch Darrin. We had a marvelous chat, he’s working up a replica of a shooting brake for a Rolls in the collection, and he’ll be acting as a consultant to the museum. Yes, it’s going to be fun.”
On the organizational side of motor sport, George remains in touch to this day too. Following the Triple A’s July 1955 decision to drop its Contest Board and divest itself of all auto-racing responsibilites, it was largely Charlie Moran who forged ACCUS-FIA, the Automobile Competition Committee of the United States, the sole American affiliate for motor sport and racing of the international regulatory body, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile. It was this organization which prevented American automobile racing from fragmenting itself into an army of warring camps. One of Moran’s earliest actions was to make George Rand secretary of ACCUS-FIA. It’s a post he continues to fill with distinction.
It’s pleasant that appearances can be deceiving, that this gentle man with the look of a classics professor chose instead to devote himself to the “finesse of speed.” American motor sport has been graced – and that is precisely the word for it – with the presence of George Rand.

As you may have noticed George Rand’s first marriage wasn’t mentioned at all.

Meanwhile I found out that he was married to Mrs. Lilla Fisk Bingham, daughter of Mrs. Frederick T. Frelinghuysen of New York, on September 13, 1956, in New York (source) and after her death to Mrs. Mary K. McConihe, on April 14, 1979, at Hobe Sound, Florida (source).

His widow (who was born on 29 February 1912) died in May 1992 at the age of 80.

Amazingly I cannot find the life dates of his second wife. I discovered that Lilla Fisk in April 1935 was married to Harry Payne Bingham Jr. (1912 - 2005). They had two children, Harry Payne Bingham III (1936 – 1972) and Belinda Bingham (1937 - 1992). The marriage ended in divorce.
After all since 1995 the Fisk Fiction Prize was given in memory of Lilla Fisk Rand so she must have been more than just the wife of.

#15 stuartu

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Posted 26 September 2016 - 15:07

I have found this thread particularly helpful in understanding the background to the "Round the Houses" races in the late 1930s. I am particularly interested by the Austin Seven contingent. I see George Weaver won in a Seven in 1939. I'm pretty sure he appears in the same car in the1938 Pathe News clip as well.

Does anyone have a list of runners and results, especially for 1938 and 9, please?




#16 karlcars

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Posted 10 October 2016 - 17:55

I'm so pleased to see this recognition of George Rand. In my years around the New York sports-car crowd I recall George as the ultimate class act, not exactly like Cary Grant but close enough, modest in demeanour and extremely able. Although he was the right man to be the political figurehead of ACCUS-FIA when it was set up after the AAA quit racing, it was John Oliveau -- mentioned in the story -- who took care of the nuts and bolts. A very nice man indeed. I hope that Al wrote something about John as well.

#17 stuartu

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Posted 10 October 2016 - 18:23

Since writing my recent post I have found the very comprehensive Joel E Finn book "American Road Racing-The 1930s" at a deeply soothing price via Amazon and I also acquired a secondhand copy of John C Rueter's "American Road Racing".

I am thoroughly enlightened!

Most interested to learn that John Oliveau had worked for Voisin.