One of a Kind

Racing at leMans - amazing machines they are

11/24/2013

Racing At leMans - Amazing Machines They Are

Ken Visser

karmakvisser@yahoo.com

kenneth_visser@discovery.com

I started to do some research on a blog about the Porsche 917, one of the most successful and dominant race cars in history.  As I was going thru my photos, I came upon quite a few examples of successful leMans racers and have decided to pursue that storyline.

leMans, one of the toughest races on the planet.  24 hours of straight up racing on a mix of public and racing circuit roads.  Participants have to balance fuel, brakes, mechanical durabilty, tires as well as fatigue.  In 2010 the winning Audi covered 3,360 miles on the Circuit de la Sarthe.  

We are talking 6 times longer than the Indy 500 and 18 times longer that a Formula One Grand Prix race. Heck, from New York to LA its 2,792 miles!  Can you imaging running at top speed on the Mulsanne Straight at 3 am, checking your mirrors for a prototype approaching at 200 plus MPH, flashing its lights?  And I thought the DC Beltway was stressful during a Friday night rush hour...

To make matters even more tense, the race takes place in June with soaring temperatures and the ever present threat of rain.  Race cars don’t use air conditioning so the interior temperatures can get excruciating,  This is why you see roadsters competing, like our 59 Aston Martin DBR1 from the Simeone Museum.  Let's take a look.

Rhc13 58 aston Martin dbr1 075 sm

1958 Aston Martin DBR1 chassis 3 as presented by the Simeone Museum at the 2013 Radnor Hunt Concours d'Elegance

This spectacularly shaped 58 Aston Martin DBR1 has been lovingly maintained by the esteemed Dr Fred Simeone, an avid and astute collector of amazing historic competitive automobiles.  His collection is housed in the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum near the Philadelphia airport.  

Aston Martin won the World Championship and a win at leMans with a small team of 4 DBR1 race cars.  Caroll Shelby helped win at leMans in 59, turning out to be one of his last outings as a race car driver due to a heart condition.

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Muscle Car Memories

10/26/2013

Muscle Car Memories

By Ken Visser

I grew into automotive consciousness in the mid 70’s.  As a 12 yr old I would seek out interesting cars.  My first real photoshoot took two years to lock down since he was in a 66 427 cobra, I on a Schwinn.  And the die was cast,  I am a car nut.  I drew them, I photographed them, I chased them.

My friends and selected schoolmates had muscle cars in high school.  The lucky kids had Trans Ams and GTO’s and Camaros.  I had my Schwinn Super le Tour.  So the muscle car thing is embedded in my memory banks.  The sounds of an American V8 rumbling past the Wyomissing pool, nothing like it, never forget it.

I graduated high school in 1980 so it was the end of a decade of muscle car atrophy.  The oil embargo changed the way people felt about big horsepower.  The Mustang and the Corvette had been emasculated.  My tastes were focused on European stuff.  (For an interesting debate on the origin of the muscle car, check out this article by John Aible.)

I eventually came back to muscle cars by hanging out with my hot rod buddies at the Church of the Holy Donut in Burtonsville, MD.  That V8 sound rumbled back into my heart.  Here are some samples of good ol’ American Muscle. 

Bpfc09 66 shelby gt350 003 sm
A 1966 Shelby GT-350 photographed at the Eastern Concours of the United States.

By 1966, Caroll Shelby had accomplished more then most.  He had won the 1959 24 hours of leMans in an Aston Martin.  A heart condition took him from behind the wheel and towards the creation of the Cobra.  From there he was plucked to make the Mustang sexy for Ford.  The 65 Shelby was raw, fun and fast.  For 1966 the GT-350 lost the Mustang moniker and gained back some refinements like an optional back fold down back seat.

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Racing Porsches

08/25/2013

Racing Porsches

by Ken Visser

With Patrick Dempsey: Racing Le Mans series about to start, I thought we would take a look at some special Porsches. As we will see, racing improves the breed.  (Continued below)

Ai07 mm porsche 55 0007 lr kcv
I photographed this 1953 Porsche 550 Coupe at the Amelia Island Concours in 2007.

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The Grand Ascent Hillclimb 2012

06/16/2012

On Tuesday 12/11, you'll get to see a classic episode of Chasing Classic Cars where Wayne Carini goes through his plan to market and then sell th Porsche Special Hill Climb Car. He takes it to the Hershey Hill Climb race to put it through its paces and has a darn good time doing it. But that doesn't stop him from taking it to auction.

THough the Hill Climb took place back in June, we were lucky enough to have Kenneth Visser - automobile fan, blogger and photographer extraordinaire on site and reporting back on the action. Take a walk down memory lane below, and don't forget to tune in to Chasing Classic Cars starting on Tuesday 12/11 starting at 9p.

Another fine tradition has been reignited with the second running of the The Grand Ascent Hillclimb held on the grounds of the Hershey Hotel.  This is a VSCCA sanctioned hill climb exhibition and features a wide variety historic racing cars thundering up a five turn three quarters of a mile long course.  A unique opportunity to see, hear and smell vintage race cars slamming gears.  This event was reignited with the start of the Elegance At Hershey.  We'll talk more about the Concours later.  Let's take a look at some of the neat machinery that was attacking the hill.

Wayne Carini was selected as the Honary Grand Marshall of the Grand Ascent.  He brought his smile and his driving skills to the hill.

Eac12 hc Porsche special 031 lr

Wayne Carini of Chasing Classic Cars took the Bill Rutan VW* special with a 356 four cam motor up the hill.  Wayne spoke about the rides up later "I had a blast"  And his sub 57 second times were reflective of his blistering pace. 

 

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Classic Car Conversations with Don McLellan

02/28/2012

Here at Velocity we are incredibly lucky to work with experts from all over the automobile world - whether it's racing, auctions, history or restorations we are fortunate to have a window into their worlds.

We are excited to bring you part one of a Q&A with Don McLellan from RM Restorations. When a classic car is entrusted to RM they are there for every step of a restoration. The team researches the history behind the car and can restore, repair or rebuild everything from the trim to the transmission of the special vehicles that cross their shop floor.

This week we asked Don about some classics that have stood out in his mind - you can read about the 1939 Bugatti Type 57 here and tune in to One of a Kind tonight at 9:30 pm E/P to see it happen.

There seem to be two types of classic car fans – those that want to enjoy the car that’s been restored and drive it and those who want museum pieces that remained garaged. Which seems to be the most common?

In the past, it was 50/50 for guys that wanted to drive and those that wanted to put their classic car in a polished collection. At this particular point in time, the trend seems to be moving towards cars for driving, even when it is an investment quality piece. Some of this shift towards driving comes from the show circuit, many of which have participant tours that are an important part of the judging. There is a lot involved in preparing for this component, we drive and thoroughly test the cars, including both open road driving as well as via a chassis dynomometer in our shop to test horsepower, vibrations, leaks, overheating and emissions in order to get the cars to turn-key condition.

 Note: Video should read 1939 Type 57 Bugatti

As you’ve researched into a vehicle’s history preparing for a restoration, have you uncovered any surprises and strange histories? 

Research is a huge part of the process. We spend a lot of time traveling, in libraries (including our own), talking to marque experts, tracking down past owners and scouring coachbuilder records to get the most complete and accurate picture of the car when it was new. Some surprises do come along the way. For example, when researching Mr. Patterson’s black 1939 Type 57 Bugatti that was recently featured on ‘One of a Kind Collection’, we discovered the original body had been removed from the chassis during WWII – the chassis fitted with a different body – and the original body stored in a hay loft in Europe. In the end, the original body and chassis were reunited after 60 years. The original, hand drilled holes lined up perfectly. It was a fun process with a great result. 

Is there a restoration that stands out in your mind?

A restoration that stands out in my mind is a white 1933 Delage, because of the story it has. Built originally as a show car, it was a collaboration between the Delage factory (chassis manufacturers) and the De Villars Factory (coach builders) with an aim to make the very best, no expense spared car possible. The end design was a study in the application of color, shape and material for graceful impact. It won the 1933 concours in Paris and, after the RM Auto Restoration, it won ‘Best of Show’ at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2010. A complete history of the car, as discovered by our research, was produced to accompany the car at Pebble Beach.  

 

What is big in the restoration world right now?

There is a push for authenticity. Judges are dictating a real desire for the restoration to be done to absolutely authentic standards. This means no unauthentic colors, leathers, or materials. When fully documented, these are the cars that win the shows – which, of course, adds to a car’s desirability. • What dream car have you yet to be asked to restore? Without hesitation, a type 41 Bugatti Royale – there were only six made in the early 30s, all of which all still exist and most of which have been restored in the distant past. Now, each is priceless.

Don't forget to tune in to One of a Kind at 9:30 pm E/P to see the some of RM's work. 

Next week we'll hear post some of Don's insights on restoration work under the hood. In the meantime be sure to stop by the RM website to see some of their amazing work!

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Visit daily for posts about the shows and spirit of Velocity, an upscale male lifestyle network, featuring the best of the automotive, sports, adventure and travel genres.

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