Travel

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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The Corvettes of Amelia Island Concours 2012

04/08/2012

One can find it challenging to define an automotive “golden age”.  For someone growing up in before WWII, it might have been the roaring twenties and the rise of custom bodied cars.  That sun settled with the depression and the start of WWII.  After which gave rise to the nimble sports car which in turn gave birth to the “golden age” of the American muscle car. 

In the fifties, the big 3 were focused on profit and marketing strategies.  Big was in as suburbia ventured out on the exponentially increasing highway system.  Even as the bean counters sought sturdy profits in comfortable sedans, there was an undercurrent coming from the youngsters. 

GM introduced the Corvette in 1953 to focus on the youth market.  It may not have been obnoxiously powered, but the Corvette used fiberglass to lighten the load of the 150 hp Blue Flame 235 cubic inch straight 6.

Beyond the gaze of management, there were guys tinkering with bold ideas and even bigger horsepower.  Zora Arkus-Duntov led a team of engineers to create the ultra light 1957 XP-64 SS concept.  The 1850 pound Corvette was powered by a 307 horsepower, fuel injected V-8.  Using the Mercedes 300SL as a template, the featherweight Magnesium bodied Corvette was created with the 24 hours of LeMans in mind.

Aic12 57 Corvette SS XP-64 07 lr
The XP-64’s first test was to be the 12 hours of Sebring.  Juan Manuel Fangio, the winner of the 57 Sebring, came on board to test the XP-64.  In his virgin runs the Corvette was 4 seconds faster then the competition.  But the program fell victim to the American auto making industry uniting to ban the factory racecars.  Can't you just see Racer X running down the road in this ride?

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Amelia Island Concours, the Shelbys

03/24/2012

By Ken Visser

Shelby, a name that invokes an image, a brand, a legend.  Throw Cobra in the mix and you have fear and speed all mixed into one muscular four wheeled beast.

My infatuation with the Shelby Cobra dates back the mid 70’s, when I caught my first glimpse of a blue 427 Cobra rumbling down Reading Blvd.  It took me nearly 2 years of furious pedaling to finally figure out where the Shelby lived.  As a gangly 14 year old, I went up the door and introduced myself.  I showed the owner my Shelby binder of magazine articles and ads.   Then asked if I could have a photoshoot of his Cobra.  Rick said yes under one condition, that I not tell anyone about where the car lived. Even better, he gave me a ride.  I can remember every second of that short blast.  “I’m going to accelerate now, don’t let you head snap back and hit the back of the cockpit.”  Seriously...

Kvisser cobra 01 lr

I was the VP of the Wyomissing AV club.  That gave me access to the school's 35mm camera.  Sio with the borrowed camera I had my first automotive photoshoot.   I found these Kodak slides some years ago.  A bit cruddy but still scanable.  Even at 14, I found that low angle appealing.

 

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Amelia at Sunrise: Automotive Sensory Overload

03/18/2012

By Kenneth Visser

Saturday at the Amelia Island Concours was chock full of fantastical vehicles emerging from their trailered cocoons.  You hear the sudden bursts of an ancient 11 liter thumping in the distance or the sudden wail of the new McClaren MP4-12C coming from the test drive area.  All this makes for automotive sensory overload.  That leads to staying up well past midnight to process photos and write my blog.

So all that coupled with the time change made for a challenging early Sunday morning.  I managed to rustle up the team but sunlight was burning.  We made a decent breakfast which would get us through most of the day.  When there are 300 cars to see, there isn't any time to waste on nourishment!

We got on the road right at the break of dawn and were greeted with a huge amount of activity as the loading of the field was in full flow. My video guy and I jumped out at the back gate and were immediately consumed by the 1953 Ferrari 375 Mille Miglia Spyder.  We will revisit that car in a future post.

Next the 1964 Shelby Daytona Coupe tooled on by.  Then the 1949 Ferrari 166 Touring Barchetta came rolling on the greens.  This car is celebrated in the 1981 song" Red Barchetta" by the Canadian group, Rush.  But I had to ignore it - the island of GTO's was singing its siren song.

Oh, and here is Judge North's 33 Duesenberg SJ-478, and there's Jim Taylor's barn find 37 Horch 853 Cabriolet and there's ... You get the idea.  It's difficult to stay focused when you are in such a target rich environment.

So ignoring the insanely awesome Cobras on my left, I work my way over to the GTO's.

Aic12 Ferrari 250 GTO 361 lr

The sun rises over the greens of the Ritz Carlton to slowly reveal the details of the exotic machinery housed there on.

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