3 - Notes
roughly coordinated with Tam McPartland's Old
Race Car site - 3 -
Briggs Cunningham: I knew of him, saw his cars,
appreciated his status, put off going to his Orange County museum until it was
too late. The only auto museum I have seen is "Kings Of The Road." It was on the
north side of Highway 60, if I remember correctly, near the site of Ontario Motor
Speedway. I remember just two cars from there: the Horsch, with photos of Hitler
in it, I think, and a Bugatti Royale, the hood of which was longer than my MG.
I think I have a few underexposed photos of them, and perhaps one or two others.
I don't know when or why this museum closed. Bill Harrah's name tugs
at the edge of my memory.
Off thread: At UCR I had a class in Logic
And The Scientific Method from Harrah's brother, whose first name I have forgotten.
(David. His name was David. He's still in Riverside.) This Harrah's frozen
feet appeared in, if not on the cover of, Life magazine. He had climbed
Mount Everest (It wasn't Everest. Some other mountain with a prominent p and a
prominent j in its name), and eventually lost his toes to frostbite.
At the end of the semester, Harrah wanted to see me in his office. I had earned
a grade of "C" in his class. He said students in that subject usually
were graded "A" or "F": about half "got it," half
didn't. He wanted to know what explained my performance. I told him I didn't know,
maybe he could figure it out?
Bob Drake: A lot of what I remember about these drivers, much of what I
knew about them, came from the attitude of fellow course workers and observing
the relationship between the drivers and workers. The good guys, Bob Drake among
them, got applause and thumbs-up after a race, regardless of performance; others,
like Frank Monise, got other signals.
Jerry Grant: Big guy Jerry was a favorite. He was
cheerful and friendly, and always had a good word for workers. When the San Diego
Region SCCA was promoting its National races at San Diego Stadium, he was the
one they brought in to attract paying customers. Was driving a CanAm Lola, I think.
I remember him running an Indy car at a Solo I event at Carlsbad Raceway. Or maybe
it was someone else in his car. Way too much car for that track, anyway.
Jim Hall: I already mentioned him as a gentleman.
I never saw him ruffled. As a matter of fact, I can't picture him in a driving
suit. His usual attire was a starched white shirt and faded Levis pressed with
a razor crease. My favorite story about him typifies the kind of upsmanship eventually
peaking in the Mark Donohue "Unfair Advantage."
In putting together
one of the Chaparrals Hall had a mercury switch wired into the brake light circuit.
Competitors who had the (common) view of his rear were treated to more-or-less
random flashing. That and the uncommon and mysterious automatic transmission gave
the others psychological fits over and above depression they had to feel because
of their inability to cope with the high-performing Chaparral cars and drivers.
Wait! There's more! At one point,
the Hall Chaparral carried a cryptic message on its back: "AMF." Those
were the initials of the punch line from a funny but non-PC joke. (If you can
stand it, my telling can be found at the bottom of this page)
The story goes that a sweet young person happened to notice the letters.
She mouthed them a time or two, and looked around for someone to explain it to
her. Standing with his arms crossed, a leathery-faced and dignified man caught
"What," she asked, "does 'AMF' stand for?"
"Miss," he drawled with a grandfatherly somberness, "it means
'Adiós My Friend'."
Hulette: My Anglophile friends and I were disappointed when the
Jaguar special sprouted a Chevy. This may be the car appearing on my
Torrey Pines pages Two
Del Mar: I worked at least one weekend as flagman
at this track. It's where I saw that fellow with a Crosley engine in his lap,
doing a rebuild. There was a long, fast sweeper leading to a tighter-than-90-degree
turn before the start-finish straight. A TR Ferrari
failed to slow sufficiently, and used the chain link as kind of a catch fence
cum banked turn to keep from following its original trajectory toward the
I won a few prizes in autocross events in a Lotus
Élan S2, on this slippery lot.
I was very disappointed when Billy won the 1960 Times Grand Prix. I had some antipathy
to what I considered a "hot rodder." I was thinking very much along International
Elite lines in those days. I learned.
"Bat" Masterson: Another big man we all rooted
for, a guy who seemed to be able to make up for lesser finesse with plenty of
San Luis Obispo: I saw one event here, as a spectator.
I didn't enjoy it. You couldn't get close enough to the track to see well, and
I was by this time spoiled by my participation as a worker. Being in there, part
of the event, making a contribution, changed the way I appreciated what was happening,
and I haven't been good at spectating since.
On the way back to L.A.
I was driving a friend's Sunbeam Alpine, and another friend was in a supercharged
Renault Caravelle. We had a very entertaining trip down the back roads inland
from Santa Barbara. Great fun.