at Play on the Palm Springs Airport
in the
Mid-50s (2)
Photo: 1.5 Maserati and Ken Miles' Porsche Spyder

Note says "1.5 liter Maser (Parravano's)" and "Ken Miles - spyder" and "Feb. early 1956 or so." The Kodak imprint says it was made during the period ending March 3, 1956. This is from a 1¼" x 2" section out of a 3½" x 5" photo.

Subsequent serendipitous research reveals the Maserati is #1655, and the driver Carroll Shelby. The car failed to finish, but Shelby " . . . did manage to win the other main event in Parravano’s 4.9 liter Ferrari 410 S." Miles had driven the car to two wins at Palm Springs on the previous December 3 and 4. Parravano entered it for Pete Lovely to drive in the January Torrey Pines six-hour race, but Lovely didn't get to drive it. More detail in American Sports Car Racing in the 1950s, 1998, Michael T. Lynch, Wiliam Edgar, and Ron Parravano.

This turn led to a short straight and the lefthander pictured below. I'm not as clear as I might once have been about where the cars were before they got to this point. Try this: if you are at the place from which the wide, short monochrome picture on the previous page was made, looking left would reveal the Start/Finish straight. It ended in a left-hander, followed shortly by a right and another right. I think that second right opened into this third right, which led to the left, below, then a right onto the back straight. That one may have had some bend in it, maybe halfway down to the long U-turn where the 300SL hit the bales.

Anyway, that's the way I remember it. I may find a course map somewhere.

Photo: Backlighted turn with unknown Lotus or Special

Car seems to be either a Lotus Mk. 9 or 10 of the era, or a Special of some kind. This is what the 3½" x 5" prints looked like. Same day as the above photo. My attempts to remove the near-orange cast that covered this one from edge to edge resulted in a white border, but may have over-pinked the rest of the image.

In addition to the sun and the sand, the other ubiquitous, pervasive element in Palm Springs is the wind. See the back of the man's jacket billowed with air, and the apparent hands-in-pockets pose that seems to be a favorite. The wind is usually from the west, as it seems to be in this photo.

On the way down here before daylight we were fighting a headwind on the two-lane highway. We came up behind a tractor-trailer rig followed by a VW Bug (I don't really have to call it a "Bug," do I? In 1956 there was only that kind of VWs, and they were like 36 horsepower). We had been cruising at 85-90 mph in my 1949 Ford flathead 6, just for the thrill of it, when we came upon this pair. They were doing about 70 and it seemed slow to us.

It must have seemed slow to the VW driver, too: after a couple minutes of our headlights in his mirror, he flipped out the little lighted arm of a turn signal and pulled out to pass. I considered going with him, but the whoopty-doo nature of the road discouraged me. Fortunately.

When the VW moved over he lost the suction and windbreak of the 18-wheeler. It was as if he slammed on his brakes: we were still behind the truck and went past him at a difference of about 35 mph. His startled face was visible in the light reflected off the back of the truck, eyes this big. His headlights faded in the back window and if we saw him later, we didn't know it.

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