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The Pits: Photos
from here and there
around the raceways

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Thumbnail: Lobby Card from little-known movie "Roadracers"  CLICK to se a big view

Still photo from a 1958 movie I never heard of: Roadracers. Starring people I never heard of: Alan Dinehart, Jr., Sally Fraser (I), Skip Ward (aka James Ward), et alii. A James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff Production. An American International Picture.

User Comment (from IMDB) by Edward Ludwick, California, March 2000. Summary: "Classic sports car racing - great visuals. I just caught the last 15 minutes of this obscure "drive in" era film on AMC on March 17th. I am interested in auto racing films and never even heard of this one. It seemed to have a basic plot and acting, but the racing scene at the end was truly wonderful. It included the classic era cars like Scarabs and '58 Vettes in a well filmed race. Black and White but AMC had a clear print. I must see it again and buy it if ever released."

I thought I remembered reading that some of the racing scenes were filmed at Laguna Seca. The one in the photo is at Riverside's Start-Finish. All but the Emergency facilities were on the west side of the track.

I bought the lobby card photo in an eBay auction. I don't know who to believe as to the identity of the "stars": the print has a paste-on label that covers what seems to have been the original cast names on the photo itself. The label calls out the three names set out above. Through the magic of holding it up to a lamp I can see the original stars were (or maybe not) Dick Contino (think accordion), Sandra Giles, and Bruno VeSota. Must be a story there, somewhere.

Update, 12-01-03: There was a copy of this movie on eBay a couple months ago, and I was fortunate enough to win it. Less than ten dollars for an excellent transfer, very clear black and white. As for the movie, it is a little dark, theme-wise, but the racing scenes are quite enjoyable. They almost had me believing the Willow Springs 4-5-6 complex dumped into Riverside's Turn Nine. Some very familiar cars and faces in the paddock and on track. I'll have to watch it again to see if I recognize any of Laguna Seca in there, but I'm pretty sure there was some Paramount Ranch footage.

During the search that resulted from finding the movie, I also came across a reproduction poster. Someday soon I'll make a picture of the 11 x 17-inch, laminated 4-color poster.
.. Ah, here it is:

South of the Southwest Corner of the Firestone Garage
Riverside International Raceway, Early or Mid-80s

Thumbnail: Mario Andretti biking in the garage area, just prior to signing my t-shirt  CLICK to see a larger version             Thumbnail: Mario Andretti signature on my t-shirt sleeve  CLICK for a big view     

Here it is. I had remembered this as an IMSA race. Wrong. Mario was wheeling around the area and I hollered, pointing at his image on the shirt, "MarioMarioMario! Who's that? When are you going to sign my shirt?" He seemed reluctant and pleased at the same time, but rode right up and held out his hand for a pen.

In the picture of Mario just above, I think that's Butch Dennison in the background.JB Miltonian

Geneva was there, and I asked her to hold a camera while Mario worked on his signature. It wasn't easy, a ball-point pen on a used shirt. I was so excited I forgot there was a Sharpie™ in my photo bag. I also forgot (until too late) to ask Geneva to take a picture of the event. This is all the provenance you're going to get. I swear.

 Thumbnail: Your OBedient Servant  dressed for action, Turn Six bleachers in the far background  Big version is much bigger                   Thumbnail: Looking through the RIR gas station to the pregrid line, RIR offices, Turn Two bleachers

Two incidental photos that will help orient visitors who are not completely familiar with RIR: Your OBedient Servant posed by the Kammback, in the infield somewhere between Turns One or Two (to your left) and Seven (to your right). The ubiquitous Turn Six bleachers show up just above the Kamm of the Kammback. That must be the Turn Four Observer's Tower ahead of the Vega windscreen.*Up-to-date equipment summary

Looking through the RIR gas station to the pre-grid line, we see Sandy in the Vega Coupe. Beyond and above is the RIR offices building; along the horizon to the right, bleachers outside Turn Two; visible in the photo, two of the three Union 76 balls-on-posts. Not to mention our favorite Mountain, Box Springs (915 meters). More from this neighborhood on Pits b.

This is the approximate location of one of the best-ever photos that got away, pictures that I didn't get because of one deficit or another in my repertoire of photographer behavior: at an early- or mid-80s IMSA event (maybe) I was walking past the open Goodyear garage (to our left rear, here) toward the station. I had cruised the area once and was expecting to go to my car and out to the edge of the course. I was not ready to take a picture, although I had two loaded cameras hanging on my body.

Around the corner of the station office came a side-by-side pair of instantly recognizable and fully suited drivers: eighteen, nineteen, or twenty years old, they were Michael Andretti on the left, and Al Unser, Junior, on the right. They were very intent, leaning in toward one another as they walked.
Michael was telling Al Jr. about an on-track adventure, saying something like, " . . . so I had to give it one of these . . ." He reared back and demonstrated by extending his arms, gripping an imaginary steering wheel, and whipping his hands back and forth in small arcs. Al Jr. nodded understanding. I gaped.

By the time I got a camera up, they were just two guys walking away. Kids. Pretending to be race drivers. Only, they were race drivers. Ow.

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