Vintage Racing Bookshelf: Review # 2

From Indianapolis to Le Mans

By: Tommaso Tommasi; Publish Date (English Translation): 1974; Publisher: Derbi Books Inc., Hardcover, 239 pages

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Expanded dust cover (front and back), highlighting the photographs of David Phipps.

The second book in my review series is, From Indianapolis to Le Mans, by Tommaso Tommasi. I found this little gem while searching through a local used bookstore. It’s a clever overview of racing circuits, giving the reader a glimpse of the variety and complexity of challenges that drivers face from one venue to another. It places the racetrack at the center of attention, giving this element of a race weekend its proper due.

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Sample of the extraordinary illustrations (unattributed) featured throughout the book.

The book profiles ten legendary tracks from around the world, with selected driver impressions for each. They are: Brands Hatch (Emerson Fittipaldi), Buenos Aires (Carlos Reutemann), Indianapolis (Peter Revson), Kyalami (Denis Hulme), Le Mans (Francois Cevert), Monaco (Graham Hill), Monza (Andrea de Adamich), Nurburgring (Jacky Ickx), Spa-Francorchamps (Clay Regazzoni), and Watkins Glen (Ronnie Peterson). Included in each racetrack review is a two-page photography montage showing key points of each venue with comments from the driver. Following the ten reviews is a section entitled, ‘The World’s Circuits’, which shows the layout configuration of 102 racing circuits from around the world. I’ve always been intrigued by racetrack layout and design, each having their own character and distinct challenge. I find that modern day grand prix circuits have fallen into a cookie-cutter type of similarity. These legendary circuits have a distinct personality and character. This book explores those fascinating details. Finally, the last section, ‘The Major Races’, features a list of the winning cars from the ten highlighted tracks, accompanied by black & white illustrations of the winning cars.

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A two-page breakdown featuring the key points of each racing circuit accompanied the driver narratives. This lap of Brands Hatch (England) was described in detail by Emerson Fittipaldi.

There’s an apparent misprint on the cover of the book, indicating that racing legend Juan Manuel Fangio wrote the ‘Introduction’. Actually, he contributed his thoughts in the ‘Forward’ section. An attractive part of From Indianapolis to Le Mans involves numerous (unattributed) color and black & white illustrations. There are many included in the first chapter, ‘From Road to Track’, along with being featured graphics at the beginning of each chapter. They’re beautifully crafted and it’s a shame the artist was not recognized. Another highlight of the book are the many behind the scenes photographs by David Phipps. So many racing books focus on photographs of the drivers or cars, and rightfully so. But here the focus is on the capturing the character of each track. I was so pleased to see this perspective included in the book.

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One of my favorite sections of the book highlights 102 racing circuits from around the world. Each one has a distinct and individual character. I’ve often wondered what type of course configuration I would design.

It was such a pleasant surprise to find this book. The unique blend of history, driver narrative, with supporting photography and artwork provide an entertaining and comprehensive review of each legendary racing circuit. Two of these I’ve had the pleasure to of visiting many times; Indianapolis and Watkins Glen. I have my eyes on Brands Hatch and Monaco next. Enjoy!

TJ ….2020

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Vintage Racing Bookshelf: Review # 1

What’s It Like Out There?

By: Mario Andretti with Bob Collins; Publish Date: 1970; Publisher: Henry Regnery Company (Chicago), Hardcover, 282 pages

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The first book in my review series is by the driver who I consider my “Number 1” sports hero, Mario Andretti. Mario came on to the national scene in the mid-1960’s and quickly established himself as a force to be reckoned with. As a young auto-racing fan I was fascinated by his personality and driving style while watching the races on television. He captured my imagination and I’ve been a life-long fan of his ever since.

After the 1969 season, Mario collaborated with writer Bob Collins, sports editor for the Indianapolis Star, to tell Mario’s amazing story, culminating with his 1969 Indy 500 win. What’s It Like Out There? was published 50 years ago, and this was my first reading of the book.  It chronicles Mario’s upbringing with his twin brother Aldo, and their love of cars. It talks about how the Andretti family endured life in war-torn Italy and the brutal aftermath of World War II. Mario’s father then made the brave decision to immigrate the family to the United States. Mario and Aldo then found themselves as teenagers in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. Little did they know that the move would open doors of opportunity that were only dreams until then.

The book describes their first racing exploits and Mario’s climb up the racing ladder, and then focuses on his top-line professional career from 1964-1969. Mario’s major achievements in that short span is phenomenal: 1969 Indianapolis 500 Winner; 1966 and 1967 Indianapolis 500 Pole Position; 1965 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year; 1965, 1966, and 1969 USAC National Champion; 1967 Daytona 500 Winner; and winner of the 12 Hours of Sebring with co-driver Bruce McLaren in 1967. That’s a whole career worth of success right there in six years. Amazing!

I’m glad I found this book to add to my vintage racing bookshelf. It’s refreshing to read about this portion of Mario’s career and in particular this era of auto racing from his perspective. It’s fresh, detailed, and comes from his heart. Bob Collins interjects his humorous flare that adds to an incredibly enjoyable read. I encourage you to read it yourself!

TJ ….2020

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TJ’s (ever-expanding) Auto Racing Library

Ever since my first visit to the International Motor Racing Research Center (IMRRC, Watkins Glen, NY) in 2013, I have been inspired to expand and grow my own, personal library of auto racing literature (books/magazines/programs/etc.).

At that point I already had a decent collection, but after seeing the vast and assorted holdings at IMRRC I decided to kick it up a notch and get serious. I began searching used books stores and antique shops in what I like to call my quest for “diamonds in the rough”. When I make a new discovery, it is certainly a great day!

Coming up in 2020 I plan to expand my blog to include reviews of these gems. But for now here’s a glimpse of some of my recent finds. Enjoy! …..TJ

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The Autobiography of Peter Revson, Speed With Style, by Peter Revson and Leon Mandel. Published by Doubleday & Company, Inc. (1974), 221 pages. What’s It Like Out There?, by Mario Andretti with Bob Collins. Published by Henry Regnery Company (1970), 282 pages.

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GRAHAM, by Graham Hill with Neil Ewart with a Forward by H.R.H. The Prince of Wales K.G., G.C.B. Published by St. Martin’s Press, Inc. (1976), 175 pages. Jackie Stewart: World Champion, by Jackie Stewart with Eric Dymock. Published by Henry Regnery Company (1970), 192 pages.

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Can’t leave out the paperbacks!! Jim Clark At The Wheel, By Jim Clark.  Published by Pocket Books (1966), 174 pages. All But My Life, by Sterling Moss with Ken. W. Purdy. Published by Bantan Books (1963), 181 pages.

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2019 SVRA U.S. Vintage Grand Prix @ Watkins Glen International

Switching gears from festival to feast. The 2019 SVRA U.S. Vintage Grand Prix at Watkins Glen International served up a wide variety of racing activities to satisfy any racing fan’s taste. For the first time in a few years I was not concerned about covering the event for a race recap article. This was purely for fun and spending time with friends.

The welcome change of season brought with it crisp cool breezes; paired with the beautiful setting of this historic venue…this is by far my favorite event every year.

This U.S. Vintage Grand Prix attracts such a wide variety of vintage race cars, along with the supporting International GT and Trans-Am Series. Walking through the paddock/garages is such a joy. I literally had to force myself to break away to see on-track racing. Choices choices…what a wonderful dilemma.

Here are a few photos from the track. Enjoy….TJ

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Jacques Villeneuve’s F1 1997 Williams FW19.

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A beautiful race car. 2005 Audi R8 LMP, driven by Travis Engen.

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High atop the Sir Jackie Stewart grandstand. 

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Hints of the coming fall season in the trees, turn 9. 

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Morning dawn at Watkins Glen.

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2019 Watkins Glen Grand Prix Festival

Over the past few years of covering the US Vintage Grand Prix at Watkins Glen International (WGI), I was always so focused on covering every aspect of the on-track activity that I didn’t dare sacrifice a whole day (Friday) to check out the annual Grand Prix Festival in downtown Watkins Glen. I had no idea how much I was missing until this year when I decided to take it all in.

It was a tremendous experience. The people, the cars, the festival atmosphere was simply amazing. I ran into so many friends from the vintage racing community that I started to wonder whether there was anyone racing up at WGI!

The highlight of the day for me was to meet racing legend Hurley Haywood, who was this year’s “The Legend’s Speak” featured guest. This popular series is sponsored by the International Motor Racing Research Center. Hurley Haywood was also the Grand Marshal for the 2019 Watkins Glen Grand Prix Festival.

Here are a few photos from the festival. Enjoy….TJ

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A beautiful day for a festival!

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Racing legend Hurley Haywood!

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Hurley Haywood’s amazing career highlights to be enshrined in the Watkins Glen Walk of Fame.

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Beautiful Bentley racing through the streets of Watkins Glen!

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A great spot to watch the cars flow by…”Milliken’s Corner”, followed by the final left-hander onto Franklin Street.

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Honda Indy 200 @ Mid-Ohio

It’s been a few weeks since the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (July 26-28, 2019). The IndyCar weekend has been an annual happening with friends and family for years and years. It’s always a blast, and this year was no different. The series is better than ever. They put on one heck-of-a-show…possibly the best of the year!

My goal this year was to relax and take it all in. I didn’t bother with my camera gear, only relying on my iPhone to capture a few moments. Besides, that kept one hand free for a brew or two. Cheers!  TJ

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Scott Dixon is a five-time IndyCar Series Champion and winner of the 2008 Indianapolis 500. He ranks third on the all-time wins list, trailing only A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti…and oh, by the way, he won this year’s Mid-Ohio race in dramatic fashion…and he’s a great guy too!

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The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course paddock offers fans a great opportunity to get up close and personal with the cars, teams, and drivers. This is the garage for rookie sensation, Santino Ferrucci. His success must be attracting new sponsors…here the crew is applying new graphics before practice.

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You never know who you’ll meet during a walk through the paddock. I had the pleasure to have a brief discussion with Jeremy Shaw (President of Team USA Scholarship, and race announcer for Radio Le Mans).

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This is “Scooter”. She’s had a full day of chasing cars. LOL!

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My cousin Don and I enjoying a refreshment or two. Cheers!

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A weekend of milestones!

The marquee event on the Vintage Racer Group (VRG) racing calendar is the Jefferson 500. This special race meeting took place on the twists and turns of Summit Point Motorsports Park in beautiful West Virginia, May 15-19. The 2019 running of the event was particularly noteworthy because of two significant milestones being celebrated, for it represents the 25th anniversary of the Jefferson 500 and the 50th anniversary of Summit Point Motorsports Park. And best of all, the Grand Marshal was none other that racing legend Brain Redman, co-founder of the Jefferson 500.

The previous year was a complete washout due to a week of torrential rainfall that completely flooded the track, along with the surrounding community. The cancellation was a difficult, but unavoidable decision for VRG to make, and equally devastating for their competitors because this is such a favorite event for everyone. The heightened anticipation and excitement for the 2019 Jefferson 500, highlighted by the milestones being celebrated, was rewarded by warm and sunny weather throughout the weekend. Over 250 entries made their way to Summit Point to support this special event and make up for lost time.

Here are few photos from the event…enjoy!

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On the grid with Tomas R. LaCosta (#15) in his 1967 Titan Mk IV FF, and the rest of the Formula Ford Challenge Series competitors.

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Jim Hanna (#18) in his 1986 Swift DB-2, the “Philly Special”, Group 6 – Sports 2000.

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It’s always a pleasure to chat with racing legend, Brian Redman (from the VRG Banquet). I’d like to extend a special than you to Bill Stoler, Photographer Extraordinaire, for the photograph!

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I love the classic look of this 1968 Lotus 51-c belonging to William Barlett (#34), Group 7 – Formula Ford Challenge Series.

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Joe Liles (#206) 1970 BMW 2002, and Dave Edsinger (#18) 1966 Yenko Stinger Coupe, Group 1 – IMSA/SCCA2.5.

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