“With caffeine levels topped up for the five hour journey to south wales, I was finally going to experience the buzz that surrounds the VHRA Pendine Sands Hot Rod Races.Stepping back in time doesn’t quite do it justice. It’s one of those events that people can’t stop talking about, and they assure others that haven’t been that they need to make the pilgrimage. Everyone congregates on the hill waiting for the tide to go out before the racing can begin– and when it did the two hundred strong fleet of rods seemed endless making their way to the pits on the historic beach.
With the sun bursting through the few clouds in the sky, it was as if our brothers across the pond at the east coast The Race Of Gentleman in Wildwood NJ, had sent some sunshine to the U.K. as rods and customs were kicking up sand on both sides of the Atlantic.
Sara Francello — To say she’s the TROG flag-girl is like saying Michael Jordan was a Chicago Bulls’ guard. I don’t know where the hell Sara gets the energy to jump and do what she does out there time and time again with such oomph and enthusiasm. When the racers line-up there’s no question who is in charge, and who has everyone’s attention. You may not remember all the hot rods and bikes at TROG– but you will remember Sara and how she gave it all out there on the sand for 2 days straight. Photo © Sean Madden
Photographer Bastian Glaessner shot these incredibly cool pics of vintage hot rod racing at the legendary Pendine Sands. His eye and unique style has created a strong signature that feels rich and nostalgic. The images are so stunning, I could stare at these all day…
“I was super chuffed when Neil Fretwell of the VHRA recently invited me up to the rugged Welsh headland that holds the infamous ‘Pendine Sands’ for a weekend of vintage racing. Since the early 1920s cars have pelted down this 7-mile stretch of fine golden grains to chase automotive speed records. On this early July weekend a mad crowd of hot rod racers from all over Europe had assembled their beasts at this historic spot. By the time I got there Friday after dark, the field around the Museum of Speed was brimming with glorious pre-1949 rods, glistening in the moonlight, begging to be let loose on the endless stretch of tidal sands below.” ~Bastian Glaessner
“Come Saturday morning and first the Welsh weather gods got their own. Heavy winds and some blistering downpours overnight meant racers had to be patient a little while longer whilst the team of helping hands were busy getting the course up and running. Once the fences were up, the 110 yard timing section established and the mile long track cleared of stranded giant jellyfish, the show got underway. As if on cue the sun popped out from behind the clouds, crowds gathered on the beach and with a mighty “ROOOAR…” our cars rolled out onto the sands to line up in the pits. What an exciting display of vintage sheet metal that was!” ~Bastian Glaessner
The amazing story of Bill Thomas’ Race Cars badass (pre-Charger) Chevy II / Nova Fastback, bought by CKC Racing Team back in 1964 for $2500! Supposedly it has survived and resides somewhere in PA after changing hands–
“Up until that time, the fastest car I had ever driven was a Corvette. That Chevy II used to do some incredible wheelstands, which made it a handful to drive. There was no way you could get off the throttle and get back on it again once it stood up on the back bumper, and it used to do that a lot! I remember one time at Houston Raceway during a match race with Dickie [Harrell], we both stood our cars up on the back bumpers, and the crowd went absolutely wild. Another time, I bent the front axle so badly on re-entry that J.E. had to use a floor jack and a torch to straighten it out just so we could load the car back on the trailer.” –Driver, Cal Callier via
1964, Callier and Kristek posing with the “orange car,” the team’s Chevrolet small-block-powered AA/FD that ran consistently at 190.00, and the team’s new Bill Thomas Race Cars ’64 A/FX Chevy II powered by a 427 Z11 carbureted big-block. Photo by Peter Peters via
TSY recenty received a scan of this great old Wall of death rider, along with the below note from the sender, Brian in Kansas City, MO. Anyone with knowledge of the rider, and/or this particular Wall of Death motordrome is kindly asked to chime in:
“…I am a collector of postcards and a while back I purchased a postcard of a man on a motorcycle riding in some kind of spectator show. Your article helped clarify a lot about the photo. I have attached the photo and thought maybe you have seen it before or could provide some more info. The back of the card is particularly interesting. It reads: ‘About 1912– Later he was killed– Someone threw a peanut at him– caused him to dodge and lose balance, falling with cycle to bottom of pit killing him.’ Sounds likes sport spectators were not much different then as they are today. I thought maybe the motorcycle may have been a Cyclone, however I don’t think it is. The lettering on his shirt may bring some clue as well…”
Back In Dec. ’09 TSY posted what remains today one of our more popular stories– Wall of Death riders with a lion, no less. I mean, really…old photos of a lion riding the Wall of Death is damn hard to beat…unless you have a video of said lion riding the Wall of Death! At that time there wasn’t a moving image to be found, but British Pathe, an amazing archive of historic film clips, uncovered a little gem of ‘Fearless Egbert’ giving his lion named Monarch a spin back in 1934. They also uncovered incredible film footage of ‘Tornado Smith’ with his Lion, ‘Briton’. It’s definitely worth a look…
Jade, Hot Rod Night, Ace Cafe London, 2013 — Image by © Horst A. Friedrichs
I’m a big fan of Horst A. Friedrichs. (I have literally worn the cover off of my copy of Or Glory, 21st Century Rockers.) His style is about as far away as you can get from the balls-out vibe in a lot of today’s lifestyle photography (which I also obviously love). In Horst, there’s a strong sense of controlled curation in every stunning portrait. No minute detail escapes his critical eye. Every subject is perfectly directed (dressed, coiffed, posed) to evoke the desired mood. Horst is much more than a great photographer– he’s an artist imposing his masterful will upon the subject and setting to create lasting images that move you through their overall flawless composition. In Horst’s latest book Drive Style he dives into Britain’s rich & eclectic car culture, capturing amazing rare, historical, and custom automobiles alone or with their owners, drivers, and spectators. Keep reading to find out how you can win a free copy signed by Horst A. Friedrichs.
Scott Toepfer, a guy I’m humbled to call my friend, came to the Jersey Shore to shoot the second annual The Race of the Gentlemen organized by Mel Stultz (OCC) and put on by the legendary Oiler’s Car Club. It’s an event that can only be adequately described by someone who was actually there in the thick of it– and Toepfer was kind enough to share his personal thoughts with TSY on the sights, sounds, and experiences had by a California boy in Wildwood, Jersey. Great stuff, Scott!
“Niki Lauda had raised concerns about the safety of the track at the German Grand Prix at Nürburgring, but couldn’t convince other drivers to join him in protest. Due to a reported rear suspension failure, coupled with a wet track, his car swerved off course, hit an embankment, and burst into flames. Trapped inside the car, Lauda inhaled toxic gases and suffered severe burns to his entire head, including his scalp and eyelids. Lauda lapsed into a coma and nearly died. Yet just six weeks later, he was back on the track—and on James Hunt’s tail.” via
This past week, Lee Raskin (motorsports historian, author, and vintage racer) wrote and said he’d recently gotten some racing friends together for a Rush viewing night in Baltimore. He shared his educated theory on a deeply intriguing scene that seems to nod to an old school racing superstition. So with all due respect, esteemed Director Ron Howard, there’s a question that begs to be asked here…
James Hunt on the winner’s podium (L to R): Patrick Depailler (FRA) Tyrrell, second; race winner James Hunt (GBR) McLaren; John Watson (GBR) Penske, third. French Grand Prix, 1976. — Image © Phipps / Sutton Images / Corbis
I’m stoked to see Rush this weekend– the much anticipated film by Ron Howard on one of Formula One’s most talented and notorious drivers ever, James “The Shunt” Hunt. The seemingly insatiable ladies’ man was estimated to have had 5,000 trysts in his lifetime. History tells of a wicked weekend where buddy and fellow (motorcycle) racing legend Barry Sheene tallied 33 BA stewardesses lined-up at the door of their Tokyo Hilton suite. It’ll be interesting to see if Chris Hemsworth is able to capture his wit and charm, and if he can keep his muscles from overshadowing the memory of Hunt’s lean, lanky frame hard-earned by a physical exercise regiment consisting largely of driving, and shagging. The perfect primer for Rush is the documentary When Playboy’s ruled the World which accurately and colorfully takes you back to the glory days of Hunt & Sheene when driving was dangerous, and sex was safe. More epic photos of James Hunt in action after the video…
Francoise Hardy on the ‘Grand Prix’ set seen wearing co-star James Garner’s helmet, 1966.
Francoise Hardy was a wistful breath of fresh air during the sex, drugs & rock ‘n’ roll of the 1960s. Mysterious, sweetly naive, and utterly desirable. She was adored by Bob Dylan, Nick Drake, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, and more. The incredible enduring images of Hardy, particularly those by famed photographer Jean-Marie Perier (who shot her donned in Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Andre Courréges, and Paco Rabanne), made her an instant and timeless style icon. With her faraway gaze and lazy smile, Francoise Hardy is like a melancholy dream that you simply don’t want to wake up from. Her unease with fame and adoration is at times clearly evident in her photos– serving only to make her even more alluring.