30 November 2015

United States GP, Watkins Glen Grand Prix Race Course, October 8, 1972

Jackie Stewart completed the 1972 World Championship with one of the most convincing wins of his career. Driving the Derek Gardner-designed Tyrrell he was in a class of his own and led from start to finish. 
Fran├žois Cevert finished second in the sister Tyrrell 006, while Denny Hulme rounded out the podium in the McLaren M19A.

Photo by Motor Sport magazine

13 November 2015

United States GP West, Circuit Long Beach, April 3, 1977

An already tragic Formula One season received exactly what it needed to chase away the despair when the brilliant Mario Andretti became the first American to win a Grand Prix on his home soil. After the deaths of Tom Pryce in the South African race and Carlos Pace in a plane crash, the United States Grand Prix West was a glorious triumph for Andretti. It was the start of his two-year march to the World Championship, and the first win for the car that would usher in the ground-effects era, Colin Chapman's Lotus 78.
The picture shows Patrick Depailler in the Tyrrell P34B; he would go on to finish 4th in the race

9 November 2015

Dutch Grand Prix, Zandvoort, August 26, 1984

Rene Arnox in the Ferrari 126C4 at the Dutch Grand Prix, held at Zandvoort. He retired on lap 66 with electrical problems; Alain Prost in the extremely successful McLaren MP4/2 car won the race.
As an aside, the McLaren was far more effective than the 126C4 and dominated the season. The 126C4 won only once in 1984 at the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder, driven by Alboreto who won his first race for the team.

6 November 2015

RIP George Barris 1925-2015

In 1962 George took home the America's Most Beautiful Roadster Award with his Metalflaked Twister T
The custom car world has lost a colossus; as I’m sure many of you have heard, George Barris passed away yesterday.
his impact was widespread. He carried the custom car into the public consciousness in a way that was often imitated and never duplicated. George was a master of ideas and a man of action who created a unique identity that jutted out in all directions, flowed through numerous channels and always managed to stay anchored - even if in some small way - to his customising roots. Chopped Mercs, Hovercars, vans, rockets, boats, you name it - he was incessantly building, shaping and redefining how Americas saw vehicles big and small.

George Barris' first custom, a 1942 Cadillac
George (left) with brother Sam, who died in 1967 from cancer
He and his late brother Sam were responsible for some iconic custom cars; the two built designs for private buyers, and George also built and raced his own cars briefly. Sam had customised a new Mercury coupe for himself, and a customer who saw it ordered a similar car. This vehicle, known as the Hirohata Merc for its owner, Bob Hirohata, was shown at the 1952 GM Motorama auto show and was so popular it overshadowed the best work of Detroit's top designers. It also established the early '50s Mercury as a popular basis for custom car design.

In addition, Sam built Ala Kart, a 1929 Ford Model A roadster pickup. After taking two AMBR (America's Most Beautiful Roadster) wins in a row; the car made numerous film and television appearances, usually in the background of diner scenes. Further work followed, and they were soon asked to create cars both for personal use by the studio executives and stars and as props for films.

Kopper Kart, built by George. Long since disappeared, a replica has since been built

1956 Lincoln Continental Mild custom, built by George
 Fred Rowe's '51 Mercury
Other Barris-built film cars included a modified Dodge Charger for Thunder Alley, a Plymouth Barracuda for Fireball 500, a 1921 Oldsmobile touring car turned into a truck for The Beverly Hillbillies, the fictional "1928 Porter" for the NBC comedy My Mother the Car, a gadget-filled Mercury station wagon for The Silencers and a sinister rework of a Lincoln Continental Mark III for The Car.

In the 1960s, the Barris firm became heavily involved in vehicle design for television production. At the beginning of the decade, Barris, who loved extravagant design, had bought the Lincoln Futura concept car of the mid-1950s which had been built by Ghia of Italy, from Ford for $1. It remained in his collection for several years, until he was rather unexpectedly asked by ABC Television to create a signature vehicle for their upcoming Batman TV series. Time was very short, as filming would begin in a few weeks, leaving insufficient time for a new design from scratch. Instead, Barris decided the Futura was a perfect base on which to create the Batmobile. Barris hired custom builder Gene Cushenberry to modify the car, which was ready in three weeks. The show was of course a hit, and the car gained notoriety for Barris. Barris retained ownership of the Batmobile until an auction in, 2013, when he sold it for $4.6 million.

Other television cars built by Barris Kustom Industries include the Munster Koach and casket turned dragster (the "Drag-U-La") for The Munsters, an Oldsmobile Toronado turned into a roadster used in the first season of Mannix, the futuristic Supervan for a film of the same name, and the convertible and 'Super 'pursuit KITTs for the later series of Knight Rider.

George has built many, many more customs than we've mentioned here; its an impressive body of work by any standards. While there are many other custom car builders, many others that have arguably done better work and the flack that George has had over the years for taking credit for cars he built but didn't design, our hobby would not be what it is if it weren't for his photography, magazine articles and promotion of customs in the beginning.
We owe you a huge debt Mr. Barris, you will be missed.

Mr Fabulous, Joey Ukrop

Photos from here and many other sources

4 November 2015

Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, August 13–16 2015

Photo by TM Hill

The angry eyes of the 1975 Shadow DN6 F5000 car accelerating out of Turn 11 from this past year's Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Laguna Seca.

2 November 2015

Circuit Unknown, Formula Ford 1600 Championship, 1979

Photo by Alan Cox.

James Weaver four wheel drifting a Tiga Formula Ford car in the 1979 season.
He moved on to European F3 and in 1982 he was the Eddie Jordan Racing team's primary driver. He debuted in the British Touring Car Championship in 1988 and in 1989, he finished second in the overall championship that year behind the winner John Cleland, but did win Class B.
In 1987, Weaver joined Dyson Racing, for whom he drove for twenty years. He was IMSA GT Championship runner-up in 1995, won the 1998 United States Road Racing Championship and the 2000 and 2001 Rolex Sports Car Series, and collected two vice-championships in the 2004 and 2006 American Le Mans Series.
Among his wins, he triumphed at the 1995 24 Hours of Daytona and the 1997, 2000 and 2002 6 Hours of Watkins Glen. He also finished second at the 1985 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 1999 12 Hours of Sebring.
Weaver officially retired after the 2006 ALMS season.