A Race of Two Worlds

The image captured my imagination—a photograph taken on the white, high banking at Monza. A rolling grid of fifties-era Indy roadsters and bringing up the rear was a pair of D-type Jaguars. I was probably ten years old but it was clear to me even then that something was wrong with this picture. How did I know D-types? Because I owned a Matchbox car of one and it was a favorite.

A match race pitting Indy roadsters against European Grand Prix cars had been volleyed about for years. During the summer of 1956, USAC Director of Competition Duane Carter sat down with Italian promoters and hammered out the details. Tire wear was a huge concern as the Firestones being used at Indianapolis weren’t designed for the amount of downforce the roadsters were likely to encounter. As a result, a new tire was developed and Firestone headed to Monza with their test mule and veteran pilot Pat O’Conner. In short order O’Conner was clocked at 170.8 mph, beating World Champion Juan Fangio’s track record by nearly 10 mph!

The news spread like wildfire and soon after the factory Ferrari and Maserati teams withdrew from the event citing that it was “too hazardous”. Germany’s Mercedes Benz and England’s BRM team followed suit and it was starting to look like only American iron would participate. Then two weeks before the event, an entry was filed by the Scottish Ecurie Ecosse Team for three Jaguars. The Jags had finished first and second at LeMans that year and though underpowered in comparison to the roadsters, accepted the challenge.
Tony Bettenhausen broke the one-lap qualifying record in the Novi at 176.826. He was followed by the nine other Indy cars (seven of which shattered Fangio’s record). The Jaguar’s best speed was 151.635- a full twenty miles per hour slower than most of the roadsters so they filed in at the back.

The 500 mile contest was divided into thirds, each of sixty three laps. There was to be an hour break after the first and second segment to allow for servicing of the vehicles. Bettenhausen brought the field around for the green flag and hesitated, expecting the starter to wave it vigorously. In Europe the starter need only “display” the green flag and seeing this Englishman John Fairman pulled his Jaguar out of formation and motored around the stumbling roadsters. He was first to hit the banking and a check of his rearview mirror revealed that no one else was in close pursuit. You can imagine the response of the crowd when the days’ slowest qualifier led the field coming down to the start/finish line.

It took a full lap around the 2.6 mile course for the Offenhauser engines to clear out and the Novi plummeted backward outside the top five. Then the roadsters exploded past Fairman with Eddie Sachs snatching the point followed by Troy Ruttman and Jimmy Bryan. On the second lap Bettenhausen’s Novi awoke, powered by the Jaguar and ran down the leaders. The popular Novi led the third circuit then headed for the pits with a throttle linkage problem. Bettenhausen returned to the action and gave the crowd a thrill before retiring for good with a broken sway bar.

Bryan won the first segment followed by six roadsters and the three Jaguars. During the hour long intermission major repairs were necessary to keep the roadsters in the fray. The Indy cars were bottoming out coming off the parabolic curves- frames were cracked and fuel tanks developed leaks. Meanwhile the Jaguar crews casually swapped tires and topped off their fuel- no repairs were necessary.

Only the Novi failed to make the start of the second segment. The sway bar was replaced but the fuel tank could not be. The rest of the roadsters were cobbled back together and eleven cars took the green flag. Cigar chomping Bryan was again the leader when the checkered flag fell. He was followed by three other roadsters and the Jaguars in fifth through seventh. The other entries fell out with mechanical problems. The drill between the second and third segments was much the same but this time only eight racers made the call. One roadster was late due to the replacement of engine bolts.

The final segment was won by Ruttman but Bryan was second and Johnny Parsons was third. Due to attrition Fairman finished fourth followed by both of his teammates. Bryan (with the sleeves ripped free from his driving suit) was declared the overall winner and received nearly $35,000 for his efforts. Fairman was awarded fourth with the other D-types in fifth and sixth respectively. They didn’t receive much for their days work other than the respect and admiration of their fellow competitors. The Ecurie Ecosse Team was formerly invited to partake in the 1958 Indy 500 but regrettably, they declined

Everything’s Canceled?

I’m told that “June is out” for the local “Beaches” cruise-in that used to happen on Wednesday evenings. Apparently, PIR and Beaches are still hoping that something can happen over this summer but no one knows for sure yet. We will try to keep you posted on this cruise and/or any other car related events going forward. Stay tuned.

Other cancellations.

Many events have already been canceled for the 2020 season. Some organizers are holding out hope and haven’t canceled, but please, please, do your due diligence and try to verify whether any event is actually still going to happen before you make a trip to a venue. I know we all want to get back to normal sooner than later but check before you go, to be certain.

Spontaneous Cruises.

Apparently, according to a friend, there was a “Cruise-In” on Main Street in Vancouver. From what I’ve learned it was kind of spontaneous, via a Facebook announcement from a young man. According to my friend, there were a lot of cars that showed up, and according to an article in the “Columbian,” a lot of garbage was left behind, the cops were there but did not disperse the crowd and no one got in trouble or was arrested. Normally, we car folks don’t make a mess when we hold a cruise-in so I don’t know what that was all about. My friend said it was loud and chaotic, something else that doesn’t usually happen at car events. I hope this nonsense isn’t part of a “new normal.” (Photos by Bob Patterson).

Also, the first cruise-in/car show that usually happens early in May is the Portland Transmission Warehouse Show. Of course, with everything canceled this year so far, this show was not supposed to happen. It turns out about 20 or so car guys showed up at the venue and there was an impromptu event anyway. Not sanctioned or organized by anyone, it just happened.

From John’s Hopkins  Hospital

The following was sent to me from a friend, taken from the interweb, supposedly from John’s Hopkins Hospital. I claim no knowledge of its authenticity or accuracy. It sounds to me though, that it has some good information in it. I decided to print it here for you entertainment only.

Stay Well and Be Safe

This virus is not a living organism. It is a protein molecule (RNA or DNA) covered by a protective layer of lipid (fat), which, when absorbed by the cells of the ocular (eyes), nasal (nose) or buccal mucosa (mouth), changes their genetic code (mutates) and converts into aggressor and multiplier cells. Since the virus is not a living organism, but is a protein molecule, it cannot be killed.  It has to decay on its own.

The disintegration time depends on the temperature, humidity and type of material where it lies.
The virus is very fragile; the only thing that protects it is a thin outer layer of fat and that is the reason why soap or detergent is the best weapon. The foam CUTS THE FAT (that is why you have to scrub for 20 seconds or more, to create lots of foam).

By dissolving the fat layer, the protein molecule disperses and breaks down.

HEAT melts fat; this is why it is necessary to use water above 77 degrees for hand washing, laundry and  cleaning surfaces. In addition, hot water makes more foam, making it more effective.

Alcohol or any mixture with alcohol over 65% DISSOLVES ALL FAT, especially the external lipid layer of the virus.

Any solution with 1 part bleach and 5 parts water directly dissolves the protein, breaking it down from the inside.

Oxygenated water increases the effectiveness of soap, alcohol and chlorine, because peroxide dissolves the virus protein. However, because you have to use it in its pure form, it can damage your skin.

NO BACTERICIDE OR ANTIBIOTIC WILL WORK because the virus is not a living organism like bacteria; antibodies cannot kill what is not alive.

The virus molecules remain very stable at colder temperatures, including air conditioning in houses and cars. They also need moisture and darkness to stay stable. Therefore, dehumidified, dry, warm and bright environments will degrade the virus faster.

UV LIGHT on any object that may contain the virus breaks down the protein. Be careful, it also breaks down collagen (which is protein) in the skin.

The virus CANNOT go through healthy skin.

Vinegar is NOT useful because it does not break down the protective layer of fat.

NO SPIRITS, NOR VODKA, serve. Th
e strongest vodka is only 40% alcohol, and you need a minimum of 65%.
The more confined the space, the higher the concentration of the virus there can be. The more open or naturally ventilated, the less.

You have to wash your hands before and after touching any commonly used surfaces such as: mucosa (mouth area) food, locks, knobs, switches, remotes, cell phones, watches, computers, desks etc. and don’t forget when you use the bathroom.

You have to MOISTURIZE YOUR HANDS due to frequent washing. Dry hands have cracks and the molecules can hide in the micro cracks. The thicker the moisturizer, the better.

Also keep your NAILS SHORT so that the virus does not hide there.

Here We Go Into The Unknown

At press time it is early May and none of us have a clue what things will be like by the time you are reading this. I will say this: All of you might want to take a close look at your financials and assets, as this, the greatest of all Depressions bears down upon us.

I am expecting Dis-Inflation to settle in around us soon. We can probably expect the value of our hot rods and race cars to drop considerably  along with the rest of the cars and trucks. This could develop into a years-long grind!

This country and others have big problems all around this planet. Now, it is time for me to take a spin of my “Way Out Wheel”. Perhaps some of you may have heard of Farsight News.com. These remote viewers report on the news before it happens. For May, one of them is seeing a bunch of pandemonium and destruction in a coastal area. There is a container ship involved. There seems to be a missile involved. And a gunship that is being struck amidships. So, by the time you read this you may know if such an event has taken place somewhere out there in the world.

Now for some more easily understood news from the guys over at Autoline. Did you hear about the couple of carjackers who stabbed the driver stole his phone but failed to get the car? It was a stick shift, and yep… Neither one knew how to drive it.

It’s a weird world out there. More and more of the talking heads are mumbling about a new Cash for Clunkers program. There are too many new cars out there and not enough demand. We must support our new car dealers. Hopefully, Big Brother won’t be coming after your sweet ride.

Too bad about NASCAR driver Kyle Larsen, eh? Those guys have been taking that online eRacing pretty seriously these days. He said a No-No over his radio in the heat of a race. He ended up losing all of his sponsors, his ride with his team and everything! Oh and dig the new NASCAR face masks. They will have officially licensed logos on them. Get ready for it, it’s the new normal.

Now this: the new Mustang Mach e is coming. The car is all electric but it seems it doesn’t look much like a Mustang. Go figure? But then we have the new Mustang Cobra jet 1400. It is all electric to – and damn fast. Try low 8s! And it definitely looks like a Mustang.

Anyway, we are hearing that multiple streams of this nasty virus are emerging. Stay safe all you GearHeads and GearHeadettes.

Pick Up Sticks

I am going on ten years. October would have been my anniversary, but I have had a lot of time to reflect lately. Reflect, re-edit, and rethink what the last ten years of being a motorsports photographer have been like. Doing anything for a decade says something, I guess I must like it. It is strange to think how some of those dominoes falling with what seemed like insignificance have paved the path that I now walk.

The very first inkling was a book. Olympic Portraits by Annie Leibovitz changed the game for me. Seeing a body of work bringing beauty out of sport inspired me greatly. The pages of Sports Illustrated were dynamic, yes, but the same shot on the football field, basketball court, and baseball diamonds became somewhat forgettable next to Leibovitz’s elegant photojournalism. It became less about the sport and more about the people.

Right around that time, I signed up for my first photography class at the local art center. Armed with my dad’s old Canon AV-1, it was the beginning. My first four or five photography classes remained in the darkroom and I learned to see like many of the ‘traditional’ photographers before me. The anxiety of not knowing how the shot will come out and the smell of fixer on my fingers became normal. It was only when my mom bought me a digital camera for Christmas did things take a turn again.
Nikon D3000 in hand and a wobbly zoom lens empowered me to shoot at the local dirt tracks that my dad was racing. Rarely did I photograph the cars because the people were far more interesting to me. Most ignored me for the strange kid trying to be covert in the shadows, but some asked for the photos for their sponsors or own promotion. That attention made me feel like I had a place there.

Midway through high school, my family went to an IndyCar race at Homestead Miami Speedway. It instantly changed everything. Camera in hand, the colors and sleekness of the chassis were unlike anything I had photographed before. At speed, these cars were an incredibly difficult but exhilarating new challenge, especially during the night race. I decided then that was where I was meant to be.

A season or two later my dad got us press passes for an established Northern Californian racing magazine and we set out to cover the IndyCar season finale at Fontana. Entering the media center, those in charge deemed that I looked too young to be an accredited member of the press and we were stripped of our additional access. The weekend consisted of me sneaking into the pit lane and pre-grid to shoot the pictures we needed for the article. I have no regrets. The following seasons I became a regular contributor and shot my first Indy 500 for the same magazine.

Six years ago, I found a home here in Roddin and Racing NW and it has been a good fit. Where other editors and magazines I have shot for along the way have been restrictive, here I have been lucky enough to shoot whatever it is that interests me.

By sheer luck and years of diligent preparation, I met the right person at the right time. He hired me to NBC Sports and I fell into my dream job- traveling the country to cover the IndyCar series.

I can thank both of my parents, had my mom not given me that Nikon for Christmas, or had dad not instilled this passion for racing in me, then my life would look very different right now. I can also credit two very inspiring and supportive art mentors that pushed my boundaries. Between my past cameras and my current Canon 70D, I have shot hundreds of thousands of photos. A large swatch of that have been racing-oriented, but I have learned a great deal from studying other types of portraiture and landscape documentation. Concert photography interests me greatly and shooting for local arts and culture magazines have been a tactful way to stay sharp in the offseason.

Make no mistake, I have sacrificed a lot of blood, sweat, and tears for this endeavor. To this day I am one of the few regular photographers on the circuit under the age of thirty and fewer still, a woman. The way I look has solicited comments and unknowing assumptions about my skill and my commitment. They will never know how much work I have put in to overcome those barriers and refine my craft, but I do this for myself and because I love it. It is where I feel like I belong.

From getting lost in the backwoods of Portland International Raceway to meeting Lady Gaga on the Yard of Bricks at IMS, these ten years have been a colorful blur of opportunities and I can’t be more appreciative. Each event that has built my experience lays atop the last like a jumbled pile. I can try to pull out one defining moment at a time but it is useless because they are stacked haphazardly. In the end, these ten years can be a mess of scattered memories, but I see it as a pile of Pick Up Sticks.

Father’s Day

Maurice Falco woke to the smell of bacon and eggs cooking. Still in bed he nodded approval before actually getting up. He could hear the mower outside and knew one of his 4 sons was mowing his yard. He heard laughter and voices from the driveway and the sound of running water. He nodded for he knew his new Silverado was being washed and detailed.

Falco rose and made his way to the dining room. Peaches was busy preparing breakfast for her man and her boys.  He walked up behind, her kissed her neck then took his chair. He grabbed his I-Phone, clicked on the TV and scanned the channels for the race. His youngest came racing in, “Dad, the Lowe’s truck is here!” Falco stood up to see the truck backing in and the driver exited, opened the back door and began to unload his Father’s Day gift from Peaches and the boys.

“Is it what I think it is?” he asked, even though he had seen the transaction on his bank statement. It was his money that purchased it, but it was what he wanted. Falco walked out his front door and watched as the delivery drivers haul his Fire Magic Echelon Diamond Propane Gas Grill.
“Wow that is something else!” It was his neighbor Kenny Windsor from next door. Falco glanced over and noticed Kenny was out in his driveway detailing his old wagon.

“14 large, Windsor. One of the best ever made. I’ll be firing it up later today to feed my troops and Peaches, you and yours can drop by later if ya want.” Falco paused.  “What is the year of that wagon of yours again?”
“’it’s a ’66 Fairlane Country Squire. I was amazed to find it in Eastern Washington last fall.  It —“

Kenny was cut short as Falco said over him, “I don’t get what you see in those old relics. My Silverado is a sure bet, gets killer mileage and hauls the mail when need be.”

Kenny shrugged, smiled and then said, “Sometimes it’s the little things ya know?” Falco shook his head and turned his attention to his new grill.
Falco was making room on his back porch for his Rolls-Royce of grilles when he heard a splash in his pool followed by a second one. He glanced up to see his twin sons start to battle only to realize they had been bickering and had thrown each other’s I-Pads into the drink. As Falco went to breaking up their fighting he also did a calculation of the cost or replacing the now submerged bits of expensive Apple technology.

“Aye yai, yai yai” he sighed, As Falco lectured his sons he ventured a glance across the fence and saw that Kenny was setting up his bright red Weber grille.  Charcoal? He is still using charcoal? He watched as Kenny fussed with his Weber and noticed Kenny’s sons were both helping their Dad by weeding and mowing.

“Say Windsor, a Weber? Really?” Falco chided his neighbor, Kenny shrugged and called out a reply- “Sometimes it’s the simple things ya know?” Falco shook his head and turned his attention to the circus that was his bunch.

Peaches brought out trays of meats and veggies to be cooked. He cracked a Natural Lite and began to prep the food for everyone. His sons taunted and fought as brothers do. Peaches did her best to control her sons only to infuriate their oldest. And the afternoon took its course. Falco and Peaches got into an argument, his sons acted up and one Natural Lite slid into 5 and his day winded down into one frustration.

He stole a glance over his fence and noticed that Kenny and his sons had quietly had their meal and he was in the sandbox with his sons. Blurry eyed Falco watched as the trio had an open case of Hot Wheels and were busy creating roads. Setting up a garage for some of the cars and just enjoying each other’s time being a family.

He paused and it hit him, it really is about the little things.