Saturday, October 21, 2017

12th Tour de Corse, 1967

The Tour de Corse was and is celebrated and feared in equal measure. The first incarnation was launched in 1956 and covered almost 1,300 kilometres around the entire island, the streets of which are anything but straight. “The ‘Tour de Corse Historique’ is a wonderful journey back in time to the French rally culture of the 1980s. It offers serious motorsport, fascinating landscapes and a special atmosphere with great camaraderie,” says Alexander Klein, team leader of the Corsica delegation, detailing this year’s Porsche historic motorsport highlights. Porsche’s first victory was achieved here in 1960 by Herbert Linge and Paul-Ernst Strähle in a Porsche 356 B 1600 GS Carrera GT Coupe.  At the time, this was the race that everybody wanted to win,” recalls Larrousse, “just as much as they wanted to win at the Nürburgring”.

Today’s historic rally is almost as demanding as the modern course which stages a round of the World Rally Championship, an event which has been held here intermittently since 1973: A total length of 800 kilometres with 340 kilometres of special stages places intense demands on man and machine. The rally routes are no straighter than the World Rally Championship course, the goats on the road are just as stubborn and the rock falls are just as surprising.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Clean Air Race, August 17-September 1, 1970

Hi folks -- currently working on the 1970s and found this interesting Youtube video.  Below are some notes taken from The December 1970 Road & Track on the event. I will take this excerpt and re-write also using other sources in my text. A very interesting episode that I lived through but was totally unaware of, like much of the 1970s!

Steve Wilder, “Clean Air Car Race: Massive Boondoggle or Wave
of the Future,” Road & Track,
December 1970, 26-31.

At Cambridge, Mass., 45 cars entered by teams of students
form 33 colleges and high schools gathered recently for the Clean Air Car Race.
Eligibility? Four-wheeled street legal vehicles able to meet
the 1975 emission standards (as measured by 1970 test procedures), entered,
crewed and maintained by teams of students in good standing. Entrants could
have as much outside help as they could muster, an open door for existing
commercial projects to muscle in  that was
used but not abused, and a fine chance for the collegiate to gain experience at
professional-level scrounging.

Inspired, organized and promoted by students at the
Massachusetts and California Institutes of Technology, this ambitious project
benefitted from their youthful enthusiasm and they had every bit as
mind-stretching  an experience as did the
competitors. For what they were running, with only the 1968 Great Ele tric Car
Race as a precedent, was a coast to coast international rally with an array of
extraordinary special stages.

While Wally Rippel, Caltech’s ’68 race-sinner now doing
post-grad work at Cornell, was trying to revive an electric car event,
survivors of the losing team, Dave Star and Bill Carson, got MIT to issue a
broader challenge in October 1969 to students everywhere, hoping to create what
their faculty advisor Richard Thornton called a “really big event with maybe a
dozen entries,” In fact, 92 preliminary entries were received. The event soon
gained itself a co-sponsor, Caltech, and by springtime Rippel’s smaller event
was absorbed.

To the government’s National Air Pollution Control
Administration (NAPCA) the race was made to order to justify publically (as
required by law) the feasibility of the stringent regulations proposed for 1975
and 1980. Ninety percent of NAPCA’s quarter-million dollar (!) budget for CACR
went for photography.

Free Cars were popular, given by car makers, eager groups and
even a rental outfit. General Motors led the list with a free Chevelle and
$2000 to each of 20 entrants, judiciously leaving to CACR the task of doling them
out among 35 aspirants. American Motors dealers gave Javelins, Hornets, and
Gremlins, and American Oil was pleased to assure supplies of lead-free Amoco
high-test along the route. Many gas (natural or LPG) companies across the continent
offered varying degrees of support and for the electric cars some three dozen
utilities hooked up a total of 78 charging stations, thus creating the first
nationwide electric highway (which may be permanent).

To the press and other peripheral people, it was a bizarre
happening. Some called it the children’s crusade or Woodstock on Wheels.
Sociologically, it was a study in self-government of the students by the
students and by and large for the students. Technically, CACR can be seen as a
Glidden Tour of the future….But just as various details on the antiques of 70
years ago can be seen in hindsight to have been pointing towards the present,
so will we be able to look back at CACR 1970 and recognize the beginnings of a
very large change in our automotive habits.

1.     541 miles from
Cambridge, MA to Toronto
2.     243 miles from
Toronto to Detroit
3.     403 miles to
Campaign, IL
4.     668 miles to
Oklahoma City
5.     565 miles to
Odessa, TX
6.     605 miles to
Tucson, AZ
7.     537 miles to
Pasadena, CA

What an astonishing array of cars and categories made up the
Clean Air Car Race. From a raffish El Camino and a customized bug-eye Sprite
featuring Candy-apple read paint jobs and LPG conversions to a one-off
fiberglass coupe form Toronto featuring three modes of operation to bent-metal
pure electric ugly from Georgia Tech (alas, the name Rambling Wreck had been
usurped buy a perfectly presentable Ford running on compressed natural gas).

Each team was a story unto itself – what their suystme was ,
why they selected it and how they managed to finance, assemble and test it.
Most numerous by far were conventional internal combustion engines running on
gaseous fuels LPG and CNG

The second biggest group of entries was liquid fueled. Seven
teams chose unleaded gasoline to get a head start on the particulate emissions,
but Ethyl Corp. sponsored the Louisiana State entry, UCLA ran a turbocharged
Daihatsu 138 cu-in diesel in a Mustang and the Stanford Gremlin which won the
class ran on Methyl alcohol.

The variety of controls paralleled Detroit experimentation –
recirculation of exhaust gases into the carb to reduce peak temperatures and
therefore cut NOX (ti’s as of the atmosphere the cylinders see contains less
oxygen); catalytic reactors, sometimes several of them, sometimes wrapped in
foil and asbestos to speed their warm up; and even the old stand-by of carnival
barkers, water injection. Here it was to cut temperatures and NOX, not to give
you “that smooth surge of power you get on a rainy night.” And a more recent
old stand-by air injection into a thermal reactor for finishing off the HC and

While in the liquid-fueled group on the diesel mustang was
able to beat the ’75 regulations, Wayne State was able to get an unofficial
rerun to prove they could too. Their official run was spoiled by not having
pushed in the choke soon after making the cold start at the critical Detroit
test. The not-for-points results of the retest showed, astonishingly, that they
could even meet the ’80 limits. The Car? A ’71 Capri with its 1600 cc four
replaced by a 302 cu-in V-8 and a C-4 automatic transmission (automatics have
fewer transients and ear easier to control for emissions).

The lightweight fiberglass body panels came from Ford of
Germany’s Competition Dept., while tips on shoehorning in the V-8 came from
Ford of South Africa – it meant fiddling with pulley drives and creasing the
pan. …Less valve overlap (22 degrees) cut hot residual gases, in turn
permitting external (therefore cooler) recycling of as much as 17% of the
exhaust gases, all this to cut NOX. Hardened valve eats gave longer life and
the combustion chambers were trimmed of projections and contoured to match the
head gasket, thus eliminating hot spots and those overcooled nooks and crannies
that can extinguish the flame to make HC and CO. A restriction in the vacuum
line to the distributor slowed the latter’s transient advances and retarded
responses to throttle movements….A big slow turning engine was important part
of the story but so was a carefully tailored intake system which was designed
to keep the air/fuel ratio between a tight 14.5 and 15 to one to get the
greatest effectiveness from the four reactors. This was done by controlling the
temperature and therefore density of both air and fuel. Also, the 2-barrel carb
was fitted with a dual power valve to isolate the fuel metering of the two
bores and cut bore-to bore imbalances in the air/fuel ratio.

It should come as no surprise that the Wayne State Team
included two carburetor engineers who are full-time at Ford and a part-time at
graduate level at Wayne. Because the panel of five judges were so impressed
with Wayne’s entry matching the 1980s standards (even if unofficially) as well
as with its practicality on a large scale, its cost, safety, durability,
availability and producibility, they awarded Wayne State the overall prize
based on the entry’s degree of innovation, measure of improvement and student
involvement, and quite without regard to the rally score itself. The matter of
student involvement led to some sharp questioning by the press but it turns out
that the team had worked out their won ideas, spurning some from upper echelons
in the corporate jungle.

Clean Air Race Class Winners August 17-September 1, 1970






Worcester Poly








No finishers



JP4/Chevy C 10







-- Worcester and

Unleaded gas/Gremlin


Univ. of Toronto

LPG 3 mode/Special


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Think your BMW Can't Be Stolen? Think Again!

From The Sun (UK), 10/14/17

A LUXURY BMW was pinched in less than a minute after tech-savvy thieves managed to bypass its security system.
The thieves were caught on camera stealing the £50,000 car, using an amplified signal that manages to open the doors before speeding off into the night.
 One man can be seen waving a device around the house
One man can be seen waving a device around the house
The victim, who had just bought the car in September, was left rushing downstairs after hearing the car accelerate away, telling the Daily Mail: "I heard the engine. I knew someone had started my car and I went to the window.
"I dashed down straight away and it was gone."
In footage of the theft, one of the thieves can be seen waving a device around the front of the victim's home, while his partner waits in the car.
The boosted signal unlocked the car — letting them jump in, press the start button and drive off.
 One of the men can be seen getting into the car, while another man waves around the device
One of the men can be seen getting into the car, while another man waves around the device
 The devices are easy to access online
The devices are easy to access online
 The man walks off into the night after successfully starting the car
The man walks off into the night after successfully starting the car
 The £500,000 car drives off into the night
The £500,000 car drives off into the night
It's one of four similar recent thefts in North London, with police warning that criminals are becoming more tech-savvy than ever before.
The signal amplifier allows drivers to unlock their car simply by approaching with the high-tech device.
But researchers have warned the rate of cars stolen using the method could be as high as 45 per cent.
 The men can be seen walking up to the car parked in the driveway - with police warning of a spate of similar thefts
The men can be seen walking up to the car parked in the driveway - with police warning of a spate of similar thefts
Detective Sergeant Pete Ellis told the Evening Standard: "This technology used to be confined to more high-end vehicles but it is becoming more widespread and therefore there is a potential for ‘relay attacks’ to become more common."
The crooks were filmed on home security CCTV using a backpack device to amplify the signal from his keyless fob, which he had in his bedroom.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Bill Grauer, Jr., Riverside Records, and Sports Car and Racing Sounds LPs, 1956-62:

“Bill Grauer and Riverside Records: Capturing the Sounds from Sports and Race Cars.”

"A Castor Oil Cantata"

Doing history often gets personal for me, and the story that follows is a prime example of why I chose the topics I pursue. For some time, I have been interested in the history of sports cars in the U.S., particularly during the 1950s when sports car sales and SCCA participation took off. It was the result of rising middle class expectations and ambitions, a response to the ungainly Detroit “dinosaur in the driveway,” and popular literature that included Don Sanford’s The Red Car and Tom McCahill’s Mechanix Illustrated articles. And as a teenager during the mid-1960s I got caught up in it, as I purchased a 1959 MGA after graduating from high school.

Lately as I reflect on my past I have often wondered how I got on the path of being so keenly interested in sports cars. One reason for my passion was the consequence of acquiring at age 12 the Riverside Records LP “Vintage Sports Car in Stereo.” I played that disk over and over again, much to the anguish of my parents who thought I had gone over some sort of an adolescent cliff.  But as I have discovered from recent conversations, many others joined me in this obsession with the sounds of exotic motor cars. Today sounds are often a part of cars & coffee events; in the 1950s and 1960s they were often heard in Hi-Fi as well as on the track and street.

The Riverside Records story is worth telling, for it links jazz music with sports cars. It began in 1952 with the partnership of two Columbia graduates, Bill Grauer, Jr. and Orrin Keepnews. Seeing an opportunity to approach the major record firms with a proposal to counter what was then seen as the release of “pirate” recordings of performances dating back to the 1920s and 30s, between 1952 and 1962 Grauer and Keepnews would build Riverside Records into a major jazz label. Additionally they wrote a definitive book on the history of jazz in the U.S, published by Crown in 1956 and reissued in 1971.

Grauer began by convincing RCA Victor to re-issue 78s from the 1920s and 30s in LP format. However, he then shifted focus to the contemporary music of Thelonious Monk, Randy Weston, Bill Evans, Sonny Rollins and Cannonball Adderly. In the midst of this artistic achievement,  Grauer also became a sports car enthusiast.

In a 1961 interview in his New York City office that featured a large photo of Bill behind the wheel of a 1937 Mercedes-Benz, he recounted how in “1956, just for fun, we recorded sounds of sports-car races down at Sebring, Florida (I’m a racing nut, you know). We decided to release it and then the roof fell in. It began to sell like crazy.” The success of “Sounds of Sebring” led to a series of some 24 sports car records, including a parody of them by Peter Ustinov. To acquire those sounds, Grauer would have “mikes buried in bull rings. We’ve recorded hot-rods and go-carts. But those motorcyclists were too much. It was 110 degrees and those idiots had leather jackets on. It was ludicrous. It was insane. But they sure blew a good chorus."

An advertisement in the December, 1956 Sports Cars Illustrated touted the “Sounds of Sebring” album this way:

For the first time ever: a superb high quality 12 inch long playing record of all the sounds that make up America’s greatest sports car race. Over 60 minutes of interviews with the world’s greatest drivers…Fangio, Moss, Collins, Behra, Hill, Musso, Menditeguy, Bennett, Rubirosa, Portago, Parnell. The sounds of Ferraris, Maseratis, Jags, Aston martins, Porsche, Corvettes, Lotus, etc. warming up, revving, roaring at speed, coming out of corners flat out.  The fabulous Le Mans start, pit activity, the fantastic sounds of Fangio shifting up and down as he makes the five mile circuit, and dozens of other remarkable on the-spot sounds which are so exciting to the driver and spectator alike.

            Other releases that followed the “Sounds of Sebring” included the chronicling of the Sebring races between 1958 and 1962. From my perspective these recordings serve as primary source material not only of the races and the engine sounds – distinct of brand and vintage, a sort of original language speaking to us – but also of the best drivers of the day, speaking in their own words. Thus in 1957 titles included “The Marquis de Portago: The Story of Racing’s Most Colorful Driver – a Memorial Tribute;” “Phil Hill: Around the Racing Circuit with a Great American Driver;” “Carroll Shelby: The Career of a Great American Racing Driver;” and “Stirling Moss: A Portrait of Britain’s Great Racing Driver, Told in his Own Words.”

            There is one other aspect of the Riverside Records sports car series worth mentioning. Namely the record jackets are often works of art in their own right. Often the work of Bill’s wife Jane Grauer, the covers are at times stunning representations of cars, engines, and Bugatti grills.

Art, jazz, and sports cars, along with watches and cameras, they all came together during the 1950s and 1960s. Riverside Records, still recognized for its achievements in the arts, also left a legacy in automotive history.