Saturday, 19 May 2018

1949 24 heures du Mans

The 1949 24 heures du Mans marked the return to racing at the Circuit de la Sarthe after World War II.

There were 49 starters for the race, driving Delages, Frazer Nashs, Bentleys, HRGs, Aston Martins, Healeys, Simcas, Talbot-Lagos, and for the very first time, Ferraris.

Two Ferrari 166 MMs were entered, one being driven by the team of Luigi Chinetti and Peter Mitchell-Thomson (Lord Selsdon) and the other by Jean Lucas and Pierre Louis-Dreyfus.

The Ferrari of Chinetti and Lord Selsdon kept a stead pace near the front while the Ferrari of Lucas and Louis-Dreyfus crashed out early on lap 53.

Lord Selsdon was feeling quite ill at the time, managing a total of only 72 minutes of racing, so Luigi Chinetti did the lion’s share of the driving for the race.

Eight hours in, Chinetti pushed the Ferrari into the lead, which he kept to the end, nursing the car with a slipping clutch.

Amazingly, it was Luigi Chinetti 3rd Le Mans win, having also won in 1932 with Raymond Sommer and in 1934 with Philippe Étancelin.

It was also a landmark win for the fledgling Ferrari company, and a hint of the future domination that Ferrari would have on the race through the 1950’s and the early 1960’s.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Ayrton Senna da Silva

In each time-period of Grand Prix racing, there are stars that shine brighter than others … Nuvolari in the 1930’s, Fangio in the 1950’s, Clark in the 1960’s, and so on ...

In the late 1980’s/early 1990’s, Formula 1’s brightest star was Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna.

Born on March 21st, 1960, Senna started racing karts at a young age, then moved into open-wheeled Formula 3, winning the 1983 British Formula 3 Championship.

He entered Formula 1 in 1984, driving for Toleman-Hart, before moving to Lotus-Renault for 1985 and winning his first race in the Lotus 97T at the rainy Portuguese Grand Prix.

After his three seasons with Lotus, in 1988 he moved to McLaren, joining teammate Frenchman Alain Prost.

A very strong rivalry developed between Prost and Senna, yet Senna won 8 of 16 races in the McLaren MP4/4, and took the Formula 1 Driver’s Championship. This, combined with Prost’s 7 wins, gave McLaren their 4th Constructors’ Championship.

Senna stayed with the McLaren team through to the end of 1993, winning 2 more Championships (1990, 1991) before moving to the Williams team for 1994.

The 3rd race of the 1994 season was held in San Marino. Sadly, in the Saturday practice session, Austrian driver Roland Ratzenberger died in the crash of his Simtek-Ford.

During the Sunday May 1st race, Senna crash his Williams, hitting the wall very hard on the 7th lap, and never regained consciousness.

The legend was no more …

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Ferrari – A Heritage of Racing

Any automotive racing history artist documenting racing history through their art will be asked why there are so many Ferrari subjects featured.

A quick look at the Formula 1 history quickly explains the reason; Ferrari has been the Formula 1 Constructors Champion for a total of 16 times!!

The 2nd most wins comes from the Williams Team with 9 Constructors titles.

Ferrari also dominated sports/GT racing from the late 1940’s into the mid-1960’s.

Enzo Ferrari’s passion for racing is well-documented; his primary reason for selling road cars was the finance his racing endeavours.

That Ferrari passion runs deep in the hearts of us automotive artists too!!

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Land Speed Record Art

From August 5th to September 15th, the Royal Automobile Club in London is hosting a show of art featuring British wheel-driven Land Speed Record holders.

Rupert Whyte, owner of the Historic Car Art Gallery, has curated the exhibition.

I was lucky to be one of the 11 artists chosen to submit art to the show, and the only North American artist invited.

Donald Campbell's Bluebird-Proteus CN7 on it's way to a world-record speed of 403.10 mph (648.73 km/h) on Lake Eyre, Australia on July 17, 1964.
Acrylic, pen&ink and colour pencils on 24"x 10.5" (60.9cm x 25.4cm) watercolour paper
© Paul Chenard 2015

In the art that I submitted, I wanted to show how once the driver committed to their record run, they were completely alone with themselves, their car, and their God.

1000 HP Sunbeam - Henry Segrave - Land Speed Record - 203.79 mph -
Daytona Beach, Florida - March 29th, 1927
Pen & ink and markers on 16"x 8" red archival paper © Paul Chenard 2017

Irving Napier Golden Arrow - Henry Segrave - Land Speed Record - 231.45 mph - Daytona Beach, Florida, USA - March 11th, 1929
Pen & ink and markers on 16"x 8" yellow archival paper © Paul Chenard 2017

Campbell-Railton Blue Bird - Sir Malcolm Campbell - Land Speed Record -
301.33 mph - Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, USA - September 3rd, 1935
Pen & ink and markers on 16"x 8" blue archival paper © Paul Chenard 2017

MG EX 135 - A. T. Goldie Gardner - 1,500 Class Record - 204.3 mph -
Dessau, Germany - June 2nd, 1939
Pen & ink and markers on 16"x 8" green archival paper © Paul Chenard 2017

It’s a huge honour for me to be part of something so special.

Monday, 31 July 2017

E.R.A. – English Racing Automobiles

In the current vintage racing scene at diverse venues ranging from Silverstone to Prescott, you’ll probably chance to see a lovely proportioned single-seat open-wheeled race car, the E.R.A., shorthand for English Racing Automobiles.

These cars were the brainchild of Humphrey Cook, Raymond Mays, and Peter Berthon in late 1933. It was their way of upholding British prestige in international racing by the design, manufacture and creation of a team of single-seat race cars.

Top-tear Grand Prix racing was prohibitively costly, so they set their sights on the smaller Voiturette (1500cc supercharged) class of racing.

The brilliant British designer Reid Railton designed the chassis, and the engine was a highly developed version of well-proven Riley six-cylinder.

The well-proportioned body certainly made the finished car look like a winner.

With some chassis design refinements and adjustments, by the end of 1934, they had a winning combination.

Through the rest of the decade, the E.R.A. dominated the international Voiturette class, taken to some notable wins by such great drivers as Raymond Mays, Dick Seaman and Prince Bira.

Later on, as the basic design was modified through the A-Type, B-Type, C-Type and D-Type versions, other new designs were developed in the form of the E-Type and G-Type, but these were not developed enough before funding ran out for race car creation, and the company refocused it’s resources into engineering research and development.

The E.R.A. was a rugged racer, and today, most of them have survived.

They live today as the iconic pre-war British race car.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Le Grand Prix de Monaco

The Grand Prix de Monaco is still going strong since that first race in 1929.

There is none other like it in the world, a high speed race through a historic city center, with changes in elevation, sharp corners, and no place to pass!

With glamorous coastal setting, facing the turquoise waters of the Ligurian Sea, this playground for the ultra-rich on the French Riviera has been on the must-win wish-list of many, if not all, the Grand Prix drivers.

William Grover in a factory Bugatti Type 35B won that 1929 race.

Bugattis, followed up by Alfa Romeos, dominated the early years; Mercedes finished up the pre-war years.

Italian cars, Maserati, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari won in the early post-war years, then the British Lotus, Cooper, BRM and Tyrrell teams dominated till the mid-1970’s.

Ferrari would come back, mixed in with wins by Wolf, Williams, Brabham, Benetton, Ligier, Renault, Brawn, Red Bull, Mercedes, and many by McLaren.

And Ferrari has now won their first in 16 years!!

Racing the current wide-track Formula 1 cars through the somewhat garish streets of Monaco is borderline ridiculous but at the same time, that’s the beauty of it. It’s the only remaining unchanged race track of the Formula 1 circuits (or should I say circus?) so the drivers are following in the tracks of history, of the greatness of the past exploits.

Nothing can beat that …

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

The World's Fastest film

Since the 1930’s, the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah has been the place where dreamers and adventurers have gathered to pursue their quest for the limits of speed.

Many land speed records have been taken on this vast flat expanse of salt over the decades.

Even today, long-time speed chasers work tirelessly to reach a new record for their class of vehicle.

German filmmakers Alexandra Leir and Laia Gonzalez are working on a documentary film “The World’s Fastest” about these people and their passion.

They have a KICKSTARTER fundraising campaign in place to raise funds for their wondeful project. You can look into it and contribute here:

I think that it’s a very worthwhile and interesting subject to tackle, showing the power of passion.


Friday, 7 April 2017

Lotus Ford Cosworth 49

As Formula 1 engine capacity rules changed from 1.5 liters to 3 liters (or 1.5 liters compressed) for the 1966-1986 seasons, a few manufacturers were left scrambling for suitable power plants.

For 1966, Lotus raced their 33 with both a Climax V8 and BRM V8 and H16 engines, with poor results. They also raced their model 43 BRM to one win.

In the background, Lotus Team owner Colin Chapman was busy convincing the Ford Motor Company to finance the design and build of a new 3 liter V8. Cosworth Engineering Ltd, a successful racing engineering company created by Mike Costin and Frank Duckworth, was commissioned to undertake the new design.

The Ford Cosworth married to the Lotus 49 chassis

As in their model 43, Lotus wanted to design the chassis with the engine as a load-bearing structure carrying the rear suspension. Colin Chapman and fellow designer Maurice Phillipe worked very closely in parallel with Cosworth to assure the success of this approach.

Colin Chapman waits as the mechanics prep the new Lotus 49 for it's first race.

The new Ford Cosworth DFV V8 was introduced in late April 1967, and the Lotus/Cosworth engineering worked hard to have the engine/chassis package ready for it race introduction at the Dutch Grand Prix held at Zandvoort on June 4.

Jim Clark on his way to winning the 1967 Dutch Grand Prix in the new Lotus 49.

Lotus driver Graham Hill easily won pole position, with fellow driver Jim Clark started in 8th place on the grid. As the race started, Hill quickly pulled away from the pack, holding the lead till his engine gave up. In the meantime, Clark moved up through the cars to take on the lead and win the race! An astonishing debut for a new car!

Unfortunately, the engine and chassis were not without their little gremlins, which allowed Denny Hulme racing the Brabham Repco to take the Championship.

For the 1968 season, the de-bugged package did it’s magic, with Graham Hill rallying the team after Jim Clack’s death in an F2 race and taking the Championship for Lotus in the 49B.

Graham Hill on his way to winning the 1968 Grand Prix de Monaco in the 49B.

Interestingly for 1968, Lotus’ Team no longer carried British racing green, but instead the sponsorship colours of Gold Leaf cigarettes, a step that would change the face of Formula 1 sponsorship, and the car’s colours …