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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The 2014 Goodwood Revival

Well, this is now the 4th year in a row that my Belgian artist friend Nicolas Cancelier and I get together to go to the Goodwood Revival, but this year was certainly different for us.

We decided not to book a vendor stand, but instead we were invited to join some friends who had their race teams there. This is the first time that I’ve actually managed to take in the event, and it is frankly vast and astounding! The vintage cars, motorcycles, aircraft, and spectators!!!!

Matt and Anne arriving!! © Paul Chenard 2014

My friend Anna, our friends from Vancouver Matt and Anne, and our friend Alan from Shropshire joined us at the townhouse we rent each year on the English coast.

Our gang ... Nico, Matt, Anne, Anna, Alan and moi! 
© Nicolas Cancelier 2014

Matt is actually an official Goodwood Revival photographer, so he was working all weekend at the event.

On Friday, September 12th, Nico and I wandered around getting our bearings and taking photos.

Above photos © Paul Chenard 2014

 For the following days, we wandered around sketching what we found interesting, and tracking down our friends here and there.

Photo © Alan O'Neill 2014

Photo © Nicolas Cancelier 2014

Photo © Ian T. Grainger 2014

Live sketching really attracts the curious, and it was lots of fun to interact with the spectators and answer their questions. It actually led to a few commissions, which are always great.

On Sunday, my dear friend Vicki organized a tour of the track for us in Nick's 1958 Xk150!!!!

In the evening, we would all gather in a great local restaurant like the
Pizza Pasta Pub for great hospitality, food and service, or the Bracklesham Diner for fabulous Chinese cuisine!

Photo © Nicolas Cancelier 2014

We are all looking forward to next year!!!

Monday, 25 August 2014

A Story of the Silver Arrows …

I’ve recently corresponded with the Mercedes-Benz Museum Archives, and they very kindly sent me copies of their publication “Magical Moments – 120 Years of Motorsport”.

One of Mercedes-Benz early racing successes, the 1914 French Grand Prix.

There is a great cross-section of their motorsports successes from 1894 till now.

As I read through the publication, an interesting story was featured in relation to the 1934 Grand Prix season.

The AIACR, the controlling body of motor sport in the 1930s, introduced new rules for the 1934-37 Grand Prix seasons:

The weight of the car without driver, fuel, oil, water or tires should not exceed 750 kg.
2. A minimum bodywork width of 850 mm at the driving seat.
3. Free choice of fuel.
4. All races must be over a minimum distance of 500 kilometers.

In the story, it recounts the famous legend of the switch from the traditional and official German white on Mercedes-Benz race cars to the colour silver.

Alfred Neubauer, the Mercedes-Benz racing manager of the time, claimed that the day before the June 3rd, 1934 international Eifel race, they weighed their newly introduced W25 Grand Prix race car, and found that it weighed over the 750kg limit, coming in at 751kg.

The Mercedes-Benz W25 Grand Prix car on it's way to winning the Eifelrennen.

In a flash of inspiration, he had his technicians work overnight to remove the white paint, exposing the beautiful aluminum bodies of these technically advanced racers, bringing them to exactly 750kg, and they won the race. This sparked the legend of the “Silver Arrows”, as the press was to soon label them.

The very successful Mercedes-Benz W25 Grand Prix car.

In the past few years, a few motorsport historians have questioned the credibility of the story.

As I researched my book “Silver Clouds: The 1934 Grand Prix Season”, I have to say that I developed the same doubts.

There are a few facts and insights that I can bring forward:

In the same year, Auto Union (a merger of Audi, DKW, Horch and Wanderer) presented their rear-engined Grand Prix cars under the same 750kg rules, never in any other colour but silver.

I find it hard to believe that in the thorough testing their sometimes white-painted W25, that the Mercedes-Benz technicians wouldn’t have weighed the racer well before any actual racing would take place.

The actual June 3rd, 1934 race was a Formule Libre race, and not under any of the restrictions of the 750kg Formula. In other words, it seems quite implausible that they would work so hard at removing 1kg of paint for an unrestricted race.

With these points, you can still ask, “Why the story then?

Well, for one point, it features the absolute precision of the Mercedes-Benz technicians and engineers, who considered the race machine only, not such frivolous things as the paint.

It also shows the creative quick-thinking of the legendary Mercedes-Benz race team manager Alfred Neubauer, always the clever strategizer.

Yes, it’s a damn good story, true or not …

Thursday, 7 August 2014

1914 Grand Prix de France

The world was at the edge of the huge turmoil that was to be World War I.

Just a few days before the 1914 Grand Prix de France, Archduke
Franz Ferdinand was felled by an assassin’s bullet in Sarajevo, so rumours of imminent war ran wild.

But near Lyon, France on July 4th 1914, there was only talk of French victory on the track, with Peugeot’s Georges Boillot, winner of the 1912 and 1913 Grands Prix, being favoured by the partisan crowd of over 300,000.

Mercedes showed up with an effective-looking team of 5 white cars (and one spare), and white-dressed mechanics and drivers, along with colour-coded containers (red, white and black) for fuel, water, and oil.

The Mercedes engineers had even made earlier visits to the circuit to test the cars and make the appropriate improvements.

Pen&ink and white paint markers on gray archival paper © Paul Chenard 2014

It was the first return of Mercedes to racing since they had won the 1908 race, which was still stingingly fresh in the minds of the French. Still, they expected a French win in a French car in their French race …

Of the 37 cars that started the race, only 11 finished. After 20 grueling laps totaling 752 kms, Mercedes took the top 3 places, with Jules Goux’s Peugeot coming in 4th. After 7 hours of racing, the brilliant Christian Lautenschlager, winner of 1908 event, earned the victory laurels yet again for Mercedes.

One mouth after the race, the world was plunged into World War I, and the race would disappear from the spectators’ memories …

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Painting at the Silverstone Classic 2014

With the Silverstone Classic being one of the world’s top historic racing events, I thought it was worthwhile to attend.

I’m represented in the UK by the Historic Car Art gallery, and they had a stand set up in the Art Kiosque, showing some of my art.

To make things rather more interesting, I thought I would work on an acrylic on canvas painting there over the weekend.

I chose to paint Sir Stirling Moss racing his Maserati 250F to win the 1956 Grand Prix de Monaco.

Painting in front of the crowds is never boring, and though I didn’t move very far ahead in my painting, I had a great time chatting with onlookers and making great contacts. Many friends dropped by to say "Hello" which I always love, and I also chatted with fellow artists in the kiosque. I even generated a few sales!

I did miss the great racing and featured events, but I still had fun!

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

The 1957 Cuban Grand Prix

Though it was called the Cuban “Grand Prix”, the race series was for sports cars.

It ran for 1957 and 1958 under the Battista Government. For 1959, it was not held as the Battista Regime collapsed and was taken over by Fidel Castro’s Revolutionary Government.

In that first year, Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss raced team Maserati 300s’.

Fangio chats with his mechanic pre-race
Pen&ink and watercolour pencils on watercolour paper © Paul Chenard 2014

Fangio always had a great rapport with his mechanics, showing them respect and loyalty. He gave them 10% of his winnings to show it, and in return, they would return that loyalty, and work hard making sure his car would last the race.

With his well-sorted Maserati, he easily won the 1957 race.

Before the 1958 race, Fangio was kidnapped by Castro supporters as to embarrass the Battista Government, but was released unharmed soon after the checkered flag fell, with Moss winning in a Ferrari 335 S.

The race returned one last time in 1960, but by then the great Fangio had retired from racing.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

The Greenwich Concours d’Élégance

For the first time, I’ve had to honour of attending the Grenwich Concours d’Élégance and Bonhams auction.

My friend Michael Ricciardi, owner of European Motorsports of Lawrence, MA had 5 cars on consignment at the auction and asked me if I was interested in going down.

Olivier and Michael supervising the loading of his consigned beauties

My youngest son Olivier joined me, hoping to see some nice rare cars at the prestigious event.

We not at all disappointed at all because at this event, the show cars are by invitation only, assuring a high level of stunning rare vehicles on display.

At the Bonhams auction, a new record was set for a Lamborghini, $1.2 million for a lovely blue 1975 LP400 Countach "Periscopica".

The concentration of wealth in Greenwich, CT also guarantees seeing a lifetime’s worth of Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Aston Martins, Bentleys, Maseratis and Roll Royces around town … my 2007 Urban Gray Chevrolet Aveo Sedan was rarer!

Christopher Carveth found me to say Hello.

Sketch that I did on Saturday ...

... and sketch that I did on Sunday.

It was a gorgeous sunny weekend, and we met lots of wonderful people. I managed to get an on-the-spot sketch done each day, while also being interviewed by local media, TV and print.

With Greenwich being just north of New York City, Olivier and I zipped in the have lunch at the famous Tom’s diner from Seinfeld, and be shown around Madison Avenue by our new friend Kosta. Olivier then treated me to my first ballgame, where the Yankees bowed to the Mariners 2-10.

Olivier and I in front of Times Square

Kosta showing us Madison Avenue

The Mariners beat the Yankees 10-2

We reconnected with old friends and made many new friends there … worth the 3000 kms of driving. Not hitting the moose in Maine was a welcome bonus!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Porsche 911 Carrera RSR

There were enough hints of the competition potential of the Porsche 911. Vic Elford had proven it by winning the 1968 Rallye de Monte Carlo in a Porsche 911T.

Vic Elford, supported by David Stone, 1968 Rallye Monte-Carlo.

More and more privateer racers were choosing the 911 as their weapon of choice for racing and Porsche was taking notice. 
They started developing more sporting versions such as the 911 RS, and were met with more successes.

 For 1973, they decided to use the knowledge acquired building their race cars and apply it to the 911.

Swiss race driver Herbert Müller, teamed up with Gijs van Lennep, won the 1973 Targa Florio driving a Porsche 911 Carrera RSR.

The result was the 911 Carrera RSR, which was met with great success in its first year.

1973 24 Hours of Daytona-winning Brumos Porsche 911 Carrera RSR of Peter Gregg and Hurley Haywood.

The RSR came in 4th overall at the 24 heures du Mans, and was 1st overall in the 12 Hours of Sebring, the Targa Florio and the 24 Hours of Daytona!

The huge success of the Carrera RSR pointed the way for Porsche, and lead to the development of the RSR Turbo, the 934, and the 935, all in turn successful racers.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Ford wins in Ferrari’s Playground

History is made, most often, when the status quo is upset and turned on its ear.

The path that history takes is often formed from passion, anger, determination, and luck.

Ford was looking to stroke its international profile through racing, their “Total Performance” initiative. Win on Sunday, sell on Monday …

They approached the biggest player in international racing Ferrari with a purchase proposal, having heard though the grapevine that there might be an opportunity.

Ford’s offers were rebuked in a Ferrari nationalistic master-plan for Italian funding.

In the scorn of rejection, Ford vowed to win against Ferrari, at any cost.

Pen&ink and markers on watercolour paper
© Paul Chenard

The purse was opened wide, very wide indeed, but it did finally happen in the sweetest way possible … a 1-2-3 sweep of the 1966 24 heures du Mans with the Ford GT40s … better than a Hitchcock thriller, to the utter stunned silence of the crowd.

History was re-written …

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Our Jaguar Club of North America AGM Weekend

While on my séjour in Lawrence Massachusetts in January for Denise McCluggage’s workshop, I met Dennis Eklof, the Jaguar Club of North America’s Northeast Regional Director. He mentioned that they were hosting this year’s AGM in Boston on April 4 th, 5 th, and 6th.

Weeks later, Dennis contacted me to get the event poster illustrated and designed. They also invited me to stay for the weekend at the Hyatt Regency Cambridge, the event venue.

I invited my youngest son Olivier to come along for a little break from his busy work schedule.

It was a well-organized event where I met regional representatives from all over North America. There were also lovely significant Jaguars on display in the banquet hall, pure eye-candy! I was given a space to show off my art, and was available to autograph the well-printed posters.

On Friday evening, Olivier treated me to a Celtics game, followed by a comedy-improv show by the amazing Wayne Brady at the Wilbur Theatre. The Celtics lost, but Wayne Brady was nothing short of amazing; we were in stitches for the whole show!

While I manned my booth on Saturday, Olivier went shopping, and in the evening, I joined Motorsports Marketing Resources Director Peter Bourassa at the AGM banquet; Olivier was treated by our lovely friend Dianne Isaacson to his very first ball game at the historic Fenway Park, with the Red Socks playing the Brewers.

On Sunday, on our way back home, we stopped in Lawrence to see my friend Michael Ricciardi at European Motorsports. Michael kindly let Olivier sit in his lovely Lamborghini Contach, then treated us and one of his mechanics Tiny to brunch at Charlie’s Diner, just down the street from his shop.

I can say that though it is a long drive to get there and back, I will never give up an opportunity to see my friends in New England. Go Socks, go!!!