Friday, 24 June 2011

Juan Manuel Fangio - El Maestro

Today marks the 100th anniversary of Juan Manuel Fangio's birth. This five-time Formula 1 Drivers' World Champion from Balcarce, Argentina passed away on July 17, 1995.

¡Feliz cumpleaños, El Maestro!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Bira the racing Prince

Born in 1914, Birabongse Bhanudej was a Grand Prix and Formula 1 racecar driver from Siam (now Thailand).

Better known as Prince Bira, or his racing name "B. Bira", he raced a Riley, Maseratis, Connaughts, Gordinis, but is best known for successfully racing E.R.A.s.

After his formal education in the United Kingdom, he raced with his cousin Prince Chula Chakrabongse's White Mouse Racing team. In 1935-36, the team started acquiring E.R.A.s, and Bira gave a name to each; first was the R2B "Romulus", followed by R5B "Remus", and lastly, R12B "Hanuman".
Bira racing Romulus
14.5"x 11" limited edition print
© Paul Chenard 2011

I did this sketch on the outside of the package of my new book and an original art-piece that a client had ordered. He owns the car in the sketch, so I thought I'd thank him with a sketch of it. Couriers also take much better care with the package when I do that.

Prince Bira found most success racing "Romulus" throughout 1936, with 3 wins, including Monaco and Brooklands, and a second and third place finish.

Post-war, Bira won the Grand Prix des Frontières on the Chimay road circuit in 1954, racing a Maserati 250F and the New Zealand Grand Prix in 1955. He retired at the end of the 1955 season.

Prince Bira died of heart failure in London in 1985 at the age of 71.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Les 24 heures du Mans 2011

The 24 heures du Mans is coming up this weekend, at the same time as Grand Prix du Canada. Talk about over-stimulation!

The 24 Heures du Mans race is the world’s oldest sports car race, with the first race being held in 1923.

The race is organized by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest and it is run on the Circuit de Sarthe, about 2.5 hours south-west of Paris.

On the world stage, the race equals in stature to the Grand Prix de Monaco in the Formula 1, and the Indianapolis 500 in Indy car.

There have been cycles of consecutive winners starting with Bentley in the late 1920’s, followed by Alfa Romeo through the 1930’s, and two Bugatti wins late in the decade.

 The war years stopped the race until 1949, with the advent of Ferrari’s first win there. There was mostly Jaguar dominance through the mid-1950’s. Ferrari came back with a vengeance, winning six years in a row, 1960 through to 1965.

At this point, we were well into the Ford/Ferrari war, with Ford taking the next four years. Please read A. J. Baimes’ great book “Go like Hell” to get fabulous insight on the battles.

1970 heralded the Porsche years at Le Mans, with sixteen wins until 1998. These were interspersed with wins by Jaguar, Mercedes, Mazda, Peugeot, Dauer, McLaren, and BMW.

Since 2000, we have been in the Audi years, with the exception of Bentley (2003) and Peugeot (2009).

Aston Martin has returned “en force”, so this year is looking like a three-way battle between them, Audi and Peugeot.

Le Mans has never been so exciting!