Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Herbert Müller – Nürburgring 1971

At the 2007 Mosport Vintage Racing Festival, I had to honour of meeting Peter Felder, who was Swiss driver Herbert Müller’s best friend and race team manager. We’ve been friends ever since, and Peter has come to visit me a few times in Nova Scotia. Peter’s stories of his racing experiences are completely captivating; he was kind enough to write one of these down for me:

In 1971, Herbie decided to run one of his Ferrari 512 M’s in an InterSeries race at the Nürburgring. (Unfortunately, Pedro Rodriguez perished in one of his 512’s at the Norisring a few months earlier). In any case, Herbie had transmission problems in qualifying and subsequently started last. At the start, the last rows were still in the last corner before the start-finish line. A young, wealthy German driver in a McLaren M8C, not being used to the torque of a 427, he spun coming on to the starting straight, in the process crashing into Herbie’s 512. The red 512 became airborne, flew across the track upside down and hit the pit lane guardrail; the guardrail sliced into the car right behind the driver seat, which caused an immediate explosion. The car landed in the pit lane, still upside down and fully engulfed in burning fuel.

The following is what Herbie told me afterwards in the hospital:

“There was a tremendous crash … I knew that I was flying through the air because I saw the blue sky behind the pits … and I knew that the car was on fire...and I though ‘This is not going to be good’. I braced myself waiting for some kind of impact, which is what happened … twice! All I was worried about was not to hit my head anywhere … then the car came to a stop … and I immediately release my seatbelt and since I didn’t know that I landed upside down, I fell into the burning fuel. I turned myself around … tried to kick open the door … no go … considered knocking out the windshield … didn’t work … so I tried the other door … and it opened enough for me to get through … and I knew that I was on fire … tried to figure out where to run … (and here comes the kicker) you know those Germans … I remember seeing a couple of fancy Mercedes cars on display next to the tower, so I thought … if I run towards the cars, somebody will try to save me so I don’t blow up the Mercs!”

Herbie and I had a lot of laughs about this whole ordeal.

Regrettably I was with him on May 24th 1981, or ten years later, at the same track, when he crashed into Bobby Rahal’s crashed, stationary, Coca Cola sponsored, Bob Aiken owned 935.

Later that day I went to the Adenau hospital … but this time, we could not laugh together.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Buon compleanno, signor Ferrari!

Officially, today is Enzo Ferrari’s birthday, records showing that he was born this day 113 years ago.

In actual fact, he was born two days earlier, February 18th on the outskirts of Modena, during a bitter winter storm. The storm delayed the registration of his birth, and so it came to be the later date.

Buon compleanno, signor Ferrari!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Artist Rob Roy

Rob Roy (née Richard de la Rivière) was an artist born in Mont-de-Marsan in the south west of France in 1909.

From an early age, he had his father’s passion for motorized vehicles and art. He developed a talent of accurately and vividly documenting the events around him with his art, which was mostly motor racing. Between the wars, he did his watercolours, and at times, managed to also do some racing.

Grand Prix de Monaco 1935
Mercedes W25 & Alfa Romeo P3

He captured the racers of the time, Nuvolari, Varzi, Chiron, Caracciola, Ascari, Fagioli, Sommer, Dreyfus, and so on, his watercolours portraying their tight battles of the tracks of Europe.

Coupe Internationale des Voiturettes, Le Mans 1920
Bugatti Type 13 & Fiat

Prior to World War II, Rob Roy had joined to army, so when the war started, he joined the 3rd Tank Battalion. He was captured but later managed to escape. He kept a diary and did art-pieces of his war experiences, which have recently been published as a book “Carnet de guerre de Rob Roy 1939 à 1944.”

Mille Miglia 1936 
Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza

After the war, he worked in the automobile industry, and continued to do art for advertisements, brochures, magazines, books and posters.

He stayed involved with his motor racing friends and doing his motor racing art until his passing 1992.

Recently, I was lucky enough to find three Rob Roy prints locally for my racing automobilia collection; they are wonderful records of racing past.

You can find out more on Rob Roy at this website:

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

1934 Grand Prix de Monaco

As the first “Grande Épreuve” of the 1934 Grand Prix season, Monaco was, and has always been, a dramatic venue on the Mediterranean Sea.

It is one of few city courses in the world and considered the most prestigious of all the Grand Prix’s. The Monaco Grand Prix’s started in 1929 and it is still run today.

Guy Moll in an Alfa Romeo P3 rounding the Station Hairpin ahead of René Dreyfus in a Bugatti Type 59
Pen&ink, markers, and pencil on archival white stock 12”x 9” 
© Paul Chenard 2010

Original art & limited editions available.

For this April 2nd race, a few of the cars running needed modification to meet the new 750kg rules. Both the Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union teams decided they would not participate in any racing until the May 27th Avusrennen.

From the flag, the race lead changed hands quite often between the Bugatti T59 of René Dreyfus and the Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeo P3’s of Louis Chiron and “Guy” Moll.

Pen&ink © Paul Chenard 2010

Later in the race, while Chiron was in front, he had a slight off at the Station Hairpin, relinquishing his lead to Moll, who kept his position till race end.

It was a great start for this talented and popular 24-year-old Algerian rookie Scuderia Ferrari driver.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Jaguar E-Type 50th Anniversary

The sports car that some consider the most alluring in the world is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary this year.

The late Malcolm Sayer’s stunning design completely wowed the public and the media at it’s launch in 1961; even Enzo Ferrari called it “ the most beautiful car in the world.”

The E-Type’s looks, cost, and performance were completely unmatched in it’s day, and it still easily draws a crowd today.

Pen&ink and Prismacolor pencils on green archival paper
© Paul Chenard 2011

Historic Car Art has asked me to create an artwork to honour the E-Type; it will be presented at Race Retro in late February.

Limited editions of this piece are also available.