Monday 26 April 2010

Peter Collins – A very respected racer

Englishman Peter Collins was a very well liked and respected Grand Prix and sports car driver.

Pen&ink and Prismacolor pencil on steel gray archival stock 
© Paul Chenard 2010

Born in 1931, he started racing Formula 3 Coopers in 1950, and quickly moved up to Formula 1 in 1952, driving for HWM. He also drove for BRM, Maserati and Vanwall.

Targa Florio - Mercedes 300 SLR
Pen&ink and Prismacolor pencil on steel gray archival stock
© Paul Chenard 2010

In 1955, He joined Sir Stirling Moss to win the prestigious, but grueling 277 mile (445 km) Sicilian Targa Florio open-road race, driving for Mercedes in a 300 SLR.

Scuderia Ferrari hired him in the 1956 season driving in F1 and his first win with the team came at the 1956 Belgium Grand Prix. Collins found more success during the season, and was well on his way to possibly becoming the first British F1 Champion.

At the 1956 Italian Grand Prix, the last race in the season, his teammate Juan Manuel Fangio’s Lancia-Ferrari broke down, so Collins selflessly handed over his car to Fangio, who also had a chance at the Championship. This enabled Fangio to finish the race in second place, giving him enough points at the end of the season to win his 4th F1 World Drivers Championship.

This great act of generosity gained Collins immense respect in the eyes of fans, the motoring press, and Enzo Ferrari himself.

Mille Miglia - Ferrari 335S, pencil on light gray archival stock, © Paul Chenard 2009

In 1957, Mike Hawthorn joined him on the team, and they became fast friends. Collins married American actress and racer Louise King, proposing to her on their second meeting.

Mike Hawthorn, pen&ink and Prismacolor pencils on white archival stock
© Paul Chenard 2009

Tragically, this well-liked driver was killed while racing a Ferrari 246 F1 at the 1958 German Grand on the Nürburgring. Hawthorn was so badly affected by the death of Collins, that he announced his retirement after taking the 1958 F1 World Drivers’ Championship.

Monday 19 April 2010

1971 McLaren M8F Team cars unpublished photo …

Jennifer Revson’s stories on her brother Peter’s 1971 Can-Am Championship-winning McLaren M8F has generated enormous interest and support from the world over. Many have also sent information that confirms Jennifer’s exposé.

Mr. Barry C. Smyth sent along a very interesting photo from back in the day. He was Gulf Oil Corporation's Motor Sports Sponsorship Public Relations representative until the company ceased all US racing involvement in 1973. After that he ran their various Corporate Advertising Programs.

Here is his note:


Per our conversation of 4/17/2010, attached is the B and W photo of the 1971 McLaren team shot at Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. As you can see your brother, Peter along with his team mate Denny Hulme are posed standing in their cars #7 and #5, respectively. Each car's mechanics stand behind their car. The Gulf Oil PR/McLaren Team coach is in the background.

This photo was taken at my request to be used as potential promotional material. We never used it. To the best of my knowledge this is the only copy.

As you can see, as mentioned in one of the recent disclaimer articles, there are marked differences between the cars. No. 7 has a much smaller air intake opening than no. 5. That could reflect the different driving styles of Peter and Denny. Also, you'll notice the air ducks at the rear quarters are different. No. 7 is more a scoop and no. 5 is an aircraft type "no drag" air intake (NACA duct).

The Edmonton event was 3rd to the last in the '71 CAN AM Series, Laguna Seca and Riverside the last respectively. The only changes to the cars in the last two races were slightly wider rear wheels.

Barry C. Smyth

Friday 16 April 2010

The McLaren M8F that never was ... follow-up!

More background from my friend Jennifer Revson.
Since reporting on Peter’s (Revson) replica McLaren M8F team car, I’ve received a windfall of support and information from all over the world. It’s as if an invitation to a party went out, and an army consisting of motoring journalists, historians, vintage racers, engineers, mechanics, car collectors and race enthusiasts showed up at my door, rang the bell, handed me lovely gifts and exclaimed: “Surprise!” Some were friends, others were friends of friends, but all were genuinely interested in helping me as much as they could. What began as a personal responsibility to straighten out the confusion and unseemly misrepresentation of one of my brother’s more important rides, has instantly transformed into a broader theme which I hope will benefit others.

Peter Revson in 1972 Paul Chenard Collection 

Among the tremendous amount of data that came to me, were close-up photographs identifying distinguishing features between Peter’s and Denny’s (Hulme) team cars, team cars and customer cars, and a fully documented ownership history, with relevant details, from the time the car left McLaren to the present.

Peter's McLaren M8F Painting by Hector Cademartori

The quickest way for a novice to tell Peter’s car from Denny’s, which I wish I’d remembered last summer at the Monterey Historic Races when the poseur emphatically declared his car to be the real deal, is by the shape of the air box. Peter’s car has a narrower opening with two round holes on either side, while Denny’s is wider and flows into a continuous wing shape. That in itself makes the replica team car a poor copy, since it’s air box favors Denny’s car not Peter’s. But, what really piqued my interest was seeing pictures of the noticeably different rivet sizes and patterns located on the rear bulkhead of the team cars, versus the customer cars. Team cars have pop rivets measuring 5/32” that are staggered 1” apart. Customer cars have 3/16” rivet holes staggered at 2” apart. Like I said, noticeably different. Another picture of interest showed the team’s stainless steel pickup points up front, measuring approximately 3 1/2” x 7” long, which the customer cars did not have.

Assuming the role of chief detective to eliminate this despicable hoax was all consuming, but extremely satisfying. On one especially triumphant day, l actually felt quite giddy. For a solid week, my Mac and I never left each other’s side, save for a quick trip to the store and back. By the eighth day, I’d gathered up all the previously disassociated puzzle pieces that had languished for decades, fitted them back together, and found that the most important people involved came out ahead. A splendid outcome I’d never have achieved without the many friends who came to my aid. My sincerest thanks to all of you for helping me preserve Peter’s Can-Am history.

Denny Hulme & Peter Revson Photo courtesy of Jennifer Revson

As for what appears to be a blatant case of fraud, I’ve notified the true owner of Peter’s Can-Am Championship McLaren M8F and will leave the rest to him. 

Jennifer Revson, sister and legal representative for the estate of the late Peter Revson

Saturday 10 April 2010

Legends of Riverside — An Event to Remember!

A story by my friend Rick Rucker
For the last three days, I have been at the "Legends of Riverside" film festival and get together. Ostensibly, as the name suggests, the avowed purpose was to bring together several drivers that raced at the long closed Riverside International Raceway, in Riverside, California.

Artist Rick Rucker

The booth where I was displaying my drawings was in the building across from the main venue, where all of the film presentations were going on. I made it over to the other side to eat (extremely good food) and to talk to some of the racers, but mostly stayed in my booth.

Portrait of Carroll Shelby © Rick Rucker

Saturday afternoon, we were suddenly inundated by people, streaming in the through the doors. I looked at the proposed itinerary, and saw that it was time for the autograph signing. The volunteers brought in two long tables, and placed them end to end. The idea was to have the people that wanted to have items autographed, walk down the table, stopping at each driver's "station" to get a signature. The caliber of drivers in attendance was stunning! Several won races, and championships, in more types of races than today's racers would ever consider attempting. I don't mean to slight anyone, but if you were to look in a book that listed famous racing drivers, most of them were at this event!

Ed Justice Jr. having an interview with Carroll Shelby

Carroll Shelby (the prime honoree) was the first signer in the line, and then other drivers sat down next to each other. So far, so good, but then they needed another table. There were too many drivers for the number of tables! Another table was brought in, and the same thing happened again, still more tables were brought in to fill the need for places that these driving legends could use to autograph personal mementos. Table after table was hurried into the room, such was the number of drivers.

Autograph-seekers lining up to meet their driver-heroes.

Just when it looked that the situation was under control, even more drivers arrived! And not just any drivers, but Dan Gurney and Parnelli Jones, and others! Every unused table in the place was pressed into service, and some that were earmarked for other uses were re-purposed also. I gave up my display booth table to use for a trophy presentation, so they would have one more table to use. When no more were available, the drivers began to sit on both sides of the tables, and that's how it went. Everyone laughed about it, and it went off fantastically!

From the chaos, came one of the most fun events of my life. I will never see so many of my heroes together again, I'm sure, I feel very lucky to have witnessed it!

I will remember this until I die!
© Rick Rucker 2010

Rick Rucker has a FREE newsletter that teaches how to draw cars at:
He lives with his wife in Southern California, and started going to sports car races in 1953.

Tuesday 6 April 2010

The McLaren M8F that never was …

I decided to post the following story from my friend Jennifer Revson.

Recently, while strolling with friends among the beautiful cars displayed at the Amelia Island Concours d’Élegance, we happened upon a replica of Peter’s (Revson’s) 1971 Can-Am Championship McLaren Team M8F, the same replica that I first saw at the 2009 Monterey Historic races. I turned to my friend, Don Devine, who owns Peter’s McLaren M20, and pole-winning Indy car, and asked why a continuation car, presented as the real one, would be allowed at such a prestigious event? Don’t they check? Don shook his head and said he didn’t know, while another friend, who was showing a car on the Concours said: “They don’t care. It’s all for show.” How disappointing, I thought.

1971 Can-Am Champion Peter Revson
Photo courtesy and © of Jennifer Revson

At the Monterey Historics in August 2009, when I first laid eyes on this wannabe M8F team car, I was told by the owners that it was indeed the real deal. Although it looked different than what I recalled of Peter’s car, I thought that at this renowned event, surely they’d have checked the car’s authenticity in order for it to be invited to participate. And, with that in mind, I put my speculative doubts momentarily aside in favor of being polite. In hindsight, though, I wish I’d been more reticent when asked to pose in the car for pictures. Minutes after leaving their garage, I met up with the first of many over the weekend, who confirmed the car was indeed a fake.

Back at Amelia Island, a former racecar driver was now in the cockpit, revving up the motor, waving and grandstanding to a sizable gathered crowd, posing for pictures with the owners. I couldn’t believe such codswallop! I was so disgusted, I went to a judging official standing nearby, introduced myself, and explained this was not an M8F McLaren Team car, and certainly not a car my brother Peter was ever in, and asked if he would please tell whomever would be judging the car that it was a re-creation. He said he would. At the same time, Don walked over to speak to the owner. When he returned to relate the unbecoming comments, I caught the owner’s wife telling the inquiring judging official something so contemptible, my ears nearly caught on fire. With that, I marched over to the owner to ask what the hell he thought he was doing. Staying true to form, his reply reflected his character. So much for honoring the memory of Peter Revson, one of America’s foremost drivers and his championship winning car.

Peter Revson's winning McLaren M8F
Photo courtesy and © of Larry Fulhorst

The shameful part is that the owner is not only deceptively trading on my brother’s fame in order to be accepted into an elite group of collectors and race enthusiasts, but is also passing a continuation car off as legit while misusing my brother’s name for profit.

There’s a place for “Tribute cars” and re-creations in vintage racing, but let’s maintain respect for the authentic team cars and drivers who made racing history. You can verify that this is a replica Commander Motors-built car, and see its owner history at: World Sports Racing Prototypes — McLaren Can-Am Chassis Numbers ( Scroll halfway down the page, just past the M8FP chart.

Imitation is not always flattering …

Jennifer Revson,
sister and legal representative of the estate of the late Peter Revson

PS There is more on this in The Garage Blog.