Eoin Young's Collector's Column no. 17
They say that a personal scrapbook, like a diary, is a window in the soul of the person who put it together. I love finding motor racing scrapbooks because you can put yourself into the mind of the person who put together all those years ago. At Donington this year I found a scrapbook from the mid fifties with photos clipped from magazines titled by the enthusiast. The first shows Stirling slipstreaming Bonetto in a Maserati. "Moss's Cooper-Alta extremely fast but inferior to Italian machines in cornering and braking.!"
Reminds me of a page in my own scrapbook where I had taken a photograph of Bruce McLaren with his 1750cc Cooper at our local hillclimb in New Zealand in 1957. I had the 1950s equivalent of a Box Brownie and the little print is sepia now. I still cringe to see that I had titled it 'Bruce MacLaren and his father' - spelling his name wrong the first time I wrote it down! Five years later I would become his first employee and two years later a founder director of the first McLaren company.
But I digress. There is a double spread devoted to Le Mans in 1953 with a photograph of Duncan Hamilton climbing from the C-Type Jaguar at pit-stop, titled 'The eventual winner of 1953 "Coronation" le Mans. A Jaguar driven by Tony Rolt and Duncan Hamilton at record speed.!
Our man was obviously a fan in the 1950s and his had his obvious favourites. Beside photographs of the little Osca that Stirling Moss drove to win at Sebring, he has written 'Remarks: Obviously brilliant driving - in fact to coin a phrase I was amazed a car so small to win outright. Good luck forever Stirling.! He has titled another clipped photo "Big Head Hawthorn in the Thin Wall Special Ferrari." No doubt which camp our man was in, obviously.
Beside clips of the Easter Monday Goodwood he has written "Event slightly marred by objection by Roy Salvadori, claiming he had been baulked by Ken Wharton in the 1953 BRM - Objection over-ruled however, and Ken Wharton was declared a very popular winner. Exciting racing in every event. Stirling Moss in one event only and only managed 7th. Met John Heath in the paddock and he was as usual very, very polite and kind. Baron De Graff unable to keep engagement also as world champion Alberto Ascari, who was stopped by driving by Lancia - understandable I suppose.!
Pages of clips and personal comments and a real stroll down memory lane.
The Eddie Hall Photo Album Mystery
I came across a distinctive photograph by accident last year and it took some in-depth detective work before I figured out who had put it together. I bought it from the colourful Spencer Elton at Prescott hillclimb and then put my deerstalker on to do a Sherlock Holmes on the identity. What caught my eye was the signed and dedicated photograph of E.R. (Eddie) Hall in his TT Bentley in the 1930s. There were family snapshots, photos of Bentleys on test at Montlhery and professional photographs of the Supermarine S6 Schneider Trophy seaplanes which used the Rolls-Royce 'R' engine and a shot of record-breaking boat, Miss England II which was powered by two RR 'R' engines. Another action photograph showed Hall apparently during practice for the TT with a passenger beside him and a racing MG following.
So who could he be, this man who was obviously on the 'inside'? Who had the clout for Eddie to offer him a tour of the course during practice! The clue had to come in Eddie Hall's hand-written dedication but I couldn't read it. Eddie's handwriting was about as indecipherable as mine. I knew him quite well, having met him at the 50th anniversary of the first TT races on the old Ards course in 1978. He and his wife Joan, who acted as his pit-manager - she was passenger in long races like the Mille Miglia! - had an apartment at Monaco just up from the track from Roy Salvadori's which is seven floors above the grid and where we watch these days. When the Halls were in residence we watched from the windows of their front room, among all the car models and the memorabilia. On one occasion, Eddie swept everyone else out of the room with his walking stick announcing that the viewing area was for the 'British Press'!
I remember taking Denis Jenkinson up to Eddie's apartment and when he saw the big model of the Hall TT Bentley in a glass case, he took a step backward and said "Cor -- ashtray scale!" I didn't know what he was on about until the diminutive doyen explained that in the 1930s, model-makers used the small tyres on rubber company promotional ashtrays - and scaled the model on the size of the tyres! That was the weekend when we went out to dinner with Eddie and Joan and he was telling us how he hated having a co-driver. At Le Mans in 1950 when he cobbled a perfectly awful hardtop on to the elegant old 1930s TT Bentley, he refused to get out of the car during pit stops even though his co-driver was suited and booted and ready to take over. Jenks, who had masterminded the Mille Miglia with Stirling Moss in 1955, was curious to know about Eddie's toilet arrangements if he never left the cockpit for 24 hours (he finished 8th as the only driver ever to complete Le Mans single-handed). Eddie beamed at Jenks. "Green overalls, old boy!" As though that explained everything.which I suppose it did. Jenks told how he and Stirling had decided on their Mille Miglia recce that they would wait until the Rome stop, basically half distance, before they would have a pee. "There wasn't anyone around when we made the recce but when we arrived in the race there were grandstands full of people and we didn't dare!"
There I go, digressing
again. I keep doing it. Back to the photo album. Eddie's dedication
looked as though it might have been to Ray but I couldn't think who 'Ray'
might have been in the context of the Bentleys and Rolls-Royces. I supposed
it could have been Raymond Mays but Eddie was never that taken with Mays
- and Mays never had such a direct connection with Rolls-Royce. Looking again,
perhaps it was Rm but whatever did that mean?
I am always impressed when I find old motoring books with good dustwrappers. In fact I maintain that a good dustwrapper on an early book can double its price. Thus it was when I discovered Motor Rambles Through France written by Frank C. Rimington with illustrations by his wife and published in 1925 with an incredibly good dustwrapper. The first part covered from the Riviera to Dieppe and the second from Boulogne to the Riviera. In the twenties it seemed to be regarded as infra dig to actually mention the name of the car you travelled in, almost as though it would be regarded as common. Rimington probably thought it was because he did his motoring with a chauffeur. The only clue in these early books is usually to be gained from the photographs in case one showed the car, almost by mistake. I started to read and it became apparent we weren't going to find the name of the car. At one point Mr Rimington writes "In motoring as we all learn, it is a case of l'homme propose et la machine dispose, and when we had proceeded only a few kilometres our car thought it advisable to remind us of that fact. Fortunately it was considerate enough to do so in the neighbourhood of a little hotel commanding a delightful seascape, where, in the open air and in the perfume of flowers, we were able to lunch on excellent if simple fare, while my chauffeur struggled with the refractory machine.
"On the car relenting we managed to progress as far as Nice, but there it jibbed so obstinately that it was necessary to summon a mechanic from the garage from which only the previous day it had emerged after what was outrageously claimed to have been a complete overhaul." So nothing changes.
The 1950s scrapbook is for sale at £50. The Rowbotham album sold for £1,500 - but don't tell Spencer! "Motor Rambles Through France" is a wonderful period read for £100 before you add it to the special section of your library reserved for valuable tomes. In fact if the Monaco Grand Prix is still the star in your motor racing crown, it's a must-have to read and get the flavour of the age around the time when they were thinking about having a motor race.
I will be writing these disconnected jottings on an irregular basis. I should call it Dealer's Digressions.
To read previous columns click on the links below:
Eoin Young is a
who left a bank job to join Bruce McLaren and help set up his racing
More or less. He arrived in the UK in 1961 as a freelance journalist,
the Formula Junior season with Denny Hulme, joined McLaren in 1962.
director of team. Established Motormedia 1966. Started weekly "Autocar" diary
page in 1967 -- it ran until 1998. Covered CanAm, Indy and GP series.
In 1979 established as a dealer in rare motoring and motor racing books
and ephemera. Still trading with regular lists. Autobiography "It
Beats Working" published in 1996. with its sequel "It Still beats
in 2003. After more than three decades based in the UK he has now returned
to his native New Zealand.
The stock of
books and ephemera is constantly changing.
here to view the current catalogue.