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All Time Star – Mercedes Benz W198 300 SL

Firstly I will start with an apology for not being able to keep “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” going as a daily blog, unfortunately activities that are fun are rarely financially viable and in order to maintain some financial liquidity I took a job back in October.

Mercedes Benz 300 SL, Goodwood Festival of Speed

While I love the job, driving an ambulance for the transplant services and it is not particularly demanding of my time, it is all hours which means my body clock rarely knows if it is day or night, so for the foreseeable future the blog will carry on as and when.

Mercedes Benz 300 SL, Goodwood Festival of Speed

Today’s featured Fire Department Red Mercedes Benz 300 SL Roadster was first registered in January 1962.

Mercedes Benz 300 SL, Goodwood Festival of Speed

The car has covered just 75kms since it’s restoration and is now offered for sale by All Time Stars.

Mercedes Benz 300 SL, Goodwood Festival of Speed

All Time Stars is a commercial arm of the official Mercedes Benz museum in Stuttgart that offers classic Mercedes Benz models for sale.

Mercedes Benz 300 SL, Goodwood Festival of Speed

After a 160 point check the vehicles offered are divided into Drovers, Collectors and Concours categories, the 300 SL seen here at Goodwood Festival of Speed was being offered for €1.9 million, but has yet to appear on the All Time Stars website.

Thanks for joining me on toady’s edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me next time when I’ll be looking at a Delage. Don’t forget to come back now !


C’est Ma Poisse ! – Ballot Racing Car

In 1905 former naval officer Gabriel Ernest Maurice Ballot, referred to down the ages as Ernest and or Maurice, with his brother Albert founded the company bearing their name in Paris to manufacture marine and industrial engines.

Six years later a group led by Adolphe Clément bought the company keeping Ernest as a senior employee with a small number of shares.

Ballot Racing Car, Goodwood Festival Of Speed,

Following the cessation of the 1914 – 18 global hostilities, on the 11th of November, the 1914 Indy 500 winner René Thomas set about reviving his racing career and the fortunes of the French automobile industry by trying unsuccessfully to find a manufacturer to build a team of new cars to compete in the 1919 Indy 500.

Six weeks after Armistice Day René presented his idea’s to Ernest, who up until then had only been engaged in the manufacture of engines, never complete cars, but he was so enthused that by the end of December 24th he had persuaded the board of Ballot to go ahead with the project and signed René as lead driver.

Ballot Racing Car, Goodwood Festival Of Speed,

With just 120 days in which to design, build and test the cars before being shipped to the United States on the 26th of April, Ernest spent the next two days finding new premises from which his racing team led by former Peugeot designer Ernst Henry and assistant Fernand Marie Vadier could work in secret.

On December 27th the Henry, Vadier and three draughtsmen began work which allegedly would see no man leave the building except to take meals for two months.

Ballot Racing Car, Goodwood Festival Of Speed,

Work started to fall behind schedule when the team could not secure a reliable supplier of crankshafts, leaving Ballot no option but to forge and heat treat it’s own, but on April 7th the first Ballot car ever built was complete with only the carburetor, magneto and wheels sourced from outside suppliers.

The French rail network was still so unreliable that the four crated racing cars left the Ballot factory on April 24th carried on the back of four trucks followed by a spare fifth truck with a couple of mechanics to ensure the team arrived at Le Havre on April 26th in time for the departure of the liner Savoie.

Ballot Racing Car, Goodwood Festival Of Speed,

Powered by 140hp straight eight engines with double over head cam shafts the Ballots were quick once the problem of over gearing had been sorted by fitting smaller diameter American sourced wheels.

René was the fastest qualifier with a speed of 104.700 mph and started from pole with the remaining team cars starting 6th driven by Paul Balbot, 9th driven by Albert Guyot and 13th driven by Louis Wagner.

Ballot Racing Car, Goodwood Festival Of Speed,

44 laps into the race a wheel broke on Louis Wagner’s car leading to a crash from which Louis emerged unscathed and sufficiently composed to take over from Albert Guyot whose hands were raw from blisters caused by the rough brick surface.

20 laps later Jean Chassagne who had taken over today’s featured chassis #1003 from Paul Balbot also crashed after a wheel collapsed again with out serious injury, but leaving the remaining two cars no choice but to pit for frequent wheel checks.

Louis eventually crossed the line in forth place with team leader René 11th, ironically the winning car driven by Howdy Wilcox was an older 1914 Peugeot another Ernst Henry design.

After receiving the telegram in Paris informing him of the teams misfortune Ernest sat in silence for a while before tossing them aside and growling “C’est ma poisse!” – It’s my bad luck.

After the race owners of #1003 included Centric Supercharger founder Christopher Shorrock and Anthony Heal in the UK, then D. Cameron Peck in Chicago, Briggs Cunningham and finally the Collier Collection.

Thanks for joining me on this “C’est Ma Poisse !” edition of “Gettin a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again for Mercedes Monday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !

14/07/16 Thanks to Tim Murray and others at The Nostalgia Forum I have corrected the names Édouard and Maurice that originally appeared in this article to Gabriel Ernest Maurice and Albert.


He Who Yells Loudest – Peugeot EX5/L45

Peugeot built four new EX5 cars to compete in the 1914 French Grand Prix that mandated a maximum engine capacity of 4.5 litres / 274 cui and maximum weight of 1,100 kgs / 2,425 lbs.

As with Ernst Henry’s previous 1912 L76 and 1913 L3 Grand Prix winning engine designs the 1914 L45 featured twin overhead cam shafts, four valves per cylinder and with the aid of a Claudel Carburettor it produced 112hp at just 2,800 rpm, unlike it’s predecessors the EX5 had brakes on all four wheels.

Peugeot L45, Goodwood, Festival Of Speed,

In the race Georges Boillot drove the wheels off his EX5 to try and stay in touch with early Mercedes leader Max Sailer and continued to do so for the next 12 laps, after the Rookie Sailer retired from the lead at 1/4 distance.

Two laps from the end the Mercedes of Christian Lautenschlager passed Georges to lead an eventual Mercedes 1, 2, 3, finish, leaving Boillot to retire with a broken engine and his team mate Jules Goux to finish 4th ahead of the Sunbeam driven by Dario Resta a third EX5 driven by Victor Rigal finished 7th while the fourth EX5 was retained as a spare.

Peugeot L45, Goodwood, Festival Of Speed,

I have been unable to establish what role today’s featured car played in the 1914 French Grand Prix but what is certain is that it was one of a batch of three EX5’s sent to the United States in October 1915 some months after the fourth EX5 had been sent over for Dario Resta to drive.

The Texan lumber family Lutcher Brown appears to have bought today’s featured EX5 for Ralph Mulford to race in the 1916 Indy 500 in which he started 20th and finished 3rd, two spots behind Dario Resta’s winning EX5.

Peugeot L45, Goodwood, Festival Of Speed,

Art Klein who became head of transportation at Warner Brothers had also become the owner of this car by 1948 and he sold it to Lindley Bothwell in time for Lindley to enter it in the 1949 Indy 500 when it was 35 years old !

With the latest tyres fitted Lindley passed his rookie test and recorded a best time of around 103 mph when the qualifying times for the 33 starters in the race ranged from over 125 mph to over 132 mph.

Peugeot L45, Goodwood, Festival Of Speed,

Lindley who over time was a “Yell King” cheerleader at college football matches and pioneer of the use of flashcards for spectators, turned down the opportunity to become a professional baseball player to continue his studies, with three degrees he went on to become one of the top ten citrus growers in the US and owner of one of the biggest private collections of old automobiles that included the last Tzar of Russia’s Rolls Royce and a King George V Daimler.

He was also responsible for setting the California vintage auto racing movement in motion when he organised the 1950 retrospective Vanderbuilt Cup in Santa Monica.

Peugeot L45, Goodwood, Festival Of Speed,

Somewhere along the line Lindley appears to have become convinced Art Klein acquired today’s featured EX5 from Dario Resta.

It seems more likely that the Resta EX5 which won at Indy in 1916, ended up being either broken up and or driven by Ray Howard in the 1919 Indy 500 that coincidentally was won by Howdy Wilcox also driving one of the four EX5’s.

The Bothwell family who still own today’s featured EX5 claim to have evidence to back Lindley’s belief that today’s featured EX5, which incidentally is also incorrectly labelled by the Bothwells as a 1913 car, was the 1916 Indy winner, but this has never been made public and until it does it remains unlikely that the King of Yell and his family will win this particular disagreement over this cars exact provenance.

My thanks to Bitburgs finest auto historian Micheal Fines and his colleagues who have helped establish the provenance of today’s featured EX5 at The Nostalgia Forum and on the Track Forum.

Thanks for joining me on this “He Who Yells Loudest” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow for Mercedes Monday. Don’t forget to come back now !


Unable To See Anyway – Marmon Wasp #199753

Howard Marmon founded the Marmon Motor Company which was owned by Nordyke Marmon & Company of Indianapolis, Indiana in 1902.

By 1909, the year Indianapolis Motor Speedway, IMS, held it’s first events, Marmon were manufacturing a 32hp 270 cui four cylinder Model 32.

I believe Bruce Keen led a trio of such cars to 3rd, 4th and 5th place finishes in the 1909 300 mile Wheeler-Schebler Trophy Race that was called after 235 miles, when the track began to break up and Bruce had struck a pot hole and struck a bridge support that gave his mechanician James Schiller a fractured skull.

Marmon Wasp, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

Jackson driver Leigh Lynch was running 14 laps clear of the Marmons when the race was called, though the trophy was withheld and victory never officially declared out of respect for the two spectators and mechanician Claude Kellum who were killed in an earlier accident involving Charlie Merz’s #10 National.

Over the winter IMS repaved it’s fragile track surface with 3.2 million 10 lb Indiana bricks, earning the venue it’s Brickyard nick name and the performance of the four cylinder Marmons improved such that Ray Haroun won the now 200 mile 1910 Wheeler-Schebler race in his #33 Marmon and became the first official winner of the Tiffany designed Trophy.

During the same winter of 1909/10 founder and chief engineer Howard Marmon working with Ray Harroun, also a mechanical engineer known as “The Little Professor”, developed two Model 32 chassis into open wheel race cars for the 1910 AAA season for races permitting non stock vehicles.

Marmon Wasp, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

On today’s featured car, which became known as the Marmon Wasp, built to compete in the under 450 cui open class two extra cylinders were added to the Model 32 four cylinder engine bring it’s capacity up to 447 cui / 7,325 cc.

I suspect the lesser known and sleeker Marmon Yellow Jacket was built to compete in the under 300 cui open class, Ray won the 1910 Remy Brassard Trophy for such cars at Indy, but otherwise I know next to nothing about it other than it first appeared being tested in March 1910, if you know anything about this car please do not hesitate to chime in below.

Two days after his victory in the Wheeler-Schebler Trophy and on the same day as his Remy Brassard win, while testing the #32 Wasp at Indianapolis a tyre blew entering the north east turn which sent Ray and the Wasp into the wall at a reported 78 miles an hour.

Marmon Wasp, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

The damage looked worse than it was and in June 1910 the Marmon concern were reported as being “much elated” at how easily the Wasp was repaired, I believe Ray drove it to victory in three open class races at the opening meeting at Churchill Downs, otherwise known as the home of the Kentucky Derby, in 1910.

During the course of 1910 Ray also won the 200 mile race at Atlanta, and 100 mile race at Playa del Rey in Los Angeles and at the end of the year Chris G. Sinsabaugh, an editor at Motor Age named Ray as de facto National Champion based on merit and Ray’s race performances, this was not a title recognised by the AAA contest board who did not keep any score of points for a championship at that time.

In 1911 IMS switched from running a multi weekend multi race strategy to running a single race every year on Decoration Day, known as Memorial Day since 1967, weekend called the International 500-Mile Sweepstakes or Indy 500 that these days is marketed with the strap line “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing”.

Marmon Wasp, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

For the first running of the Indy 500 the Wheeler-Schebler Trophy was replaced by the Borg Warner trophy and the race was open to cars with a maximum engine capacity of 600 cui / 9832 cc that competed for $25,000 in prize money with $10,000 going to the winner.

Ray Harroun had wanted to stop driving race cars at the end of 1910, but was persuaded by Marmon to drive the Wasp one more time, he said he had been offered a dozen other drives for the inaugural Indy 500 and chose the Wasp, that had one of the smallest engines of any car in the race, only because he had never opened it up to it’s maximum potential in 1910 and that he was knew he was not experimenting with anything untried.

Forty cars met the 75 mph qualifying speed required from a flying start along a 1/4 mile distance of the front straight and Ray’s 28th starting position was determined, as were all the others, by the order the entries, of the qualifiers were, received in.

Marmon Wasp, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

During the month of practice for the 500 The Little Professor determined that by running at as close to 75 mph laps as possible his reduced tyre wear would give him a race winning advantage over the whole race distance.

Before the race objections from his fellow competitors, to his running without a riding mechanician who could warn him of vehicles approaching from behind, saw Ray fit a 3″ by 8″ mirror over the cockpit cowling so that he could see his competitors.

Running his 75 mph laps as planned Ray handed the Wasp, running in second place to the #28 FIAT driven by David Bruce – Brown, over to his relief driver 22 year old Cyrus Patschke on lap 64.

Marmon Wasp, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

Cyrus was instructed to follow the #28 FIAT for 35 laps before coming in to hand the Wasp back over to Ray, with Ray back behind the wheel David’s relentless pace eventually led to a blow out which handed the lead and eventual victory to Ray in the #32 Wasp.

After changing just four Firestone tyres, three of them offside rears, Ray was credited with a total race time of 6 hours, 42 minutes 8 seconds and an average speed of 74.602 miles per hour, despite an official timing wire being broken during a mid race accident meaning that laps 138 through 176 were not officially recorded !

Ralph Mulford driving a Lozier had changed 14 tyres during the race, losing an estimated 14 mins in the pits, on his way to a second place finish.

Marmon Wasp, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

After the race 32 year old Ray announced that 500 miles was “too long a race for one man” and that he was retiring permanently because racing was “too dangerous”.

Ray Harroun, still second in the all time IMS winners list with eight victories recorded between 1905 and 1911, stayed retired from the drivers seat and initially continued working for Marmon until switching to Maxwell, he then worked for the company he founded bearing his own name from 1917 to 1922 before joining Lincoln Products in 1927, he retired from the motor industry aged 79 and passed away a week after his 89th birthday in 1968.

Ray is seen in Ed Arnaudin’s photo below reunited with the Wasp for the 50th anniversary Indy 500 celebrations in 1961, he later admitted that the vibrations caused by the brick surface of the track ensured he “could not see anything anyway” in his innovative rear view mirror.

Marmon Wasp, Ray Harroun, Indianapolis Motor Speedway,

Cyrus Patschke also had a spell at the wheel of the 5th placed Joe Dawson #31 Marmon during the 1911 Indy 500, but never raced at Indy again.

Joe Dawson became the second Indy 500 winner driving for another Indianapolis manufacturer National in 1912.

The Marmon Wasp was kept by Marmon until the 1950’s when it was acquired by the IMS museum and restored by the museum staff AJ Fairbairn, Wilhelm “Bill” Spoerle and Barney Wimmer in 1989.

During the Indy 500 centenary celebrations in May 2011 the Wasp was driven by 1963 Indy winner Parnelli Jones and threw a rod through the block, a botched hasty repair made the problem worse and when the photo’s at Goodwood Festival of Speed were taken in June 2011 the car was not a runner, repairs were effected in 2012 that restored the car to running condition.

Marmon kept manufacturing cars culminating in the Worlds Most Advanced Car until going into receivership in 1933, Jeep designer Arthur William Sidney Herrington rescued the name, which still operates as Marmon Herrington and Marmon Group, initially for various commercial and military vehicle projects but now focuses on axle manufacture and the conversion of vehicles to all wheel drive.

My thanks to Steve Arnaudin for kindly scanning and forwarding the photograph taken at Indy in 1961 that was taken by his late father Ed Arnaudin.

Thanks for joining me on this “Unable To See Anyway” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again for Mercedes Monday tomorrow.


Triple Feature Hollywood Star – Delage D8 120 Chapron Cabriolet

Today’s featured Delage D8 120 sits on the same Delahaye sourced chassis and is mechanically similar to the Delage D8 120 Letourneur & Marchand Aerosport Coupé” I looked at last week.

Delage D8 120 Chapron Cabriolet, Goodwood Festival Of Speed,

However once complete the chassis was sent to the Henri Chapron carrosserie for it’s magnificent Cabriolet body to be fitted in 1939.

Delage D8 120 Chapron Cabriolet, Goodwood Festival Of Speed,

An unfortunate French General is said to have shipped the car to the United States, before being denied access to the country because of his alleged Nazi sympathies in 1946.

Delage D8 120 Chapron Cabriolet, Goodwood Festival Of Speed,

During the 1950’s this car belonged to the Warner Bros Studio in Hollywood and it stared in three films, when it was still painted it’s original Ocean Blue a shade of green with a white roof; Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye with James Cagney in 1950, An American in Paris with Gene Kelly in 1951 and finally Carmen Jones with Harry Belafonte in 1954.

Delage D8 120 Chapron Cabriolet, Goodwood Festival Of Speed,

The Delage seen in these photograph’s at the Goodwood Festival of Speed was acquired, restored and painted Burgundy for it’s current owner Peter Mullins in the 1980’s, when not on tour the car is to be found at the Mullins Museum in Oxnard, California.

Thanks for joining me on this “Triple Feature Hollywood Star” edition of “Gettin’ a little psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I will be going testing at Donington Park. Don’t forget to come back now !


GP Winning Record Breaker – Delage 15 S8

In 1925 the Association Internationale des Automobile Clubs Reconnus (AIACR), an international association of motor clubs founded in 1904, organised the first World Manufacturers’ Championship with four qualifying events, the Indianapolis 500, Belgian Grand Prix at Spa, French Grand Prix at Montlhéry and Italian Grand Prix run at Monza.

For the 1925 season Delage were running 2LCV V12 2 litre / 122 cui powered cars designed by Charles Planchon who after the cars initial failure in 1923 was replaced by Albert Lory who added twin superchargers and developed sufficiently for Robert Benoist and Louis Wagner to finish first and second in the 1925 French Grand Prix.

Delage 15 S8, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

The inaugural World Manufacturers’ Championship was claimed by Alfa Romeo with wins for Antonio Ascari and Gastone Brilli-Peri in Belgium and Italy respectively, both driving Alfa Romeo P2’s.

For 1926 the rules for the second World Manufacturers’ Championship mandated a down size to 1500 cc / 91.5 cui engine’s for which Albert Lory designed the 170hp twin supercharged 15 S8 with a straight 8 engine and five speed gearbox.

Delage 15 S8, Brooklands Double Twelve

Bugatti won the 1926 championship, Jules Goux winning the French Grand Prix and Spanish Grand Prix with Louis Charavel also driving a Type 39A to victory in Italy.

A Delage 15 S8 driven by Robert Sénéchal shared with Louis Chiron won the first Royal Automobile Club Grand Prix run at Brooklands in 1926.

Delage 15 S8, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

For 1927 Delage entered their 15 S8 models modified to run with a single super charger in all four European rounds of the World Manufacturers’ Championship.

Delage won all four races to secure what turned out to be the last World Manufacturers’ Championship to be awarded by the AIACR.

Delage 15 S8, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

Remarkably Robert Benoist was at the wheel of the winning car in France, Spain, Italy and finally at Brooklands, where he drove today’s featured chassis No.2 to victory lane.

By the end of 1927 Delage was virtually bankrupt and the company had to re focus it’s attention on building road cars and abandon racing in a works capacity.

Delage 15 S8, Brooklands Double Twelve

In 1936 a young Richard Seaman made a name for himslef driving a carefully rebuilt 10 year old 15 D8 to numerous victories over new models from ERA and Maserati.

Chassis No.2 seen here was bought by Malcolm Campbell in 1929 who sold it on to W B ‘Bummer’ Scott who set Class F 24 Hour World Record and 200 Mile World Records respectively at Montlhéry in 1931 and Brooklands in 1933.

Delage 15 S8, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

Prince Chula of Siam, cousin and entrant of “B Bira” was the next owner of the car from 1936 to 1939, hoping to emulate the fortunes of Richard Seaman the White Mouse Racing attempted an ultimately unsuccessful modernisation.

Alan V Burnard acquired No.2 in 1964 and was responsible for restoring it to it’s current condition having temporarily fitted an ERA engine and ENV pre selector gearbox.

After sourcing and rebuilding a correct type 15 S8 the ERA engine was replaced but the ENV gearbox remained, Alan Burnard generously bequeathed No.2 to the Brooklands Museum, where the car is seen in the 2nd and 5th photographs, upon his death in 2012.

Thanks for joining me on this “GP Winning Record Breaking” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Lunar Asparagus – Abarth 1500 Biposto

In 1951 Nuccio Bertone gave former student in aeronautical engineering and ex sapper, combat engineer, returned from Tobruck via internment in India, Franco Scaglione his big break by hiring him as an automotive stylist.

Abarth 1500 Biposto, Goodwood, Festival of Speed

Franco’s first job was to design a headline grabbing body on an Abarth chassis #214-01 for Carlo Abarth to promote his business.

Abarth 1500 Biposto, Goodwood, Festival of Speed

Chassis #214-01 is powered by a FIAT 1400 four cylinder engine, apparently inherited from the failed Cistilia organisation in lieu of severance pay, bored out to 1500 cc / 91.5 cui and fitted with an Abarth intake manifold that accommodates a pair of Weber carburetors to produce 75 hp.

Abarth 1500 Biposto, Goodwood, Festival of Speed

The experimental Abarth 1500 Biposto was taken to the 1952 Turin Shown where it’s public debut was a sensation on the FIAT stand, the car also caught the eye of Packard’s Engineering Vice President Bill Graves and Chief Designer Edward Macauley who bought the Abarth which they saw as worthy of study in an effort to revitalise sales of their own flagging brand.

Abarth 1500 Biposto, Goodwood, Festival of Speed

Later in 1952 Fortune magazine sent it’s associate editor Richard Austin Smith to visit Packard for a profile on it’s new President James C. Nance who had been head hunted from GE Hotpoint, Smith’s visit coincided with the Abarth’s arrival and display to senior Packard management under a photo in the November 1952 issue of Fortune Smith wrote the caption “Its value is now largely ornamental; under Nance, Packard styling will stick to lines that are ‘architecturally correct,’ forgo the lunar asparagus.”

Abarth 1500 Biposto, Goodwood, Festival of Speed

To be fair the lunar asparagus was not that different in several aspects to the contemporary Starlight coupé built by Studebaker a company Packard would acquire in 1954, during his visit Smith suggested various strap lines for Packard products which were taken up by the company and the following July Packard President Nance, who had no further use for it, gave the Abarth to Smith as payment in kind.

Abarth 1500 Biposto, Goodwood, Festival of Speed

Smith drove the car sparingly and retired to Groton, Connecticut where the car sat unused in a garage from 1977 until his death in 2003.

Thanks for joining me on this “Lunar Asparagus” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !