Motor Racing in Art

 

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Introduction

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“Auto racing began five minutes after the second car was built.” Henry Ford

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Virtually as soon as automobiles took to the roads, they have been raced in competition. And as soon as they were matched one against the other, on public roads at first, artists have sought to portray the spectacle in all its power and glory, dust and disaster.
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There’s a few sample images below which will hopefully whet your appetite. Further pages will follow – pages dedicated to particular artists, to particular decades, to particular drivers, to particular marques and so on. These subsequent pages will be linked at the foot of this introduction, with an additional link on the Latest News front page when each new part is published.
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Artists will be credited by name in every case. Many of the artists are long dead, their names now either famous, almost forgotten or somewhere inbetween. But many are alive and well and producing wonderful works of art. I hope that you will be prompted to seek them out and buy the odd picture or two! Where possible, I will include the names of their websites on artist-dedicated pages. And there are, of course, many retailers of both prints and originals.
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Oh, and just a word of explanation as to why I’m ending at about 1960. It’s a purely personal thing, I’m afraid, but some of you at least may agree. The serious advent of rear-engined grand prix cars at this time, I feel, increasingly resulted in broadly similar looking cars, with the drivers becoming significantly less visible and then sponsor advertising began to mask the sleek lines of the cars. For me, when it comes to pictures, this all lessens the excitement. That said, you will be seeing a few important pictures from the 1960s – the likes of Jim Clark and Graham Hill will never be forgotten.
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A few samples below . . . and don’t forget – click on each thumbnail for the BIG picture.

And then scroll down for links to each part of the continuing story.

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The 1902 Gordon Bennett Cup Race, from Paris to Innsbruck, run in
conjunction with the Paris to Vienna Race. Henri Fournier’s Mors leading the
Panhard of Farman round a tight right-hander.
By Carlo Demand (1921-2000).

 

 

The aero-engined V12 Sunbeam of 18.3 litres made famous by Kenelm Lee Guinness at Brooklands in May 1922, on its way to setting three records; the Brooklands lap record at 123.3mph, the World Land Speed Record over a mile at 129.17mph and also over a kilometre at 133.75mph. This was the first British car to gain the land speed record and also the last land speed record to be set on the Brooklands track.
By Frederick Gordon Crosby (1895-1943).

 

“Short Lived Glory”. Guy Moll, in his Alfa Romeo P3 # 20, won at Monaco in 1934, in his first race for Scuderia Ferrari. Here, he follows René Dreyfus in a Bugatti type 59 # 8 and Philippe “Phi-Phi” Étancelin driving a Maserati 8CM # 14. The prodigiously talented young Algerian driver tragically died later in the year during the Coppa Acerbo, aged 24.
By Michael Turner (1934-).

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“Blower vs. SSK”. Le Mans in 1930 – the Blower Bentley of Dr. Dudley Benjafield and Giulio Ramponi, the ace Italian engineer, with the Mercedes SSK of Caracciola and Werner.
By Lionel Rouse (1913-1986).

 

 

 

Le Mans, 1953. The second placed Jaguar C-Type of Stirling Moss and Peter Walker exits the Esses and lines up for Tertre Rouge. Following is the Levegh/Pozzi Talbot Lago T26 GS as they pass the Alfa Romeo 6C/3000CM of Sanesi/Carini.
By Nicholas Watts (1947-).

 

 

And back to the early days for one of my favourites. “Setting a Furious Pace”. George Robertson and mechanician Glen Ethridge on the 1906 Locomobile “Old 16” rounding the Bull’s Head Turn, on the way to bringing home America’s first international racing win on October 24th, 1908, in the fourth Vanderbilt Cup Race. This was held at the new Motor Parkway on Long Island, New York.
By Peter Helck (1893-1988).

 

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From a Burbler; “Love the racing artwork that you have put on the web, in many ways much better than a photo in capturing the movement. I wish I could paint like that.”  We probably all do!  Thanks Max. The ability of a talented, skilled artist to portray speed is just one of the reasons why these pictures are, perhaps, more exciting than photographs. The artist can also choose an extreme viewpoint, a particular incident during a race, the precise moment of drama – in other words, all the thrills!

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~   Links to Subsequent Pages   ~

Part One – The Golden Age

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