Here's some really good video of the 1952 Grand Prix of Watkins Glen. The first half of the video is for the Queen Catherine Cup for small displacement cars. The last half of the video is from the infamous Grand Prix race that features several Allards. You will recall that this is the race where Fred Wacker accidentally hit a young boy that was standing too close to the course. This video includes footage of the cars stationary after the race was stopped.
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Does this cover shot from the September 1952 issue of Auto Sport Review look familiar to you? If it does, that's because a cropped version of the same photo was used on the January 1956 cover of Sports Cars Illustrated!
Elkhart Lake, WI...home to some of the hottest sports car racing in the Midwest. First on the open roads of Elkhart Lake from 1950 to 1952 and then migrating to Road America, a purpose built race track in 1955. The track, nestled in the hills between Milwaukee and Green Bay, is known as one of the most challenging and beautiful tracks in North America...oh, and they serve Bratwurst! This September 18-20, Allard will be the featured marque at the VSCDA Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival. Andy Picariello (event organizer extraordinaire) from the Allard Owners Club reports that over twenty Allard's could be there, with at least six racing. A number of notable cars should be in attendance, including Fred Wacker's 8 Ball and Carroll Shelby's J2X.
If you are interested in racing, please click here to email Andy, he will send you the racing forms separately.
If you are interested in attending with your Allard for display and touring, please click here and fill out the forms and mail them back to Andy with a check made out to the VSCDA. The base entry is $115 plus $60 if you are attending with a partner. This will cover the track entry for the weekend and track parking for your Allard, the Friday night dinner and car display, the Saturday road course re-enactment and street show, track touring, Sunday track parade lap, and event poster. For the Saturday night dinner, Allard attendees will be seated together for this event. If you wish to attend, add $40 per person. If you wish to have the track tour with your Allard on both days, add an additional $40.
If you plan to attend without your Allard, the package cost will be $60 per person, plus any extras such as the Sunday night dinner, track touring or Road Course re-enactment with your car (no trucks, SUV's or Mini Vans).
There is no host hotel, but a listing of area hotels is included with registration forms..
THE REGISTRATION DEADLINE IS JUNE 15!
May 19 Update from Andy: Jere has reserved the "Saloon" at Siebken's restaurant for an Allard dinner on Saturday, the 19th of September. This will take the place of the Saturday night dinner with Bob Tillius. If you have already paid for this, and want to go to the Allard dinner, let Andy know, and he will arrange for a refund. If you have not already submitted your forms and check to Andy, please do so soon! (Racers excepted) We'll let the racers know when their forms are available online.
(Mini Update: If you want to attend the Saturday night dinner with Bob Tillius, a number of Allard owners will be attending that event, while others are attending the Siebken's dinner. Feel free to attend whatever event interests you must...just let Andy know.
VSCDA RACER REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN!
June 11 Update from Andy: the VSCDA has opened up registration for racers. Please click here to access the VSCDA web site to access the registration info. The deadline to register is Monday September 20, 2015. If you own an Allard that is race ready, we hope that you will enter.. There has been a serious lack of racing Allards on the tracks, we hope that you'll help reverse that trend!
This mystery car was sent to us by Mr. Hawkes in the UK. He found the photo above here, which claims that the car is a 1952 Allard Special. If you squint, the car looks kind of like an edgier representation of a M2 or P2 with the inset headlamps. The car bears the registration number "MYP 515" in both photos. If you know anything about this car or what it is, please click here to send us a note or leave a comment.
One of the most common questions we get asked is, "what tires should I buy for my Allard?" Unfortunately you're going to have to answer that question yourself, but we’ll try to give you some guidance. There are two main options when it comes to selecting a set of tires for your Allard...bias-ply (aka cross-ply) tires or radial tires. Once you've selected which type of tire you want, then there are a variety of brands and tread types you can select from. This article attempts to summarize the differences between the two types of tires, outline the various tires available, and share recommendations that we've received from various Allard owners over the years. Through this information, we hope to help you make an informed decision when it comes time to buy your next set of tires.
Before delving into the exciting world of tire types, sizes, and ratings; we recommend that you check the age of your tires. The US Department of Transportation (DOT) recommends that you should not drive on tires more than 10 years old, less if they are stored in a hot and dry environment. The DOT has mandated that all tires have the date they were manufactured stamped into the sidewall. For tires made after 2000, the date will be the last four digits of the 11-digit code stamped on your tires. The first two digits are the week of the year and the last two represent the year; for example “3208” means the tires were made in the 32nd week of 2008. For tires older than 2000, the date will be the last three digits of the 10-digit code. The first two digits are again the week of the year and the last digit represents the year (yes a ‘5’ could be 1995, 1985, or even 1985. If you have tires with a 3-digit date code, you should buy new tires NOW. If you buy new tires and they are more than 2 years old, you should ask for a replacement set or a generous discount. If possible, ask the tire shop what the age of your new tires is before you buy them.
When starting your search for tires, you need to know what size you need. The standard tire size for most Allards is based on a 16" diameter wheel with a rim width of 4.5”. For bias-ply tires, the size is listed as either 600-16 or 600H16, where 600 (or 6”) is the tire cross section width, ‘16’ is the rim diameter, and ‘H’ is the speed rating. Radial tire sizes can get a bit more confusing; they are often called out as 185R-16, where ‘185’ means width in mm, ‘R’ means Radial, and ‘16’ is the rim diameter. Sometimes, you will see the tire size listed 165/80R16, where the ‘80’ is the aspect ratio meaning that the tire height is 80% of the tire width (165 x 80% = 132mm). When not listed, it is assumed the aspect ratio is 100% (tire width = tire height).
Speed ratings are the maximum speed that the tire is rated for. Common speed ratings for Allard tires include P = 93 mph, S = 112 mph, H = 130 mph, V = 149, and W = 168. Unless you are Jim Tiller, you really don’t need anything rated higher than an H, but it won’t hurt. A higher speed rating doesn’t mean that a tire is better or worse, it just means that it has been tested to safely withstand that particular maximum speed. Some tires don’t include a speed rating, which means their manufacturer hasn’t tested them for maximum speed (likely not DOT rated). These tires may be fine for the street but should not be raced.
You should also pay attention to whether or not your tires are DOT rated. Many bias-ply tires do not have a DOT rating. This doesn’t mean that the tire is unsafe; it just means that they were not required to pass the DOT’s stringent road tests that modern radials are subjected to. The tires listed in this article have been on the market for a while and have been proven safe. However if you were involved in an accident that’s tire related, you shouldn’t be surprised if your insurance company looks into what tires are on your car. Please note that the tire info on our table is based on what we could glean from various web sites, which don’t always note if a tire is DOT rated.
Bias-Ply vs. Radial Tires:
Bias-ply tires were invented back in 1898 by the Goodyear tire company. The tire is given strength by layers of plies (belts) that are embedded into the rubber. The plies are laid at an alternating diagonal pattern on the bias of the bead cord, creating a crisscross pattern. In bias-ply tires, the tread and sidewalls share the same plies or casing, which mean the sidewalls are relatively thick when compared to radial tires. The strong sidewalls of bias-ply tires require less air pressure than radials.
- Lower cost than radial
- Cushioned, smoother ride than radials
- All sidewall flexing is transmitted to the tread
- “Lighter” steering feel than radials
- Progressive break-away during cornering
- Higher friction compared to radials (resulting in higher fuel consumption)
- Faster wear compared to radials
- More sensitive to overheating
- Will flat-spot after sitting for a while (goes away after a mile or two)
- Prone to wandering
Radial tires were pioneered by Michelin with their X tires in 1948. In radial tires, the ply cords radiate at a 90° angle from the bead cord, while the tread casing is strengthened by belts of steel fabric that run around the circumference of the tire. Generally radial tires require higher air pressure because the sidewalls are comparatively thinner than with bias-ply tires.
- Improved traction due to flat stable crown & larger footprint
- Lower friction due to better distribution of pressure in footprint (resulting in lower fuel consumption)
- Longer tread life
- Comfort & handling on the road
- Less wandering, straighter tracking
- Higher cost than bias-ply
- Faster break-away during cornering
- “Heavier” steering feel
- Firm ride
We were surprised to find that the DOT has weighed in on the topic of bias-ply vs radial tires…”Radial tires provide better tread contact with the pavement since their sidewalls are more flexible in the lateral direction than bias ply tires. Accordingly, radial tires can generate about twice the lateral force as bias ply tires. However, drivers get feedback from their tires and drive vehicles with different types of tires in different ways around corners. [Bias-ply] tires provide more feedback to the driver by feel and noise that the vehicle might not negotiate a curve, and the driver can sometimes slow down and correct the situation before going off the road. While radial tires generate more lateral forces, they do not provide progressive feedback to the driver and tend to lose traction without as much warning. In essence, drivers have learned how to go around entrance and exit ramps, and other curves, on highways at a higher rate of speed with radial tires. However, if the road is wet and their tire pressure is low, then they might have problems taking that curve at the same speed.” http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/rulings/TirePresFinal/FEA/TPMS4.html
So what’s our recommendation? As you’ve read, there’s no clear cut winner when it comes to comparing bias-ply vs. radial tires. It all comes down to what you want to do with your car. If you are going to vintage race, you’ll likely be required to use bias-ply tires. If you are going to drive the car a lot on the road, then radials are likely the best choice. Finally, if you are going to do car shows and originality is your aim, then you should probably have a set of bias-plies on your Allard.
I have had good experience with Bolckleys. I have gotten far more mileage out of them than the over-priced Dunlops. And, the Dunlops are not legal for road use everywhere because their side walls are so thin. The Blockleys have stiffer side walls, and they are far better than Dunlops in the rain.
I too, run the Blockleys but 6.00X 16 all around. They look great, don't 'track' on road irregularities but do suffer from flat spotting if left for any period of time.I thought I had something falling off the car the first time I ran them! This problem goes away after a mile or so. They also whine on some road surfaces.
Blockleys feel much more 'planted' and far less nervous than the Dunlops when used on the road. I also forgot to say that I run slightly wider wheels on the rear with a tad more offset too, in order to use the 6.50 versions without them bulging too much or rubbing the inside of the arch.
I have never used radials on the J2X but have had reports that they can make the steering heavier, certainly on cross-ply tyres the steering on the car is delightful when under-way.
The flat spotting seems to get less with use and wear but they can be slightly alarming for the first mile or two especially when nearly new and if the car has sat for a week or so.
If you drive in a 'spirited' manner I can report that the Blockleys hang on well and then break loose gradually for a lovely drift. (I found this out on the track of course.... Cough, cough)
The Blockleys look great and have a lot more tread than the Dunlops. Dunlop tires are, frankly, a rip off. They have a monopoly for racing, granted by the FIA, so they get away with outrageous prices. Dunlops are actually cheaper in the USA than in the UK for this reason – more competition in the USA, as with most everything.
I have run Blockleys for racing but was not happy with them – more crown than with the Dunlops. But, the Blockleys would be a better road tire. Also, I suggest you look into the period looking tires made by Coker Tire Company. They look good in photos and are far less expensive than Dunlops and even Blockleys. I do not have experience with their performance.
Take a look at the Excelsior Stahl Sport Radial at Coker Tire - radial but bias ply look. I bought a set for my K3 but have not yet tried them (it is still being restored).
I fitted Michelin Pilote radials on my J2 rep FPN 300. They grip like hell and don't seem to wear out. They have the old Englebert racing tread pattern so look right as well.
The Avon Turbosteels are ideal if you want to go racing, they're very popular with the classic racing fraternity as they have a fairly soft compound that gets quite sticky when driven hard. They only come in 16" diameter but you probably have standard 16" wheels anyway. I have 15" wheels on my car but if I had 16s I would definitely use them. I'm using Avon Turbospeeds on my K2 which are OK but not great for competition.
I have found cross-plies to "white-line" on the road. Even with front axle toe-in carefully set, the car will wander more without a doubt. Radials are, I think, better for road use. I bought a set of Vredesteins (they were cheapest! [in the UK]) and found the car to be much nicer on the road in general, but mainly because it felt less nervous at the front. They will also last longer. If you can afford them, Vintage Tyre Supplies reckons the Michelins are the best. You can still get the Avon Turbosteel in 16 inch...a bloody good tyre.
The Dunlop cross-plies look more authentic though. If you are circuit racing, I think the cross-plies are very good, though we tend have no choice for racing in the UK, as they are effectively the control tyre.
I've had Dunlop RS5’s on the L for ages now. Not too heavy on the steering, nice progressive characteristics if you push on.
Try not to be swayed by those who shout RADIAL at you! I've run the car on both types and the car feels so much more ‘right’ on the crossplies that it was designed for.
In the UK we have to use these [Dunlop] for racing, and they are good grippy tyres, but on the road they follow white lines in a big way and cause the car to wander a fair bit. If I was just doing road miles I would go for a radial in similar size. They are not cheap (certainly in Europe anyway )!
Chattanooga, TN & City of Industry, CA, USA
Britain West Motorsport
Brantford, Ontario, Canada
Lucas Classic Tires
Long Beach, CA, USA
Frisby Performance Tire
South Beloit, IL, USA
Alton, VA, USA
Roger Kraus Racing Enterprises
Castro Valley, CA, USA
Blockley Tyre (UK)
Tel: 01386 701717
Universal Vintage Tire
Hershey, PA, USA
Longstone Classic tyres
Doncaster, South Yorkshire, UK
Tel: 0044 1302 714072
Dear Allard Owners,
If you happen to be in Europe in mid April…you should make some time to stop by Techno Classica in Essen from April 15 to April 19. The Allard-Owners-Continental-Group will have a stand in Hall 3, Stand 105.
On the stand there will be as exposition car the Allard Palm Beach MK I "Red Ram" (Chassis 21D-5151). This one of a kind Allard is equipped with the 4 Dodge “Red Ram” V8-motor, serving as the prototype for the hopeful, but ill-fated partnership with Dodge
The second Allard will be another Palm Beach MK I “in the Spirit of Red Ram” equipped with a big block Cadillac motor taken out of a J2 racing car.
In addition to the cars, the Allard-Continental-Owners-Group will have a meeting on Saturday, April 18. Attendees should meet up at the club stand at 12:15. Following that, they will have an Allard Lunch at 12:30 at the Bistro of Schloss Hugenpoet in hall 3. Topics of discussion will include:
1. Information about changes in ownership and changes in the register
2. Discussion of Allard technical problems and matters?
3. Information about Allard activities under consideration for 2015
If you would like to attend the lunch meeting, please click here to RSVP to Hans-Albert Oppenborn
If you're looking to buy a vintage Allard magazine for your collection, this is definitely one you should consider. The July 1951 issue of Speed Age features not only one of the best Allard photos of all time (the Steyr with four wheels in the air!!!), it also features one of the earliest printed biographies on Sydney Allard. If you're lucky, you can pick one of these up on Ebay for as low as $5.
We're pleased to report that the Allard marque was well represented at this year's Amelia Island Concours weekend. The Rosenblad's brought out both of their Allards to Saturdays "Car's & Coffee" event at the Golf Club at Amelia. This is a cool event that's open to the public and fills a big void in the weekend as people wait for the big event Sunday. The Rosenblads have two unique Allard's...the first is the DeDion/wire wheel K2; one only six or so built. Next up is their Consul engined Palm Beach - of 84 Palm Beach's built, only nine were equipped with the Consul 4-cylinder engine and only four are believed to exist today. Their car looks, in our opinion what Sydney envisioned the "Bridgehampton" would have looked like if his entry to the 1954 Le Mans approved.
Next up was Jim Taylor's recently acquired J2X 3048 that was just recently refreshed. We are big fans of the red on white color scheme which hearkens back to the good ol' days in the 50's where owner's/racer's had no problem with a garish color scheme to help set them and their car apart.
Special thanks to Mike Matune for sharing these photos!
An eagle-eyed reader sent us a link to the photo above from motorbase.com. The caption claims that the car above is a special bodied Allard from 1952. If one squints hard enough, it looks kind of like a K3. Does anyone know what this car is? Does it still exist today?
Sydney Allard was a survivor and visionary. After his company stopped building cars, they focused on selling performance car parts and...sun roofs. Why sun roofs? Today sun roofs are commonplace on cars, but back in the late 60's and early 70's they were a rarity. Allard was the UK distributor for Golde sun roofs, a German company that was the leader in this emerging industry. Click here to download the Allard Golde catalog. Special thanks to Kerry for sharing!
We just uploaded this excerpt from the movie "Fast and the Furious"...not the Vin Diesel version, but the original "classic" from B-movie legend Roger Corman. In addition lots of great racing footage...there are a bunch of Allard's featured...can you spot them all? We believe most of the footage was shot at Pebble Beach and Torrey Pines. Enjoy!
Things are heating up at Allard Sports Cars, the business endeavor of Sydney’s son Alan and and Grandson Lloyd. In effect, the Allard family name hasn’t left the automotive world since they first started building cars in the late 30’s. The family business has evolved over the years from building cars to manufacturing and selling performance automotive parts. If you haven’t heard already, Alan and Lloyd have started building cars again, with assistance from Allard Engineers Dudley Hume and David Hooper. They got started by buying and restoring the first Palm Beach Mk2, Chassis #72/7000Z. While restoring the Palm Beach, they fabricated another chassis, destined to become a Palm Beach Mk3. This car is an evolution of MK2, and included double wishbone front suspension; a much needed departure from the split axle suspension. They also intend to offer a continuation of the Allard JR sports racing car. Read more below from Lloyd Allard…
The New Allard Palm Beach MK3:
You may wonder, why build an Allard Palm Beach MK3? Well, the answer is simple, during the restoration of the Palm Beach Mk2 we had the opportunity to copy the chassis while it was available, a chassis jig was fabricated following an American design which I knew would be suitable. The new Allard chassis was assembled in only a basic form initially, then put to one side while my father and I pressed on with the restoration project ahead. Once the Mk2 was nearing completion, we started to make progress on the MK3 chassis once more, a Jaguar 3.4 with Moss gearbox was secured, along with a rear axle. All the other parts, which include both rear trailing arms, panhard, front suspension mountings, both front and rear bulk head rails were all fabricated in house. This was the most convenient way to have a prototype rolling chassis available for people to view at any shows we wished to attend. The debut of the new chassis tool place at the NEC Classic in November 2014. The response was very uplifting.
The chassis for the new Allard PB Mk3 is essentially the same as the original apart from the suspension design, the front suspension is now a double wishbone affair, the rear suspension we will offer two formats, either live axle or De Dion, to be honest the De Dion is the preferred as we intend to offer the Palm Beach Mk3 in race trim.
Allard Palm Beach Mk3, a car planned and discussed in 1959 can now be purchased as a 1959 model, authentic Allard with continuation chassis number and built by members of the Allard family once more, offering good investment potential. The car can be built to road or race specification with a Jaguar 6 cylinder engine. There are a few changes from the original which include disc brakes arrangement, improved trimming options and a hinged bonnet design much like the JR model.
Allard Palm Beach Mk3 Specifications:
- Engine: Jaguar 3.4 XK engine
- Rear Axle: Choice of De Dion or live axle arrangements
- Brakes: Disc front & rear (assisted)
- Gearbox: Jaguar Moss box (various ratio options)
- Steering: Rack & Pinion (assisted and non assisted options)
- Body: Fully aluminium construction (including some body design changes)
Allard JR continuation HTP FIA Specifications:
- Engine: Cadillac 331
- Rear Axle: De Dion
- Brakes: Drum
- Gearbox: Lasale 4 speed
- Steering: Marles
- Body: Fully aluminium construction
We love to hear from our readers, especially those that write us with memories of an Allard their family used to own. We received one of those letters a few days ago from Roger in the UK, he writes...
"I was browsing your site as my father had an Allard P1 saloon in the 1950's. He bought it second hand sometime after Allard's success at the Monte Carlo Rally. I know this because my father was rather chuffed when his brother in law saw it (the brother in law was a keen rally enthusiast and saw my father as a stuffy solicitor I think) and was rather envious of the car because of the win.
The car was black with the large grill and had the registration number WMC 515. The car was always called William by the family because of its number plate.
I remember very little about the car as I was very little when we had it. I remember my father got the car up to 90 mph on one occasion and was very amused when I piped up from the back saying "A braver man would have done a hundred".
I am pretty sure it was this car that to open the boot you lifted it until the support clicked and to lower it you lifted it and when it clicked you could lower it down again. If the boot is like that then this is the one that fell on my father's back when he was leaning into the boot, which produced a lot of swearing. I know, I was standing next to him!
During the 1950's the family holidayed in Pembrokeshire. As we lived in north London we would set of long before dawn. This is long before the Severn Bridge or motorways and the journey took all day. We would drive there and back in the Allard. On one occasion we were well into the journey when my father suddenly realized that when he was cleaning the car the previous day he had forgotten to put the hub caps back on. So we drove all the way back home to put them on. On another trip to Pembrokeshire it was discovered that the boot hadn't been closed properly and some Wellington boots had fallen out. It shows how little traffic there was then that on retracing our steps they were found in the road where they had fallen out.
My father replaced the Allard in the late 50's with a second hand Humber Super Snipe Mk IV. Four doors, larger, but not as sporty."
Thanks for writing Roger!
If you've been here before, you probably noticed that things look a little different around here. We're excited to announce that we've finally completed the transition to our new web site! The new web site is fully scaleable to whatever device you're viewing our site one...whether it's a computer, tablet, or cell phone. So what else is different? The photos are a lot bigger now and we have really cool photo galleries. We've also made a bunch of changes to the Car pages. There's still some work to do, but the big stuff is complete. Please take a look around and let us know what you think especially if you find any problems...we hope you like it!
You could say it's been a few years since we've hosted an Allard gathering, but we are happy to announce that we're partnering with Steve Earle and the SVRA to have an Allard gathering at the 2015 Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival! Unfortunately there are aren't too many details at this time, but they'll be firmed up in the next few weeks (things have been a bit crazy at General Racing with the recent SVRA merger). What we can confirm are the dates...the gathering will take place on May 29-31 (the weekend after Memorial Day). The gathering won't be just for racers, we'll have a special car show, Allard paddock, dinners, wine tastings, and even a poker run! If you are interested in coming, please click here to email us. We hope you can make it!
The premier showing of RACING THROUGH THE FOREST took place at Pebble Beach’s Spanish Bay resort as a part of the Monterey Peninsula’s 2014 ‘Car Week’.
The focus of this 80-minute film documentary is the Pebble Beach Road races that were run just a few miles from this pristine golf resort. This film gives a succinct portrayal of this historic venue – beginning with the inaugural 1950 running, through the events in 1956 that set the stage for the purpose-built Laguna Seca Raceway some 20 miles to the east.
By means of a well-paced balance of narration, historic race footage and interviews with key players, it effectively presents the Pebble Beach Road Races as a microcosm of the post WWII sports car racing scene in the US. The Pebble Beach racecourse comprised of a series of hay bale-lined two lane streets and some unpaved roads winding through the towering Monterey pines of Del Monte Forest. Most of the cars in the 1950 race were an array of British imports and California home-built specials, and the drivers were all amateurs – some with strong track records, but many with little or no training or experience.
While the Pebble Beach course itself saw little development in the seven years of its operation, the story clearly reflects how both cars and drivers became more sophisticated – and faster – with each passing year. It all came to a head in 1956 when Ernie McAfee and his Ferrari went out of control on the downhill home stretch, became airborne and flew sideways into one of the aforementioned Monterey pines.
The timing of this production was most fitting, as it includes a blend of familiar, and also never-before-seen race footage – along with current day interviews with several race veterans reflecting on their experiences from 60+ years ago. They included Bill Pollack, winner of the prestigious Del Monte Trophy in ‘51 and ’52; and Derek Hill, son of Bill’s close friend Phil Hill, who won the main event in ’50, ’53 and ’55.
Both Bill and Derek, along with other Pebble Beach Race veterans, were present at this premier showing. They all did a great job of sharing their insight and experiences after the screening. The show’s poster is focused on Tom Carsten’s iconic black Allard J2 that was Bill Pollack’s primary mount, a car that gets considerable footage throughout the movie.
This is a very well done professional production, a ‘must see’ film for all vintage racing enthusiasts. The producers are currently concentrating on film festivals and other private screenings, with a showing at the Blackhawk Museum on Sept. 19, and the Peterson Museum in LA in October. After that they are preparing for Sundance Film Festival in January. We’ll share more when information about distribution comes available.
Early autumn in the high peaks of the Adirondacks is about as perfect a time as one can imagine for a wee motoring adventure. Thus we accepted the invitation to take the J2 Allard north for the 7th annual Keene Mountain Hillclimb reunion in Keene, New York. Keene is just a long stone's throw from Lake Placid. In the early days of the event, which ran from 1950 to 1966, Allards and Allard personalities figured large. More on that later.
We motored up on Friday the 19th in beautiful sunny weather. While only late September, the high peaks were already sporting the first blush of autumn's colors. It was lovely.
Meeting at Marcy Field in Keene, a tiny grass airstrip snuggled within the mountains, we had the warmest of greetings from the organizers, Mike and Ann Hartson, who could not have been more welcoming. They created this reunion seven years ago and are credited with keeping it and the memory of the hillclimb alive.
The Keene Hillclimbs were a fixture in the early days of postwar sports car competitions in the northeast of the USA but, perhaps oddly enough, they didn't actually begin with the SCCA. In those days around New York there were several clubs that vied for prominence. The SCCA was one of them and it ultimately succeeded. Another was the Motor Sports Club of America (MSCA). Also founded and centered in New York, it is said that the Motor Sports Club may have been for folks who either weren't welcome in the SCCA or at least didn't feel welcome. There's a fair bit of controversy there to this day so we'll leave that discussion alone for now. Suffice to say that Keene was first a fixture of the Motor Sports Club.
By the early fifties the Motor Sports Club was well established with its signature event, the "Great American Mountain Rally." It started in Manhattan or in Poughkeepsie, NY, and ran up into the Adirondacks or into the Green Mountains of Vermont. One of the usual stops was the Mountain House at Keene and a hillclimb took place there. Later the hillclimb became a standalone event.
Nowadays the hillclimb reunion is a gathering of enthusiasts with appropriate cars from the entire span of the event. Some of the original drivers come as well, though their number is dwindling. There are three or four runs up the hill, but it is no longer a speed event. For one thing, one might meet traffic coming down. That experience could prove interesting, but not too pleasant for the soccer mom motoring down the hill. That being the case, we took out the rollover bar and popped on the head rest fairing. Instead of full face Bell helmet we took along a period cork-lined leather one. Nomex was forsaken in favor of an old leather flying jacket and a pair of old fashioned driving gloves. The Allard and yrs trly looked the part.
The hill at Keene is one and one half miles long with eight twisting turns and a "thank-you-m'am" bridge. The grade ranges from almost nil to as steep as 18 percent and rises 800 feet from the starting line to finish. The bridge has since been replaced with something more driver friendly. Otherwise, the course is as it was fifty years ago.
In the 1954 event Erwin Goldschmidt won handily in his 4.5 liter Ferrari. He may have driven an Allard in an earlier event but hadn't won.
In 1952 the only Allards competing were a K2 driven by one John Bye of Montclair, New Jersey and a J2 driven by Fred Nemith of Troy, New York. Nemith finished fifth overall. As one would expect, there were a number of J2's and J2X's figuring in the results over the years, but, at Keene, the most successful Allard driver of them all was the late Bob Bucher in his ex-Goldschmidt JR, known as "Big Jake." Big Jake was caddie powered and was likely the most successful of all of the JRs when they were new. (Yes, a case can and should be made for the one Sidney used in the UK for hillclimbs and some circuit races.) When Bucher drove it the paint was still what I believe it had been for Goldschmidt, dark red with a white and blue band around the grill opening. Near the end of its career it had a fairly low full width rollover bar and may have been repainted a brighter red. Bucher turned in FTDs in '56, '57 and '58, setting new course records every year. He was quite a driver.
By '66 the event was finished due to the town finally getting tired of the noise and the folks who lived along the road complaining that they couldn't get in and out of their driveways while it was going on.
The organizers would seem to have unlimited enthusiasm so the 8th reunion taking place next autumn must be considered a forgone conclusion. We rather expect to be there. Even more Allards would be a pleasant addition.
Very cool color racing footage from the 1954 Andrews AFB races. You'll see a number of Allards including Fred Wacker and his 8 Ball.