(Click here or the photo above to view Bill's gallery from Watkins Glen)
By Bill Pollack
On September 10th twenty-two Allards assembled in this small village in upstate New York. They came from all over the United States, Canada and Great Britain with individuals from as far away as New Zealand. The gathering was to celebrate the victory sixty years ago by a J2 Allard driven by Erwin Goldschmidt. Allards have long since been an endangered species. Many of these Allard owners purchased their cars twenty or more years ago and the vehicles had become a part of the family. This exceptional group of people shared the Glen and its magnificent racing machines from vintage Sprites to 600 horsepower McLarens. As a guest of the Allard Owner’s Club I was privileged to experience this grand event. The following are some of my recollections of three exciting days.
On Friday evening I had the privilege in partaking in the annual Watkins Glen Historical re-creation of the original road race. The original course started right in the middle of town, and wound up and out of the Seneca Lake Valley into the surrounding farm lands with fields of corn and pumpkins. The narrow, rough 6.6 mile blacktop meandered through these colorful patches of greenery and then dove in the dense forest circling back towards town. Back in the ‘good old days’ more than thirty thousand people lined the main street of Watkins Glen, with a few more thousand scattered around the country at some of the more nasty turns. What was amazing to me is that this little village had managed to get the state of New York to close these roads. Even more amazing was the town also suspended the liquor law for open containers for that day only.
I was honored by riding in the lead car on this re-creation tour – the original J2 Allard that Erwin Goldschmidt drove to victory in the 1950 race. Yes, we did have a police escort but they drove like they were trying to qualify at Indy. My driver was Bill Warner, who had never driven an Allard before. Neither of us had any idea what the course was like. It took two people and a chiropractor to get us into the car, and everything but the Jaws of Life to pry us out. Later I learned that the car had been on display at the wonderful Automotive Museum in Saratoga Springs. It was then that I looked at the tires. They appeared to be a shade older than me – the rears bald on the inside, the fronts with random bald spots. Altogether like me with a bad haircut. What was going to be a nice civilized stroll around the countryside turned into a mad dash by a hundred or more wannabe Fangios.
No one was hurt in the tour through the countryside, nor in the writing of this episode
Photos courtesy of Bill & Mellette Pollack.