Red Wheels and White Sidewalls - Reviewed

In honor of the reprinting of Bill Pollacks racing memoirs, Red Wheels and White Sidewalls, we are reprinting our review of the book from issue #40 (Spring 2004). To buy a copy of the book, you can go to Amazon or to Bill's publisher, Brown Fox Books. Enjoy!


Many Allard enthusiasts got their initial inspiration from Tom Carsten’s immaculate white-walled, Cad-powered J2. Bill Pollack had the honor of piloting that imposing mass of adrenalin, testosterone, and charisma to outright victories in each of its five outings in 1951 and 1952. Bill continued his amateur racing activities for another 5 years after that car was destroyed in a post-race accident at Pebble Beach in 1953. During those years, he earned 18 more “podium” (in F1 parlance) finishes in 44 races.

Dave Brodsky discovered the butchered remains of the #14 Allard in the late ‘80’s and painstakingly restored it to the 1953 configuration. The car made its debut in the 1989 Monterey Historics, where it was pitted next to its sister car raced by #14’s original owner, Tom Carstens. Brodsky graciously delegated the driving duties to Bill, who also raced it in the 1990 Monterey Historics, when Allard was the featured marque. Number 14’s current owner, Bill Marriott, shipped the car back to Laguna Seca for the 2002 commemoration of Bill Pollack’s 1952 Pebble Beach victory.

Bill is a driver of proven ability, and he also has considerable journalistic skills with several contributions to Road & Track over the years. He has continued to sharpen his literary tools by regularly sharing his experiences and insights in issues of the Fabulous Fifties newsletters and the Allard Register.

He has been working diligently over the last few years to compile his memoirs, and the fruits of his efforts have just been published under the title RED WHEELS AND WHITE SIDEWALLS: Confessions of an Allard Racer. In this, Bill gives us a personal, first-hand insight into the genesis of the pre-WWII car culture of Southern California, a time when “… there were admirals and generals and actors and kids. All got involved because it was exciting and fun. We were amateurs in the strictest sense of the word, and that was a big part of the charm.”

This book contains a wide array of personal stories – not only about Bill, but also other colorful personalities who played a key role in that post WWII renaissance. We especially enjoyed his candor, and his wry, self-deprecating humor.  Bill had done and accomplished a lot, but is not guilty of taking himself too seriously. Moreover, he has a special gift for vividly portraying the excitement of an auto race in a flair that rivals the drama and excitement of a Seabiscuit race.

The book includes over 80 photos, including a heart-breaking photo of the wreckage of #14 that makes one marvel how anyone survived. This is highly recommended reading for anyone interested in vintage sports car racing – and Allards in particular. It is published by Brown Fox Books.