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Exciting Racing Sounds Finale: Brands Hatch

It’s finally time for the final cut from the Exciting Racing Sounds of Grand Prix album. In this final track, Phil Hill visits Brands Hatch, and while I’d like to say that this final cut is the climax of the lp, it’s a bit more like ‘in with a bang, out with a whimper’. The visit to Brands is precious short on racing action, starting with audio from the Red Arrows fighter jet squadron flyover and finishing with the military band. It is nice to hear the podium celebration for Jack Brabham as the band plays “Waltzing Mathilda”. There you have it friends, your Exciting Racing Sounds of Grand Prix album is complete… now just flip back side A and enjoy.


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More Exciting Racing Sounds of Grand Prix: Spa

Let’s take another long-overdue listen to the fantastic Exciting Racing Sounds of Grand Prix album. This time our host, Phil Hill, takes us on an audio tour of the Spa circuit. You’ll remember that this album was created as part of the research process for John Frankenheimer’s 1966 film Grand Prix. Ah—magic.

This cut from the LP takes off where Monaco left off and demonstrates the contrasts between the tight, narrow street circuit of Monte Carlo and the open expanses of the high-speed Spa circuit. Phil points out that the drivers spend an awful lot of their time in Belgium in top gear. The engine screams in this cut seem to indicate the truth in that. We’ll hear massive whines from BRM, Cooper-Maserati, Ferrari, Brabham, and McLaren-Ford; and none of them sound like they’re just poking through the frequently-wet countryside.

We also take the Burnenville Corner with Jochen Rindt in his Cooper-Maserati. You’ll hear that there’s not a whole lot of shifting happening here as the corner is a sweeping high-speed expanse. Rindt finished 11th at Spa that year, but 4th in the Drivers’ Championship for the year. 1965 was also the year he won Le Mans as part of the N.A.R.T. team in a Ferrari 250LM.


Hear the complete archive of cuts from this tremendous album.

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More Exciting Racing Sounds of Grand Prix: Monte Carlo

The Exciting Racing Sounds of Grand PrixIf you’ve been following our series on this wonderful album of audio recorded during research for John Frankenheimer’s Grand Prix, you know what a joy it is to hear Phil Hill lead us through some of the stops of the ’66 season. This time, it’s Monaco.

We start with 30 seconds or so of the the full grid of 16 drivers revving in preparation for the start of the GP. This could have well been the inspiration for the marvelous opening credits/overture sequence at the start of the film. Then we take a spin around the track with Graham Hill. A thrilling drive indeed.

It’s also interesting to hear Phil describe the technical details of the engine and transmissions of Formula 1 cars, followed by audio of drivers really pushing their engines and transmissions hard in several portions: hard on the brakes through Gasometre Hairpin and head up towards the pits, through the tunnel towards the chicane, and as heard by the spectators. As always, fantastic audio.

Follow along with this track map, pulled from the back of the record jacket.
Monoco Track Map


Read the complete series.


Here’s the Monaco sequence from the film. Just these few minutes would have been a masterpiece even without the rest of the movie.

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More Exciting Racing Sounds of Grand Prix

The Exciting Racing Sounds of Grand PrixWe started our series celebrating this wonderful LP made during Frankenheimer’s filming of the epic Grand Prix by taking a tour of Monza. Let’s take a step back and get the basics with our host, Phil Hill. John Frankenheimer gives a wonderful description of the basics of F1 of the 60’s. Then Phil talks to Graham Hill about the differences between Grand Prix racing and sportscars. Hearing these voices speak with passion about their sport makes me wish for these attitudes to come back to the international motor racing community.

I particularly like the segment with Frankenheimer where he describes some of the motivations for making the movie. Later, Graham Hill describes the differences between Grand Prix driving and competing in the Indianapolis 500. Outstanding.

Have a listen.


Read the complete series.

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The Exciting Racing Sounds of Grand Prix

The Exciting Racing Sounds of Grand PrixIn preparation for his masterpiece 1966 film Grand Prix, John Frankenheimer undertook a series of audio recordings to help capture the spirit, mood, and excitement of the Formula 1 season. This LP is the glorious result of that research. Hosted by Phil Hill and featuring interviews with Graham Hill and Frankenheimer, this record takes us through the sounds of the Grand Prix season of 1966.

Grand Prix is the best racing movie ever made. Frankenheimer puts us in the cockpit, the pits, and in the stands. He developed camera mounting techniques that are still in use today. Some people will tell you that McQueen’s film LeMans is the better racing movie — Those people are wrong.

But enough about the movie (I’m sure I’ll be writing much more on that in the future). This LP was something that I didn’t know about until recently. And over the next couple of weeks I’ll post up tracks from the album. This first bit cuts straight to the chase and puts us right on the start finish line of Monza. This, of course differs from the banked track of the movie — which stopped being used after the ’61 season (here’s a 2003 photo of the banking). We’ll hear the engine note of Jack Brabham’s Repco V8, Jim Clark’s Coventry-Climax, Ginther’s Honda V12, and Surtee’s Cooper Maserati. Then we’ll take a tour of the circuit aboard Michael Parkes’ Ferrari (Parkes sat on pole and ended up 2nd in the race that year).


Monza map
Listen carefully and you can follow along on the track map.

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Welcome H.A.M.B. Alliance and Jalopy Journal Readers

Wow! Many thanks to Ryan Cochran over at the Jalopy Journal for linking to The Chicane today. As a longtime reader of the Jalopy Journal, Jockey Journal and the Garage Journal, it was quite a thrill to see the post this morning.

Here’s a few posts that H.A.M.B. readers might find particularly interesting.

The “Lost Tracks” series: An ongoing look at the sadly defunct palaces of America’s road racing glory days—before lawyers decided everything is someone’s fault.

The 1947 Cisitalia D46: Surely any fan of American roadsters can find kinship with Italy’s immediate post-war monoposto racers.

A Naked Lotus Formula 2: With the body panels removed, it’s easy to see that the same thrill that inspires the DIY attitude can build a world championship formula car.

and for your headphones, The Exciting Racing Sounds of Grand Prix: Phil Hill narrates this LP recorded as research for John Frankenheimer’s masterpiece, “Grand Prix”.

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Lost Track: Paramount Ranch

Let’s take a deeper look at this short-lived but much loved SoCal race track, shall we? There were only a handful of races held at the Santa Monica mountainside race track, most of which were marred by dangerous track design that led to 3 fatalities in the 18 short months the track was operating a full capacity. Of course, the feature we so admired, the crossover, was a contributing factor to the inherent dangers of the facility. The fact that the track was bound by cliffs and rocky terrain didn’t help either.

Here’s a (sparse) race report from the first event at Paramount, the California Sports Car Club sponsored race in August 1956 as reported in the West Coast Sports Car Journal:

Thousands of Southern California spectators witnessed Harrison Evans, in his Ferrari Monza, battle it out with Eric Hauser, Morgansen Special, Sunday August 19, at the first sports car road race to be held at the Paramount Ranch in Agoura, California. Evans zoomed across the finish line just two seconds ahead of the home-build Special to chalk-up another victory for Ferrari banners. Richie Ginther, driving a Von Neumann Porsche, upset favorite Jack McAfee in Saturday’s go by a close half-second proving that the young driver belongs with the top ranking drivers on the West Coast. Ginther sailed to an easy victory in the Sunday under 1500cc race also when the closely anticipated race between him and McAfee failed to materialize after McAfee’s Porsche was forced out early in the race.

Some top drivers in the country participated making for some of the most exciting races of the season. Veteran driver Rudy Cleye won the production over 1500cc race by taking the checkered flat 27 seconds ahead of his nearest rival and averaged 66.9 mpg during the 20 mile race. Bruce Kessler, driving a Cooper Norton captured the first place both Saturday and Sunday in the exciting Formula III races.

Paramount track is a great step toward the development of sports car road racing in this country.

Sounds like an auspicious beginning, I’m surprised there’s not much discussion of the track itself. It’s almost as if the author was just reporting from the race results sheet. No matter though, the track was quickly a favorite of SoCal drivers and specators.

Check out the Morgansen Special that was mentioned in the article, long before it became the first Old Yeller: a sheer brute of a thing. Amazing that this was duking it out with an elegant Ferrari Monza in a heated battle for the lead. This is one of the things that I think most conjures the glory of early American road racing; that an (ok, I’ll say it) ugly home built beast could hold its own against some of the best sports cars from Europe is still an impressive feat. It’s also an example of an era when hot rods and sports cars were much more aligned in spirit and events. Sadly, in the years since, the typical sports car driver has moved very far away indeed from the hot rodding, home building, shade-tree engineering spirit of her early days.

Today, the Paramount Ranch race track is slowly crumbling into the surrounding landscape. It’s part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and is currently in the care of the National Parks Service. The park is most famous as a tourist destination for movie fans; the old Paramount Western sets are preserved on the same property. This Google Map shows, however, that some of the original track remains. The sweeping carousel comprised of turns 1 and 2 is clearly visible in the satellite image.

At least we can still (sort of) experience this track today, thanks to video games. Race simulator fans have created custom tracks to bring long-dead facilities back to life, and Paramount Ranch is among the tracks updated for a new generation. Check out a gallery here.

You can also build your own Paramount Ranch in a decidedly less high-tech manner. The unique crossover feature is a must for slot car track builders to equalize the track lengths of the different lanes. As a result, Paramount Ranch has been a popular basis for home-built slot car tracks. Here is a series of articles from ’66-’67 in Car Modeler Magazine that describe how to build your own scale version of Paramount Ranch in your basement.

Tam’s Old Race Car Site has a ton of photos and stories from the racers in their Paramount Ranch section

More pics of the Morgansen Special on the H.A.M.B.

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