Sport / Competition

 

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Welcome to my Sports & Competition Category

Here you will find some of the many sports I have participated in (skiing and scuba diving, as well as horseback riding), and some of the sanctioned motorsports I very often competed in (automobile and motocross racing).

I was fortunate enough to come of age in the golden age of automobiles, when cars looked, sounded (and smelled) like real cars.

Anybody who has ever smelled Caster bean oil burning in a Tipo 60/61 Maserati "Birdcage" racer (at the rate of about a quart an hour!), will know exactly what I mean.

I actually got to drive a blood red Tipo 61 in and around the paddock area at Riverside Raceway in 1960, courtesy of Carroll Shelby.

The first car I really fell in love with was the Jaguar XK-SS (forerunner of the XK-E series, and derived from the very successful D-Type racing cars).

I saw a pre-production example at an auto show in the mid fifty's, but lacked the funds (besides being too young to acquire a driver's license), so I was not able to acquire one.

Just think, at the time, a new Jaguar XK-SS sold for just a bit more money than a new, fully loaded, top of the line Cadillac. The Cadillac was luxurious transportation, the XK-SS, a once in a lifetime driving experience.

My future taste in automobiles was forever forged by that one car.

When I was in a position (both financial and age-wise) to acquire one, the cars were very, very scarce and I could never really connect on one (I had the same experience in trying to acquire a Ferrari 250 SWB GTO, finally settling on a red aluminum bodied 275 GTB instead).

I did purchase a new "E" type in 1962, but it was probably the worse exotic I have ever owned as far as maintenance and engineering was concerned, not even a synchro 1st gear in the early model build I had — but what a HUGE crowd magnet!

Later on, I was fortunate enough to have my friend, Steve McQueen, lend me his very immaculate British Racing Green RHD Jaguar XK-SS for a day. It was well worth the wait, and I can still remember that experience.

Steve McQueen's Jaguar XK-SS
Steve McQueen's 1956 (yes, 1956!), Jaguar XK-SS that McQueen let me borrow for an entire day

Years later, I shot a TV Special that featured his former wife, Neile, and we talked about that XK-SS. She commented on how much Steve really loved that car.

Under my one good turn deserves another philosophy, I loaned McQueen my factory 250cr Husky (Husqvarna) Gran Prix motocross racer for about a week. Steve then went on to order a just released 400cc Husky for himself.

I was exposed to exotic cars at a very early age (in Italy, my uncle Salvatore had a mint early '30s 1750 Alfa Romeo), and in California, I used to hang out at von Neumann's Competition Motors in North Hollywood whenever I had the chance.

That's where I met actor James Dean (who used to call me "kid"), and it was there that I learned the difference between cars used as transportation and cars used solely for the joy of driving them, a lesson that has stayed with me for my entire life.


Alfa Romeo 8 cylinder supercharged 1750 "Alfetta" - you can see the supercharger in this view of the engine (lower right hand side)
The engine of my late uncle's supercharged 1750 Alfa Romeo (what a work of art!)
(this absolutely mint vintage Alfa, which now belongs to me, is in secure storage in Italy)

Even though the true exotics have since diminished in many ways, my fondness for them has not. Pictured here are just a few of the many cars I have owned and some of the cars I have raced...

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