Trouble in Paradise: How to Not Kill Yourself and Your Priceless Race Car

Racing is highly unpredictable even in this modern world of telemetric monitoring and onboard diagnostics. When your priceless Bugatti Type 59 has a problem, are you just going to crack on and risk a catastrophe? This racer likely saved the day and his own hide by gracefully pulling off. This is my favorite series of shots that I took all weekend, depicting the #141 1934 Bugatti T-59 driven by Charles McCabe suffering from some unknown problem and waiting it out until the race was over. Considering how quickly the Group 1B cars were attacking the course, especially the #31 Alfa Romeo 8C-35, the eventual race winner and an absolute beast on the track, I’m surprised more of these cars didn’t end up in the weeds. But of course, that’s why vintage racing is so amazing to watch – not only are the cars ludicrously valuable, but they’re driven hard. This was a real race, and many of these guys weren’t fooling around (not that you could really “fool around” in a Bugatti – it’d spank you and send you into a barrier quicker than you could say “Molsheim.”). Those skinny tires run a comparable compound to what was available at the time, about as sticky as a those granite numbers on the Flintstone’s family cruiser. Not only that, but the emotion in McCabe’s body language, a tinge of disappointment but mostly a professional and composed resignation, really come through. It’s surprising to realize that even with such interesting cars, it’s the human drama in racing that really pulls you in. Stay tuned for more Sonoma Historics coverage, and click here to view all our previous coverage. All images copyright 2010 Alex Kierstein.

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