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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  1. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    I was kinda expecting it to explode in cartoonish overdramatic fashion shortly after him getting out.
    In my book, vintage racing can only be topped by vintage rally.

    1. dmilligan Avatar

      I'd love to try vintage rally. Driving sideways in the dirt in my Hudson Terraplane….I wish.

  2. dmilligan Avatar

    If I owned a vintage Bugatti I don't think I'd have the nerve to race it. Unless I had two of them, then maybe. It would be like racing a Faberge egg.

    1. dr zero Avatar

      I suppose if you have the money to afford one in the first place, you have enough money to fix it if something goes wrong. Still they deserve something for sharing their cars with the rest of the world.

      1. dmilligan Avatar

        Very true. They have my thanks for bringing all those wonderful old race cars out so we can see and hear them again.

  3. muthalovin Avatar

    I am all for racing vintage cars. However, there is a difference between racing ones vintage ride, and ones priceless ride. I mean, there is a big difference between a 69 'Cuda and a 1934 Bugatti T-59.

  4. retro Avatar

    I love that people are still willing to race cars like this.

  5. Froggmann_ Avatar

    I'm just glad these machines are out there doing what they were designed to do, race. Nothing saddens me more than seeing a classic get trailered to and fro and never enjoy the open road. The only thing worse you can do to one of these classics is just make it sit in a garage while you wipe it down with a diaper and watch the tires rot.
    A car is a machine, a machine that is designed to be driven. So drive.

  6. Betty Sutton Avatar

    Thanks so much for making this available.

  7. phineas and ferb games Avatar

    In this funny cartoon style racing game you can design your own racing car by pushing the several car parts together. Once done you can take out your new car and race on the topdown race track against a smart computer or another player opponent.Player 1:Up Arrow Key – Accelerate.Left / RIght Arrow Keys – Steer.Down Arrow Key – Brake.CTRL Key – Turbo Boost.Player 2:W – Accelerate.A / D – Steer.S – Brake.Shift Key – Turbo Boost.

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