When a collection of old photos becomes an archive of racing history

Not long ago, I was racing at one of my favorite events, the HSR Savannah weekend, when a guy walked up to my pit area. He was obviously attracted by my TR3, and after looking the car over for a minute, he told me that back in the mid-’60s he crewed for a car that looked just like mine. When he told me that the car belonged to John Taylor, my heart skipped a beat. I quickly told him that this was, in fact, the very same car. 

We had a great chat, during which he filled in some of the missing history of the car. Then he said something that put me on full alert: Back in the day, he kept a scrapbook of his travels to the races that was full of photos, including many of my car. 

Sadly, he admitted, he had just given away the book to a friend who was into old British sports cars. However, he said, that friend–a guy named Joe Jacalone–owned a service station in St. Augustine, Florida, and if I looked him up, he might still have the book.

Quite excited, I dutifully searched and found that service station owner. I called and asked for Joe, and when I got him on the line and tried to explain my strange request, he quickly set me at ease: He had the book and would be pleased to let me have it. He also said he was one of our readers and had been following the rejuvenation of our TR3.

I went up the next day and found a true kindred spirit–so much so that I went back the following day to take another look at the early MGB he had for sale, but that’s another story.

As promised, Joe gave me the book, and I was in awe of it from my first glance at the cover. It was completely covered in period stickers from tracks and companies like Schooler Cams and Hedman Hedders. How cool is that? Inside were not only lots of photos from races at Daytona, Sebring and other tracks, but at least a dozen shots of our TR3 on track and in the pits at these events. I’ve shown the book to several car buddies, and every one of them has just been amazed. 

As usual, the experience has sparked an idea for me. Along with my Triumph, the scrapbook includes some cool shots of Bob Johnson’s Cobra, Nickey Chevrolet’s Cheetahs, and some super-cool Lotus 7s and Elans. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could connect the current owners of the cars with these incredible pictures? This is just the tip of the iceberg, too; how many more collections of photos are out there? How many get sold at yard sales every weekend? Worse, how many just get thrown away when their owners pass or lose interest? These treasures are certainly disappearing.

Formal archives do exist. The folks at Daytona International Speedway are very good at keeping a photographic record of virtually every race ever held there. While their archives are not actually public, you can request copies of photos if you can pin down when your car raced there. I have done that twice, and have come away with shots of both the TR3 and the Group 44 Triumph GT6 we restored a few years ago.

The SCCA also keeps its own archives. In fact, after their longtime archivist recently retired, theirs have been turned over to the SCCA Foundation, which also manages the Street Survival program. I was recently asked to serve on the board of directors of this foundation, so I look forward to learning more about the size, condition and organization of these archives. Since the SCCA sanctioned most racing in the U.S. for many decades, I am hopeful that this is a very large trove of material.

In the meantime, I have my book. Finding it has certainly kindled my interest in acquiring more like it. If you have such a book, or even just boxes of old photos or notebooks relating to an old race car, realize there are guys like me who now own these cars and would love to have any archival data they can get their hands on. This helps us not only to better restore the cars, but also to tell their stories at events. So whatever you do, don’t throw these treasures away. Holding onto them and getting them into the hands of current car owners helps preserve a history that, for many, is rapidly disappearing.

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PatrickYoas New Reader
2/11/19 6:39 p.m.

I couldn’t help but notice the Schooler Cams at the top of the scrapbook cover. I used Frank when I lived in JAX for my Austin Healey cam regrinds and engine balancing. Very nice and knowledgeable guy!

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
2/12/19 7:06 a.m.

Yes, too bad he retired. We used Schooler cams in our TR3

Datsun310Guy UltimaDork
2/12/19 7:52 a.m.

I’m on a “remember Road America” page on Facebook and I published a picture from Porsche Park from the early 1980’s and the green shorts/yellow shirt dude mentioned that he was the guy walking down the center.  Kinda cool to help document history a bit.  

mapleglen New Reader
2/12/19 10:04 a.m.

My niece sent me a connection to many pictures oe Watkins Glen in the "BOG" days. That was thbe only time I ever got tear gassed, and I was being good as I had just started my teaching career.


husky450cr New Reader
9/17/22 10:46 a.m.

Very cool story.  While nothing close to the TR3 and its exploits, I've kept photo books of the autocrosses and kart races over the years...in hindsight, I wish I had done a better job labeling the photos with dates, locations and results.  It's still fun flipping thru, but more detail would have made it more that what it currently is...

rustriddenB New Reader
9/17/22 3:51 p.m.

Nothing like the old photo scrap books... I have shots from the Glen that I recently sent to the IMRRC so they don't get tossed after I'm gone. I will also attempt to attach a couple of images from Hobo Hill in Belvale (Warwick) NY from the very early 70's...

Mr_Asa UltimaDork
9/17/22 4:21 p.m.

Tracking history is an interesting thing.  Almost since the day he passed, I've been trying to find out about the racing history of my mentor, Chuck.  I know he was heavily involved with SCCA.  Supposedly he worked on the Triumph factory team for one or more of the 24 hour race series

Did racing in Hawaii while he was stationed there (Ctrl + F for "Chuck Sparks")

That's about the extent though.  Plenty of hits on decades old websites recommending tips and tricks that he would use to get old Jags to work properly again.

rustriddenB New Reader
11/6/23 10:46 a.m.

Ah, what simpler days. 

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