Sports car racing west of the Rockies has an atmosphere all its own, a mood compounded of merry partying, dig-what-I'm-wearing clothing, an inevitable flock of platinumed lovelies and competition as fierce as you are likely to see anywhere. The meet that doesn't produce a bosomy Hollywood starlet to top off the black oil grime on the faces of the winners with a scarlet smear of lipstick is impoverished indeed.
No poverty is apparent in the operation at Riverside, Calif.—scenes from whose inaugural September races are shown on the following pages. An $800,000 venture by millionaire Sportsman John Edgar and Restaurateur Rudy Cleye, Riverside is the most ambitiously conceived of a half dozen fine new American road courses built in this year of unprecedented growth. It is fitting, then, that Riverside will be the scene this weekend of the climactic Sports Car Club of America meet of the season—the last of three big November outbursts in California.
An hour's drive from Los Angeles, situated hard by the San Jacinto mountains, Riverside is a fast and testing 3.3-mile course for sports cars. Unhappy testimony to its rigors was provided at the opening meet by Carroll Shelby, the fireball from Texas, whose accident in practice caused him severe facial injuries, and Pasadena's John Laurence, who was killed in a racing crack-up. In the future, Riverside will offer a variety of road course options; a one-mile oval for track-racing machines and a half-mile hot-rod drag strip already have been built.
California's November season is more a big Coast show than a typical SCCA national series. Few drivers from east of the Rockies make the trip west, and few from the Coast follow the eastern and midwestern summer tour. Names like Bob Drake and Richie Ginther come quicker to the Coast fan's tongue than that of the East's big-bore champion, Walt Hansgen, and you'll get an argument from the Coast if you claim Ohio's Bob Kuhn, national leader in the lively AC Bristol class, tops California's Bill Love.
About the atmosphere of Coast racing, though, no argument exists. It is different, and the word from the Coast is "Vive la difference!"
From the air Riverside is a serpentine strip of asphalt. South turn is in foreground, San Jacinto range afar.
Up the straight after clocking 146 mph, Pete Woods of La Habra, Calif., in D Jaguar, fights to keep lead over Ford-engined Troutman-Barnes Special driven by Chuck Daigh of Long Beach
Winner of Riverside's inaugural feature, the 85-mile Gold Cup, Ferrari Salesman Richie Ginther embraces wife after taking checkered flag. His 4.9-liter Ferrari led field by 58 seconds