"SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA ROAD RACING" ...When Old Yeller really roamed the race tracks!
Published on Wed, Nov 20, 2019
By: Doug Stokes
This new book by Tony Baker stands out and deserves a second look. For anyone who expects it online soon, that’s not going to happen … just break down and buy the darn book.
LACar.com Book Review:
Southern California Road Racing
by Tony Baker
Paperback 128 pages, 223 photos
Review by Dave Wolin
Photos courtesy of the publisher
I don’t often do book reviews but this new book by Tony Baker stands out and deserves a second look. For anyone who expects it online soon, that’s not going to happen … just break down and buy the darn book.
Baker, the noted Ventura county historian and car guy whose books have captured much of early-day hot rodding; “Hot Rodding in Santa Barbara County”, “Hot Rodding in Ventura County” and “Central Coast Motorsports” has hit a home run with his latest, “Southern California Road Racing”.
Baker has captured the colorful days of early sports car racing in this collection of rarely seen photos of the era. These historic images spotlight the people, racetracks and cars that made up California racing’s golden age.
People, as diverse as drivers Ken Miles and Carroll Shelby (both portrayed in the new “Ford v Ferrari” film), hot-rodder Mickey Thompson, John “Bat” Masterson, as well as actresses Jayne Mansfield and Jill St. John all make an appearance … sometimes showing up in unlikely places like the runway apron/pit area of the Santa Barbara Airport at Goleta.
Long gone and almost forgotten sports car venues are covered in photographic detail; ranging from the twisting Paramount Ranch road course with its “western town” film sets, to Pomona (at the L.A. County Fairgrounds) and the narrow, “road course” at Torrey Pines, to temporary airport circuits like Santa Barbara, Palm Springs, Cotati, Minter Field near Bakersfield, and Stockton.
Back in the day, Ferraris, Porsche Spyders, Aston-Martins, and Maseratis (many fresh off the European race circuit) all competed head to head against legendary California specials like car dealer Bill Murphy’s Buick-powered Kurtis 500, the infamous ‘Ol Yeller of Max Balchowsky, Chuck Porter’s beautiful SLS Mercedes-Chevy and many others … all are featured in this compact book.
If you remember sports car racing in the ’50s and ’60s, you’ll enjoy the photos, be amused by the stories and may well recall some of the people involved. If you missed it … this little book is a great opportunity to see what you missed and how far sports car racing has evolved.
Tony Baker’s books are available directly from publisher Arcadia Press and at Autobooks in Burbank.
Editor’s note: Reviewer Dave Wolin is a veteran hot rodder and road racer who operates a marketing consultancy firm specializing in the racing and high-performance industry