“Where They Raced Turn 3” book review

The rise and fall and rise again of auto racing and its impact on the urban landscape of Southern California

An old race car on the Point Loma Road Race of 1915

Racers on the Point Loma Road racecourse in San Diego hustle along Chatsworth Boulevard and downhill on Canon. Book author Harold Osmer claims that ‘more automobile racing has taken place in Southern California than any other area of the world.’ (HOPubs)

 

BY MARK MAYNARD

 

While working on a graduate thesis on the non-stimulating topic of “Geography, Land Use Planning,” author Harold Osmer dug into a far more exciting topic: land used for auto racing in Southern California.

In the third revision of his book “Where They Raced Turn 3,” Osmer lays down the groundwork for his claim that “more automobile racing has taken place in Southern California than any other area of the world.”

Where they Raced Turn 3 book cover

“Where They Raced Turn 3: Auto racing venues in Southern California, 1900-2020;” by Harold Osmer; 144-page softcover landscape format; 340 images; $34.95 U.S., with express shipping. Order the book at HOPublishing.com

In his thesis research, the academic question was, he said in the book, “Where and when were race tracks located and what effect did they have on future land use?”

The results of his initial thesis became “Where They Raced,” published in 1996. The updated version, “Where They Raced LAP2,” came out in 2000.

Finding new details

While history has not changed, Osmer has learned much and tapped the Internet for details not easily unearthed since “LAP2.” And those additions are chronicled in “Turn 3.”

His three books have always been about the geography of SoCal auto racing instead of the personalities and technological aspects of motorsports.

By his definition, Southern California reaches north to include Bakersfield and Ventura, south to San Diego, and east to the state line.

Racing venues were established in Santa Monica and Beverly Hills. San Diego County had several tracks, including on the grounds of what is now Sea World. And there was racing on the grounds of Television City in Los Angeles. And L.A. had four very different tracks by the name of Ascot.

“Chances are good that there was an auto-racing venue within a few miles of wherever you are in Southern California,” Osmer wrote. And that is true of my experience in San Diego.

The Silvergate Speedway in San Diego

The Silvergate Speedway in San Diego ran from 1933 to 1936.  (HOPubs)

Point Loma Road Race

I live just off what was the route for the Point Loma Road Race of 1915. It was one of the opening events for the 1915 Panama California Exposition. The 5.9-mile-long race circuit had dramatic elevation changes, a few tight curves, and a 2-mile flat straightaway on dirt roads, Osmer wrote.

“Racers went along Rosecrans Street to Chatsworth Boulevard then down along Canon Street back to Rosecrans on what reporters dubbed a ‘legless horse’ pattern. Drivers circled the course 51 times for a total distance of 305 miles on January 9, 1915.”

Today as I drive along Chatsworth or Canon, I try to relive the scene. The big Stutzes, Mercers, Peugeots, or Duesenbergs being arm-wrestled into a powerslide through the rutted dirt turns and the occasional decreasing radius. The engines poured out exhaust smoke and the dirt track churned up billows of dust.

That was the final actual road race held in San Diego, Osmer wrote. And it would be another 15 years before professional automobile racing would return.

Race venues in Southern California

“Where They Raced Turn 3” chronicles road-race courses, dirt-track speedways, small and oval racing venues, and drag racing.

Osmer tells a good story with much input from knowledgeable sources. The black-and-white images, 340 of them, are compelling to see and truly define the blood sport that is motor racing.

The book is a vibrant recount and revitalization of historical motor racing locations.

Southern California impact

“This book is less about who and what raced in favor of the when and where they raced,” Osmer wrote. “Chances are good that there was an auto-racing venue within a few miles of wherever you are in Southern California.

“Look around, and listen for the echoes of the motors and the cheers from the fans.”

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2021 edition of the AAA Car Guide

Annual guide ranks and rates the latest in-vehicle technologies, including alternative fuel vehicles

The 2020 Tesla Model Y long range EV SUV earned the overall top score in the 2021 AAA Car Guide

The 2020 Tesla Model Y long range EV SUV earned the overall top score in the 2021 AAA Car Guide. (Tesla)

 

BY MARK MAYNARD

With new car sales booming post-pandemic and a shortage of new vehicles due to a shortage of microchips, shoppers need the best and latest information to make informed decisions. To help consumers navigate the marketplace, AAA created its annual AAA Car Guide. It ranks and rates the latest in-vehicle technologies, including alternative fuel vehicles.

The just-released 2021 edition of the guide includes comprehensive, easy-to-read reviews of each new vehicle focusing on 13 criteria. Among the test features are the number of advanced driver-assist safety features,  braking, acceleration and fuel economy, and handling and ride comfort.

2021 edition of the AAA Car GuideAccording to AAA, driver interest in advanced safety technology is high. When asked which of these systems they want in their next vehicle, two-thirds (67 percent) of drivers said automatic emergency braking, followed by reverse automatic emergency braking (63 percent) and lane-keeping assistance (61percent). A majority of new vehicle models come equipped with at least one of these systems.

The Car Guide highlights how many advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are included in the vehicle and other criteria and information.

The majority of the category winners for 2021 are either electric, plug-in electric hybrids or hybrids because manufacturers tend to load up these with the newest in safety technology. As an example, the 2020 Tesla Model Y Long-Range EV SUV has earned the overall top score.

The 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier (electric) took top honors in the AAA auto guide.

In the category of Best $35,000-$50,000, the 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier (electric) took top honors.  (Chevrolet)

The vehicles are tested, scored and placed in one of five categories by the Automotive Research Center of the Automobile Club of Southern California, a member of the AAA federation of motor clubs.

“We know that consumers are very interested in new vehicle technology for the safety features,” said Megan McKernan, manager of the Automotive Research Center. “However, AAA research also shows that drivers don’t always understand the technical limits of these features and the AAA Car Guide is an easy-to-understand resource that can help improve their understanding.”

2020 Volvo S90 T8 plug-in hybrid won in the AAA Car Guide's large-car group.

The 2020 Volvo S90 T8 plug-in hybrid won in the large-car group. (Volvo)

After about a year of learning to sell vehicles during a pandemic, dealers are experienced in keeping employees and customers safe. There are new protocols for cleaning and disinfecting dealership facilities and vehicles and how to safely handle sales operations.

Compared to even five years ago, today’s vehicles have many more features and systems that a driver must learn, said McKernan. There are learning curves for new vehicle technology and how the vehicle is powered — either gasoline, an alternative fuel, hybrid, plug-in hybrid or electric, she said. “The learning curve and decisions to be made can be daunting, and our evaluations in the AAA Car Guide are designed to help drivers select a safe and comfortable vehicle that meets their needs.”

The diesel-powered 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 Crew Cab led among pickups in the AAA Car Guide.

Among pickups, the diesel-powered 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 2WD Crew Cab SLT was the winner. A Denali model is shown. (GMC)

Each of the 2021 AAA Car Guide winners has numerous ADAS safety features, which generates a higher score. The highest-ranked by category are:

Overall: 2020 Tesla Model Y Long Range (electric)

Small: 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier (electric)

Midsize: 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Large: 2020 Volvo S90 T8 (plug-in hybrid)

Pickup: 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 2WD Crew Cab SLT (diesel)

SUV/Minivan: 2020 Tesla Model Y Long Range (electric)

Best Under $35,000: 2020 Subaru Outback premium (gasoline)

Best $35,000-$50,000: 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier (electric)

Best Over $50,000: 2020 Tesla Model Y Long Range (electric)

The AAA Car Guide also contains a compendium of AAA’s recent research of current automotive technologies and topics. Among the highlights are advanced driver assistance systems, gasoline quality, headlight effectiveness, and how to safely transport a pet in the vehicle.

Read more about the winners, detailed evaluation criteria, vehicle reviews, and an in-depth analysis of the ADAS technology at aaa.com/carguide.

About AAA

The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying American Automobile Association has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility since 1902. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

Mark Maynard

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Retromotive — A new premium-pay car magazine ‘illuminating the chase’

Retromotive claims to be much more than yet another classic car magazine

The ISO Bizzarrini AC/3 in Retromotive magazineThe ISO Bizzarrini AC/3 featured in Retromotive magazine. (Saam Gabbay)

BY MARK MAYNARD

The U.S. edition of Retromotive, an Australia-based premium-pay automotive magazine, will makes its debut on April 19 in 600 Barnes & Noble stores nationally.

Promoted as “much more than yet another classic car magazine,” Retromotive was created three years ago by automotive photographer Nathan Duff.

The magazine focuses on rare classic cars and the personalities of those who own, love and cherish them, founder and publisher Nathan Duff said in a release.

Global auto icon Bub Lutz in Retromotive magazine.

Global auto icon Bub Lutz talks about his life and career. (Sune Eriksen)

“We’re illuminating the chase, the restoration and the journey that has brought man and machine to the point of perfection and satisfaction,” Duff said. “Retromotive drives the passion of car lovers of all ages using powerful full-plate imagery to expose the beauty of each exhibit.”

By the numbers

The premium coffee-table style publication is printed on art paper, 8.3 by 11.7 inches. Each issue runs about 140-1

Mario Andretti in 1969.

Mario Andretti, 1969. (CSU Archives/Everett Collection)

60 pages with approximately 300 images.

It will be published quarterly with special editions printed throughout the year. The debut edition in the U.S. features an interview with Mario Andretti on his illustrious career; there’s a spotlight on a Le Mans Class winner, the ISO Bizzarrini AC/3, owned by founding chairman of the Petersen Automotive Museum, Bruce Meyer; and global auto icon Bub Lutz talks about his extraordinary life and career at the top.

Single magazines are $19.95 each. A 12-month print subscription (four issues) is $79. A premium subscription , $129, includes four issues of the magazine, a slip case to store the magazines, “The Annual,” an exclusive subscriber-only magazine; A4 prints of cover artwork; racetrack sticker pack and two logo stickers; exclusive digital content every month; and subscription-only discounts and offers in the e-commerce store.

a famed Porsche 906 racecar in Retromotive magazine.

Also featured will be a report on a famed Porsche 906. (Aaron Brimhall)

Learn more about the brand at www.retromotive.co or via Retromotive’s Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles.

Mark Maynard

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Barn finds and beaters — heartbeats of hope for the enthusiast

From “Cuba’s Car Culture”: What’s down the next side street? (Motorbooks photos)

Tom Cotter is a barn-find revivalist who has made a career of finding and telling us about cars that “ran when parked,” no matter how mundane or bad they smelled. The hunt and discovery of a tired old car just makes the heart beat faster in the chest of an enthusiast. And Cotter has written a shelf of barn-find books, including “Cobra in the Barn,” “Vincent in the Barn, “Barn Find Road Trip” and also his “The Barn Find Hunter” web series. Cotter has sniffed out tales of a guy who knows a guy who once knew where there was this cool old something-or-other under a tarp. Or it could be in a dilapidated barn or an overgrown back yard. Each book is a page turner, a heartbeat of hope that there is still one more out there for us to find. His latest coffeetable-book series is “Motor City Barn Finds: Detroit’s Lost Collector Cars,” with photography by Michel Alan Ross, who has shared much seat time with Cotter when not working on his other car projects. Most of his finds are beyond the financial resources of caring adopters to resuscitate these battered beauties and return them to a glorious rebirth. But it’s sure fun to read their stories. Among them, the complete but ratty 1966 Lotus Europa Type 46, bought from the original owner and stashed in a garage for 30 years. Cotter called it “a real time capsule,” still shod with 13-inch American Racing Libra aftermarket wheels. There is a lot of American iron on the pages of Motor City, most of which had been salted away in storage before the road salt ate the entire car. But there is shadowy intrigue in the occasional marque from Europe or from a race shop or an old chop job. Cotter tells a good tale and Ross has an explorer’s perspective in capturing the visual storytelling. Info: “Motor City Barn Finds: Detroit’s Lost Collector Cars,” published by Motorbooks; $35 hardcover; 208 pages. Quartoknows.com/Quarto-Drives/#titlelist

Can-do spirit of Cuba

I’ve missed the boat — or even the plane —to get to Cuba to see a vibrant car culture and all of its workarounds to keep old cars working. Images of the cobbled-up cars abound on our Facebook pages and in the phones that our island-touring friends bring home to share. For years, all I saw of Cuba’s cars were in photos and now there are at least two glossy coffeetable books to chronicle the can-do spirit of Cuban drivers. With the takeover by communists in 1959 and the subsequent trade embargos, whatever cars were on the island stayed on the island without access to parts. But that didn’t stop the locals from driving those beaters and keeping them on the road with creative alternatives to factory replacement parts. Tom Cotter, known largely for his barn-find car books, went back in time with Bill Warner (founder of the Amelia Island Concours) to learn the island’s automotive history. The initial assignment was a focus on early auto racing, which had a start in 1903 and continued in the mid-1950s for the three Cuban Grand Prix. Sir Stirling Moss, who won two of the three race, wrote the foreword. “The kidnapping of “El Maestro” Juan Manual Fangio, in 1958 somewhat defined the direction the country was to go,” he wrote. Cotter and Warner visited Cuba just as the country was again opened to the U.S. But Cotter urges that it will be too late to experience the old ways once they start building McDonald’s restaurants and Home Depots. The photos in “Cuba’s Car Culture” are familiar from others that I’ve seen online and in other books, but it is the storytelling of Cotter and Warner that weld fresh metal into the story. Info: “Cuba’s Car Culture: Celebrating the Island’s Automotive Love Affair,” published by Motorbooks; $35 hardcover; 192 pages. Quartoknows.com/Quarto-Drives/#titlelist

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