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Friday, 31 July 2015

The Blue Bird Sunbeam Returns to Pendine Sands

The 350HP Sunbeam was built in 1920 as a record car, powered by the enormous 18.3-litre V12 Sunbeam Manitou engine.

By 1922, it had already broken 3 land speed records in the hands of various drivers.

In 1923, it was purchased by Sir Malcolm Campbell who had it repainted blue and re-christened “Blue Bird”.

On July 21st, 1925, racing Blue Bird on Pendine Sands in Wales, Sir Malcolm set a new land speed record of 150.766 mph (242.628 km/h).

© Paul Chenard 2015

Exactly 90 years later, the Blue Bird Sunbeam was returned to Pendine Sands to celebrate and honour this historic achievement.

© Paul Chenard 2015

The event was made that much more special with Sir Malcolm’s grandson Donald Wales, a land speed record holder in his own right, taking the wheel of this very beautiful record car.

© Paul Chenard 2015

© Paul Chenard 2015

© Paul Chenard 2015

The Blue Bird was joined on the beach by the powerful 1933 Napier Railton.

© Paul Chenard 2015

© Paul Chenard 2015

The sight of these 2 record-breakers on the beach was nothing short of stunning, a very fitting tribute the bravery of those drivers of the past, and of British technological history.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Pinehurst Concours d’Élégance 2015

In early May, I was commissioned to be the roving artist at the 3rd annual Pinehurst Concours d’Élégance, a stunning event held at the Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina.

The quality of the event was second to none, and organizer Jay Howard and his competent team made it shine! The Concours and car show are vast and very well organized.

My job was to sketch the cars of participants, each of who paid the organization $750 USD for me to sketch their cars, with the money going in support of the USO, the official charity.

I also donated an original artwork for auction, and it raised $1250 USD towards the USO.

Actor Denise Haysbert was invited to be the Grand Marshall of the event, which he did with much poise and class. I luckily got to meet and chat with him … very nice and approachable guy!

The first car that I sketch was a lovely 1959 Porsche 356 Carrera Coupe. Once I finished, the owner took me for a little spin in it … it had impressive performance!

That sketch was followed by an Austin Healey 3000, a 2005 Ferrari 575 SuperAmerica, and a 1965 Jaguar XKE Coupe. I literarily ran out of time, so that I did the final sketches of a McLaren P1 and a Ferrari NART/California Spyders grouping at home.

Over the weekend, I was very fortunate to meet in person for the first time some old friends. Automotive PR guru Deb Pollack was responsible for me being at the event, and she was there representing Singer Vehicle Design, who were unveiling their new customer-owned 911 from Virginia and restored by Singer. Deb’s an absolute gem!!!

I also had a wonderful visit from Jennifer Revson, and I loved every second that we spent together!

Keith Koldsbaek of Hendrick Motorsports also came by to meet me, which was a huge honour for me.

The event was capped off with an outdoor concert by 3 Dog Night, and they really had the crowd hopping!

All together, my participation in the event raised a total of $5750 USD for the USO, which I’m very proud of. I hope that I can return to next year’s event to build on what was started.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Denise McCluggage 1927-2015

I’ve known of Denise McCluggage for years, admiring her ability to do many things very well … racing cars, writing, skiing, editing, publishing, giving presentations, but most of all, being a role model.

When I wrote my first book, I emailed her a PDF of it before publishing it, and her support and encouragement convinced me to go ahead.

A couple of years ago, when I knew it was her birthday, I celebrated it by buying two of her limited edition photos … and she added a 3rd one to thank me!!!

When my friend Peter Bourassa of Motorsport Marketing Resources invited Denise to give her “The Centered Driver” presentation in Lawrence, MA in January 2014, I knew I had to go meet her in person.

As a backdrop to her presentation, I offered to paint a large, 2-panel mural on the second floor of European Motorsports, the venue for her presentation; Peter and European Motorsports owner Michael Ricciardi enthusiastically accepted.

I had just finished the mural on the day of the presentation when Denise showed up. Wow, I couldn’t believe that I was in the same room with her, and she couldn’t believe that I painted a mural for her presentation!

That evening, her sold-out presentation was a hit; she was very dynamic, and had everyone’s ear, listening to her every word of wisdom.

Peter, me, Denise and Michael
Later on, we did get to chat a bit, share a couple of meals, and I showed her one of my most precious collectibles, my 1959 Fuller Brush catalog, which she wrote.

She was surprised to see a copy because they are hard to come by, and she told me the story behind it. Then she kindly autographed it for me!!!

I was very privileged to meet her – she was such a dynamo, bubbling with ideas, that I can’t help thinking that she’s still going strong … somewhere out there …

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Bluebird-Proteus CN7 Record Car

The Campbell family legacy of breaking land speed records goes back to Sir Malcolm Campbell born in the county of Kent, England in 1885.

He was a racing driver and journalist who took on the challenge, between 1924 and 1935, of setting numerous land speed records in various cars that he choose to christen “Bluebird”.

Sir Malcolm passed away in 1948, and his son Donald, born in 1921, decided to take on the challenge of speed.

He started on water with his father’s old record boat Bluebird K4. With modifications, the boat showed great promise, but he did not manage to set any new records with it.

Donald commissioned a new boat the Bluebird K7 of extremely advanced design, and through the 1950’s, set many new water speed records.

At the end of the 1950’s, he commissioned a land speed record car, which he christened Bluebird-Proteus CN7. It was a stunningly beautiful car, powered by a modified Bristol-Siddeley Proteus turbine engine driving all 4 wheels.

Corgi #153 Proteus Campbell Bluebird (1960-1965)

In 1960, he brought Bluebird to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, USA for testing. After various trial runs, making adjustments all along, Campbell crashed CN7, damaging it extensively and putting himself in hospital.

It was rebuilt through 1962 with a tail fin to add stability and was tested in 1963 on Eyre Lake, a normally dry lakebed in Australia.

After many months of bad conditions for a land speed run, there was a break in the weather and on July 17, 1964, Campbell decided to go for it.

Bluebird-Proteus CN7 on it's record run
Acrylic, pen&ink and colour pencils on 24"x 10.5" (60.9cm x 25.4cm) watercolour paper
© Paul Chenard  - Original art available -

On his two courageous runs, he brought Bluebird to an average speed of 403.10 mph (648.73 km/h), a new world land speed record for a wheel-driven car. Victory was his!!!

Sadly, Donald Malcolm Campbell CBE was killed while attempting a new world water speed record in the modified Bluebird K7 on Coniston Water, Lancashire, UK on the 4th of January 1967.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

1975 24 Heures du Mans

In 1975, the oil crisis was in full swing, so rules promoting fuel efficiency were brought into play for the 1975 edition of the 24 Heures du Mans.

Englishman John Wyer was a veteran and successful race-team manager who’s team had won the 24 heures du Mans 3 times, first in 1959 for Aston Martin, and then in 1968 and 1969, racing the Gulf Racing GT-40’s.

Though he was looking at retirement, he could not resist the idea of trying one last time.

With the assistance of Gulf again, Wyer had two Mirage GR8’s developed for Le Mans, the only race that he and Gulf Racing chose to run in the season.

The international mix of drivers chosen for the task were Australian Vern Schuppan and Frenchman Jean-Pierre Jaussaud in car #10, and Englishman Derek Bell and Belgian Jacky Ickx teamed up in car #11.

The cars were powered by the famous Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0L V8, modified to run at lower RPM’s to conserve fuel.

The Bell/Ickx Gulf Mirage GR8 at the 1975 24 Heures du Mans
Pen&ink and markers on 12"x 12" light-blue archival paper ... I used no blue in this artwork.
© Paul Chenard 2015 - Original art available.

The Gulf research Racing Co. Mirage GR8’s were favoured to win, and they did not dispoint!

The Bell/Ickx #11 car covered the most distance in the 24 hours, and the Schuppan/Jaussaud #10 car finished 3rd behind the Lafosse/Chasseuil Ligier JS2.

It was Derek Bell’s first of 5 Le Mans (1975, 1981. 1982, 1986, 1987) wins and it was Jacky Ickx’s 2nd of 6 Le Mans (1969, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1981, 1982) wins. Schuppan was to win later in 1983, and Jaussaud in 1978 and 1980.

For John Wyer, it was a lovely retirement gift!

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Tyrrell P34 – 6 Wheels at Work

Tyrrell Racing was founded by Englishman Ken Tyrrell, who started in racing during the 1950’s.

 As he moved up the ranks with his racing management up to 1969, when he was in charge of racing for the French company Matra, and gave them their sot after World Championship with Jackie Stewart as his driver.

 For 1970, Tyrrell moved into creating their own Grand Prix cars, working with designer Derek Gardner.

Gardner’s designs were solid and in 1971, his Tyrrell 003 brought Sir Jackie Stewart his 2nd Championship win, and the Constructors Championship to Tyrrell.

The Gardner-designed Tyrrell 006 brought sir Jackie his 3rd (and final) Drivers’ Championship.

By the end of 1975, Tyrrell Racing was looking for an edge on the competition, so Gardner took a very unorthodox approach with the 6-wheeled Tyrrell P34.

My collection of P34 diecast toys

© Paul Chenard 2015 (poster available).

The P34 had 4 custom-designed 10-inch-diameter steerable front tires. It was hoped that the smaller tires tucked behind the front fairing would provide less drag than the regular-sized front tires, and the same time provide a larger contact patch, increasing front grip.

Blueprints of the P34 chassis, suspension, and wheel
© and courtesy of Gene Varnier

In it’s unveiling, it created quite a stir in the Formula 1 world, and in it’s first outing at the 1976 Spanish Grand Prix, it showed to be quite competitive.

By it’s 4th race, Tyrrell driver Jody Scheckter took the win of the Swedish Grand Prix, with teammate Patrick Depailler following closely in 2nd place.

Scheckter on his way to winning the Swedish Grand Prix
Pen&ink and markers on 11"x 8.5" blue archival stock.
© Paul Chenard 2015 (original art available).

Though the season continued with both drivers garnering 2nd place finishes, and fastest laps, they never repeated their win, and Tyrrell racing finished 3rd in the Constructors title.

By 1977, Tyrrell developed the P34B, but by then Goodyear had stopped development of the small-diameter tires, and the P34 never found its previous competitive edge.

For 1978, Tyrrell Racing brought out the more conventional 008, which won one race, the Monaco Grand Prix in the hands of Depailler.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

1955 Mille Miglia

2015 marks the anniversary of quite a few significant motor sports milestones … the 50th anniversary Ferrari’s last win at the 24 Heures du Mans, the 50th anniversary of Jim Clark’s win the Formula 1 World Championship, and his win at the Indianapolis 500 (in a green machine!)

Yet I believe the most important by far is the 60th anniversary of Stirling Moss’ along with navigator Denis Jenkinson’s (Jenks) record-breaking win of the 1955 Mille Miglia.

Stirling Moss was part of the powerful Mercedes-Benz motor sports team for 1955, managed by the clever Alfred Neubauer.

They had a fabulous car in the form of the 300 SLR, but that alone did not guarantee success in this annual 1000-mile race held on public roads.

The Italian racers had the advantage of knowing ever inch of the route; Mercedes-Benz had to find a way to equalize the odds.

Moss and Jenks practiced the route a few times weeks before the actual race, with Jenks writing out pace notes all along the way. Mercedes then pasted the notes together into a 15.5-foot roll, which they encased in a glass-fronted, watertight box, permitting Jenks to view and communicate his notes via hand signals to Moss.

Pen&ink, arcrylic and markers on gray archival stock 11.75"x 9" (29.8cm X 22.8cm) © Paul Chenard 2015 
Commissioned piece. Available as a limited edition.

This allowed Moss to drive flat out for the entire race, depending on his trusty navigator for guidance.

They arrived at the finish line in Brescia in a record time of 10 hours 7 minutes 48 seconds, over a half hour ahead of the second-place finisher Juan Manuel Fangio, also racing for Mercedes-Benz.

This amazing record still stands, for the race was shut down following the 1957 Mille Miglia where driver Alfonso de Portago crashed his Scuderia Ferrari 335 S, killing himself, his co-driver (navigator) Edmund Nelson and nine spectators.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

London Classic Car Show 2015

I thought I would start the New Year right by attending the inaugural London Classic Car Show, held at the ExCel Center in the Docklands area of London on January 8th-11th.

My thought was to wander around over the 3 main days and sketch things that I found interesting.

It turns out that finding interesting things was extremely easy!!! The variety and depth of the exhibition was astounding, not to mention the motoring stars who were directly involved.

On the opening evening, I managed to chat with David Coulthard and Adrian Newey, and met James May of Top Gear. I also organized sketching at various stands of the show over the weekend.

Photo © Thierry Boissard

1973 Tyrrell 006 - Original art available © Paul Chenard 2015

On Friday, I was lucky enough to be allowed to sketch at Motor Sport magazine’s Hall of Fame Showcase, where I chose Sir Jackie Stewart’s 1973 Championship-winning Tyrrell 006 as subject. Photographer Thierry Boissard was kind enough to provide a photo of me at work!

My biggest thrill was to actually meet Christianne Ireland, the daughter of one of my racing heroes (Robert McGregor) Innes Ireland. She is wonderful, and it was such an honour to meet her in person. We hope to work together on future projects honouring her dad.

Mark Kehoe photo © Daily Express 2015

1936 Delahaye Type 135 - Original art available © Paul Chenard 2015

On Saturday, I was at the H&H Auctions stand, sketching a lovely 1936 Delahaye Type 135. There was a lot of activity and interest that day, with many spectators stopping by to chat. Photographer Jonathan Jacobs took some great photos of me at work, and then Daily Express press photographer Mark Kehoe came by to take some photos, and we had a lovely chat.

Photos © Jonathan Jacobs 2015

On our tube-ride to the event, we met enthusiast Steve Bush, and struck up an instant friendship (which happens a lot in the classic car world) and he was kind enough to take pics of Anna and I meeting BBC’s Saturday Kitchen star James Martin. James is also a very keen and respected historic racer and was invited to set up “James Martin’s Classic Café” at the show. He was very gracious to us groupies!

Photos © Steve Bush 2015

On Sunday, I was welcomed to the JSW Group (Jim Stokes Workshops) to sketch the re-creation 1955 Lancia D50 that they had on display. The Lancia was nothing short of stunning … JSW Group can only do stunning. Anna and I both had lovely chats with Jim Stokes himself, and he made us feel so very welcome. As I was close to wrapping up the sketch of the Lancia, along came Bernie Ecclestone to check it out! As I was packing up, with the sketches on display, a gentleman returning to his stand stopped to review my fresh Lancia art, and acquired it!

Photo © Steve Bush 2015

1955 Lancia D50 - Original art sold © Paul Chenard 2015

All in all, I consider the London Classic Car Show a not-to-be-missed event, and though I was just a spectator, I was very well received.

Next year, it would be nice to be officially part of it … crossing my fingers!

I would like to extend special thanks to Gerard O’Brien of Motor Sport magazine, Nick Delaney and Paul Lovett of H&H Auctions, and to Brian Farrow and Tim Sanders of JSW Group for having me at their stands.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

1955 British Grand Prix

Sir Stirling Moss started making himself well known in the early 1950’s with his successes in various classes of automotive motorsports.

By 1955, he had caught the eye of the Mercedes-Benz motorsports team director Alfred Neubauer, who quickly signed him on. It was a decision he was not to regret!

For 1954, Mercedes-Benz had developed the Mercedes W196 in both open-wheeled and streamlined versions, and found immediate success. With Juan Manuel Fangio signed on, they took the Formula 1 World Championship.

For the following year, they had both Fangio and Moss signed on racing the W196, and again they took the Championship.

While Fangio took 4 wins out of 7 races Mercedes entered, with Moss following him to second place in two of the races, the tables turned for the British Grand Prix held on July 16th at Aintree.

Moss racing the Mercedes W196 to win the British Grand Prix (my sketch signed by Moss himself!)

Sir Stirling Moss took the pole position and race just ahead of his teammate Fangio. It was Moss’ first Grand Prix win, and the first British Grand Prix win by a British driver.

In 2015, we celebrate the 60th anniversary of this famous win.
Bravo Sir Stirling!!!