Video of the Day: The Golden Age of motor racing

Vintage production tracks the famous cars and races of the 1920s, with lots of on-track action

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An Aston Martin rounds a corner during the 1922 French Grand Prix

Lots of vintage racing action in this British compilation of international motor racing during the 1920s, when Bugattis and Duesenbergs, Fords and Sunbeams, battled it out on road courses and race tracks. The black-and-white video, fairly vintage in itself, is titled 1915-1929, The History of Motor Racing, The Golden Age, a Shell Film produced by the Film Centre London. 

“These are cars of the ‘20s, unique in the skill and craftsmanship that went into their construction,” the British narrator intones as the show gets under way.  “These are cars of the Golden Age of motor racing.”

Unique indeed, as this was a time of unfettered experimentation in performance and aerodynamics, and some of the racers look more like crazy contraptions than race cars.

The filming is terrific as cars are shown sliding around corners on their skinny tires and battling wheel-to-wheel. These cars today would be highly valuable collector’s items instead of battered racing machines driven hard in the harshest conditions.

Famed drivers and automotive personalities are seen as they were in their prime, each of them contriving how to get ahead of the other drivers in their rickety racers.  Legendary races from the Indy 500 to the French Grand Prix are highlighted, as well as smaller events and speed-record assaults.

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The video is separated into parts 1,2 and 3, which are actually one continuous video, so you’ll want to watch all of them. Here are parts 2 and 3:

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

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