Journal: Are Mechanics The Unsung Heroes Of Motoring?

Are Mechanics The Unsung Heroes Of Motoring?

Michael Banovsky By Michael Banovsky
August 11, 2016
6 comments

There’s a lot of focus, and rightfully so, on the icons who’ve won races, designed timeless machines, and accomplished feats of bravery and endurance. But for every Henry Ford, how many mechanics did the world need? I mean, someone’s got to put everything together and fix it once a problem occurs. Today’s Vintage Friday is a salute to mechanics, with period photos of repairs being undertaken in some pretty difficult conditions…

Our best look at mechanics comes from racing, where, naturally, there’s enough need (tuning, accidents, repairs) for workers to leave the comfort of the repair or race shop. But where cars go, repairs follow: deserts, permafrost, and the Col de Turini. Obviously, there are few period shots of normal drivers being tended to by normal mechanics, something that’d happen on the local Interstate and far from a photographer’s gaze. A shame: I’m sure countless motorists have been aided by mobile repair or well-intentioned shop.

Do you have any feats of mobile repair to share, from either the racetrack or your local Interstate?

Image sources: The Revs Institute, velocetoday.comprimotipo.compinimg.comwikimedia.orgwikimedia.org(2)

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Bryan Dickerson
Bryan Dickerson

Thanks for giving credit where due, except it should be a whole book!
One of my favorite memories from the way back was getting to see Mark Donahue working with his mechanics on the Penske Porsche 917/30 at Watkins Glen.

Sir Mouse
Sir Mouse

I once spent a couple of hours in a grassy paddock on a vintage race weekend trying to get the rear brakes on a racing TR3a to work properly. Just could not get the rear wheel hydraulic actuators to extend on both ends. Then finally realized they were not dual actuators , they were single… Doh!
Lucky for me the time spend cleaning the gunk off of everything seamed to make them work better for the car owner/driver.

Christopher Gay
Christopher Gay

I spent plenty of time in shops like these, as my father was a pro crew chief/mechanic/engineer; so, I will join in the salute. This site revolves around classics, and there is a difference in the demands of a mechanic doing restoration work and the mechanic finding speed and finishing races. I would say that many of the best mechanics are/were also great drivers. I would also say that many of the greatest drivers are/were also skilled mechanics. Probably not so much “hands-on” in this modern era, but certainly an understanding of vehicle dynamics and mechanics can be a huge… Read more »

HitTheApex
HitTheApex

Without mechanics, motorsport wouldn’t be possible in any recognizable form. Most cars would die early deaths without them, so to answer the question in the title, yes, they are the unsung heroes. Rarely does one think of all the hours a mechanic or mechanics have spent over a car – or under it – when taking in a classic, yet without him, her, or them, that car is likely to have become nothing more than an immobile sculpture a long time ago.

Nicolas Moss
Nicolas Moss

Especially true in the early days, where the mechanics rode alongside the drivers… except when they had to crawl out and fiddle under the hood as the car shot along! Seecomment image.

GardenPT
GardenPT

Rally trucks have 3 crew members on-board. I believe it’s the driver, co-driver and mechanic.