Gear: Five Racing Legends Never Looked so Good

Five Racing Legends Never Looked so Good

By Benjamin Shahrabani
April 21, 2015

The book: Stance & Speed Monograph Series (5 Book Series)

Author: Various

Pages: 32 per book

Purchase: Click here

As the name implies, publisher Stance & Speed produces books for gearheads who like to read—it even says just that on their website. The publisher has teamed with several well-known authors and photographers for the Stance & Speed Monograph Series. Each volume examines just a single significant car, and its history.

Five is the number in the series thus far, and more are expected to be added in time. Those available at the moment are the Cunningham C-4RK, Jaguar XJR-7, So-Cal Coupe, 1964 Watson Sheraton Thompson Special, and the Gurney Eagle-Weslake F1—a diverse group indeed. Here’s our short roundup on each.

Starting with the first book in the series, the Chrysler-powered 1952 Cunningham C-4RK is a one-off special, designed for Le Mans, crafted with input from one of the earliest—and now most famous—aerodynamicists, Dr. Wunibald Kamm. Best known for his breakthrough in reducing car turbulence at high speeds (the Kamm Tail is named for him) the short, squat, and brutal-looking C-4RK used the invention to good effect at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, years before Carroll Shelby entered the more aerodynamic Daytona Coupe into the race. That year, the car succumbed to engine trouble—you have to obviously finish to win at Le Mans, just like any other race—but the car continued to be campaigned with some success at other events.

Next up in the series is the 1986 Jaguar XJR-7, the product of a company that was in desperate financial trouble at the time. Out of desperation sometimes comes brilliance, and Jaguar created not only a beautiful race car when race cars were often more function than form, but one that was competitive against Porsche 956s and 962s, placing highly or winning at Daytona, Riverside, and Palm Beach in fierce Group C and, IMSA Camel GTP competition.

So-Cal Speed Shop founder Alex Xydias decided to build the So-Cal Coupe in 1950 as a dual purpose car he could run at both Bonneville and the drag strip, as well as use to promote his now famous So-Cal speed shop in Burbank. A chopped and channeled ’34 Ford coupe that had previously run at Bonneville fit the bill perfectly. Xydias swapped out the six for a Mercury 258 cubic-inch flathead V8 with a GMC 4-71 blower fed by no less than four Stromberg 48 carbs, and his So-Cal team would shatter the class C record with a run of 172.749 mph at the Bonneville meet in 1953. The car would go on to set more records, and would become one of the most raced cars in history, but tragedy would later strike…

Heading to Indianapolis, the Stance & Speed series then profiles the 1964 Watson Sheraton Thompson Special, the swan song for front-engine racers at Indy. A.J. Foyt, racing legend in the making, would win the race in this car, but it would be the last of its ilk, for a front-engined car would never again win at the Brickyard. Donald Davidson, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s official historian, helps narrate the story of a machine that would be amongst the last of its breed.

Last, but not least in the series is the Gurney Eagle-Weslake F1, which some believe is the most clean, beautiful Formula 1 designs—before those cars would become adorned with wings and plastered with advertisements. Piloted by Dan Gurney in a series dominated by European manufacturers, the Gurney Eagle-Weslake would score a historic victory at the Belgian Grand Prix. With the checkered flag, the car would be the first American machine to win the event since Jimmy Murphy took the 1921 French Grand Prix in a Duesenberg. Gurney would set a new record for the fastest race lap and average in the process.

The production values of the Monograph series are well done—the photographs are vivid, and numerous. Technical drawings abound. The writers, and contributors are amongst those that were there, and know the cars well.

While the $17.95 price for each individual book is great value, they each number only 32-pages. Like my brief synopsis of each car may indicate, these are not definitive books on the subjects, so if you think of these books as “snack” sized, you won’t be disappointed. What’s the verdict? Easily digestible, and enjoyable books that may be enjoyed separately, together—or in any order that you choose.

Purchase Stance & Speed Monograph Series.

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Dustin Rittle
Dustin Rittle
7 years ago

Now this looks like a book series I could sink my teeth into. The Sol- cal coupe and the Cunningham have my interest.

Vintage Son
Vintage Son
7 years ago

I would love to read the one about the Cunningham. Such an interesting car.