In these Covid-19 times everybody seems to have an opinion about wearing a mask in public. My opinion is, if wearing a mask will allow my local track to open, I’m all in!
Fortunately or unfortunately, my mind seems to be permanently stuck in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s when it comes to racing. Since I’m wired that way, when I see people wearing bandana type masks my mind goes straight to 1966.
I’ve always had a special spot in my heart for the1967 Oswego Speedway Program Cover shown below. The picture is actually from the year before at the track’s 1966 USAC sprint show. The photo features several things that are fascinating. The first thing you notice is the crowd, they could not be packed in tighter. The second thing is the lack of roll cages combined with the Oswego boiler plate. A potentially lethal combination. The beauty of the cars is next – no vinyl graphics – just hammer tone numbers, scallops and gorgeous paint jobs. The Dr Ward Dunseth 16 car is especially stunning. Finally, the driver’s open face helmets and bandanas. Check out Don Branson and Al Smith in the second row.
It didn’t matter, dirt or pavement, Indy Car, Sprint Car, Supermodified or midget if you where going to be a bad ass this was the look. There where several drivers that wore the forerunner of the full face helmet – the bubble shield. I believe the bubble shield came from NASA or the Air Force – but it just didn’t do it.
In the world of supermodifieds there is one standard of cool. Retired but ageless driver Bentley Warren. These days Bentley wears a “Bentley’s Saloon” bandana on his head. But in the 1960’s he was full bandana while driving.
Whether it is today or in the 1960’s there was one group that did have us all beat -the 1960’s Nitro Drag Racers. Check out their Sartorial Splendor. Both Badass AND Covid-19 Proof!
The Drivers Project is a media collective devoted to North American open-wheel racing.