We have all seen the sleeping beauties, barn-finds and perished cars, passing by, but this? You might wonder how it is possible that anyone destroys such stunning cars on purpose! A Talbot-Lago T150 C – or CSS – with Figoni-Falaschi teardrop coachwork, an exceptional Delahaye 135 M – or MS – with Saoutchik coachwork and a Bugatti – probably a type 44, that definitely didn’t survive. Many other special cars have been sacrificed like this at stockcar racing events. If only they had known what there were doing… Unfortunately this has left us today with fewer of these most gracious high-class French beauties.
It is believed that some of these photographs are from 1958. They were probably all taken in France because in the US nobody would have used a Bugatti for stockcar racing at that time. The photos of the Delahayes and the Talbot-Lago are definitely from a French stockcar race.
The cars have lost most of their glamour by turning them into stockcars with or without a protection cage. This sometimes makes it hard to tell with certainty what type of car we are exactly looking at, although for two of them the coachbuilder is obvious.
After some research, I discovered that stockcar racing has a hilarious history. And it seemed that the people that started this strange spectacle were real unadulterated nut heads. That is probably why they had no scruples to wreck high-class cars like these.
The stockcar racing rumpus started in the USA in the Southern Appalachians, where ‘good old boys’ – as they liked to call them – smuggled loads of illegal moonshine in their souped up ‘34 Fords. In their attempts to elude the revenue agents they raced without headlights along dark, twisting dirt roads at speeds exceeding 120 miles per hour! But the story gets even better! The nut heads, as I like to call them, were very proud of their cars and challenged each other to prove who had the fastest car which led to weekend races at tracks carved out of pastures and cornfields.
Bill France founded the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) in 1948, motorsport’s pre-eminent stock car racing organization. He made a populair spectacle of this weird way of motoring by organizing formal competitions. These days stockcar racing is a populair spectacle and the owners of the cars are now wealthy men instead of mad smugglers from the South who raced to make money for gas.
Perhaps these poor tortured and slaughtered beauties can now to be found in heaven ; )