Found and restored: Baby Vanderbilt racer

Once in a while, we are tipped off to a really special automotive find that just tickles us pink. This is one of those finds. A few years ago, Gary Faules wrote about San Francisco’s racing history. Sadly, a server crash since then lost many of the images from those stories and I haven’t gotten around to finding them at the San Francisco archives again. The car you see above is a Baby Vanderbilt racer from the Pan-Pacific International Exposition in 1915.

Californian Tom Keeble has just completed a full restoration on the motorcycle engine powered racer, contacted us recently to share the story.
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East meets West in The Garage


After 42 years, I have finally made my way to California! It was a stupidly quick work trip, with me on the ground for just 27 hours. Fortunately, I had a few hours of down time to hook up with our west coast members of The Garage.

After 2 years working together online, it was really cool to finally meet up with Gary Faules and Aaron Von Minden and spend an evening telling tales. San Francisco is Gary’s playground so he puts on a great high speed tour that hits on most of the major tourist spots.

While we weren’t in a Mustang for the attack on Lombard Street, at least there was one ahead of us for our descent. We also gently cruised (ya right) down some of the streets that were the backdrop for the greatest car chase of all time, Bullitt. The poor Magnum’s suspension and brakes got a bit of a workout!
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The West Coast Crew gets flamed on the way to Fast & Furious screening


Our men on the West Coast are headed to an advance screening of the new Fast & Furious flick tonight except that they already went last night. Of course there was nobody at the theater that night because they were a day early. Its a good thing they were premature, because one of the highways they needed to use was closed due to an exploding tanker truck. Fortunately, the blower was planned and no innocent commuters were singed.

A ramp onto San Francisco’s I-280 was closed on Sunday for the stunt which is part of the opening sequence of an NBC pilot called Trauma.

You can check out some video of the blast after the break while Gary, Aaron & Anthony are getting ready to check out the movie for real this time.
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Win tickets to see Fast & Furious preview in San Francisco


The first Fast & Furious movie brought together action, cars and girls in a way never done before. Whether it was the wicked car scenes or the the hot girls, the move brought tuner culture to the mainstream and even crusty old car guys like me got into it. Heck, even Mrs. Grant got into watching Vin Diesel strut his stuff. With round 3 about to hit theaters, we’ve got a great offer for our readers in California: 10 free passes to an advance screening in San Francisco.

The gist of the movie:
Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, John Ortiz, Laz Alonso

Directed by: Justin Lin

Rated: PG-13

Vin Diesel and Paul Walker reteam for the ultimate chapter of the franchise built on speed—Fast & Furious. Heading back to the streets where it all began, they rejoin Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster to blast muscle, tuner and exotic cars across Los Angeles and floor through the Mexican desert in the new high-octane action-thriller.

When a crime brings them back to L.A. , fugitive ex-con Dom Toretto (Diesel) reignites his feud with agent Brian O’Conner ( Walker ). But as they are forced to confront a shared enemy, Dom and Brian must give in to an uncertain new trust if they hope to outmaneuver him. And from convoy heists to precision tunnel crawls across international lines, two men will find the best way to get revenge: push the limits of what’s po ssi ble behind the wheel.

Check out the trailer & more shots from the movie after the break and find out how to get your free ticket.
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Savage Speed Truckin in San Francisco

Now that the younger of our two farm boys on the West Coast has moved up to San Francisco, there are all sorts of new opportunities for new photos of the Ford Model A pickup. We’re talking of course about Aaron Von Minden from Savage Speed Garage and his parts grabber.

From way up here in Ontario….Canada, not California, I can honestly say that you guys on out west suck!

Way too cool gallery after the break
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The Baby Vanderbilt Racers in my own back yard

For years I have had a fascination and love affair with the rich history of the Vanderbilt Cup Series. I must admit, one of my biggest reasons for this interest is because of that same history as it relates to the area which I call home… San Francisco. This story has it all, intrigue, fortunes, men with power, race cars, airplanes, world travel.

To get things started it helps to understand how much more the San Francisco Vanderbilt Series Race stood out than any other race and that’s saying something considering how amazing any of the Vanderbilt Series Cup events were. The Panama-Pacific International Exposition was a world’s fair held in San Francisco
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Where is Sherlock Holmes when you need him?


I could use some help. A while back I wrote an article on the Vanderbilt Cup history in San Francisco and as a result I was contacted in a effort to help identify the amazing car in this photo. Even more amazing is who the gentleman is sitting in the passenger seat. If anyone has any information about this car whatsoever please contact me at

Ms TL Thousand is the owner of the photo and it was said to have been taken in Dubuque Iowa. TL is the grandchild of the driver in the photo. I was asked to help identify the brand or type of car as they suspected the car might have some connection to the “Maytag” Mason Hill Climber or Goat. Ms TL Thousand wrote, “My grandfather (a German immigrant and mechanical engineer) used to be a chauffeur for Fred Dusenberg circa 1916-1918. I have an absolutely fabulous photo of my grandfather and Fred seated in an unidentified racing car — a car whose lines look very much like it could be a non-stripped down version of the Maytag “Goat” 2-cylinder racer.”

Duesenberg and Maytag had a collaboration going on with the Mason Car Company so there may be a connection. Fred Duesenberg may have either had a hand in this car or simply knew the fellow that owned it and just wanted a picture of himself in it.

Looking for photos of racing Singers

Gary Faules’ recent postings on the history of racing in San Francisco stirred up a good deal of interest and more than their fair share of comments. They have also introduced us to Peter McKercher, who is attempting to chronicle the history of Singer race cars in the Fifties.

The shot above shows Johnny Martin at Pomona in 1954 behind the wheel of a 1953 SM 1500 twin carb, being chased by 3 generations of MG. If anybody out there has more images of these cars or some personal memories, just let us know through the comments section below and we’ll make sure Peter gets them.

San Francisco auto racing memoirs 1950-1956


A lot of what I enjoy most about The GarageBlog is that anyone who enjoys automobiles whether it be late model, old school, muscle, antique cars or even the latest on luggage racks with lipstick holders, can find something for every need here. One minute we can ask ourselves what was the biggest news coming out of the Nascar circuit this year and the next we can be reading why we shouldn’t be buying a sports car from Germany. (Do they really make sports car in Germany?)

Recently I have noticed several share my appreciation for some of the history of racing right here in my own back yard so I thought I would attempt to share some of this.
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Of all the places to be found…






Having grown up in a small town along the southwestern coast of Oregon I never stopped dreaming about many of the same things as any other red blooded boy… girls, cars, girls, travel, girls, and cars. Funny as it is I was the son of a man who owned lumber mills and much of his lumber over the years was shipped to San Francisco. Later in life my travels led me to eventually make my home in San Francisco. As I could afford it and as opportunities made themselves available I became involved in the sport auto racing. When I was about 19 years old there was an old man in a wrecking yard that would tell me stories about his uncle who raced on board tracks in San Francisco but to tell the truth for many years I always believed he was tipping the bottle too much and whenever I asked anyone else about “board” tracks they all laughed at me.
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