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A KIND READER recalling early R&T reminds me that I’ve not written much here about Henry N. Manney III. I too have memories of Yr. fthfl svrt, favorites lines he composed and, in fact, a (relatively rare) copy of Road & Track: Henry Manney At Large & Abroad nearby in my “website future” pile.
Why not remedy this missing Manney today?
To describe Henry N. Manney III as the Peter Egan of an earlier generation may be helpful to younger readers of R&T. Henry was a bon vivant and occasional curmudgeon. Peter has a knack of reaching out to his followers one-on-one. Their overlap lies in an excellence of written expression.
Henry was born in 1922 to a family rich in military tradition. His grandfather, Rear-Admiral Henry N. Manney, was Chief of the Bureau of Equipment in the U.S. Navy. His father, Henry Manney II, was a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Henry majored in English at Duke University and did a three-year stint in the U.S. Army as a radar mechanic. He used his G.I. Bill to fund ballet lessons. Annie Statz, ballerina, became his wife; whence his knowledge and enthusiasm for dance. Henry’s father-in-law was Arnold “Jigger” Statz, a Major League outfielder, one of only a few to amass 4000 hits in his baseball career. Thus, Henry’s love for and knowledge of baseball.
Henry’s enthusiasm for cars is well documented. By the early 1950s, he was racing a Crosley Hot Shot, eventually supercharged, in West Coast venues such as Pebble Beach. In the mid-1950s, he and Annie moved to Europe where he worked as an automotive journalist, principally for English magazines.
His first R&T articles appeared in 1961, including one of my Manney favorites, his reporting on that year’s Targa Florio in the August issue. Wrote Henry of Ferrari’s success, “ ‘Ferrari ha vinto!’ You have never seen such a scene, with cops waltzing around in greasy embrace with mechanics and what sounded like a seal rookery on the hillside as each Sicilian told the other.”
When R&T road tested the XK-E Jaguar in April 1964, it was Manney who recognized the car’s appeal as “The greatest crumpet collector known to man.”
From 1962 to 1964, the 250 GTO was Ferrari’s homologation special in the FIA’s Group 3 Grand Touring class. In those days, there was nothing as useless as a grotty old race car whose competitive days had passed. Except to Henry. In 1965, he bought GTO 5111GT from French driver Jean Guichet. Henry drove it on the street until 1971. It’s rumored the car sold for $52 million in 2013.
Ah, but Henry had to work as well. Like the time R&T sent him and artist Russell Brockbank to the Ile du Levant, an island on the Riviera known as a hangout for naturalists. [Ed—please reword.]
Between 1961 and his debilitating illness by stroke in 1980, Henry wrote race reports, auto show reports and travel stories for R&T’s “good grey pages.” These were thoughtful views, never just regurgitated press releases (which, in any case, were often one-pagers in those days).
Henry tended to think out a story completely, and only then compose a first-draft/finished piece with his two-index-finger typing. His copy was a delight, calling for next to no fact-checking or editing. To ward off the overly officious, he drew a little skull and crossbones in the margin next to a favorite passage, no doubt the product of considerable thought.
I recall only once when a Manneyism ended up being fiddled with. Wife Dottie, managing editor at the time, would occasionally seek the advice of R&T’s uptown corporate legal staff on sensitive wording. Our lawyer would say, “Go with it. It would be a court case that could prove interesting.”
However, in a Utah travel story Henry used the phrase “those rabbitty Mormons.” Our legal eagle advised, “Let’s not mess with them,” and fortunately Henry hadn’t drawn a little skull and crossbones in the margin. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2016