Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


VISITORS TODAY ENJOY the charm of Carmel, the luxury of The Lodge at Pebble Beach, and the beauty of Seventeen Mile Drive through California’s Monterey Peninsula. Here’s an assessment from Road and Track magazine, January 1951, reporting on quite a different venue: the First Annual Pebble Beach Road Race.

Road and Track Waxes Poetic. “A road winding thru stately trees to ascend a wooded hill and the ‘round hay bale chicanes to dive down on open-field straightaway. Enthusiastic spectators gathered at every vantage point, some peering from behind trees on the turns, while others sit on logs overlooking the course. The excited whines of stressed engines as be-numbered sports cars chase around the hay bales.” 

This and following images from Road and Track, January 1951. 

“Such might be the description of a European road race… yet the scene was laid in California. The event was the First Annual Pebble Beach Road Race, organized by the San Francisco region of the Sports Car Club of America and the M.G. Car Club.” 

The magazine continued, “The 1.8 mile asphalt and dirt course was made up of private roads which interlace the famous Pebble Beach playgrounds on Monterey Peninsula.… Altho no attempt was made to commercially exploit the meet, over 7,500 spectators were on hand, a large portion coming from San Francisco and Los Angeles.”

It added, almost as an afterthought: “A Concours d’Elegance brought forth a fine array of foreign and vintage domestic cars.” Today, of course, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is one of the most prestigious in the world. 

Drivers Taking Part. Sterling Edwards, one of the event planners, drove his Edwards Sports Car to first place in the Del Monte Trophy Race, 12 laps, 21.6 miles, for cars of 1500 to 3000 cc. 

The Edwards Sports Car, driven by its designer and builder Sterling Edwards. 

Mike Graham’s Cadillac-Allard J.2 took first in the Monterey Unlimited Class Race, another 12 lapper, for cars of 3000 to 8000 cc. 

Mike Graham’s J.2 Cad-Allard.

John von Neumann drove his MG TD to first in the Cypress Point Light Car Race, a 12 lapper for cars of 750 to 1500 cc. His car also earned congratulations featured in a half-page ad in the magazine.

Fourth among the small cars was a supercharged Crosley driven by H.N. Manney III. Yes, that Henry N. Manney III years before he became R&T’s favorite writer and Yr Faithfl Srvnt. A letter in the Correspondence column noted, “Orchids, and plenty of them, to the little I.T.-blown Crosley Hotshot, for staying on the course on those ridiculous wheels, and for lasting the distance…” The Hotshot ran on 4.50-12s. 

Henry N. Manney III and his Crosley Hotshot. Photo: Bob Devlin Collection from Sports Car Digest.

Tomorrow in Part 2, we’ll continue with commentary by Phil Hill, who had already appeared as Road and Track’s Representative in England. In our tale, he competes in the main event, the 25-lap Pebble Beach Cup. Phil’s pal Dick Ginther is his pit crew. Ginther… another familiar name to motor sports enthusiasts. ds 

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2022 


  1. jguenther5
    June 4, 2022

    Made me smile to think of John v. Neumann behind the wheel of an MG-TD. I used to see him fly his jet into Clover Field every day in the early 60’s.

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