Juan Fangio was a great driver who dominated Formula One racing in the fifties and later, along with the likes of Stirling Moss and Jackie Stewart. I am one of an aging remnant of mostly males (though another local friend and member of our band, Brian Romkey, reminded me of Denise McLuggage and Jean Lindamood, women who drove and wrote), who wanted to own classic Brit sports cars, went to race tracks like Lime Rock in Connecticut, and wanted to see or ,when young enough to be completely unrealistic, drive in, real Grand Prix races like Monaco.
Betsy Huntington had lived in places from China to Spain to Mexico, and could boast if she wished of many improbable accomplishments. She once bought an island for a friend before she threw away all her money and put herself through journalism school waiting tables; was a blue water sailor, could also race cars and horses, owned a martini- drinking bobcat, bred margay cats in captivity, and became the art and literary reporter for MIT. But she had a horror of bragging or being seen to put herself forward, and was therefore the antithesis of a name dropper. On the rare occasion she did evoke a name it had weight.
We were driving down Sedillo hill here one day, very fast– a borrowed car I can’t even remember. I was going into the tight switchback turns rather hard, above 80, and she said to heel and toe the pedals just so. I remember being more concerned about staying on the road and said– snapped– “Who in hell told you that?”
I should have known better. She grinned as only she could and said “Juan Fangio– he was the one who taught me how to drive fast cars.”
Oh. El Maestro.
Jonathan Hanson just sent me the news that Fangio’s everyday car was for sale. At first I couldn’t help but wonder if Bets ever drove it, but it was made at least fifteen years after that was a possibility…
I need to blog a few cars in detail, like naturalist John Wilson’s pristine TR 3, which I did mention when he brought it from Ohio.
Or a pseudonymous blogger friend’s Morris Minor. I had one too– photo from 1967 en route to Lime Rock.
Wildlife painter Tom Quinn loves fine guns, which everyone knows. But he painted the iconic “GTO and GTO ” Car and Driver cover for David Davis in 1964, when he was living in New York exile from his beloved North Coast.
I met Davis the year before he died, at an art show in Santa Fe with Tom and others. I only wish I had known him over the thirty- plus years I had been reading him. He deserves a post of his own, too. Where are the flamboyant editors of yesterday?
Hell, one more: Bets with Rufus, a year or two before I met her. I have some of her semi free range margays too, and how she was blacked out on Boston TV when she explained explicitly how she got them to mate…