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As we mentioned last week, over the next few weeks VeloceToday will present photographs by Bob Temple, coming to us via the collection of Vintage Motorphoto’s Dale LaFollette.
Photography by Bob Temple courtesy Dale LaFollette
Story by Pete Vack
Recently, old friend Dale LaFollette sent me a group of scanned negatives, but he wasn’t sure of the locations, year, or event. Nor was I. Enter equally old mutual friend Jim Sitz. I knew Jim because he would fact-check my articles for R&T, AQ and Forza back in the last century. Dale and I sent the photos to Jim for identification. The event was so rare – an early SCCA regional in the Midwest – that even today there is no trace of it anywhere in magazines or the Internet (well maybe Motor Trend, says Jim). But, Jim doesn’t rely on the Internet. No. Jim Sitz has everything on index cards – a card filing system from the pre-computer era.
The SCCA Regional at the Studebaker Proving Grounds, South Bend
And therefore Jim Sitz was the only one who could identify the time, place, and some of the cars. The key was the Healey Silverstone. And though his eyes are old and tired, Jim spotted the Healey in a lineup of Jags on the grid. Jim knew that the Healey was driven by Jim Simpson (the OSCA guy) in 1951 and in his card file under Simpson was a South Bend Indiana Regional Race at the Studebaker Proving Grounds, where Jim had won the first race. The date was June 23rd 1951 and it was the second of two or three events held at the Studebaker test track. Go ahead, see what you can find online about the 1951 South Bend Regional.
One-off Alfa 2500
I also noted a rare Alfa in the photos and remembered that on May 4th, Paul Wilson had emailed me about a potential article about the stunningly American-inspired Alfa 2500 owned by a friend of his. Fortunately he sent along a photo of the car. Could it be the same one, I thought? A quick comparison revealed a 99% certainty that the car is the exact same one.
The Alfa was also seen in the pages of Michael Frostick’s Pinin Farina, Master Coachbuilder, with the strange caption, “…built for Mrs. Cuccioli, a rich lady.” (page 85)
Enter John Cuccio
The plot thickens. There was another Alfa at the event, a stripped down 2300. Sitz said it probably was the John Cuccio car, which makes sense as Cuccio at the time was, like Bob Temple, working for Loewy at Studebaker. We hit the books again and found that Simon Moore had nailed this in his three volume set, The Legendary 2.3. He in turn had found a complete description of the Cuccio Alfa 2300, s/n 2111029, in an early copy of the SCCA Sports Car magazine. Cuccio was involved with a number of prewar Alfas.
As Cuccio was obviously an Alfa enthusiast of the 33rd degree, one wonders then, if perhaps Frostick had the caption to the PF 2500 wrong? Could rich lady Mrs. “Cuccioli” be in fact Mrs. Cuccio?
Perhaps readers can help.
Scroll down and enjoy, for there are more interesting stories and connections in the captions of the Temple photos.
Next up, the Press on Regardless