On the road with Reid Railton

On the road with Reid Railton

Karl Ludvigsen reports on his US speaking tour: 

With my valiant rented Toyota Avalon and a satnav I took Reid Railton on the road in America for 751 miles during a week earlier in November. To suit audiences in the USA I focused my PowerPoint slides on Bonneville where Reid’s creations had so much success. That’s where Sir Malcolm Campbell reached his lifetime goal of 300 mph in Railton’s final Blue Birdcar and John Cobb touched 400 mph in another Railton creation. 

My first stop was in upstate New York at Watkins Glen, where I saw my first road race in 1951. The venue was the International Motor Racing Research Center — a truly impressive repository of racing information — and the event the Fourth Annual Michael R. Argetsinger Symposium on Motor Sports History. I was next to last in a two-day conference that was NASCAR-heavy and often highly academic. As at every venue, with my friend and colleague Judy Stropus I signed some books for Railton enthusiasts.

Then it was into the heart of New York City to Sardi’s Restaurant for a lunch meeting of the Madison Avenue Sports Car Driving and Chowder Society, for which I still have my 1961 membership card! A packed house of ‘Chowderheads’ included friends old and new who were fascinated by the Salt Lake adventures portrayed in Reid Railton — Man of Speed.

On my drive north to Boston I paused at a car collection in Connecticut that is home to my well-loved 750 cc Moretti Gran Sport, now in great shape and great company. My Boston stay included a visit to Reid’s daughter Sally, without whom the book would never have happened, and her husband Jim. My final talk was at the imposing Larz Anderson estate in Brookline, whose museum houses the Anderson clan’s amazing cars. Jim tells me that ‘without exception’ the reviews of my presentation were ‘extraordinarily laudatory’, whatever that means.

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