Sidecar

Over at Petrolicious I bumped into a post that took a look at one of the more fascinating styles of racing automobiles: engine passengers. Obviously, we’re not talking about engine riding shotgun, and the reality is that it can be a bit hard to imagine for those who do have not seen one. So let’s take a look at some of the cars they’ve shared with the readers.

italian dalmonar car turning the corner

That’s the Nardi Bisiluro Damolnar. As you can see, the engine is fitted not under the hood, but in a section of the body that runs parallel to the driver’s side. Debuting in 1955, this particular vehicle was built with one thing in mind: endurance. Enrico Nardi wanted his car to compete with the best at the legendary Le Mans endurance race. One of the most important aspects of the dream vehicle was the emphasis on aerodynamics. This compact speedster actually required the driver to put their legs through the steering wheel, and the brake system was a work of genius in its own right. But while hopes were high, it ultimately did not finish due to suspension and weight problems— it met its end when it was blown off the track while being lapped. However, you’ve got to respect the ingenuity in the design.

While the Damolnar turned heads in its day, it certainly wasn’t the first vehicle to have that unique body design. That credit goes to 1951’s TARF II. The car was nicknamed “the twin torpedo”, and primarily competed in low-drag speed races. And speedy it was! It won a competition with an officially recorded rate of 185 mph, although it’s maximum speed was almost 200mph! Lucky for us, there has been video of this bad boy in action.

These cars aren’t only relics of the past. Honda is actually tinkering with a similar concept with their two cars aptly named Project 2 and Project 4. It’s pushing around 215 horsepower and weighs under 900 pounds. Again, this thing is a concept, so don’t expect to see it on the track anytime soon. But at least we know it’s out there.

The 2 Minutes of Le Mans

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is one of the most fascinating and historic auto races across the entire sport. The race, held in the French town that bears its name, was founded in 1923. That makes it the oldest endurance race still being held. And yes, the duration of the race is a full, sustained 24 hours.

This year’s race began on June 10th and ended on the 14th, and Porsche emerged the victor. Tons of analysis about the race is ready for eager eyes to pour over, but something incredibly cool has popped up recently: the 24 hour marathon race has been condensed into two minutes. It makes sense that a shorter version should come up at some point. 24 hours is an incredibly long time, and you’d be hard pressed to find fans of any sport willing to forgo an entire days worth of productivity, sleep, and social obligations to devote that time to something they love (even parents have to sleep!). But two minutes? Now, that’s impressive.

So who’s the artist behind this miraculous optical feat? Camden Thrasher. And yes, that’s his real name. Thrasher is a racing enthusiast and self-taught photographer who seeks to ”capture the story and emotion of man and machine at speed in a still image”. He’s no stranger to Le Mans; he first attended in 2000. But his coverage of Team Audi presented an entirely new challenge.

While you may think that Thrasher was simply gliding along, taken shot after shot of Audi, it was much more intense than that. Though the race lasted 24 hours, Cameron was on the track for nearly 40. He also spent nearly a week preparing A huge portion of that was prep time– making sure all safety measures were in place, and practicing with coverage of the qualifying races.

When the race itself began, Thrasher went into full on artiste mode. He actually walked 19 miles during the first half of the race. When cars aren’t on the track and receiving pit stops, you may assume that he can catch a break. But you’d be assuming incorrectly. He made sure to capture images of the pit crews as they toiled in the garage.

Cameron’s four cameras places you right on the side of the action. 1,158 images later, the stop motion video instills you a sense of wonder and admiration for the bond between man and machine. Check out the video below: