The Times we lived in
Road race in Cork, 1936
THE release of the feature film Rush is a throwback to the glamour days when the rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda shot Formula One on to the front pages of glossy magazines. Well, anything those guys can do, we can do better. Have a look at the wacky racer pictured above. His name is CEC Martin and he’s competing in a 1936 Cork road race over the Carrigrohane circuit.
Our photo was taken at the first corner, named after the Victoria House pub. We don’t know the photographer’s name, but the words “Irish Times” are stamped in the bottom right-hand corner.
To the right of the Alfa Romeo, a few hardy spectators can be seen on the footpath. The solidity of the pub, with its familiar “spirit store” signs inscribed on the windows, contrasts with the otherworldly sleekness of the car.
The intensity of Mr Martin’s focus also contrasts with the apparent stillness of his vehicle, which only adds to the weirdness of the vibe.
Two years later a grand prix race on the same circuit was won by the French superstar Rene Dreyfus. Our motoring correspondent described the scene as Dreyfus roared to victory: “A low, powerful, light-blue car with the tints of the French tricolour slashed in a thin ribbon of paint from its nose to its tail, sped like a comet at over 140 miles per hour down the straight, flat concrete of the Carrigrohane road.”
Glamour, or what? This is one of the oldest photographs we’ve found in our archive. We are indebted to Colin James of Waldovision Films for drawing it to our attention, and to Alan Cavanagh of the Munster Vintage Motor Cycle and Car Club for identifying the driver. The club marked the 75th anniversary of the 1938 Grand Prix with a commemorative rally earlier this year, and a DVD featuring previously unseen film footage of the race, background information and fantastic photographs – some of which were rescued from a skip by an eagle-eyed club member – can be purchased from corkgrandprix.com
These and other Irish Times images can be purchased from: