At speed down Memory Lane: Ragtime Racers at the Rolex Reunion

Nick Lish/Vintage Motorsport

At speed down Memory Lane: Ragtime Racers at the Rolex Reunion

Vintage Motorsport / Historic

At speed down Memory Lane: Ragtime Racers at the Rolex Reunion

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An old trunk filled with vintage auto racing memorabilia left to him by a family friend he’d called “grandfather” was the spark that ignited Californian Brian Blain’s passion for WWI-era machinery.

Blain’s passion and entrepreneurial gift was the driving force behind one of the most popular of the many tribes at this year’s Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, the eye-popping ad hoc Ragtime Racers collection of 1908-1920 race cars.

Having autocrossed and raced everything from karts to a TR-3 to Lola F5000 and Can-Am cars, Blain learned as he sorted through the contents of that priceless cache that, among other things, there had been 150-mile road races in his hometown of Visalia every year from 1912 to 1917 when outgoing California governor Hiram Johnson (or was incoming William Stephens?) outlawed racing on public roads.

For more than 20 years, he has reached out to owners of the few surviving machines from a crucial decade in motorsports history, when the technology advanced so spectacularly, pressurized by a rapidly growing market for the autocar.

“In those days, what won on Sunday really did sell on Monday,” Blain explained. “That was the main purpose all the factories raced.

“But few cars survived,” he continued. “Most of them were either scrapped out during World War II or re-purposed.”

See more at VintageMotorsport.com.

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